F ROM T HE
HYMNOGRAPHERS Let us draw near in fear to the mystical table, and with pure souls Have mercy upon us, O Lord, for in
let us receive the Bread; let us
You have we put our trust, and be
remain at the Master’s side, that we
not angry with us, neither call to
Look down from heaven, O
may see how He washes the feet of
remembrance our iniquities; but
Incomprehensible One, in your
the disciples and wipes them with a
Today is creation illumined, today
look down now upon us, inasmuch
loving kindness; and with Your
towel; and let us do as we have seen,
do all things both heavenly and
as You are of tender compassion, and
invisible hand, seal our senses, O
subjecting ourselves to each other
earthly rejoice. Angels and men are
deliver us from our enemies; for You
Loving Lord. By Your Holy Oil
and washing one another’s feet. For
intermingled; for the King cometh,
are our God, and we are your people,
grant to those, who with faith come
such is the commandment that
there also cometh orderliness. Let
we are all the works of your hands,
to You, seeking the forgiveness of
Christ Himself gave to His disciples;
us make haste then unto Jordan,
and we call upon Your Name.
sins; and grant the healing of soul
but Judas, slave and deceiver, paid
and body, that they may glorify You
and we shall all behold John, as he Sacrament of Confession
baptizes the head not made with
with profound feeling, magnifying
hands and sinless.
Ikos of Holy Thursday Wherefore,
singing the song of the Apostles, let Holy Unction
us cry with one accord: The grace of God, which is saving unto all men, has manifested itself, illumining the faithful and bestowing upon the same great mercy. Litî of Epiphany
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Dear Reader Dear Reader: This year’s Palm Sunday celebration coincided with a relatively unknown secular festival known as the Annual Celebration of Puppets. According to the Associated Press, theaters across our nation scheduled performances for children and adults which included miniature as well as life-sized puppets. The holiday was described as an opportunity to commemorate the historical development of puppets and to simultaneously celebrate their importance as a legitimate contemporary art form. When we examine the contemporary life style of our parishes, communities and homes, what kind of Christians do we discover? When we gathered to liturgically commemorate the beginning of our Lord’s Holy Passion did we do so as puppets or as persons? Did we wave our palm branches as self-expression or as a result of annual sentimental habit? Do we participate in the life of the Church as mature persons or as life less puppets? This issue of Praxis is dedicated to the sacramental life of the Church. The numerous and insightful articles respectively emphasize the important truth that true Life is charismatic. It is Life in the Church – Life in the Holy Spirit—which mystically unites us to the Holy Trinity. In a real sense, the sacraments snap the strings and the cords that the puppeteers of this world utilize to advance the myth that there is such a thing as life apart from God. Like Pinocchio, we too need to learn the lesson that although our Creator Father desires that our relationship with Him should not be based on strings, true life is the result of freely accepting the rule of His Lordship. According to the dogmatic theology of the Orthodox Church an individual becomes a person when s/he accepts, through a decision of free will, to live a life that participates in the Holy Trinity. We can no more earn the gift of true life than Pinocchio can will himself to life! Life is a gift given to us by our heavenly Father. Our responses to God’s gifts determine the choice of life. Those of us who, unfortunately, choose to live as individuals divorced from the sacramental life of Trinitarian love are not choosing between self-freedom and religious obligation, between discipleship and self-determination. On the contrary! By rejecting to live according to the mutuality of love in the Trinity we are destined to live a life of bondage—as puppets, whose strings are manipulated by the ever-growing matrix of societal agendas, whims and philosophies. By freely choosing to regularly participate in the sacraments of the Church, the insipid tethers of secular life are finally incised! Through the sacraments the individual becomes a member of the Body of Christ—the puppet becomes a person!
Praxis is a quarterly journal. Subscription rate $15 per year. Checks, payable to the Department of Religious Education, should be sent to: Praxis Circulation 50 Goddard Avenue Brookline MA 02445 (617) 850-1218
SUBMISSION GUIDELINES Submissions should be 1,000 to 2,000 words in length and directly discuss education in the theology and tradition of the Orthodox Christian churches. Lesson aids or graphic enhancements may accompany the articles submitted. We also encourage the submission of photographs relevant to parish life (praxis). Please also provide a biographical sketch of the author not exceeding fifty words. Material previously published or under consideration for publication elsewhere will not be considered without prior consent of the editor. We reserve the right to edit for usage and style; all accepted manuscripts are subject to editorial modification. Articles sent by mail should be accompanied by an electronic version on 3.5" diskette in Microsoft Word for Windows or for Macintosh. Articles in Microsoft Word may also be emailed as an attachment to JuliaMason@goarch.org Address submissions to: Rev. Dr. Frank Marangos and/or Julia Mason
CREDITS Executive Editor:
Rev. Dr. Frank Marangos
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We gratefully acknowledge St. Isaac of Syria Skete in Boscobel, Wisconsin for providing icons reproduced in Praxis. Visit their website at www.skete.com. Scripture quotations taken from THE HOLY BIBLE CONTAINING THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS WITH THE APOCRYPHAL / DEUTEROCANONICAL BOOKS, NEW REVISED STANDARD VERSION. The views expressed in this magazine are not necessarily the views of the Department of Religious Education. ÂŠ2002, Department of Religious Education of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. ISSN 1530-0595.
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Letters Dear Fr. Frank,
Dear Fr. Marangos,
I just wanted to thank you and your staff for all the materials you have created. Praxis Magazine and the ARC are must-reads for me the moment I receive them. I also try to take advantage of the Internet School of Orthodox Studies when I have time. The CD-ROMs, The Royal Road and Put On Christ, usually will bring my children to my lap as we explore them together. We really enjoy the hymns.
Please sign me up for a year’s subscription to Praxis Magazine, a wonderful teaching aid for catechists, parents, and priests. May God give you the grace to continue in your efforts to bring Christ and his Church to our people and others.
Your work fills a void for me. I was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness and left once I knew that Jesus was God. After seven years of not belonging to any church, I found Orthodoxy through my wife. I truly enjoy the fruits of your labor and I just wanted to encourage you not to slow down! Sincerely, Edward Carrig
Dear Fr. Frank, I’ve always enjoyed Praxis Magazine which you so kindly mail to me. I wanted to write you for some time; but after reading the last beautifully written issue dedicated to the September 11 tragedy, I felt obligated to write and extend my sincere congratulations and appreciation for such a fine periodical. The iconography, the relevant, well-written articles, and the entire appearance in general are steeped in the Orthodox traditions and teachings. Congratulations and may God’s love and strength abide with you and your assistants always. Sincerely in His love, Rev. Spyridon C. Papademetriou, Retired Reading, PA
Dear Fr. Frank, Fr. John and Presvytera Margaret, Thank you so much for all of your efforts in coordinating the National Oratorical Festival. It was a weekend I will always remember. I will try my best to encourage other teenagers at our church to participate in next year’s festival. Thank you again for everything!
Sincerely, Katherine G. Valone Oak Lawn, IL P.S. I loved the cover of Vol.2, Issue 4.
Love In Christ, Alissa Iatridis Dallas, TX
Dear Fr. Frank,
Dear Rev. Marangos,
A brief note of thanks for your efforts in the Oratorical Festival. Coming from a small and isolated community, the experience for my son and myself was that of renewal and exceptionally educational. Thank you for all your hard work toward the education of our youth. Without them there is no future and it is far better to build children than to repair men. May God grant you the wisdom to continue this wonderful project.
I would like to thank you and the Department of Religious Education very much for organizing the St. John Chrysostom Oratorical Festival. I appreciated the opportunity to learn more about my faith and get to know other Orthodox teenagers. Thank you for sponsoring such a special event.
With Gratitude & Love, Agnes Chatilain West Dennis, MA P.S. My eldest son asked why we don’t have an oratorical festival for college level because he misses it.
In Christ, Anna Kentros Scarsdale, NY
The Sacrament of Tears
Rev. Frank Marangos, D.Min., Ed.D.
The Eucharist: “Liturgical Salvation” and “Little Orthodoxy” Tom Dallianis, M.Div.
The Relationship of Sacramental Life to Religious Education
Eve Tibbs, M.A.
Living the Sacramental Life: Teaching Our Youth by Example Anna-Nicole Kyritsis
Made for One Another Rev. Eugen J. Pentiuc, Th.D., Ph.D.
Reflections on the Sacrament of Confession Within a Camp Setting
The Timeless Value of Bread: A Reflection on its Multiple Uses in the Church Community Vicki Cassis
Ann Mitsakos, M.Div.
Sin and Sickness in the Orthodox Service of Holy Unction
George's Prosphora Recipe (Byzantine Style) John T. Chirban, Ph.D
Julia Mason, M.A.
The Sanctification of the Holy Chrism: A Visible Sign of Unity Among the Churches Pavlos Menesoglou
Prosphora: An Offering to God Phyllis Meshel Onest, M.Div.
Blessing Others With Our Bread Deacon Alexander Chetsas
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The Sacrament of
Tears REV. FRANK MARANGOS, D.MIN., ED.D.
"They that sow in tears shall reap in joy." Psalm 126:5 “Let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy into dejection. Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will exalt you.” James 4:9-10
Human tears have recently become the focus of intense scientific research. While tears are shed for a number of reasons— sorrow, joy, pain—experimentation has discovered that their chemical makeup is not identical! Tears shed while peeling onions are, for example, almost totally made up of H20. Tears of sorrow, on the other hand, contain bodily toxic waste and are considered by most physicians as a necessary vehicle for psychosomatic catharsis. Perhaps this is why Holy Scripture has always insisted that those who mourn are "blessed" and "shall be comforted" (Matt. 5:4) and those that sow in tears will reap in joy (Psalm 126:5). The Holy Fathers of the Church often refer to the water of tears as a second baptism. Although not considered among the seven major sacraments of the Church the Holy Fathers do in fact refer to the water of tears as a "sacramental." Like Holy Water, tears make present the grace of God. Through the tears of confession and repentance the penitent is washed clean. Shed in association with the acknowledgment of past sins, the water of tears re-affirms the grace of redemption. Tears are, therefore, the visual manifestation (epiphanomenon) of the Holy Sacrament of Holy Baptism! Understood in this fashion, tears are indeed the sacramental of continued regeneration. Tears are the physical evidence of spiritual grace. Tears are the Gift of the Holy Spirit continually working to convict,
humble and prepare the temple of our bodies to receive the resurrected Christ! Like the sinful woman who broke her alabaster jar to wash the feet of Jesus, our tears are the oil that flows from our respective vessels of brokenness! The following Persian myth both typifies this biblical understanding and best describes the important role that such tears play in our Orthodox understanding of salvation. In Persian mythology, an elf that has been excluded from Heaven is called a Peri. In his famous myth entitled "Paradise and the Peri," the poet Hood relates the story of a certain Peri who received the promise of being re-admitted to Heaven if she could bring back from earth that which was most precious to God. First, the Peri returns with the last drop of a dying patriot's blood. It was not the treasure. Next the little elf lays before God's throne the kiss from the brow of a dying lover. This, too, was not sufficient. Finally, the Peri seized a tear rolling down the face of a repentant man. The Peri was immediately admitted to Heaven. Tears of repentance are indeed most precious to our heavenly Father who delights in the spiritual return of His prodigal children (ref. Luke 8). It is not necessary for us to mourn, however, "as long as the Bridegroom is present." Nevertheless, "the day will come," insists Jesus, "when the Bridegroom will be taken away" and those
who will acknowledge their sinfulness "will mourn and fast" (Matt. 9:15). During Great Lent, therefore, the Church affords us a valuable opportunity to experience the redemptive ointment associated with such tears of personal repentance. The hymnology through Great Lent is replete with theological images concerning weeping and tears. From the initial start of the Triodion, tears are the gift for which we, the penitent children of God, request. "Great is the power of tears," insists one of the hymns of the Vespers of the Publican and Pharisee. "Let us emulate the weeping Publican," invites yet another canticle, "that we might too receive forgiveness." Likewise, during the Vespers offered in honor of the Prodigal Son, the faithful are encouraged to "cry out with tears" and like the Prodigal "thus return to our Father." Let us, however, not "weep in vain" cautions an important hymn heard during the Sunday of Judgement, "with those who shall in the final day stand before the Lord's judgement seat." Rather, let us engender a daily remembrance "of that terrible day of judgement." Only in this way will we cultivate a spiritual disposition of "weeping and lamentation" that will grant us the possibility "to be pure in that hour of trial." Let us therefore, "keep the Fast," insists a hymn selected from the next Sunday of Great Lent, namely the Sunday of Forgiveness, by our "tears, contrition and almsgiving." Only in this fashion will our Lenten fasting be of eternal benefit when we approach it primarily as a means of shedding tears of genuine repentance. In this way, insists yet another hymn, it is possible that our tears may be a "Siloam"â€”miraculous watersâ€”by
which the eyes of our hearts are cleansed" and "our minds behold the pre-eternal light." Herein lies the essence of true Lenten fasting when we begin to seriously reflect upon the areas of our prodigal life wherein we have departed from the presence of the Eternal Bridegroom. As we have seen, the hymns sung during the inspiring forty-day liturgical period of Great Lent assist us to reflect upon our sinfulness. Holy Week intensifies this Lenten introspection by creating the necessary mood wherein we may actually mourn the absence of the Bridegroom from our personal and interpersonal lives. "Serve God with tears," exhorts St. John Chrysostom, "that we might be able to wash away our sins." Holy Tuesday evening is dedicated to the memory of Mary, the sinful woman, who washed our Lord's feet with her tears (John 12:1750). No other evening, with perhaps the exception of Holy Friday, receives as much popular attention as Holy Tuesday during whose worship service the famous hymn of Kassiani is sung. How many of us are able to hear the words of this most powerful hymn and not shed tears of repentance? Indeed, we too, if we are truthful, are as sinful as Mary. Unlike her, however, several of the evening's hymns attest to the unfortunate reality that many of us approach Christ without following the example of this most penitent woman. "Never has it been heard," insists St. Symeon the New Theologian, "that without tears a soul that has sinned after baptism has been cleansed." Holy Tuesday should, therefore, alert us to our own spiritual harlotry wherein we have forsaken our Eternal Bridegroom. Indeed there is a 7
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need for us to spiritually wash our Lord's feet with our tears and to once again betroth ourselves to Him. The next individual included within our examination of Holy Week's melody of tears is the Apostle Peter. Apart from liturgically commemorating our Lord's betrayal and Crucifixion, Holy Thursday recalls the three-fold denial of Christ by this most passionate man. Although Peter had vowed allegiance unto death merely a few hours previous to Christ's arrest, he nonetheless denied Him three times in one evening (Matt. 26:33-75). Having been warned by Jesus of these denials, Peter nonetheless capitulates to his fears and tragically realizes Christ's three-fold prophecy. The most famous of Peter's denials took place just prior to the morning cockcrow (Matt. 75-75). Whereas numerous hymns of Holy Thursday concern themselves with this event, a word of clarification is needed. There is a regulation in Jewish Law that prohibits the presence of cocks and hens in the Holy City of Jerusalem, because they are "unclean" and therefore defile Holy things. It may well be, therefore, that the famous "cock-crow" associated with Peter's third denial was not in fact the voice of an actual bird. Rather, it is more likely that what Peter heard was the sound of a Roman trumpet. The phrase "cock-crow" is a literal translation of the Roman military term "gallicinium" which refers to a trumpet call which signals the changing of the guard at 3:00 am. As it was impossible to see, not to mention hear, a cock crow in the Holy City, Peter might have initially laughed at Jesus' absurd prediction of his denial. However, after hearing the "gallicinium," Peter must have only then understood the true nature of His Lord's prophecy and thereupon went away to weep and reflect upon his arrogance (Matt. 26:75). Whenever we prepare to participate in the worship service of Holy Thursday, it might be beneficial for us to likewise reflect upon our own "galliciniums"—the moments wherein we, like Peter, deny our sloganeered soap-box commitments to Christ and to His Church. Although we too might consider ourselves ever loyal to Christ, let us walk humbly lest we fall! "If while we fast we are proud," cautions St. John Chrysostom, "we have not only profited nothing but even been injured." The time has come for us to deepen our understanding of the Lenten fast as much more than a childish ride upon a dietary merry-go-round. Let us heed the warnings of our Church Fathers and utilize the spiritual exercise of fasting for that which it was intended— as an opportunity to humbly confess, like the Apostle Peter, our arrogant personal assessments. If we too can weep over our "galliciniums," our Lord will indeed honor our tears of repentance and grant us a vision of His Glorious Resurrection! Our examination of the sacramental of tears is not complete without finally listening to the melodious voice of St. Paul's description of his own season of tears and fasting (Acts 9:1-19).
Blinded by a vision of Christ while on the road to Damascus, Holy Scripture informs us that Paul's eyesight did not return until Ananias' visitation. Prior to regaining his sight, writes St. Luke, "something like scales fell from Paul's eyes" after Ananias touched them (Acts 9:18). It is this writer's conviction that these "scales" are again the inner tears of repentance, which must be shed in order for us to accept a new vision for our lives. Having been the arch-persecutor of Christians, Paul's conversion, his new vision, would out of necessity include such tears of repentance. St. Paul's later writings included in Holy Scripture attest to the necessity of tears of repentance. His second letter to the church in Corinth best describes how beneficial tears and sorrow are: "I rejoice," Paul writes "that you were made sorrowful…for the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces repentance leading to salvation" (2 Cor. 7:9-10). This, as we have already seen, is the essence of Holy Week's melody of tears. Originally the annual preparation for Holy Baptism, Holy Week is now our opportunity to re-dedicate ourselves to the cleansing sacrament of our infancy. By following the example of St. Paul, we too might experience the life-changing waters of our eyes which according to St. Gregory of Nazianzen, is understood as a fifth baptism, "received by those who wash their bed every night with their tears." Holy Week is the liturgical overture of Great Lent. If we listen attentively, we cannot but hear its melody of tears swelling from within the rich hymnology dedicated to the lives of Peter, Paul and Mary. As we encounter these hymns, let us reflect upon our own lives, open the wells of our sinful hearts and allow them to overflow with tears of repentance, not with tears shed while preparing onions for our Paschal meals, nor with the sentimentality of viewing our Lord's Passion as a theatrical drama, but with tears that contain the toxic waste of our souls, tears shed in honest confession of our sinfulness and arrogance, our denials and spiritual harlotries, our persecutions and spiritual blindness. May our loving Lord accept our contemporary tears as He accepted the ancient repentance of Peter, Paul and Mary. May we join them within the eternal melody of tears which concludes as we chant before the empty Tomb of Christ - "the season of lamentation has come to an end…weep not…but announce the Resurrection!"
Rev. Dr. Frank Marangos is Director of the Department of Religious Education of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and adjunct professor of Religious Education at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
elationship R of Sacramental Life to The
Religious Education EVE TIBBS, M.A.
"What makes Eastern Orthodoxy different from western Christian traditions?" Most Orthodox Christians have either been asked, or have heard this question. The response is often similar to: "Orthodoxy has not changed anything for 2000 years." While this is a common perception, it is only partially correct. It is certainly true that the Orthodox Church has preserved the Apostolic teachings intact for all these centuries, but Holy Tradition is living and dynamic—not stagnant. Preserving the Faith has only been possible by creative adjustment of forms to the people and cultures into which the Faith was being planted. America has been no exception to this dynamism and diversity of the Holy Spirit at work in the Church. Things have changed here, too. Then what would be a more accurate answer to this question of difference? Very simply, the answer is: worship. Much of western religious thought has reduced Christianity to intellectual, ethical or social categories, but Orthodoxy considers worship to be the "essential act" of the Church because of the sacramental character of the world and of humanity's place in the world. It is no coincidence that "Orthodox" means at the same time "proper belief" and "proper worship" (or "proper glory"). However, it is not merely an emphasis on worship that distinguishes Orthodoxy, but that worship is the basis for theology, for religious education, and for life itself.
“So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory.” Psalm 63:2
Orthodox Christianity did not begin with an academic, theoretical, or even theological concept of what the Church should be and then work backwards to implement it. Doxology, or giving due glory to God alone, always comes first. Worship is what makes people into the Body of Christ. Worship is where we are given the opportunity to approach the heavenly Kingdom of God. And worship has always been the only way to true religious education, as God speaks directly to the hearts and minds of His children through the "proper worship" which the Holy Spirit has revealed. Unfortunately, in the process of becoming established in the American landscape, this critically important Orthodox view of worship has faded. Orthodoxy's fundamental "difference" has itself been compromised by western influences. This is one cultural adaptation that must be reversed if we are to remain true to the Holy Tradition of Orthodoxy.
An emphasis on worship is particularly critical as we consider raising children in the Church. A generation ago, for example, the most common arrangement was for the children to be segregated in Sunday School classes during the Divine Liturgy. Although this practice is still found in many parishes today, it is simply not "Orthodox" to separate
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children of any age from the Divine Liturgy at any time. Sunday Schools are a very recent "import" into the history of Orthodox Christianity—introduced only about sixty years ago. Our immigrant grandparents borrowed the idea from their Protestant neighbors who had certain, entirely different, concepts of worship. The unfortunate result is that some people now perceive Sunday Schools as having a greater importance for children than the Divine Liturgy. In other words, learning about Christ with the intellect began to take the place of the lifetime process of knowing Christ mystically through prayer and worship. As Orthodox Christians, we receive our infants into the full membership and practice of our Faith. Baptized and confirmed, they are part of the community which in "communion" shares the Holy Eucharist, and which together grows in Christ. Children should be fully included in the worshipping Church now as they have been for the 2000+ year history of the Faith. As the Body of Christ, we meet Him as fully present in the Chalice of Holy Communion—not in classroom textbooks. While knowledge is indeed an indispensable foundation for Faith, it is not necessary that children "understand" everything that is going on in worship. The Divine Liturgy is not a purely intellectual experience—even for adults. We should let
the Divine Liturgy "wash over" our young children as Fr. Steven Tsichlis recently told a group of St. Paul's teachers in Irvine, CA. The sights, sounds and smells and tastes of our worship become for us an experience of the presence of the Holy Spirit. These are far more important memories in one’s early religious development than the definition of the words used. In some parishes, the children are brought into church with their classes for some portion of the Liturgy. But clearly, young children do not develop a sense of piety by sitting next to their peers who are climbing on the pews, or making faces at one another - with a few teachers here and there trying to keep them all quiet. When behavioral corrections become necessary, one-on-one (parent, grandparent or Godparent ) is ideal. Religious piety is "caught" not "taught" when a child observes an adult whom they respect— their parent or grandparent—sitting next to them, engaged reverently in prayer and active participation in the Liturgy.
after Holy Communion) and the number of parishes doing so is growing. Although the many benefits to implementing such a change far outweigh the negatives, several parishes still find the practical issues of a schedule change to be a great challenge. The attitude of "we've always done it this way," or "this is the way it was when I was a kid," often interferes with returning to the "true" Orthodox way, not just Orthodoxy under the influence of western Christian forms.
Many parishes throughout the country have found innovative ways of providing religious education in a classroom setting, without compromising the Orthodox heritage of the priority of community worship. What many churches are now calling "Family Worship," meaning everyone worships together, has been the Orthodox norm for centuries. There are certainly many possible options. Each parish must give serious thought to determining a proper and practical schedule which would be the most Orthodox possible, and yet still allow time for instruction and community building in the classroom setting.
The issues briefly addressed here are among the reasons that there is now a clear directive from our Archdiocesan Department of Religious Education to refrain from holding classes during the Divine Liturgy (or at least to hold classes
My home parish, St. Paul in Irvine, CA moved to family worship nearly thirteen years ago. By the end of the first year it had already become second nature for many families to be together at the Divine Liturgy, which is as it should be. Among
the many benefits at St. Paul was an immediate increase in summer attendance, since families who had gotten into the routine of worshipping together each week did not stop coming to church when classes ended for the summer. The post-high school population attending the Liturgy is much higher now as well. When students graduated from formal classes, it was natural for them to continue to be in the Liturgy. Although we have found other practical advantages, we hope and pray that the priority of worship will ultimately lead to greater faith development and full participation in the sacramental life of the Church.
Conclusion The most prominent distinctive of Eastern Orthodoxy is the emphasis on worship as the basis for theology and for Christian formation. We must return worship to its rightful place in our lives and especially in our religious education schedules. A Church school program in its proper role should augment the parents' guidance of their childrenâ€™s religious and spiritual growth in the most Orthodox way possible. Families should be allowed and encouraged to worship together. Everything that takes place in the classroom, no matter how beautiful and beneficial (even discussion about worship) is nonetheless secondary to the actual praxis of our Faith in the sacramental action of the entire worshipping community. Nurturing our children in love, to attain personal faith in Jesus Christ, with full participation in the liturgical life of our Faith is the true Orthodox Way.
Eve Tibbs is Director of Religious Education for the Diocese of San Francisco, and Church School Director at St. Paul Greek Orthodox Church in Irvine, CA. She holds a Master's Degree in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary where she is pursuing a Ph.D. in Eastern Orthodox Theology.
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Made for One REV. EUGEN J. PENTIUC, TH.D., PH.D.
“Therefore a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24
Any time I read the Creation narrative, I am carried away to a place and time long lost, to a piece of land watered by four rivers, beyond millennia of intricate and not rarely bloody history, at the misty dawn of adam, the yet-to-be ‘humanity’; to a place sheltered by cherubs with fiery ever-turning swords and jealously watched by a head talking serpent eager to turn his crafty monologue into a death-bringing dialogue. To a moment in time when elohim ‘the Almighty’ was so close to man that he used to indulge himself in a brisk walk at the ‘breezy time of day’ (Gen 3:8); but even, once to ‘snatch’ (Gen 5:24) his clay infused with nephesh chayyah (‘breath of life’) creature up to his celestial unshakable yet by chelel ‘the Shining One’ coveted throne (see Is 14:12ff.). I am carried away to a place called gan eden, ‘the Garden of Delight’; to a garden planted by the Almighty according to his majestic will and for the righteous eternal delight. (The idea that the Almighty planted this garden for the righteous appears for the first time in the Targum Pseudo-Jonathan [Gen 2:8], an Aramaic translation which originated in pre-Christian times; cf. Matt 25:34.) The Scripture notes: "‘He Is’ (in Hebrew Yahweh; the 3rd century B.C. Greek version [the Septuagint] renders Kyrios ‘the Lord’), the Almighty planted a garden in eden which is in the east, and there he put adam he had fashioned" (Gen 2:8). Back then there was not yet a "Garden of Gethsemane," no bitter chalice to be removed, no kneeling to be made, no sleep to be overcome, no soldiers with swords and clubs to be inquired, not even a betrayer’s kiss to be offered to the sweet Master! There was only a "Garden of Delight" visited from time to time by a most-powerful deity, and protected by a working adam, who was created in that deity’s image (Gen 1:26-27). In the midst of that unspeakable delight, the Almighty notices with a fatherly compassion: "It is not good for humanity (adam) to be alone; I will make a helper opposite to him (ezer ke-negdo)" (Gen 2:18). The Hebrew word neged derives from the root n-g-d ‘to be conspicuous, visible,’ hence the meaning ‘in front, opposite,’ namely, something which is visible. The whole phrase, ke-negdo, may be rendered ‘which is in front of him, obvious to him.’ The Targum Pseudo-Jonathan follows closely the Hebrew text, reading ‘opposite to him.’ As for the Septuagint (kat-auton ‘according, fitting to him’), the Greek version depicts the woman as a ‘fitting helper’ to man, trying to solve the tension between ‘helper’ and ‘opposite’ attested in the Hebrew text. For the latter version, the woman is a ‘helper’ for man but in the same time due to her position, ‘in front of, opposite to him,’ she appears as an equal partner of dialogue for man. The woman, as portrayed in Gen 2–3, is fashioned to be in front of man, in other words, to be a visible, dynamic, personal presence that can not be ignored or underestimated by her partner. As for the man, this should look at her
Another with a sense of wonder, admiration, each time re-discovering the primary, ontological unity which links them together (Gen 2:23; cf. 1:26-27). The passage on giving names to the animals, showing adam’s dominion over the rest of creation, runs parallel with adam’s search for a ‘helper opposite to him.’ The adam’s failure to find an ‘opposite helper’ inside the animal kingdom shows that this peculiar ‘helper’ should be rather searched within adam, that yet-to-be ‘humanity.’ The use of the term adam in Gen 2:18ff. is quite meaningful. It points to the fact that the neuter-gender ‘humanity’ can not exist alone, that the yet-to-be ‘humanity’ needs a partner of dialog. Interestingly enough, the Almighty’s negative evaluation on adam’s state of loneliness comes after divine warning with respect to adam’s mortal fate should he eat from the forbidden fruit (Gen 2:17). This sequence may be explained as follows. In his omniscience, the Almighty knows that adam will eventually transgress his command and, as a consequence to this transgression, death will enter the world. And as death means first separation from the Almighty (‘spiritual death’), there will be a serious risk facing adam, to remain alone, estranged from his Creator. Thus the Almighty decides to make for adam an ‘opposite helper’ (Gen 2:18). The biblical narrative portrays adam as having no patience. While naming the animals, adam
tries to find a ‘helper’ but soon he realizes that his searching is an exercise in futility. Having failed in his attempt to solve the Almighty’s promise by himself, adam capitulates waiting for a divine response. (Something similar may be found in Abraham’s rushed intimate relationship with his maidservant Agar while his trying to fulfill the Almighty’s promise on his own terms, Gen 12:1-3; 16; 17:15-22.) Yet, how odd it might appear, the Almighty wants to say that an ‘opposite helper’ is to be searched within the yet-to-be ‘humanity’ rather than outside of it. The position of Almighty’s evaluation on adam’s state of loneness immediately after his threatening warning with respect to death as punishment for sin shows that ishshah ‘woman’ was created as an ‘opposite partner’ to alleviate ‘humanity’s’ estrangement from the Almighty. Gender differentiation appears as soon as ‘woman’ is created. Man begins to exist only after woman’s creation. Thus, the woman has a defining role in man’s arising identity.
According to the Hebrew text, ishshah and ish are in a paradoxical relationship to one another. On one hand, she is a ‘helper’ to man, a sort of inferior being at man’s disposal and having no other raison d’être but to assist man during his earthly journey. On the other hand, she is ‘in front’ or ‘opposite’ to man, playing, if not a leading role, at least, that of equal partner of dialogue. In the same vein of thought, we are told in Gen 3:16 that ishshah’s ‘burning desire’ (teshuqah) will be for her ish ‘strong’ (from the root ‘-y-sh ‘to be strong’) counterpart, but in Gen 2:23, playing the prophet, the ish recognizes his own natural vulnerability by saying: "Hence a man (ish) leaves his father and mother and clings (dabaq) to his wife, so that they become one flesh (basar)." As in Hebrew anthropology, body and soul form a strong unity, ‘flesh’ refers here to both body and soul. Thus man leaves his parents to unite with a woman so that both may become what was intended from the very beginning, a body wrapped in breath of life, namely, adam. The verb used here to define man’s attachment to his wife, dabaq ‘to cling’ (said, for instance, of bones to skin), counterbalances the passionate intensity of the term (teshuqah) ‘burning desire’ describing woman’s propensity toward her husband.
"Thus, the woman has a defining role in man's arising identity."
We are told in Gen 2:21-24 that the Almighty brought a tardemah ‘deep sleep’ (the Septuagint reads ekstasin ‘trance’) upon adam ‘humanity’ from whom he took one rib that he fashioned ishshah, a ‘weak’ creature (from the root ‘-n-sh ‘to be weak’).
The same balance found in Gen 2-3 with
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respect to man-woman relationship reappears in St. Paul’s exhortation: "Let each one of you love (agapato) his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she fears (fobitai) her husband" (Eph 5:33). Summing up, in the Old Testament’s anthropological view, adam the yet-to-be ‘humanity’ was created in the Almighty’s image (Gen 1:26-27); this royal title refers to both ‘flesh’ and ‘soul’ (Gen 2:7). The woman was shaped out of adam, the neuter-gender ‘humanity’ (the Septuagint reads adam in Gen 2:21 as a proper [male] name, Adam, hence the interpretation that Eve was created from Adam [the man], rather than from ‘humanity’; this idea is echoed by 1 Tim 2:13-15). It is while looking at his ‘opposite helper’ that the man discovers his own identity (Gen 2:24). Both partners of dialogue exhibit a sort of propensity for one another (Gen 2:24; 3:17). They find themselves in a permanent search to reestablish the ontological unity (Gen 1:26-27), which can be reached, as St. Paul puts it, in Christ, the new Adam (‘humanity’): "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal 3:28).
Rev. Dr. Eugene Pentiuc is an adjunct professor of Old Testament at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology.
Reflections on the Sacrament of Confession within a Camp Setting ANN MITSAKOS, M.DIV.
A compelling facet of ecclesial life that has emerged in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North America within the last ten to twenty years has been the practice of regular sacramental confession for campers and staff at diocese youth camps. Orthodox camps may prove to be largely responsible for the integration of sacramental confession and spiritual guidance into the lives of Greek Orthodox Americans in the twenty-first century. The camps provide a powerful setting for focused teaching and instruction that is often more concentrated than it is at the parish level. Ideally, campers who grow up within the camp structure going to confession once a year when they go to summer camp, or twice a year if they are also able to go to a "winter camp" or retreat, will see the sacrament as essential and integrate it permanently into their lives.
The Context of Confession Given the notion that this camp structure may have a powerful influence on the future nature of sacramental confession, it is necessary to reflect on this recent development in light of its historical root in hopes that misunderstandings may be avoided. Originally, the chief goal of confession was the restoration of a believer into communion with the church. Sacramental
confession has been, in the history of the church, consistently linked with the Eucharistic service. The reason for this link was that originally this service—the Liturgy of the Word followed by the Liturgy of the Faithful—was the locus of church life; in this service individuals are transformed into the body of Christ. The church itself is a community of the baptized. In the early church baptism was understood as the sacrament of forgiveness, for when adults learned the good news of the gospel, they would be baptized, renouncing Satan and their old life of the world, and taking on a new life in Christ. This new life was seen as such a serious, allencompassing commitment that Paul can say of baptism, "We know that our old self was crucified with [Christ] so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin" (Romans 6:6). Today we often forget, because our baptism is usually as infants, that baptism is truly a renunciation of sin and this gift of a new life in Christ. Indeed, baptism is often troubling for us, for we ask: how can infants renounce sin? And we know that not one of us can realistically remain sinless after our baptism. But baptism is now as it was then: not a magical dunking, nor something that is earned, but a grace, a gift, given by God. It is only fruitful insofar as it is followed by a continual baptism in the Word of the gospel. This Word is what teaches us what
“He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.” Titus 2:14
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the gift of baptism should mean in our lives, and this Word teaches us who Christ is and what sin is. We come to know this Word through hearing it read and preached in liturgy, through Bible studies and through daily reading, by allowing it to become written on our hearts. It is our hearing of this Word and recognition that we fall short of the gospel’s call that makes real for us the need for sacramental confession. This Word also exhorts us to keep the community pure (ref. Heb 3.12 f. and I Thess 5.11-14). From this perspective, there is no such thing as a private act in the Orthodox Church—sin is directly connected with not loving your neighbor and therefore the Lord who commanded this love. Sin always affects the community, the body of Christ. Yet for various reasons, this ecclesial (churchrelated) dimension to repentance and confession has in large part been lost. Alexander Schmemann argues in Great Lent that the proper relationship between confession and communion was confused when Orthodox theology entered the long period of "Western captivity" after the end of the patristic age and the collapse of the Byzantine commonwealth. During this period, the layman was not only ‘permitted’ but indeed forced to envisage Communion within an entirely subjective perspective—that of his need, his spirituality, his preparedness or unpreparedness, his possibilities, etc. He himself became the criterion and the judge of his own and other people’s "spirituality." Historical developments profoundly affected the way both communion and confession were viewed. Schmemann gives the example of the person who for fifty-one weeks has not approached the chalice because of his "unworthiness" but then, during the fiftysecond, after having complied with a few rules and having gone through a short confession and received absolution, suddenly becomes "worthy" in order to return, immediately afterwards, to a state of "unworthiness." The believer thinks he’s worthy. It is essential to remember that nothing, not even confession, makes us "worthy" of the Holy Gift except the Holiness of Christ Himself. His holiness makes us holy and thus "worthy" of approaching and receiving communion. We confess that we are "first among sinners" as we prepare to approach the chalice, for only repentance opens to us the doors of the Kingdom.
Another development that has had lasting repercussions pertinent to the current camp setting is a confession of the nonsacramental type, comparable to what we today might term counseling or spiritual guidance. This was brought about by the influence of a monastic practice—the spiritual guidance by an experienced monk of a less-experienced one—which was based on a constant "opening of the thoughts" of the latter to the former. The elder was not necessarily a priest and this confession was not directly related to the established sacrament of confession. Often the two types of confession—the "sacramental" and the "spiritual"—little by little merged into one. This merging can be dangerous: while there exists an essential need in the Church for pastoral and spiritual guidance and counseling, mixing this with sacramental confession can turn the sacrament into mere "spiritual improvement." A further danger of making "sacramental" confession also "spiritual" is raised as a question by Schmemann: "is every priest, especially a young one, sufficiently experienced, adequately ‘equipped’ to solve all problems and even to understand them?" (Great Lent,131). Our church will be in grave danger if we do not keep the two distinct.
The Context of Camp In general, the original ecclesial, eucharistic context and aim of confession has been—at the very least theoretically—miraculously maintained in the camp setting. This is true in large part because the camp setting provides significant blocks of time in which to educate Orthodox children and youth in their faith. Campers come for week-long periods during the course of which, among other educational times, they receive a talk about the point of confession. The campers are subsequently encouraged to schedule time to go to confession. At cabin devotions in the evening, confession is often discussed openly; friends and counselors encourage others to go. As strange as it may seem, a certain viable ecclesial community emerges each week and every summer. Towards the end of each week there is a forgiveness circle around a campfire; at the culmination of each week the eucharistic Liturgy is celebrated.
Fr. Ted Barbas, who spent many years as director of the Boston Diocese camp, and many more as the director of the Diocese Youth office, reflected on this practice: It does seem that most people are not in the practice of going to confession; however, hopefully our campers’ experience with confession during camp will help them keep that a part of their life for good. I do see many young adults and teenagers here at the parish (and from around the Diocese) for confession as well as "counseling" sessions, which many times lead to confession. No doubt, though, that camp has assisted with the "renewal" of this forgotten sacrament. Several issues come up in Fr. Barbas’s reflections that are valuable for comment. For the most part, it shows that at least on the top level the aim of "camp confession" is a healthy one that has spread back to the parish. The purpose of including confession at camp is specifically so that campers will understand the necessity of confession, that we may "complete our lives in peace and repentance." Yet one senses the implicit danger here that confession remains for some solely within the context of the camp community, never to become integrated into the context of their home parish communities. There are no campers older than age 18, so unless one joins the staff of the camp, the structure in which one is able to go to confession is no longer available. What may actually change this is that the Boston Diocese camp at its current site in New Hampshire is being developed into a year-round retreat center. There is the significant possibility that confession become a "retreat" phenomenon. It is also clear from Fr. Barbas’ comment that he is careful to keep sacramental confession separate from "counseling" sessions. He has wisely kept the two types of confession apart, but this is not universally the case. Several times as a counselor I have been in a panic searching for a camper, only to find out he or she was still in confession that had begun two hours before. Technically, if home parish communities were operating ideally, this kind of camp catharsis might not occur as frequently. Moreover, when these confessions continue for hours, it is hard not to be reminded of the monastic notion of "spiritual improvement." It seems imperative that we work to keep spiritual counseling and sacramental confession separate, so that confession does not turn into free counseling with a church-y twist at the end. That Fr. Barbas sees many young adults and teenagers from around the Diocese speaks to another phenomenon: that of people finding another priest who is not their home parish priest to talk and confess to. On the one hand, this seems to be a healthy alternative for these Orthodox Christians who do not connect for whatever reason with "their" priest to still be involved in the sacramental life of the church. Local churches are, by nature of this current mobile environment, not strictly reflective of the geographical location of its congregants anyway. This is probably irreversible. On the other hand, however, the danger here is that
we lose all sense of a local community church and the specific understanding that sin affects this community. The vast majority of confessing young adults in this diocese do not confess to their home parish priest, and most of these will give the reason that they feel "too weird" going because of his association with their parents. A veteran counselor has told me that one of the most important things she says to her campers about confession is that "confessions are private and the priest doesn’t tell your parents." This seems like a harmless enough teaching on the part of the counselor, but at the root we see explicitly the mistaken notion discussed above, that confession is "private" in the sense that it only affects one individual. Not that a priest would tell the campers’ parents, but if the campers view of confession is that it is simply where you tell your dark secrets "in private," we have mis-educated them on both the nature of sin and life in Christ. This counselor’s comment is evidence that while there is a conscious effort to educate about confession, this education can be misdirected. Another veteran counselor reflected, "I remember being told that confession is you coming before God and confessing your sins to Him." This explanation, while true, misses the depth of the matter: "the reality of sin and of the possibility of repentance and restoration to a life of communion with a loving and forgiving Father through His Son in the Church established by Him" (Erickson, Challenge of Our Past, 36).
Conclusion The sacrament of confession is the sacrament of reconciliation with the church, Christ’s body. Confession within an Orthodox camp setting is, in large part, a witness to this. Yet we must refrain from the temptation to give simple talks to convince campers to go to confession—these most often are dangerously reductionistic. We must refrain from mixing sacramental confession with spiritual counseling within this camp setting. And we must exhort children and youth not to be "camp Christians," who fail to see the necessity of living the gospel in their home communities. What must remain as consistent as the effort to offer sacramental confession to campers is the endeavor to educate, both at camps and on the parish level, about the reality of sin and who the scriptural Christ is. This can only be done through clear preaching and teaching of the Word of the gospel, because it is when our children and youth, along with we ourselves, honestly measure our lives against the standard which the gospel proclaims that the need for repentance becomes obvious. Continual baptism in the Word of the gospel is what leads to repentance, and repentance is the key to opening the gates of God’s kingdom.
Ann Mitsakos is a PhD candidate in Theology and Education at Boston College and holds an M.Div. from St. Vladimir’s Seminary.
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Sin and Sickness IN THE ORTHODOX SERVICE OF HOLY UNCTION JULIA MASON, M.A.
â€œJust then some men came, carrying a paralyzed man on a bed. They were trying to bring him in and lay him before Jesus.â€? Luke 5:18
The Orthodox Rite of Healing, or service of holy unction, is quite lengthy and extravagant. It prescribes no less than nine canticles, seven epistle readings, seven gospel readings, along with the usual prayers and litanies throughout which are found in all Orthodox services. The rite also calls for the service of seven priests who alternate with the readings and prayers. Although a healthy person might tire at the thought such a long and demanding series of prayers and Scripture readings on behalf of the sick, it may be safe to say that, on the contrary, a seriously ill person might be eager to receive such attention. Sadly, such extravagance, the gathering together of seven priests for example, is logistically impossible for many local parishes. Therefore the service, even when performed, is very often shortened for the sake of practicality. We might claim as Orthodox that while we stand in Church and hear the prayers and hymns, our thinking is transformed. We might find, if we had more opportunities to pray through the Service of Holy Unction in particular, our attitudes towards sickness, the body, and death being gently shaped into something quite distinct from secular views toward sickness and death. But if we do not have the opportunity to attend an unction service in its entirety, we can always go to the text itself. Its theological content is an
important resource for us when we ask questions about sickness within the church. How is sickness viewed and dealt with? And how is the sick person to be comforted within the reality of their situation? What should our hope for the sick person be? When we engage with the content of both the prayers and the Scripture readings of the Rite of Healing, we find a curious theme: they do not address sickness alone but also address sin. In fact, it is difficult to find any place in the Rite of Healing where the two are not coupled together. This relationship between sin and sickness is obvious firstly in the Scripture that gives us the mandate to pray for and anoint the sick with oil. James 5: 14-16 says: Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects. These verses prescribe two things for the sick person: prayer for the healing of their sickness and prayer for the forgiveness of
their sins. The two things are spoken of together as if closely related. The same is true in the Rite of Healing itself. The rite repeatedly speaks of the recipient as one who suffers. Suffering is a word that best implies the physical and the spiritual—and the sick usually undergo suffering on both levels. Suffering also implies a cause. The Rite of Healing identifies without ambiguity the cause of all suffering as the "Evil One," the enemy. In the ninth canticle of the canon, for example, we pray to rescue the "souls and bodies" from the darts of the Evil One. Canticle seven prays for the healing of "both the passions of the soul and bodily afflictions." And canticle eight closely relates spiritual and physical suffering when it prays, "wash away…the pains and hurts, and the sudden assaults of suffering of him who is tormented by the violence of passions." When we turn to the Scripture readings couched within the Rite of Healing, we find this theme reinforced. One of the seven epistle readings is from I Thessalonians: "May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." Within this framework, we know that the soul and body cannot be treated as isolated entities. We also know that in matters of sickness and death, sin is
intertwined—both sin and death are the work of the enemy. Whether it is the sin of the person who is sick or the sin of the world at large, it is sin that causes the suffering and death of individuals, both bodily and spiritual. When a priest prays for and anoints a sick person with oil, he is also administering relief to a soul burdened by sin. That is why all of the prayers in this rite ask God for both healing and forgiveness. To look at the content of these prayers is a theological treat. They are rich in biblical imagery and hope. Most of the Old Testament images alluded to are images of victory: Moses overthrowing the Amaleks in the wilderness, the Abrahamic children in the Persian furnace, and Daniel in the lions’ pit. These are intriguing, almost peculiar allusions to incorporate into prayers for healing, but we can assume that they are not placed there by accident, just to fill up space. As said, if the Evil One is the perpetrator of sin and suffering, than defeat over him is the goal of our prayers. There is another Old Testament image that reminds us of the protection bestowed by the oil of anointing. Canticle six refers to the kings and priests of the Old Testament who were anointed (or sealed) at their ordination. The prayer says, "save also this sufferer by thy seal." Oil, as it has traditionally been used in lamps, also connotes light and is associated with Christ
when in the fifth canticle Christ is called the light that turns men from darkness. By using oil within the healing rite, we identify with all of its manifold uses which range, of course, from practical to mystical. Clearly, the final enemy is death itself. The Orthodox Church has no theology in which a person is to make peace with death, or befriend death, as might be taught in some popular psychology. But while death is the enemy, it is also the inevitable end of every human being. Sickness reminds us of this because all sickness, if severe enough, ends in death. But the Rite of Healing gives just as much attention to spiritual death as to physical. It invokes God the Father as the Physician of our souls and bodies who sent Jesus Christ to "heal all our ailments and deliver us from death." What does it mean to be delivered from death when we know for a fact that everyone eventually dies? The gospel itself answers this question when it preaches that Christ was crucified, died, and rose again. Christ conquered death by God’s power. This is the power that is invoked when we pray for the sick and it is this gospel that informs the service of Holy Unction. This raises the question of hope. What is reasonable to hope for when we pray for the sick person? Can we pray for and believe in a physical recovery from illness? If we look at another epistle reading from
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the Rite of Healing we hear about the Apostle Paul as he and his companions brush with death and experience God’s deliverance. He says that [we] were so…crushed that we despaired of life itself. Why, we felt that we had received the sentence of death; but that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead; he delivered us from so deadly a peril, and he will deliver us; on him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. This shows that physical protection and deliverance are indeed things to be prayed for…but even as we pray for deliverance, we can take comfort in the fact that our suffering has meaning, as Paul asserts, to "make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead." Victory over spiritual death is our ultimate hope, but it would be a mistake to say that the physical well being of the sick is not given conscientious attention. One gospel reading placed within the Rite of Healing relates the story of the Samaritan who cares only for the physical needs of the beaten man, pouring oil and wine on his wounds. Likewise, the prayers of the rite invoke several of the saints who were known for their wonder-working acts. But while some readings and prayers mention physical healing exclusively, others do the opposite, attending exclusively to the soul without any mention of bodily
well-being. One of the Scripture readings for example, goes like this: "Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness…. Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ" (Gal 6: 12). So we see that the Rite of Healing is interspersed with references to both sin and sickness, acknowledging that while sickness is a terrible burden, sin is a burden as well. The Church is to minister to both. We do not have to look far to find the sources of this calling. Matthew 10 has Jesus granting power to his disciples both to heal and forgive sins. Perhaps this is because, when you read of Jesus’ ministry, it was not just sick people who needed a physician. Many of the people who Jesus healed were demon possessed, not diseased. Furthermore, Jesus does not limit the word "sick" to those who have a physical ailment. When asked why he eats with sinners and tax collectors, Jesus answers, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick" (ref. Mat 9:12, also a reading from the Rite of Healing.) If this is how the gospel defines sickness, then we can conclude that everyone is sick, since we are all sinners, not just those who have a high temperature, cancer, or virus. This puts the ministry of the church in proper perspective and explains why the Rite of Healing devotes so much space to penitential prayers. The most striking feature of these prayers is not only that they give equal
attention both sin and sickness, the spiritual and physical, but the seamless manner in which they approach these subjects, back and forth in the same breath. The Expostalarion, a prayer that comes after the canon, is a good example. These are the things it prays for, in this very order: food incorruptible, the sealing of the senses, remission of transgressions, healing of both soul and body, freedom from infirmities, the purging of spiritual vileness, washing from greatly entangling temptations, and assuagement from maladies. There is no confusion here but a very holistic approach to healing that challenges our tendency to treat the machination of the body as something separate from the soul. We are fortunate to have this service, so accessible in written form, to teach us our role as ministers to the sick. The opportunity to attend the Rite of Healing service may come only rarely in the course of the liturgical year. But we can appropriate its principles any time. We can labor in prayer for the sick, light a candle on their behalf, perhaps anoint them with oil, and care for their physical needs. We attend to their medical needs, while not neglecting the reality and burden of sin that affects everyone who lives in this world.
Julia Mason holds a Master of Arts in General Theology from St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in Crestwood, NY and is Managing Editor of Praxis Magazine.
The Sanctification of the Holy Chrism: A Visible Sign of Unity Among the Churches PAVLOS MENESOGLOU
Patriarch Bartholomew announced that this year, 2002, the Holy Chrism will once again be consecrated on Holy Thursday in the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. The Holy Chrism is consecrated by the Ecumenical Patriarch for use in churches for the celebration of the sacrament of Holy Chrismation. The sacrament of Holy Chrismation is the visible sign of the transmission of gifts of the Holy Spirit upon those entering Orthodoxy. The Holy Chrism is thus a bond that unites all true Orthodox Christians throughout the world. The Orthodox public is unfortunately not generally informed about the significance, history, and preparation of the Holy Chrism. Accordingly, I thought it would be useful to translate into English the present informative pamphlet regarding the Holy Chrism for the benefit of the Orthodox people. - Rev. Dr. George C. Papademetriou In the Orthodox Church the Holy Chrism is sanctified for use in the celebration of the sacrament of Chrismation. It is a visible sign of the transmission of gifts of the Holy Spirit to those who are baptized. During the early years of Christianity, the transmission of the gifts of the Holy Spirit to the baptized were given by the Apostles through the "laying of hands." It is stated in the Scriptures that, Now when the Apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for it had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands upon them and they received the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:14-17). When the Church spread throughout the world and the number of the baptized was greatly increased, it was not possible to continue the practice of Samaria. Consequently, the Apostles introduced the use of the sanctified Chrism. The Holy Chrism was sanctified by the Apostles and was continued thereafter by the bishops through Apostolic Succession. The "laying on of hands" was completely replaced by Holy Chrism to transmit the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
“How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down upon the beard….” Psalm 133:1-2
The use of the Holy Chrism was introduced to the Christian Church from the existing Old Testament practice. It is stated that, "The Lord said to Moses, 'Take the finest spices—
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12 pounds of liquid myrrh, 6 pounds of sweet-smelling cinnamon, 6 pounds of sweet cane, and 12 pounds of cassia (all weighted according to official standard.) Add one gallon of olive oil, and make a sacred anointing oil, mixed like perfumeâ€™ (Exodus 30:22-25)." Over the years of its existence, the Holy Chrism has been known by many names, such as "oil," "oil of thanksgiving," "oil of anointing," "chrism," "chrism of thanksgiving," "chrism from the heavens," "mystical chrism," "myrrh," "divine myrrh," "mystical myrrh," "great myrrh," and "holy and great myrrh." Today, the terms generally used are "Holy Myrrh" or "Holy Chrism." The Holy Chrism is prepared from oil and other fragrant essences, which symbolize the variety of gifts of the Holy Spirit that the chrismated Christian receives. The most ancient list of materials and the aforementioned information "concerning the materials of the myrrh," which are still used today, date from the eighth century C.E. This list includes the materials used for the preparation and making of the Holy Chrism. At the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, there is an official "list of kinds of fragrances, from which the Holy Chrism is made," which includes 57 kinds of elements. Information on how Holy Chrism was sanctified during the first centuries of Christianity is not available. The oldest reference is in The Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytos. Later, directions concerning the sanctification of the Holy Chrism were included in the Great Prayer Book (Mega Euchologion) and Goar's Euchologion. Constantinople presently uses this course in the preparation of the Holy Chrism. During the nineteenth century and at the beginning of the present [twentieth] century, the Ecumenical Patriarchate made a special effort to revise carefully the prayer book containing the order and service of sanctification of the Holy Chrism. The new revised edition was published for official use at the Ecumenical Throne. Such services were published in 1890, 1912, and 1960.
In accordance with the rubrics followed by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the sanctification of the Holy Chrism takes place in the following order: After the doxology on Palm Sunday, the Patriarch blesses the Archon of the Myrrh who, along with the other Archons, work with him to make the Holy Chrism. They wear a white tunic reaching to the ground. After blessing the Archon of the Myrrh, the Patriarch then places a towel on him. The next day, on Holy and Great Monday, after the Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, the Patriarch enters the Patriarchal Church of the Great Myrrh, Saint George, where an appropriately decorated sepulcher and the boilers for the Holy Chrism are located. The Patriarch then blesses the beginning of the cycle of the sanctification of the Holy Chrism with a special holy service. Following the blessing, he sprinkles holy water on the prepared materials, the utensils to be used, and the copper boilers. Then, holding a lighted candle, he touches each boiler, placing pieces of old charred holy icons in them. Then the Patriarch reads chapters from the Holy Gospel. The readings of the lessons (pericopes) from the New Testament are then continued by those present, including hierarchs, clergy from the Patriarchate, as well as visiting clergy. This order of readings continues all day on Holy Monday, Holy Tuesday, and Holy Wednesday. On Holy and Great Tuesday, after the Divine Liturgy, a small supplication canon to the Theotokos is sung at the holy sepulcher. Prayers are offered for those who contributed material, money, and effort to prepare the Holy Chrism. On Holy and Great Wednesday, after the Divine Liturgy of the Pre-sanctified gifts, the Patriarch once again comes to the holy sepulcher and, after a brief service, places in the boilers rose oil,
musk, and other sweet-smelling oil. On this day, all preparations for making the Holy Chrism are completed. On Holy and Great Thursday, after Matins (Orthros) at the Patriarchal chapel of Saint Andrew and after the complete vesting of the Patriarch and the other hierarchs, the procession from the Patriarchal Palace to the Patriarchal Church begins. The bells ring during the entire procession. During the procession, the Patriarch holds the small myrrh container. The first in order of the hierarchs holds an alabaster containing pre-sanctified Chrism. The second in order of the hierarchs holds an alabaster containing unsanctified Chrism. The other hierarchs hold small silver vases containing Chrism from the prepared materials to be sanctified. Twenty-four archimandrites hold (one on each side) twelve silver containers filled with the Chrism to be sanctified. During the Divine Liturgy, at the appointed time after the exclamation: "And may the mercy of our Great Lord," the Grand Archimandrite exclaims, "Let us attend." The congregation kneels, and the Patriarch sanctifies the Holy Chrism according to the rubrics. At the end of the Divine Liturgy, the sanctified Holy Chrism is transferred from the church to the Patriarchal myrrh center in reverse order according to the order of the Procession. It is in the Patriarchal myrrh center that the alabasters and the containers that contain the Holy Chrism are deposited. Following this transfer, the dismissal of the Divine Liturgy takes place. During the early centuries of Christianity, a firm tradition existed in the Church in which the Holy Chrism was sanctified only by the bishops of the Church and not by the presbyters (priests). At that time, there were no distinctions among bishops, that is among bishops of dioceses and metropolitanate bishops of greater church districts. As the years passed, however, the common right of all bishops was eventually transferred to the bishops of churches with greater status, that is, to the Patriarchs, and finally to the Ecumenical Patriarch, who today is able to transmit this right to the heads of local Orthodox churches. In other words, even though each bishop has the right to sanctify the Holy Chrism by his status as bishop, he is not permitted by canon law to do so. It appears that there are three reasons that restrict the right of sanctifying the Holy Chrism to the Ecumenical Patriarch. These reasons include: a) the scarcity of the materials and the difficulty for each bishop to prepare the Holy Chrism, b) the constant increase of dependence of the diocese on the head of the greater church and district, and c) the special position that the Ecumenical Patriarchate received through the centuries in relation to the other patriarchates of the East and the spiritual bond between the Church of Constantinople and local churches who received the Christian faith from its missionaries. In reality, this exclusive right to sanctify the Holy Chrism of the Ecumenical Patriarchate does not mean that local churches are
dependent and subordinate to Constantinople. This act of receiving the Holy Chrism from the Ecumenical Patriarchate is a tangible and visible sign of the amity and bond of local churches, patriarchates, and autocephalous churches with the Ecumenical Patriarchate. It is a necessary sign, not a sign of superiority of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the Orthodox Church, but an existing visible sign of unity among the cluster of local Orthodox churches. Nevertheless, in the Orthodox Church, the Holy Chrism, in addition to being sanctified in the Ecumenical Patriarchate, is sanctified in the contemporary patriarchates of Moscow, Belgrade, and Bucharest. As was stated earlier, Holy Chrism is used mainly in the celebration of the sacrament of Chrismation, which takes place immediately following the sacrament of Baptism. It is, however, a separate, distinct sacrament from Baptism. According to Orthodox Church readings, through the administration of the sacrament of Chrismation, the baptized receive gifts (charismata) that are transmitted to them by the Holy Spirit. Such gifts also help the baptized live a life in Christ, which they enter through baptism, and equip them in their struggle against sin and the attacks of evil. Through the seal of Chrismation, the baptized attain "mature manhood, to the measure of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13 RSV). The Holy Chrism is also used to chrismate the heterodox (nonOrthodox) joining the Church, and to chrismate those fallen away from Orthodox Faith and who are returning. In addition, it is also used to consecrate holy churches, altar tables, objects, and utensils, and for other sacred ceremonial circumstances. In past centuries, it was also used to anoint the Orthodox kings during their crowning. The following is a list of dates and Patriarchs during the twentieth century when the Holy Chrism was sanctified in the Ecumenical Patriarchate: 1903, Patriarch Joachim III 1912, Patriarch Joachim III 1928, Patriarch Basileios III 1939, Patriarch Benjamin I 1951, Patriarch Athenagoras I 1960, Patriarch Athenagoras I 1973, Patriarch Demetrios I 1983, Patriarch Demetrios I 1992, Patriarch Bartholomew Translated with permission of the Ecumenical Patriarchate by Rev. Dr. George C. Papademetriou, Associate Professor at Hellenic College/Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology.
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T H E
“ L i t u r g i c a l S a lvat i o n ” TOM DALLIANIS, M.DIV.
“Those who abide in me and I in them bear much
As Christians, Christ has given us a great privilege, the opportunity to commune with Him regularly during the Eucharist via communion. Sadly, Orthodox often misunderstand the Eucharist for three reasons: 1) they do not know how Christ Himself instituted and explained the Eucharist; 2) the significance of communion has become perverted so as to undermine the importance of other vital aspects of Christian living; and 3) in some cases the Eucharist has become an excuse for the advocacy of "Little Orthodoxy." First, a definition of the term Eucharist. As we know, Eucharist means "thanksgiving," and the technical term refers to a worship service of thanksgiving which culminates in communion, the reception of the Body and Blood of Christ in the form of transformed elements.
fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
1) How Christ instituted communion as reported in the New Testament. An assessment of the words of institution given in the New Testament proves that so long as we accept the authority of the canonical text and Christ’s authority as the divine Logos (just as did the authors of the New Testament), we must know that at communion we literally partake of Christ’s Body and Blood. The words of institution, "this is my body which is given for you, this is my blood of the new testament," appear in all three synoptic Gospels in similar forms as well as in 1 Corinthians, which conclusively proves they were spoken by our Lord. The apposition of the phrase "my body" with the clause "which is broken for you" can only indicate that Christ is not speaking about His Body in a merely symbolic sense. Rather, speaking as the divine Logos who has the authority to create matter from nothing merely by uttering His word as at Creation (let there be light, etc.) He indicates that He has made the bread His specific, personal body which was given for us at His Crucifixion. Likewise, He tells us that the cup contains His Blood which is poured out for us at the Crucifixion. Beyond this, we are given John 6:26-58 which shows that communion is the food that endures for eternal life, the sign which Christ performs to facilitate our belief in Him, the new Manna, the bread of God which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. John 6:5258 reports: The Jews quarreled with each other, saying: How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Jesus said to them: Truly truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the son of man and drink his blood,
C H A R I S T and “Little Orthodoxy ” you have no life in you. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has life everlasting, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is the true food, and my blood is the true drink. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood stays in me, and I in him. As the living father sent me and I live through the Father, so he who eats me will also live through me. This is the bread which came down from heaven; not as our fathers ate and died, he who eats this bread will live forever. Given that in communion we literally receive the Body and Blood of Christ, Orthodox rightly emphasize the centrality of communion with God in the Eucharist in the Christian life. Beyond the assimilation of the divine in Communion, two other factors intensify the Orthodox response to communion yet more: the exclusion of communion to those not baptized in the faith and the notion of preparation prior to communion. Exclusion of the Eucharist to those not baptized began during Roman persecutions to avoid desecration of the sacrament by pagan enemies and spies. As to preparation, St. Paul severely warns the Corinthians that reception of the Eucharist does not always have a happy outcome for
those who participate unworthily will receive condemnation rather than forgiveness. These sobering realities—both the necessity of excluding those who should not participate and the self-preparation required of those who do—rightly underscore the serious import of participation in communion.
yourself. On another occasion Christ tells us who will go to eternal salvation and who to damnation, and he gives us the parable of the sheep and the goats. In this he reveals that the deciding factor will be whether or not we fed, watered, clothed, and visited the hungry, thirsty, sick, and lonely among us.
St. Paul tells us that participation in communion is not only useless, but damning for those who participate unprepared. There is no such thing as passive preparation. Preparation is an active process which involves more than abstinence; it requires knowledge of Christ’s teachings and obedience to them, particularly those He identifies as most important. Who is less prepared than the person who does not know what matters to Christ, the party with whom he is communing?
Nowhere is communion-guzzling exalted. Indeed, when St. Paul warns that the unprepared will be damned, he proves that communion-guzzling is not the key to our salvation.
No one who has read the New Testament can deny that Christ was a supreme ethicist and gave His life to teach people how they should and should not behave towards one another. When someone asked Christ to bottomline Christianity for Him, Christ told him: Sell all that you have, give the proceeds to the poor, love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and property and your neighbor as
2) How the significance of communion has become perverted so as to undermine the importance of other vital aspects of Christian living. Yet, somehow, Christ’s ethical injunctions are rarely presented. Instead, the rich tapestry of Christianity which combines divine ethical instruction with mystical elements is drowned in a sea of emphasis on communion. Some have even used this overemphasis to define Orthodoxy over and against other Christian groups. A theologian recently stated (without explanation) that unlike Protestants and Catholics who are saved by faith and works, Orthodox are "saved liturgically." Interpreting this charitably, we might take it to mean that the Eucharist is supposed to be the fullest expression of Christian life, and that the Christian achieves salvation by following all of Christ’s teachings as well as attending the
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Eucharist. All too often, however, Orthodoxy is presented as a boutique denomination of Christianity, offering its niche wares to the public, like the liturgy and icons, rather than offering the fullness of Christianity. To be "saved liturgically" all too often means to both Orthodox and non-Orthodox audiences to avoid personal ethical responsibility and instead receive salvation by simply "belonging" to the Church, where such belonging is narrowed to the occasional attendance of church services.
Any analysis of the life of Christ shows that far from being a passive member of a community, He was a leader and an activist. He commanded His disciples to sacrifice all their property, to be prepared to sever relationships, to accept painful execution as an earthly reward, to love their enemies and inferiors, and to baptize all nations. Never did He say, "Go and sit quietly in the synagogue, and being my followers in name only, you will be saved."
Worse, this notion of corporate responsibility (which is an oxymoron) and individual irresponsibility denies the chief contribution Christ made to religious ethics. Historians of ethics agree that prior to Christ religious ethicists taught that one should correct one’s behavior when one has been shamed by the community. Ancient religion taught that a person should change when they were found guilty by the community and could get away with murder so long as they followed the letter of the law. In contrast, Christ teaches that each individual must not sin in his heart and must ever obey the spirit of the divine will, just as He did unto death.
3) In extreme cases, the Eucharist has been used to justify "Little Orthodoxy."
Plato, a non-religious ethicist uniquely taught that self-knowledge would lead to ethical conduct in theory. Christ uses His divine authority to fuse abstract ethics with God’s will so as to proclaim that each person must scrutinize their own conduct for selfcorrection rather than wait to be shamed publicly by the community after having sinned. Better yet, He shows by His life of total integrity and sacrifice how to fulfill an ethical life in practice. If Christians are to live as did Christ and His disciples, they cannot hope to be saved collectively by passive liturgical attendance.
Worst of all, this emphasis mingled with the practice of exclusive communion has led some to believe and teach a form of Little Orthodoxy. Little Orthodoxy is analogous to the concept of Little England, a xenophobic movement among the English whose members disdain everything and everyone which does not conform exactly to their narrow idea of England. Little-Englanders like to refer to non-English as wogs (which has the equivalent force of nigger in American English) and have been known to use the expression, "Wogs begin at Calais" (Calais is the closest port to England on the European Continent, hence if wogs begin at Calais, all Continental Europeans are wogs and people from farther continents such as Africa and Asia are even bigger wogs).
wrong such treatment is. Yet, sometimes Orthodox think that those outside of our communion are wogs. Ironically, the New Testament shows us how Christ dealt with one of the most serious heresies ever to divide the Church—Arianism. In the twentieth chapter of John following His Resurrection Christ returns to the disciples. He shows them His hands and side, gives them His peace, tells them just as the Father commissioned Him so He commissions them, gives them the Holy Spirit, and tells them they now have the power to forgive sins or retain them. St. Thomas arrives late, is told by the disciples that Christ rose, and declares that he will not believe unless he has seen the marks of the nails in His hands, puts his finger in the mark of the nails, and puts his hand inside. This is effectively an Arian confession: Christ was a mortal who is dead, and it will take tremendous proofs to establish the contrary. Christ, who is sinless, does not cast the first stone at St. Thomas. Nor does He direct the rest of the disciples (who in a sense were just ordained as clergymen) to cast stones at St. Thomas. No, instead He simply shows St. Thomas the humiliating marks which testify to His sacrifice for humanity. These are enough to convict St. Thomas. Even though St. Thomas was an Arian who came late to the party, his confession, my Lord and my God, was good enough. As far as we know, he was not rebaptized.
"To Christ, no human was a wog."
Sadly, some "Orthodox" believe wogs begin at Rome or even at Orthodox Churches which celebrate holidays by a different calendar. To Christ, no human was a wog. He allowed Himself to be treated like a wog just to show people how
The most striking aspect of this event is not that Christ readily forgave St. Thomas, nor that He did so without great ceremony, but how He "converted" St. Thomas. He did so by showing St. Thomas evidence of His painful sacrifice on his behalf, as well as the
we begin to appreciate that the message of the Incarnation lies not only in our mystical participation with Him, but perhaps even more so in our unmystical dealings with other human beings. Of course, passive, that is unworthy, participation in communion is easier than active participation. And of course, promoting an ideologically narrow and/or ethnocentric view of Orthodoxy provides the emotional reassurance some need even if it comes at the expense of a perversion of our Lord’s teachings and holy will. Let us not cut Christ in two by dividing His ethics from mystical participation in Him. Let us instead take up the challenge to live as true Christians. Just as Christ proved his divinity to his toughest critic, St. Thomas, who had seen Him perform countless miracles and knew Him well, not by argument or denunciation, but rather by showing him the painful proofs of His loving sacrifice for all humanity, so let us realize that we will prove ourselves as Christians only when we bear the marks of our painful sacrifice for neighbors of all stripes.
rest of humanity: the humiliating wounds of self-sacrifice. Is it not evident that this is the model for missionary work, the ability to show non-believers evidence of one’s flesh and blood sacrifices for the sake of the non-believers? Could not Ss. Cyril and Methodius and the rest of the true missionaries show their communities the years of blood, sweat, and toil they had invested? As if Christ’s own example were not enough, St. Paul discusses the three Laws. He tells us there is the Law of the Old Testament,
of the New Testament, and a Natural Law. Though Christians must share the enlightenment of the New Law for the benefit of all, those living under the other Laws will be judged according to their measure. Thus, we cannot say those outside the New Law are damned or not.
Tom Dallianis holds a Master of Theological Studies from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology.
If we understand that the sanctified elements of communion bear an inanimate expression of God, whereas every human being is a living, animate, walking, and talking expression of the image and likeness of God,
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Living the Sacramental Life: ANNA-NICOLE KYRITSIS
“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” I Corinthians 11:1
One year at a Lenten youth retreat, three teenagers attended an Orthodox Life session entitled, "Living a Sacramental Life." The facilitator’s goal was to reveal that our Lord instructs us to live the Sacraments, rather than simply to partake of them. He illustrated his point through several scriptural references, both from the Old Testament and the New Testament, that revealed God’s instructions for living. Although many listened to his words during the workshop, few responded or questioned the facilitator’s ideas. However, these three young adults became baffled by one of the speaker’s examples, a quote taken from Malachi. "He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver" (Malachi 3:3). Although they could not comprehend how that particular scripture related to God’s instructions to live the sacramental life, upon departing the retreat, the three decided to research further and discovered how this example correlated to the lesson. During the next week one of the trio made an appointment to visit and watch a silversmith at work. She watched him heat a piece of silver by holding it over the fire. During this process he explained to her that the silver needs to be placed in the center of the fire, where the flames are the hottest in order to burn away all of the metal’s impurities. Furthermore, he showed her that he had to keep his eyes on the piece of silver the entire time it was immersed in the fire, so as to prevent it from spoiling. For, if
the silver remains in the flames for too long, then it will be destroyed. The young lady was intrigued as to how the silversmith timed the heating process. "How do you know when the silver is fully refined?" Smiling at her, he responded, "Oh, that’s simple. The silver is refined and purified when I see my image in it." Every year at GOYA retreats and camp sessions, youth ministry leaders relay to our young people the Orthodox teaching that every person is created in the image and likeness of God. They are taught by example that just as the silversmith reveals that the silver must be cleansed of its impurities so that he may see in it his image, so must we be cleansed of our impurities in order to mirror the likeness of Christ. Although our sins are forgiven through repentance and the sacraments of Confession and Communion, we still have the capacity to sin again. Jesus Christ designed a way of life for His disciples to follow in order to live a life created in His likeness. Within this plan, Christ instituted a series of visible sacraments to promote the communion of one’s life with His. The Holy Sacraments are a means that allow us to repent, to be forgiven, to receive both physical and spiritual healing and strengthening, and to be saved. We all know this, right? Practically every Church School teacher in each grade level taught us about the Holy Sacraments, and led us to believe that all we have to do is participate in and receive Baptism, Chrismation, Confession,
Teaching Our Youth by Example Communion, Holy Unction, and for some, Marriage or Holy Orders. Think again. Sacramental living is more than being baptized and putting on Christ as a child. It requires more commitment than receiving Holy Communion on Sunday. It demands more than confessing one’s sins once a year. It entails living every moment in the footsteps of Christ so that we may be prepared to receive His glorious Kingdom. Living the sacramental life entails living a life that is blessed with God’s grace, and hence should be a daily routine. It is something we should plea for by the moment, not by the day of the week or the religious holiday of the year. Yet, many of the children and us understand sacramental living to begin and end with the Holy Sacraments. Therefore, we need to teach our youth through a different means. We need to explain to them that living is a continual process, and draw the parallel that sacramental living is also a continual process. Each breath that we take enables us to enjoy another moment of the life that God gave to each of us. Within every moment that we live, we should walk in the footsteps of Christ. The Holy Sacraments aid us in this process by making God real to us through the five senses. However, because they are not always available to us at every moment of the day, we need to do more. So how should we live a sacramental life? Simple. We should invite Christ into our life. One should make Him the center of one’s
daily routine. Christ teaches that through prayer we may receive help and understanding of His will for us. He shows us upon His death that, above all else, we should love and forgive our enemies as well as our neighbors. He beseeches us to deny ourselves and follow Him. Within each of these practices lay deeds and actions that will bring us closer to living a sacramental life. Inviting Christ into our lives through prayer and the study of Scripture enables us to truly "put on Christ." The Sacraments of Baptism, Chrismation, and Communion provide the foundation for one to live a Christ-centered life. However, building upon that foundation is necessary to maintain the purity and innocence which is received through these sacraments. The reading and study of scripture enables us to discover how Christ expects us to live in this world. The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments provide us with instructions and solutions to common-day struggles. Christ is the ultimate teacher. In the Garden of Gethsemane, He taught His apostles and disciples about prayer through His own example. In Matthew 26:36-56, Christ reveals and models that above all we must pray for the Lord’s will to be done, as well as for the strength to understand His will, accept it, and follow it. St. John the Apostle also recorded that Christ instructs us how to pray. Here Christ is shown modeling the importance of praying for one’s self, as well as for
fellow Christians, for the Church, and for all (John 17:1-26). Christ teaches us that by participating in daily and consistent prayer with the Lord, one may live in communion with Him, and hence be open to receive the gift of His grace, which is by definition the sacramental life. Furthermore, Christ, the teacher, shows that loving and praying for one’s enemies as well as for his neighbors is also a necessary part of living the sacramental life. The ultimate example of Christ’s sacrifice does not lay in His crucifixion alone, but in those words He uttered while hanging upon the Cross. "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do" (Luke 23:34). Even in death He is consumed with teaching us to follow His example by forgiving and loving those who have wronged us. Indeed, the Sacrament of Confession makes this teaching real to us and encourages us to follow this commandment. However, our actions speak louder than words, and we must remember to follow His example even outside of confession. Furthermore, the Sacrament of Holy Baptism also makes Christ real to us by calling us to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow him (ref. Matthew 16:24). Near the end of the baptismal service, the newly illumined child is adorned with a cross as a symbol of the sacrifice Christ bore for us. However, the cross should stand as a daily reminder to each of us that we are living for Him, not ourselves, and that we should invite Christ to dwell within us so that we may truly deny our own desires and follow His will. Through these earthly sacrifices, we begin to live the sacramental life. However, we must not only teach ourselves to live a sacramental life, but 29
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show our children how to live in His likeness, as well. Every educator knows that the strongest teaching tool is modeling. Children imitate what is said and done by their mentors. An Orthodox priest once said it best with his advice, "Do not worry that they (the children) will not listen to what you say; worry that they will be watching what you do." Therefore, it is so important for the youth to be surrounded by individuals who model Orthodox values and morals. Moreover, the youth should receive reinforcement of this desired behavior from their peers and those close to them in age with whom they identify. The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America has provided its youth with the unique ability to learn how to live a sacramental life through its Archdiocesan and Diocesan camping programs, including Ionian Village. They institute sessions such as Orthodox Life, commonly led by clergy and seminarians, which allow the campers to discuss modern day concerns and issues from an Orthodox perspective, and learn how Christ would want them to live. Additionally, the staff members that serve within camping ministries should lead lives that exemplify Orthodox values and morals. Many people seem to forget that our youth have the uncanny ability to perceive whether or not
a person is being genuine. Therefore, it is so important for staff to "practice what they preach." Additionally, certain camping programs provide the ability to explore sacramental living through its studies of the saints. Ionian Village, for example, presents its campers with the unique opportunity to study the lives, visit the relics, and experience the sacramental lives of Saints Dionysios, Nektarios, and Andrew, to name a few. The lives of the saints exemplify sacramental living, and show us how one can accomplish God’s calling to live in Christ’s image. When educating our youth, secular schools teach their students to research, read, and study historical figures’ contributions to society. If we go to such lengths to educate our youth about the lives of ancient Greek philosophers, Napoleon, Hitler, and Martin Luther King Jr., should we not go to the same lengths to educate our Orthodox youth about the historical figures of Orthodoxy, further providing them with examples of how to live in Christ’s image? Indeed, many of the Orthodox saints only differed from us in that they chose to follow Christ, learned from His living examples, and modeled to others the importance of and ability to lead Christian lives. They further set examples for us on how to follow Christ’s calling to deny himself and take up
"Every educator knows that the strongest teaching tool is modeling."
his cross. Truly, Christ implores us to experience those same teachings by providing us with the Gospels and books of the New Testament. All we have to do is follow Him as did the disciples, and educate our youth by actions as well as words, that living the sacramental life entails learning about Christ and Orthodoxy, and walking in His footsteps. Just as the silversmith immersed the piece of silver in the fire to cleanse it from its impurities, so must we immerse ourselves and our youth in Christ to purify our souls. Yet, the full immersion does not end with the participation in the Holy Sacraments, but requires us to study Christ’s living example and the lives of the saints, to read and study the Holy Bible, to engage in a consistent prayer life, to live according to Christ’s teachings, commandments, and God’s will, and to witness to others, primarily the youth, through our own living examples. For Christ, too, desires to see His image in us, which necessitates that we lead sacramental lives. However, living such lives requires us to go beyond the set Sacraments so that we may receive God’s grace. Therefore, we must commit to making Him real within ourselves on a daily basis, and pray that our living examples will in turn teach our youth about Christ’s call to live the sacramental life. Anna-Nicole Kyritsis is the Program Coordinator for Ionian Village and Camping Ministries of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
The Timeless Value of
Bread A r e f l e c t i o n o n i t s m u lt i p l e u s e s in the church community
Bread is the basic food for human life. Every country, culture, and tradition has its own specialty. Bread, called the staff of life, feeds the body. In the Eastern Orthodox Church there are many breads, some complex and some simple. Traditional Eastern Orthodox breads can be traced back hundreds of years. Each is unique, and full of tradition, not only because they feed the body, but also the soul. Simple breads are those made of basic ingredients—nothing fancy is added. Usually the method of making such bread is simple too, by way of using the hands and not machination. The old adage that what is made from the hands comes from the heart is especially true in this case. Prosfora—the Bread of Holy Communion Of the most commonly known breads is the (church) bread called by many names, such as Holy Bread, prosforo, or antidoron. The antidoron begins as prosforo, made by the parishioners as an offering to God and the church. During its preparation, it is mixed not only with baking ingredients, but also with prayer. After the simple prosforo dough is made, it is stamped with a "seal." The seal is specially made to reveal the symbols of Jesus. The first part of the seal imprints the letters "IC," and "XC" on the top row of the center, which represents Jesus Christ. Under those letters, making a second row, is "NIKA," which means in Greek, "He conquers." Together the letters are formed into a cross, centered in a round loaf of bread. While the prosforo loaves are being prepared, the dough is divided into two parts, one is superimposed onto the other depicting Christ's two natures, divine and human. Then the bread is baked. After baking the bread, it is brought to church early and the priest takes it to the altar during the matins or orthros service. (This is a prayer service held just prior to the Divine Liturgy.) There may be one loaf, three loaves, or five loaves depending upon the custom, tradition, and size of the church community.
“One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4: 4
To prepare the Eucharist, the priest cuts a square section of the seal on top of the loaf and sets it on a small tray mounted on a pedestal leg (paten) of the altar table. He then takes the specially designed spear (knife) and pierces the bread, which represents Jesus being pierced in his side by the soldier while on the cross. He then takes a triangular piece for Mary, the Mother of God. Another piece is taken for the Archangels Michael and Gabriel. Then a piece is taken for the glorious Prophet, Fore-runner and Baptist John. Saying the names
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aloud, the priest removes a piece for the Apostles Peter and Paul. The Hierarchs, including St. Basil, St. Gregory, and St. John Chrysostom, are named as another piece is taken. Thereafter, a piece is taken out of the bread for the martyrs, then one piece for the holy ascetics. In remembrance of Saints Joachim and Anna, who are Mary's parents, another piece is then taken. The next piece taken is for the living; the last in remembrance of the departed. After the prosforo is blessed by the clergy during the Divine Liturgy, it is called antidoron. During the church service, the priest and the congregation offer God their minds and hearts, soul and body. This is the real offering, the gift of love. The antidoron is broken and added to the Communion wine, allowing the Eucharist to stand within its tradition. As the Gospel has revealed to us, Christ is "the Bread of Life," the same consecrated bread that Orthodox Christians receive and they become concrete members of Christ's body. Because the loaf represents the family of Christ, communicants are requested to bring names of the living and the departed of their family to be remembered in prayer by the priest. In the context of the Divine Liturgy, the priest recites these words: The Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took Bread: and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, "Take eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me." This is a re-enactment of the Last Supper. Then the bread (antidoron) and wine together is distributed to all those who come to the chalice for Holy Communion. At the end of each liturgy, the blessed bread (the bread not used within the eucharist) is distributed to the entire community who have come to worship, Orthodox and non-Orthodox alike.
Vasilopitaâ€”A Commemoration of St. Basil Another important traditional type of bread is vasilopita. This is a sweet, round bread named after St. Basil. Basil, in its original Greek, is pronounced â€œvasilâ€? while "pita" literally means "bread." The sweetness of this bread symbolizes the joy of everlasting life and the hope that the New Year will be filled with the sweetness of life: liberty, health and happiness for all who participate in the Vasilopita Observance, which happens on the first of January. St. Basil is important to Orthodox Christians because of his good deeds. In order to understand vasilopita bread fully, it is essential to learn about St. Basil. St. Basil, a fourth century bishop, was a humble man and always held the poor and homeless foremost. He was the first bishop to build orphanages and hospitals for children. He would ask the women of his church to bake bread for the needy and would then put a coin into the bread. Later, when they would cut into the bread they were delighted to find the coin. St. Basil knew this was a great help to the poor families, not just for the present, but for the future because it was a symbol of blessing for the whole year. When a local parish gathers together to receive the vasilopita, the priest cuts the loaf in a specified order. The first cut is for Christ and His Holy Church, followed by a slice for the Patriarch, Archbishop, Clergy, and Laity. After these are cut, there is a local order of people whom the church may wish to honor, such as the president of the parish, the church school leader, the church choir director, etc. All of the remaining slices are for the congregation. No one is missed. This festive ceremony is not observed only by the Church community but privately in homes as well. In each home on New Year's Day, the vasilopita is cut in an appropriate order by the head of the house. The first cut is a circular piece from the center signifying
that lives will continue to be Christ-centered. Then the slices are again cut in a specific order: one for those in need (in keeping with the good deeds of St. Basil), one for the home, one for Dad, Mom, and one for each child named in order by age. Thereafter, a slice is made for each grandparent, relative, and any guests present during the celebration. Artoclasia Artoclasia is another bread made with blessings and offered with the congregation to share blessings as well. Emerging from the rich liturgical tradition of Christ and Apostles the artoclasia is made five loaves at a time, symbolizing the five loaves which Christ blessed, divided, and used to feed 5,000 people. The ingredients that set this dough apart from others are olive oil and wine, and are a reminder of the pharmacology of long ago. Olive oil and wine were considered medicinal in value, not only applied to physical wounds, but used for spiritual healing as well. The prayer for blessing of the five loaves of Holy Bread begins within the Vespers service celebrated the evening prior to (usually Sunday) Divine Liturgy. The prayer for this special blessing is: O Lord Jesus Christ our God, who did bless the five loaves and didst therewith feed the five thousand. Do thou, the same Lord, bless these loaves, wheat, wine and oil; and multiply them in this holy habitation, and in all thy world, and sanctify all the faithful who shall partake of them.
through simple acts like these, integrate ordinary life experiences with our experience as members of the Body of Christ. Before science could evaluate the foods for their nutritional value it is the old traditional cuisine of biblical time rated as the healthiest of diets. Attention to these foods is not surprising when the realization dawns that new is not always better. Religious church traditions still hold as true today as when they began. People of Eastern Orthodox regions have their own recipes and customs, but while customs or traditions will vary, breads are universally valuable for maintaining the body. If the soul is not properly and regularly fed, the body and mind will not operate as they were designed. Therefore, the soul needs to be fed fully. Through the prayers and blessings of the special breads this is possible, especially when the rich meanings are understood. This richness has given the Orthodox Christian more to think about than just eating to maintain the body. Bread is not only the staff of life giving nutrients to the body, but food for the soul.
Vicki Cassis, a Church School Teacher of eight years and a Pan-Orthodox Bible School Teacher of five years, is a parishioner at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Grand Rapids, MI.
For it is thou, O Christ our God, who dost bless and sanctify all things; and unto thee we ascribe glory, with thy father which hath no beginning, and thine all-holy, good, and life creating spirit, now, and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen. Artoclasia is offered for personal restoration and rejuvenation. Slices are cut for each person to receive at the end of the church service. Devotion and thanksgiving to God for all His blessings,
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Recipe (Byzantine Style)
“Do not work for REV DN GEORGE ACQUARO
the food that perishes, but for
This recipe has been compiled from numerous sources and various experiments. For further explanations about what is involved in this recipe please visit my website at www.prosfora.org. For the time being, this will have to suffice for the curious at heart and the adventuresome in spirit! This recipe makes four Byzantine style loaves.
the food that endures for eternal life,
Ingredients: • High-gluten or regular bleached flour - 14 cups • Hot (~100 degrees) water - 4 cups
which the Son
• Active Dry Yeast - 1 1/2 Tbsp. of Man will
• Salt - 2 Tsp. give you.”
• Nothing else! John 6: 27
Instructions 1. Place 12 cups of flour, salt and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Using a sturdy wooden spoon, mix the dry ingredients until blended.
2. Mix in all of the water, stirring with the spoon until the dough begins to clump up. When you can't use the spoon any longer, begin to knead the dough with your hands. Mash the clumps of dough into a single ball.
3. Here's where you need to stop and look at your workplace. To avoid kneading injuries, you need to be able to work the dough with straight arms.
4. If you are short, like me, I suggest you keep the bread in the bowl and do your kneading on the floor in a kneeling position. Otherwise, put the ball on a floured board on your sink and start to work it.
5. Knead the dough with the heel of your palms, both pressing down and pushing the ball away from you. You shouldn't just press the dough, but stretch it out. The reason for this is covered elsewhere (on my website). Knead the dough for 20 minutes. As you knead, stretch and slam the dough frequently (also explained on my website).
6. The consistency you are trying to achieve is crucial. I suggest the following: Firstâ€”add more rather than less water right off the bat, then add flour to achieve the right consistency. Adding water to dry dough is messy, whereas adding flour to wet dough is a bit easier and faster. Secondâ€”the proper consistency is judged by pushing the wellmixed dough ball with a finger up to the second knuckle. If the dough sticks to the end of your finger but not the sides, you have the proper consistency. The dough, if folded over and pushed, should "heal" and not remain two pieces. Yet, it shouldn't stick to lightly floured, smooth surfaces. Add flour as you knead until you get the right consistency. This takes practice!
7. After 15-20 minutes have passed (or you collapse from exhaustion), cover the dough with plastic wrap in a bowl with enough room for the dough to grow. Leave a little gap or two for air to escape, but not enough for real circulation to occur and harden the surface of the ball. Place this in a warm place, like the oven before use. The heat from the pilot usually makes the oven ideal for rising (~80 degrees is sufficient). 8. Allow the dough to rise long enough to double in size (usually no more than 90 minutes). 9. Set your oven for 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Set your rack in the lower section of the oven. For a softer crust, consult my website for information about steam baking.
10. Take the bowl and uncover the dough. Grabbing the sides of the ball where it is sticking to the bowl, pull it away from the sides and punch it down in the center. Keep doing this until the dough is roughly the same size it was before it began to rise. Bust air bubbles as they surface and knead for a few minutes.
11. Cut the ball into four equal pieces. Work three of them into separate balls, place them back in the bowl and cover again. The piece left over will be your first loaf. Place it on a floured board.
12. Choose a piece and work it until you are confident that there are virtually no air bubbles left in it. I use a rolling pin to squish the dough out to 1/16". This gets rid of most of the bubbles, and a toothpick does the rest. Form it into a ball, then flatten this out until it is around 1/2" thick 13. Take a 9" cake pan or the equivalent and press it into the dough, like a cookie cutter. This will give you a perfectly round loaf with little effort. Trim away the excess, and set this remaining portion aside.
14. Flour your pizza stone or baking sheet (this will be a topic of future discussion), then lay the main loaf body on it.
15. Using a conventional teaspoon, take some water (about 1/2 tsp.) and pour it on the surface of the dough, rubbing it around with
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the bottom of the spoon. This dampens the top of the dough, making it sticky and allowing the seal portion to adhere without a bubble. Do not allow the water to run off the top, otherwise it will cause the loaf to glue itself to the baking surface! Very bad!
your oven is ancient like mine!) Set the timer for another 20 minutes, allowing for the proofing time for the second loaf and the finish of the first.
23. Repeat this until there's no more dough.
16. Now, roll out the remaining (trimmed off ) portion of the dough with extra flour. Get every bubble you can out of this piece, and add at least two tablespoons of flour to this piece, so it looses most of its stickiness. Shape this into a pancake the same size as your seal.
17. Lay your floured seal on the table face up. Place the pancake on top of the seal and mash it into the seal with your palm. Show no mercy! Force the dough into all the details of your seal. The added flour will keep the pancake from sticking.
18. Carefully holding the edges of the dough around the seal, turn this over onto the damp surface of the loaf. Now, push hard to that all the air is forced out and the seal portion is well nested into the loaf. This also takes practice! Don't be surprised if your first few attempts end up with a double impression from the dough shifting during the flip. You'll get the hang of it with time.
19. Now, here's where you'll need a tool: in my case, I use a Korean chopstick. This stick tapers gently down to a sharp point from the top to the bottom. When it pierces, it starts with a small hole and opens it, verses a blunt stick which will pull a good portion of the surface down with it and traumatize the seal. 20. Pierce the loaf with the stick around the edges of the seal. Push all the way down to the bottom. This will allow the loaf to split down at the bottom if the crust hardens too quickly (the loaf will rise on the sides, exposing the circle of punctures) as well as allow gases inside to escape more easily. Then, pierce the corners of the Lamb section. Using a toothpick, pierce the tops of each section of the seal 1/4" deep to prevent bubbling. You can then make decorative piercing along the perimeter of the loaf (I have seen some very elaborate ones).
21. Allow the loaf to sit out for 20 minutes and "proof" (again, see website).
22. Pop it into the oven. Set your timer for 15 minutes. When it goes off, form another loaf. By the time you're done, it will be ready to turn the loaf in the oven around to achieve even browning (if
Alternative: Some Byzantine loaves use two equal pieces of dough, rolled thin and placed in the bottom of a high-sided pot which is then baked without the cover. This yields a low, cylindrical loaf with even sides and a good seal (the sides of the pot prevent the seal impression from stretching out).
Rev. Dn. George Acquaro serves at St. Nicholas Antiochian Cathedral in Los Angeles and holds a Master of Divinity from St. Vladimirâ€™s Orthodox Theological Seminary.
P R O S P H O R A:
AN OFFERING TO GOD PHYLLIS MESHEL ONEST, M.DIV.
What do the Scriptures Tell Us about Bread? He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, and vegetation for the service of man, that he may bring forth food from the earth, and wine that makes glad the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread which strengthen man's heart. (Psalm 103: 14-15)
â€œFor the bread of God is that
This Old Testament Psalm gives us much information: God created from nothing; He is the "Cause" of everything. He provides for the animals and for man. God has given us the earth, and by working the earth, we can grow our food. Wine, when used appropriately, can lift our spirits. Oil too has many uses. It adds flavor to our food and is medicinal when used topically. In Jesus' time people would apply oil to their faces after washing. Bread is a staple in our diet, giving us the strength we need. In the Lord's Prayer Jesus told us pray, "give us this day our daily bread." It is the only physical thing we are told to ask for since it represents all the food that we need to sustain our life. And Jesus said, "I am the living Bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread he will live forever; and the bread which I shall give is my flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world" (John 6:51). At the Last Supper, Jesus used bread as a way to continue to share in the lives of His disciples. He took a loaf of bread and broke it. Just as the loaf is broken and consumed to give us life, so His body, broken on the cross, would give us everlasting life. He asked us to do this in remembrance of Him. When we participate in the Eucharist, we do just that!
which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.â€? John 6: 33
A Little History about Bread For most of us in the twentieth century, bread is just bread (unless of course we are refugees in the Balkans or elsewhere. When we see bread being unloaded from trucks, we only begin to understand its importance!) We can live without it. After all, we have bagels, English muffins, and anything else we want to make, or more often, buy. Bread is bread! Or is it? I can remember going with my mother to the Greek-Italian import store for specialty items not found in the local grocery store: feta cheese, Greek olives, and Italian bread. That Italian bread was not sliced. It had a hard crust all around it. It had a different texture; it was chewy. And it was great to use to sop up the sauce from various Greek meals Mom made. Bread isn't just bread!
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At the time when Jesus walked among us, bread was an important staple in the diet of ordinary people. By virtue of paying taxes, each Roman citizen was entitled to a daily ration of bread. As a result it was regulated. The Romans had stringent laws about the size and weight of loaves of bread that were sold. The consequences for shortchanging the purchaser were dire. Sealing each loaf with the imprint of the baker kept the bakers honest, and guaranteed that the Roman government got exactly the amount of bread paid for to feed the Roman troops. Bread was not the only item sealed. Dealers of olive oil and wine also used clay seals to identify their products.
Bread and the Liturgy Prosphora is a Greek word meaning "offering." In one sense, all that we offer for the use within the Church is prosphora: wine, incense, charcoal, oil (for oil lamps), candles, flowers, and bread. Our offerings are never raw materials. In all these cases we take something and make it into something else: grapes into wine, olives into olive oil, wheat into bread and so on. Generally speaking, prosphora refers to the bread offering. But this bread was not limited to liturgical useâ€”it was also a gift to the Church for feeding the priest and the poor. While its use has remained the same as in the early Church, its form and markings have evolved. Bread with markings and in various shapes was common in ancient times among pagans as well as Christians. People decorated or impressed symbols on bread that was baked, bought, and eaten every day, as well as on bread offered in religious rites. Once again the Church "Christianized" a pagan or common practice. Details concerning the first Eucharistic loaves are not found in the writings of the early Fathers. In Bread and the Liturgy, Galavaris notes:
Probably the texts are silent because the forms and symbols were known to all and interpreted correctly. The use of bread in worship was delivered to the Christian communities by practice itself, before any formulation had found a place in the written documents. This is better understood if one remembers that the celebration of the Eucharist predates any written source. The sacrament was celebrated as soon as a Christian group was formed. In Jerusalem, for example, the Eucharist was performed immediately after Pentecost, that is, twenty years or more before the writing of the Synoptics. During the time of Christian persecution, Christian symbols became cryptic, hiding, for example, the cross in simple decorative motifs. Although the symbol used on the bread may have varied during the early years, St. John Chrysostom (4th century) refers to the bread being "sealed," probably with the IC-XC NIKA.
Two Prosphora Traditions The Slavic tradition uses a small seal, stamped on five loaves, in honor of the "feeding of the 5000." These small loaves are made with two layers to represent both the two-fold nature of Christ and the uniting of heaven and earth. The Greek style, which uses one large loaf marked with IC-XC NIKA in the center, surrounded by several other seals, signifies the one Body of Christ. The first bread seals were bronze. Seals have also been made of ceramic, marble, wood, and now plastic.
Preparing the Bread at Church The priest prepares the offering in the part of the Liturgy called the proskomidia or prothesis, offered just prior to the Divine Liturgy. The center of the seal, in both the Greek and Slavic traditions, reads IC-XC
NIKA, which means "Jesus Christ Conquers /The Victor." The priest cuts one seal in the shape of a cube to be offered as the "Lamb," which becomes Christ's Body. He also removes pieces and places them next to the Lamb on the diskos (paten). To the left is placed a large triangular piece for the Theotokos, Christ's Mother. Nine smaller triangular pieces are placed to the right in three rows of three in memory of John the Baptist, the prophets, apostles, hierarchs, martyrs, monastic saints, healers, and the whole company of the righteous, with special mention of the saints commemorated on that particular day. Finally a piece of bread is placed on the diskos in memory of the saint whose liturgy is being celebrated. In addition, two rows of bread pieces are placed on the diskos for the bishop of the given church, for the civil authorities of the country and for all of the faithful both living and dead, once more with particular mention by name of those particularly remembered by the local community.
placing a vigil lamp/candle near the rising bread. Your parish priest should be able to offer guidelines relative to your jurisdiction's practice. Reprinted with permission from Orthodox Family Life, Vol. 4, Issue 4.
Phyllis Meshel Onest holds a Master of Divinity from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology and is the Director of Religious Education for the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Pittsburgh.
In this way the whole Church, the entire Body of Christâ€”saints, loved ones in heaven together with the local congregationâ€” participates in the offering to God. In the Slavic tradition a separate loaf is used for each set of particles cut during the proskomidia: the Lamb, the Theotokos, the "Nine Ranks," the living, and the dead.
Prayerful Preparation Preparing this bread is a very special and holy service to God. By reflecting on the bread's use, the baking of it becomes a prayerful and solemn undertaking. Needless to say, before one begins the baking process, prayers are in order. Although traditions vary, begin with the Trisagion Prayers and the recitation of the Creed. The work area can be sprinkled with holy water and a vigil light lit. While the bread is rising, read some of the psalms or other spiritual reading. Consider
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Blessing W i t h DEACON ALEXANDER CHETSAS
A Short Story From the Past
“Those who are generous are blessed, for they share their bread with the poor.” Proverbs 22:9
I’ll never forget the look on that haggard face. At the strong suggestion of my parents, I had been doing a bit of "volunteer" weeding on the sidewalk in front of my home parish for a couple of steamy summer hours—if I remember right, much to my sixteen-year-old chagrin—and he had just asked me where he could go in town for some help. He was only passing through, looking for a soup kitchen, a food pantry, clothes, a little cash, anything. He had been unsuccessfully looking for work for months, he said, and hadn’t been feeling well for even longer. In retrospect, he didn’t look well—something wrong with his belly, if I remember right. He wondered if my church might be able to help: did we have a soup kitchen today? Was there someone in the parish who might help him to earn some money? Could the pastor help with some emergency cash? And with this last question he bit his chapped bottom lip a bit, grimacing in embarrassment; he clearly wasn’t comfortable asking for help, especially for money. Annoyed at my raw fingertips and chaffed knuckles, and the sting of sweat and bug-spray in my eyes, I unceremoniously dismissed him to the Baptist church a few blocks away. They, I told him, were the ones who did "that sort of thing" in town—a "soup kitchen or something." We both tried to ignore the large drop of sweat that rolled off his nose and silently evaporated on the scorching pavement just shy of my sneaker; I was hot and annoyed, and I was hoping he would go away, but he didn’t move. Finally, wanting to end the encounter, I said it. "Yeah, why don’t you give them a try. There’s nothing for you here." With these last cold words, I made direct eye contact with him for the first time. And that’s when the look came over his face. It was an expression I can remember all too vividly, but one that is difficult to describe. It was a painful combination of disbelief, surprise, embarrassment, anger and, I think, finally hurt. It was the look of someone who was truly taken off guard, who had hoped to hear something other than what he actually heard. "Thanks," he said mutely, after an endless five or six seconds. I gave a nod, and he turned and left me to my work. I sat there, dumbly, with my silly little spade and can of bug spray for about ten minutes, not working and just thinking about what had happened. I knew I had done something wrong—but I wasn’t sure quite what it was. In the years since, when I reflect on my lack of compassion and concern for the least of my brethren that day, I often fancy the end of my life might see me revisiting this little drama. I depart from my earthly body, smugly cruise toward Heaven—but as I swagger toward the Pearly Gates in expectation of only good things, a familiar voice coldly informs me, "There’s nothing for you here." Just desserts, no doubt.
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The Moral of the Story However, the issue expressed in this little narrative goes beyond teenage insensitivity. In the end, I had nothing to offer the homeless man who approached me, because my parish had no provisions for such a case or any such related case: we had no food pantry, no soup kitchen, no extra clothes to give away during the long New England winters, no emergency cash fund, no employment resource, no organized group of lay people to help the needy. We had no plan of action to help this man get back on his feet. And this is not because the parish was lacking resources or generosity; in fact, it had plenty of both. The people were good and kind. They were cheerful givers. There was just, for lack of a better expression, no strong community-wide connection to life outside the sphere of normal parish happenings—no connection to the needs of the broader community. Our parish, at that time, did not know what to do with this poor man and those like him. This type of helping just did not happen at our church. It has often been said that the issue of outreach, or lack thereof, is a broad problem for the Orthodox in this country. It is at least safe to say that our Church is certainly not as well known as it should be for its outreach to those who are homeless, hungry and generally in need. And this "rap" on us is old and practically axiomatic by now: when you need help with shelter and food in this country, your first instinct is to look for a Baptist, Methodist or Catholic church, not for an Orthodox church. People know us for our beautiful icons, but not for our action on behalf of the poor, the hungry and the dispossessed. The reality of this statement will, of course, vary from Orthodox community to Orthodox community. Moreover, all of our unique communities have varying resources, immediate priorities and challenges to face. Nonetheless, this issue obviously needs to be faced by all of us as a nationwide Orthodox community. The affinity of Christ to the poor and needy as witnessed by the Gospels demands that we face it, that we work vigorously to correct what is wrong and replenish what is lacking in our sense of mission and outreach. And as mentioned, the problem is not that we are not a generous and giving
community. Our sense of outreach into the general community, however, lacks a uniform vision, direction and organization. There is poignant need for a unified mission statement, a plan of action that any one of our communities can pursue—something each community can strive for in coordination with the general Orthodox community. Pastors and other Church leaders need to supply the specific mediums, the opportunities for outreach, to our communities. The Holy Spirit perpetuates the life and ministry of Jesus Christ in our Church. The people—all of us—are moved by the Spirit and what we experience every Sunday via Liturgy and the Eucharist. We just need concrete, day-to-day direction for the actualization of our mutual inspiration. We need to identify creative ways to act on what is experienced at Liturgy and learned through our weekly Gospel lessons. And there could be no more vital or appropriate time than now for us to vigorously confront this issue. Over the last year and a half, our struggling economy has resulted in myriad lay-offs and record-breaking corporate bankruptcies; family providers are struggling to maintain stability and security in the midst of a turbulent, volatile job market. Philanthropic organizations report that the number of people needing the assistance of soup kitchens, food pantries, emergency cash facilities and the like has ballooned over the last year. Further, the so-called September 11th effect has complicated this issue. That devastating day has, of course, created even greater need throughout the country. In fact, Project Bread, a Massachusetts organization dedicated to ending hunger in the state, reports that the "unemployment rate for September of 2001…increased 1.6%." Though the general need of the population for philanthropic giving has increased, as has the need of helping organizations, an enormous amount of giving was done in the wake of September 11th. With money being tight as it is, many people who give generously to charities on an annual basis are simply tapped out at this point. Many families are finding that there are just far fewer extra dollars available for charitable giving, if any. But the fact remains that the basic needs of our neighbors are significant, and even though our resources are not what they were, perhaps, a few years ago, it is surely time for us to act, to face the needs of our neighbors in as
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creative, organized, thoughtful and unified a manner as possible. The issues are many: where to begin, whom to learn from, what programs to model our own efforts after, how to maintain unity of vision and clarity of goals while still providing room for creativity and the uniqueness of our people, talents, resources and respective communities.
Another Storyâ€ŚFrom the Present It may be encouraging to hear that such efforts have already begun. Over the past few months, a pilot outreach program has been initiated by the Boston Diocese, Annunciation Cathedral, and Holy Cross Seminary. Through the cooperation of many local Orthodox faithful, a grassroots organization called Project Bread, and a local community center, we have been able to start an after-school-snack program (ASP) for a community in Boston that did not previously have one. This program provides a nutritious evening meal for children whose parents are not able to provide one. But this is done with true pastoral genius: the snacks are given very casually in conjunction with other activities, such as homework tutoring time and athletic activity so that the children are not made to feel embarrassed for showing up with the intent of obtaining food alone. Community centers that offer snacks inevitably have more visitors than community centers that are not able to offer snacks. So by offering food, the center is not only providing much-needed nutrition for children, but is also more effective in keeping more kids off the streets and enabling them to do productive, safe things with their free time. The brief history of our particular project in Boston is perhaps too detailed to recount here, but I have summarized some of the main principles that the experience has yielded. The outcome, thus far, of this project may provide some direction and perspective, some possible answers to the questions facing any of our Orthodox parishes considering the initiation of an outreach project.
Hierarchical Support The most important thing we did in the early stages of the ASP was to share our ideas with Metropolitan Methodios. His experience, knowledge and connections to the helping institutions of the Boston area made all the difference. He helped us sift through the unfeasible ideas and move on to realistic, approachable goals. Because he continuously works with Project Bread through his ministry, he was able to immediately put us in touch with professionals in the field who could make our ideas a positive reality in the general community. Most importantly, we need to keep in mind that we cannot be hesitant to approach our hierarchs with ideas and our enthusiasm; they are our leaders and our spiritual fathers and they are willing to support us. They want to work with us and we need their blessings, counsel and direction in order for our projects to bear fruit for our Orthodox communities and our non-Orthodox neighbors.
Collaboration Sometimes we get possessive of our ideas, of our resources. A good, exciting idea can quickly become "my thing;" we often murder wonderful projects through isolation and egotism. One thing that has consistently amazed me is that although we have a myriad of Orthodox organizations, entities and personalities involved with the ASP, our people have put the needs of the center first and collaborated with one another quite well. For the most part, work has been delegated fairly and when disagreements have arisen, the individuals involved have known when to give way a little, backing down from relatively unimportant positions. Personality and ego have taken a back seat to a project that we all want to see thrive. From the beginning, we realized that we were not experts in the field of hunger; the people from Project Bread were the experts, and they had the experience and resources to get our project rolling. If we had tripped over our own egos during our early meetings with these fine people, the ASP would not have materialized. And when considering the present day-to-day function
of the project, I believe that problems that should be arising—that we expected to arise—are not, because the volunteers are looking at what is being done and recognizing that this is something we Orthodox should be doing, should be involved in. And might be expected, the circle keeps growing. Parents from local parishes want their kids to help us assemble the snack packs (which we do with a host of volunteers every Sunday after church); young people from other jurisdictions are talking with us about other things we might do as an Orthodox community; local priests are asking how we got started, how we made the initial contacts and approached the research process; individual donors from Boston Diocese parishes are sending checks to us because they feel good about the project. A good thing is catching on in our Diocese, and this is because we keep the doors wide open to everyone who is interested.
The Definition of Orthodox Witness We have had several issues concerning volunteers who would like to witness their Orthodox faith to the children by speaking to them about our church and why we are trying to help out their community center. From day one, the founding committee members affirmed that our Orthodox witness would be actualized by our works, not our mouths. The people at our community center trust us not to proselytize the children and not to compromise their respective faiths and the wishes of the parents; to start speaking with them about anything other than whether they like the Celtics or the Bulls, or how they did on last week’s math test, would represent a violation of this trust and the compromise of a positive phenomenon on our Diocese. Pure relationships could quickly become manipulated. We Orthodox do hold a most valuable treasure, and it is hard not to tell everyone about it. But we also need to let people know us by our works— sometimes we simply need to do good things because Jesus told us to, nothing more.
Opportunities for Youth Ministry The opportunities within such a program for youth ministry are unfathomable. For example, the GOYA group at my parish assignment heard about the project, loved the idea, and decided to support it. They raised an astounding amount of money one Sunday through a fundraiser that they planned and ran; they have committed to helping with the assembly of the snack packs. It is important for them to be involved on a hands-on level. They like to do things, meet new people and experience the validity of the Gospel in their lives. Several parents have approached me and said that they wanted their kids to drive to Roxbury with me (the center is in a rough area) and see how little so many kids their age have. The ASP has provided an opportunity for our parish youth to interact with people with whom they might otherwise never have a chance to interact. In addition to these hands-on learning opportunities, the project has provided much material for youth sessions on hunger, poverty, social justice, and philanthropy during our GOYA meetings. And the best part is that the project is a real, tangible example for them of what we can do in this world. A connection between the Gospel and their lives is made manifest with the project. The kids and their parents are educating themselves on what it means to live the faith. And they are educating me, as well. In addition to support, they provide me with critiques and suggestions concerning the ASP and how it might be more efficiently run. Because I am a seminarian and I know it all, critiques do hurt— but in the end, I am ecstatic that they care enough to criticize, and their ideas have been helpful. I suspect Fr. Dean and the other leaders of the program have had similar, positive educational experiences.
Fundraising Fundraising does not have to be fancy and large scale for such a project. We’ve found that because the ASP is a worthy project, it is not difficult to gain support. Honest conversation about the program and its needs are enough. We have initiated this conversation via letters to
P R A X I S
local philoptochos chapters, various parish organizations, and local priests. We’ve also approached individual donors and simply told them our story. The response is usually quite favorable. Further, as mentioned GOYA, JOY and YAL groups have run small-scale fundraisers such as dessert parties and a "Souper Bowl Sunday" fund drive, where people throw dollar bills into a huge soup pot on the way out of church on Super Bowl Sunday. The reaction of the parishes to the efforts of their youth has been very positive: we all like to see our kids putting the faith to work, getting behind a worthy cause, and putting their creativity and talents to use in the process. In future months, we’re planning a "naming" fundraiser, where guests will offer a donation along with a suggestion for the name of the ASP (a saint’s name); we plan to have representatives from the center, the Mayor’s Office, Project Bread, and from our Diocese speak about the progress of the project and its future needs. Near the end of the event, we’ll ask Metropolitan Methodios to randomly pick a name from the suggestions. Then we can finally stop calling the program the "ASP." The event will not only be important because the funds raised there will help the ASP continue to function; perhaps even more importantly, it will represent an opportunity for dialogue between our Orthodox community and various civil leaders. We have many common goals. It only makes sense for us to know one another and help one another.
Fellowship The aforementioned snack assembly sessions, which run about two hours, have been characterized by an amazing enthusiasm. Again, people know they are doing something good, and it just makes them feel fulfilled. I have seen unlikely friendships blossom; there is also a strong bond that grows between people when they are doing something worthy for the Church together. And groups and
communities that usually would not interact, do interact at our sessions. We have local parishioners mingling with seminarians; we have older parishioners getting to know younger parishioners; we have GOYA members getting to know the local priests from the area who stop in to help and see what’s going on; we have people from different Orthodox jurisdictions coming into contact and brainstorming for the future. And from parish to parish, the opportunities for community building with such projects are endless. Concerning ethnic issues in our parishes, the ASP and similar projects might help alleviate awkwardness and shyness. These days, of course, our parishes are filled not only with people who are, say, Greek in heritage or Russian in heritage, but with people from a myriad of backgrounds. Further, we have some people in our parishes who might be, say, first generation Americans and fourth or fifth generation Americans. In short, there are different languages spoken among them, different cultural traditions, different ideas about raising families—and these rich blessings of diversity among parishioners can create wonderful opportunities for sharing and learning. They can also, however, create an unnecessary sense of isolation among groups of parishioners, shyness and even distrust. The ASP and similar projects provide a unique opportunity for such different people to get together because everyone is on the same footing. There are no ethnic traditions one has to be embarrassed about not knowing. The activity—be it feeding kids, the elderly, etc.—is something everyone can agree on as worthy, regardless of background. Language of preference is not really an issue; Mrs. Pappas and Mrs. O’Rourke will be equally at home with what is going on. There is simply no ethnic or cultural issue to fret over. Thus people who have felt awkward or uncomfortable in other church settings may find a home with such programs, and eventually, people who perhaps felt intimidated or distrustful of one another, may find that these fears were ungrounded.
For the Future Simple projects like the ASP can lead to greater things, more profound relationships. In addition to discussions about "adopting" other community centers as our volunteer base and resources grow, we have already begun talking with the administrators at the center about academic tutoring and physical education instruction opportunities with the children. With a simple police background check, any of our parishioners, seminarians and other interested parties may volunteer as a youth worker at the center—again, just as with the nutrition issue, the center has a great need for help. The opportunities for lasting, meaningful relationships between the volunteers and the kids within these augmented levels of involvement are obvious and endless. Again, there is no better way to witness for Orthodoxy in the general community than to be a dependable and generous neighbor to people who are in need.
the Holy Spirit. And there can be no boundaries for our love of neighbor. The incarnate Lord reached out to all, and so must we. It cannot be otherwise. I hope that someday, if my daughter—while, perhaps, doing some "volunteer" weeding on the sidewalk in front of her home parish—is approached by a hungry, needy stranger looking for some sort of help, she will not repeat the mistakes of her father. I hope that she will have been given the direction and training to act differently than I did. I hope she will have been inspired and moved by her Church leaders to act differently than I did—that she will not parrot my cold, deadly words. If she has been properly educated, properly shepherded, maybe she will not be annoyed and unhelpful. Instead, perhaps she will kindly take the stranger’s hand, and lead him inside the Church to people who know how to help him and who will do so with love. And maybe the stranger will know, then, that there is something for him in our Orthodox Church.
Burn Out Often our best, most dedicated volunteers do too much and decide they cannot do anything any more. Then our communities lose them, at least to a certain degree. It is the responsibility of project leaders to keep our invaluable volunteers from spreading themselves too thinly, from taking on too much. This means we have to carry our share and make sure the other members of our group are carrying their share. We have made some mistakes in our group already. We have let some people take on too much, and they have, naturally, become tired and are feeling a bit burdened. This is something we have tried to correct. But it would have been easier to prevent.
Deacon Alexander Chetsas serves at St. Sophia Cathedral in Los Angeles, CA and holds a Master of Arts in English from Salem State College, Salem, MA. He is completing a Master of Divinity at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, MA.
Conclusion Ultimately, I hope that this brief article will inspire discussion about the need for organized Orthodox outreach on a nationwide level. Perhaps a plan of action applicable to our various parishes and dioceses that could be made available to all of our priests and faithful: an assertion by the Archdiocese of the need for outreach, for missionary work, in our inner cities and directives on what each parish should be doing to address the needs in each respective community. We need the direction and leadership of our hierarchs, of our senior priests, of our Orthodox professors, social scientists, and activists. We need them to tell us that it is not all right to be dormant, to be complacent and comfortable, to be inward looking; we need them to help us define what our missionary efforts in the U.S. should look like in the twentyfirst century—what our goals should be, how we should conduct our efforts in a unified manner. There are no boundaries we can impose for the unceasing, all-encompassing love of God, for the ubiquity of
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