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No compensation, mind you, except This book is a must read for anyone who would like a good insight into the nature and need for conviction. Balanced discussion, excellent summarization. Go to Amazon. Fast, FREE delivery, video streaming, music, and much more. Back to top. Get to Know Us. Amazon Payment Products. English Choose a language for shopping.

Length: 43 pages. Word Wise: Enabled. Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled. Page Flip: Enabled. Amazon Music Stream millions of songs. Amazon Advertising Find, attract, and engage customers. Claiming as it does to be the one true Church, the Orthodox Church also believes that, if it so desired, it could by itself convene and hold another Ecumenical Council, equal in authority to the first seven.

Since the separation of east and west the Orthodox unlike the west have never in fact chosen to summon such a Council; but this does not mean that they believe themselves to lack the power to do so. So much for the Orthodox idea of the unity of the Church.


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Orthodoxy also teaches that outside the Church there is no salvation. This belief has the same basis as the Orthodox belief in the unbreakable unity of the Church: it follows from the close relation between God and His Church. So wrote Saint Cyprian; and to him this seemed an evident truth, because he could not think of God and the Church apart from one another. All the categorical strength and point of this aphorism lies in its tautology. Does it therefore follow that anyone who is not visibly within the Church is necessarily damned? Of course not; still less does it follow that everyone who is visibly within the Church is necessarily saved.

If anyone is saved, he must in some sense be a member of the Church; in what sense, we cannot always say On this question, see pp. The Church is infallible. This again follows from the indissoluble unity between God and His Church. It is " the pillar and the ground of truth" 1 Tim. But before we can understand what makes a Council Ecumenical, we must consider the place of bishops and of the laity in the Orthodox communion. The Orthodox Church is a hierarchical Church. An essential element in its structure is the Apostolic Succession of bishops.

He is a living image of God upon earth At his election and consecration an Orthodox bishop is endowed with the threefold power of 1 ruling, 2 teaching, and 3 celebrating the sacraments. At his consecration a bishop receives a special gift or charisma from the Holy Spirit, in virtue of which he acts as a teacher of the faith. But although the bishop has a special charisma , it is always possible that he may fall into error and give false teaching: here as elsewhere the principle of synergy applies, and the divine element does not expel the human.

The bishop remains a man, and as such he may make mistakes. The Church is infallible, but there is no such thing as personal infallibility. But the Church is not only hierarchical, it is charismatic and Pentecostal. Despise not prophesyings" 1 Thes. There is a special ordained ministry of bishops, priests, and deacons; yet at the same time the whole people of God are prophets and priests.

In the Church of later days, these charismatic ministries have been less in evidence, but they have never been wholly extinguished. Seraphim of Sarov and the startsi of Optino exercised an influence far greater than any hierarch. We have called the bishop a ruler and monarch, but these terms are not to be understood in a harsh and impersonal sense; for in exercising his powers the bishop is guided by the Christian law of love.

He is not a tyrant but a father to his flock. Make him a guide to the blind, a light to those in darkness, a teacher to the unreasonable, an instructor to the foolish, a flaming torch in the world; so that having brought to perfection the souls entrusted to him in this present life, he may stand without confusion before thy judgment seat, and receive the great reward which thou hast prepared for those who have suffered for the preaching of thy Gospel. The authority of the bishop is fundamentally the authority of the Church.

However great the prerogatives of the bishop may be, he is not someone set up over the Church, but the holder of an office in the Church. Bishop and people are joined in an organic unity, and neither can properly be thought of apart from the other. Without bishops there can be no Orthodox people, but without Orthodox people there can be no true bishop. The relation between the bishop and his flock is a mutual one. The bishop is the divinely appointed teacher of the faith, but the guardian of the faith is not the episcopate alone, but the whole people of God, bishops, clergy, and laity together.

Infallibility belongs to the whole Church, not just to the episcopate in isolation. The case is quite different.

Birkbeck, Russia and the English Church , p. This conception of the laity and their place in the Church must be kept in mind when considering the nature of an Ecumenical Council. The laity are guardians and not teachers; therefore, although they may attend a council and take an active part in the proceedings as Constantine and other Byzantine Emperors did , yet when the moment comes for the council to make a formal proclamation of the faith, it is the bishops alone who, in virtue of their teaching charisma , take the final decision.

But councils of bishops can err and be deceived. How then can one be certain that a particular gathering is truly an Ecumenical Council and therefore that its decrees are infallible? Many councils have considered themselves ecumenical and have claimed to speak in the name of the whole Church, and yet the Church has rejected them as heretical: Ephesus in , for example, or the Iconoclast Council of Hieria in , or Florence in Yet these councils seem in no way different in outward appearance from the Ecumenical Councils.

What, then, is the criterion for determining whether a council is ecumenical? This is a more difficult question to answer than might at first appear, and though it has been much discussed by Orthodox during the past hundred years, it cannot be said that the solutions suggested are entirely satisfactory. All Orthodox know which are the seven Councils that their Church accepts as ecumenical, but precisely what it is that makes a council ecumenical is not so clear.

There are, so it must be admitted, certain points in the Orthodox theology of Councils which remain obscure and which call for further thinking on the part of theologians. With this caution in mind, let us briefly consider the present trend of Orthodox thought on this subject.

To the question how one can know whether a council is ecumenical, Khomiakov and his school gave an answer which at first sight appears clear and straightforward: a council cannot be considered ecumenical unless its decrees are accepted by the whole Church. Florence, Hieria, and the rest, while ecumenical in outward appearance, are not truly so, precisely because they failed to secure this acceptance by the Church at large. One might object: What about Chalcedon? The bishops, so Khomiakov argued, because they are the teachers of the faith, define and proclaim the truth in council; but these definitions must then be acclaimed by the whole people of God, including the laity, because it is the whole people of God that constitutes the guardian of Tradition.

There is no such plebiscite. Bulgakov, The Orthodox Church , p. At a true Ecumenical Council the bishops recognize what the truth is and proclaim it; this proclamation is then verified by the assent of the whole Christian people, an assent which is not, a rule, expressed formally and explicitly, but lived. Protestants and Catholics usually fail to understand this fundamental truth of Orthodoxy: both materialize the presence of God in the Church — the one party in the letter of Scripture, the other in the person of the Pope — though they do not thereby avoid the miracle, but clothe it in a concrete form.

Meyendorff, quoted by M. In God and in His Church there is no division between the living and the departed, but all are one in the love of the Father. Death cannot sever the bond of mutual love which links the members of the Church together. Prayers for the Departed. Pardon every transgression which they have committed, whether by word or deed or thought.

Orthodox are convinced that Christians here on earth have a duty to pray for the departed, and they are confident that the dead are helped by such prayers. But precisely in what way do our prayers help the dead? What exactly is the condition of souls in the period between death and the Resurrection of the Body at the Last Day? Here Orthodox teaching is not entirely clear, and has varied somewhat at different times. It should be remarked, however, that even in the seventeenth century there were many Orthodox who rejected the Roman teaching on Purgatory. Today most if not all Orthodox theologians reject the idea of Purgatory, at any rate in this form.

The majority would be inclined to say that the faithful departed do not suffer at all. Another school holds that perhaps they suffer, but, if so, their suffering is of a purificatory but not an expiatory character; for when a man dies in the grace of God, then God freely forgives him all his sins and demands no expiatory penalties: Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, is our only atonement and satisfaction.


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Yet a third group would prefer to leave the whole question entirely open: let us avoid detailed formulation about the life after death, they say, and preserve instead a reverent and agnostic reticence. The Saints. The saints in each generation, joined to those who have gone before, and filled like them with light, become a golden chain, in which each saint is a separate link, united to the next by faith, works, and love.

Such is the Orthodox idea of the communion of saints. In private an Orthodox Christian is free to ask for the prayers of any member of the Church, whether canonized or not. It would be perfectly normal for an Orthodox child, if orphaned, to end his evening prayers by asking for the intercessions not only of the Mother of God and the saints, but of his own mother and father.

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In its public worship, however, the Church usually prays only to those whom it has officially proclaimed as saints; but in exceptional circumstances a public cult may become established without any formal act of canonization. The Greek Church under the Ottoman Empire soon began to commemorate the New Martyrs in its worship, but to avoid the notice of the Turks there was usually no official act of proclamation: the cult of the New Martyrs was in most cases something that arose spontaneously under popular initiative.

Reverence for the saints is closely bound up with the veneration of icons. These are placed by Orthodox not only in their churches, but in each room of their homes, and even in cars and buses. These ever-present icons act as a point of meeting between the living members of the Church and those who have gone before. Icons help Orthodox to look on the saints not as remote and legendary figures from the past, but as contemporaries and personal friends. An Orthodox has a special devotion to the saint whose name he bears; he usually keeps an icon of his patron saint in his room, and prays daily to him.

An Orthodox Christian prays not only to the saints but to the angels, and in particular to his guardian angel. The Mother of God. In Greek theology the distinction is very clearly marked: there is a special word, latreia , reserved for the worship of God, while for the veneration of the Virgin entirely different terms are employed duleia, hyperduleia, proskynesis. The first of these titles was assigned to her by the third Ecumenical Council Ephesus, , the second by the fifth Ecumenical Council Constantinople, But the word used here in Greek can mean half-brother, cousin, or near relative, as well as brother in the strict sense.

The title Panagia , although never a subject of dogmatic definition, is accepted and used by all Orthodox. The appellation Theotokos is of particular importance, for it provides the key to the Orthodox cult of the Virgin. We honour Mary because she is the Mother of our God. We do not venerate her in isolation, but because of her relation to Christ. Thus the reverence shown to Mary, so far from eclipsing the worship of God, has exactly the opposite effect: the more we esteem Mary, the more vivid is our awareness of the majesty of her Son, for it is precisely on account of the Son that we venerate the Mother.

We honour the Mother on account of the Son: Mariology is simply an extension of Christology. Anyone who thinks out the implications of that great phrase, The Word was made flesh , cannot but feel a certain awe for her who was chosen as the instrument of so surpassing a mystery. When men refuse to honour Mary, only too often it is because they do not really believe in the Incarnation. God, who always respects human liberty, did not wish to become incarnate without the free consent of His Mother.

He Waited for her voluntary response: " Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to your word" Luke Mary could have refused; she was not merely passive, but an active participant in the mystery. But was she also free from original sin? In the past individual Orthodox have made statements which, if not definitely affirming the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, at any rate approach close to it; but since the great majority of Orthodox have rejected the doctrine, for several reasons.

They feel it to be unnecessary; they feel that, at any rate as defined by the Roman Catholic Church, it implies a false understanding of original sin; they suspect the doctrine because it seems to separate Mary from the rest of the descendants of Adam, putting her in a completely different class from all the other righteous men and women of the Old Testament.

From the Orthodox point of view, however, the whole question belongs to the realm of theological opinion; and if an individual Orthodox today felt impelled to believe in the Immaculate Conception, he could not be termed a heretic for so doing. But Orthodoxy, while for the most part denying the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, firmly believes in her Bodily Assumption Immediately after the Pope proclaimed the Assumption as a dogma in , a few Orthodox by way of reaction against the Roman Catholic Church began to express doubts about the Bodily Assumption and even explicitly to deny it; but they are certainly not representative of the Orthodox Church as a whole.

She has passed beyond death and judgement, and lives already in the Age to Come. Yet she is not thereby utterly separated from the rest of humanity, for that same bodily glory which Mary enjoys now, all of us hope one day to share. The Mother of God was never a theme of the public preaching of the Apostles; while Christ was preached on the housetops, and proclaimed for all to know in an initiatory teaching addressed to the whole world, the mystery of his Mother was revealed only to those who were within the Church … It is not so much an object of faith as a foundation of our hope, a fruit of faith, ripened in Tradition.

For the Christian there exist but two ultimate alternatives, Heaven and Hell. But Hell exists as well as Heaven. In recent years many Christians — not only in the west, but at times also in the Orthodox Church — have come to feel that the idea of Hell is inconsistent with belief in a loving God. But to argue thus is to display a sad and perilous confusion of thought.

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While it is true that God loves us with an infinite love, it is also true that He has given us free will; and since we have free will, it is possible for us to reject God. Since free will exists, Hell exists; for Hell is nothing else than the rejection of God. If we deny Hell, we deny free will. God will not force us to love Him, for love is no longer love if it is not free; how then can God reconcile to Himself those who refuse all reconciliation?

The Orthodox attitude towards the Last Judgment and Hell is clearly expressed in the choice of Gospel readings at the Liturgy on three successive Sundays shortly before Lent. On the first Sunday is read the parable of the Publican and Pharisee, on the second the parable of the Prodigal Son, stories which illustrate the immense forgiveness and mercy of God towards all sinners who repent. But in the Gospel for the third Sunday — the parable of the Sheep and the Goats — we are reminded of the other truth: that it is possible to reject God and to turn away from Him to Hell.

There is no terrorism in the Orthodox doctrine of God. Hell is not so much a place where God imprisons man, as a place where man, by misusing his free will, chooses to imprison himself. And even in Hell the wicked are not deprived of the love of God, but by their own choice they experience as suffering what the saints experience as joy. Hell exists as a final possibility, but several of the Fathers have none the less believed that in the end all will be reconciled to God. It is heretical to say that all must be saved, for this is to deny free will; but it is legitimate to hope that all may be saved.

No one must be excluded from our loving intercession. Wensinck, Amsterdam, , p. Gregory of Nyssa said that Christians may legitimately hope even for the redemption of the Devil. The Bible ends upon a note of keen expectation: " Surely I am coming quickly. Even so, come, Lord Jesus" Rev. From one point of view the first Christians were wrong: they imagined that the end of the world would occur almost immediately, whereas in fact two millennia have passed and still the end has not yet come. It is not for us to know the times and the seasons, and perhaps this present order will last for many millennia more.

Yet from another point of view the primitive Church was right. For whether the end comes early or late, it is always imminent, always spiritually close at hand, even though it may not be temporally close. The Day of the Lord will come " as a thief in the night" 1 Thess. Christians, therefore, as in Apostolic times, so today must always be prepared, waiting in constant expectation.

One of the most encouraging signs of revival in contemporary Orthodoxy is the renewed awareness among many Orthodox of the Second Coming and its relevance. Yet the Second Coming is not simply an event in the future, for in the life of the Church, the Age to Come has already begun to break through into this present age. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. He comes already — in the Holy Liturgy and the worship of the Church.

There is a story in the Russian Primary Chronicle of how Vladimir, Prince of Kiev, while still a pagan, desired to know which was the true religion, and therefore sent his followers to visit the various countries of the world in turn. They went first to the Moslem Bulgars of the Volga, but observing that these when they prayed gazed around them like men possessed, the Russians continued on their way dissatisfied.

Finally they journeyed to Constantinople, and here at last, as they attended the Divine Liturgy in the great Church of the Holy Wisdom, they discovered what they desired. We cannot describe it to you: only this we know, that God dwells there among men, and that their service surpasses the worship of all other places.

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For we cannot forget that beauty. In this story can be seen several features characteristic of Orthodox Christianity. There is first the emphasis upon divine beauty: we cannot forget that beauty. It has seemed to many that the peculiar gift of Orthodox peoples — and especially of Byzantium and Russia — is this power of perceiving the beauty of the spiritual world, and expressing this celestial beauty in their worship.

In the second place it is characteristic that the Russians should have said, we knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth. This we know, that God dwells there among men. A very grimy and sordid Presbyterian mission hall in a mews over a garage, where the Russians are allowed once a fortnight to have the Liturgy. A very stage property iconostasis and a few modern icons. A dirty floor to kneel on and a form along the wall When they wanted to discover the true faith, the Russians did not ask about moral rules nor demand a reasoned statement of doctrine, but watched the different nations at prayer.

Every, The Byzantine Patriarchate , first edition, p. The Church is first of all a worshipping community. As Philip said to Nathanael: " Come and see" John Because they approach religion in this liturgical way, Orthodox often attribute to minute points of ritual an importance which astonishes western Christians. But once we have understood the central place of worship in the life of Orthodoxy, an incident such as the schism of the Old Believers will no longer appear entirely unintelligible: if worship is the faith in action, then liturgical changes cannot be lightly regarded.

They do not even know how to venerate the church of God. They raise their voices as the fools, and their singing is a discordant wail. Zernov, Moscow the Third Rome , p. Orthodoxy sees man above all else as a liturgical creature who is most truly himself when he glorifies God, and who finds his perfection and self-fulfilment in worship. Into the Holy Liturgy which expresses their faith, the Orthodox peoples have poured their whole religious experience. It is the Liturgy which has inspired their best poetry, art, and music.

In the dark days of their history — under the Mongols, the Turks, or the communists — it is to the Holy Liturgy that the Orthodox peoples have always turned for inspiration and new hope; nor have they turned in vain. In addition to these, the Orthodox Church makes use of a great variety of lesser blessings. While in many Anglican and almost all Roman Catholic parish churches, the Eucharist is celebrated daily, in the Orthodox Church today a daily Liturgy is not usual except in cathedrals and large monasteries; in a normal parish church it is celebrated only on Sundays and feasts.

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But in contemporary Russia, where places of worship are few and many Christians are obliged to work on Sundays, a daily Liturgy has become the practice in many town parishes. The Divine Office is recited daily in monasteries, large and small, and in some cathedrals; also in a number of town parishes in Russia. But in an ordinary Orthodox parish church it is sung only at week-ends and on feasts. One of the first tasks of Orthodox missionaries — from Cyril and Methodius in the ninth century, to Innocent Veniaminov and Nicholas Kassatkin in the nineteenth — has always been to translate the service books into native tongues.

In practice, however, there are partial exceptions to this general principle of using the vernacular: the Greek-speaking Churches employ, not modern Greek, but the Greek of New Testament and Byzantine times, while the Russian Church still uses the ninth-century translations in Church Slavonic. Yet in both cases the difference between the liturgical language and the contemporary vernacular is not so great as to make the service unintelligible to the congregation.

In many Russian bishops in fact recommended that Church Slavonic be replaced more or less generally by modern Russian, but the Bolshevik Revolution occurred before this scheme could be carried into effect. In the Orthodox Church today, as in the early Church, all services are sung or chanted. Of these traditions the Russian is the best known and the most immediately attractive to western ears; many consider Russian Church music the finest in all Christendom, and alike in the Soviet Union and in the emigration there are justly celebrated Russian choirs.

In the Orthodox Church today, as in the early Church, singing is unaccompanied and instrumental music is not found, except among certain Orthodox in America — particularly the Greeks — who are now showing a penchant for the organ or the harmonium. Most Orthodox do not use hand or sanctuary bells inside the church; but they have outside belfries, and take great delight in ringing the bells not only before but at various moments during the service itself.

Russian bell-ringing used to be particularly famous. The earth shook with their vibrations, and like thunder the drone of their voices went up to the skies. An Orthodox Church is usually more or less square in plan, with a wide central space covered by a dome. In Russia the Church dome has assumed that striking onion shape which forms so characteristic a feature of every Russian landscape. The elongated naves and chancels, common in cathedrals and larger parish churches of the Gothic style, are not found in eastern church architecture. There are as a rule no chairs or pews in the central part of the church, although there may be benches or stalls along the walls.

An Orthodox normally stands during Church services non-Orthodox visitors are often astonished to see old women remaining on their feet for several hours without apparent signs of fatigue ; but there are moments when the congregation can sit or kneel. Canon 20 of the first ecumenical Council forbids all kneeling on Sundays or on any of the fifty days between Easter and Pentecost; but today this rule is unfortunately not always strictly observed.

It is a remarkable thing how great a difference the presence or absence of pews can make to the whole spirit of Christian worship. There is in Orthodox worship a flexibility, an unselfconscious informality, not found among western congregations, at any rate north of the Alps. Western worshippers, ranged in their neat rows, each in his proper place, cannot move about during the service without causing a disturbance; a western congregation is generally expected to arrive at the beginning and to stay to the end.

But in Orthodox worship people can come and go far more freely, and nobody is greatly surprised if one moves about during the service. The same informality and freedom also characterizes the behavior of the clergy: ceremonial movements are not so minutely prescribed as in the west, priestly gestures are less stylized and more natural. This informality, while it can lead at times to irreverence, is in the end a precious quality which Orthodox would be most sorry to lose.

Yet behind this homeliness and informality there lies a deep sense of mystery. In every Orthodox Church the sanctuary is divided from the rest of the interior by the iconostasis , a solid screen, usually of wood, covered with panel icons. In early days the chancel was separated merely by a low screen three or four feet high. Only in comparatively recent times — in many places not until the fifteenth or sixteenth century — was the space between these columns filled up, and the iconostasis given its present solid form.

The iconostasis is pierced by three doors. The large door in the center — the Holy Door — when opened affords a view through to the altar. This doorway is closed by double gates, behind which hangs a curtain. Outside service time, except during Easter week, the gates are kept closed and the curtain drawn. During services, at particular moments the gates are sometimes open, sometimes closed, while occasionally when the gates are closed the curtain is drawn across as well.

Many Greek parishes, however, now no longer close the gates or draw the curtain at any point in the Liturgy; in a number of churches the gates have been removed altogether, while other churches have followed a course which is liturgically far more correct keeping the gates, but removing the curtain.

Laymen are not allowed to go behind the iconostasis, except for a special reason such as serving at the Liturgy. Orthodox Churches are full of icons — on the screen, on the walls, in special shrines, or on a kind of desk where they can be venerated by the faithful. When an Orthodox enters church, his first action will be to buy a candle, go up to an icon, cross himself, kiss the icon, and light the candle in front of it. In the decoration of the church, the various iconographical scenes and figures are not arranged fortuitously, but according to a definite theological scheme, so that the whole edifice forms one great icon or image of the Kingdom of God.

In Orthodox religious art, as in the religious art of the medieval west, there is an elaborate system of symbols, involving every part of the church building and its decoration. The icons which fill the church serve as a point of meeting between heaven and earth.

As each local congregation prays Sunday by Sunday, surrounded by the figures of Christ, the angels, and the saints, these visible images remind the faithful unceasingly of the invisible presence of the whole company of heaven at the Liturgy. The faithful can feel that the walls of the church open out upon eternity, and they are helped to realize that their Liturgy on earth is one and the same with the great Liturgy of heaven.

The worship of the Orthodox Church is communal and popular. Any non-Orthodox who attends Orthodox services with some frequency will quickly realize how closely the whole worshipping community, priest and people alike, are bound together into one; among other things, the absence of pews helps to create a sense of unity.

Although most Orthodox congregations do not join in the singing, it should not therefore be imagined that they are taking no real part in the service; nor does the iconostasis — even in its present solid form — make the people feel cut off from the priest in the sanctuary.

In any case, many of the ceremonies take place in front of the screen, in full view of the congregation. In the medieval west, where the Eucharist was performed in a learned language not understood by the people, men came to church to adore the Host at the Elevation, but otherwise treated the Mass mainly as a convenient occasion for saying their private prayers All this, of course, has now been changed in the west by the Liturgical Movement. In the Orthodox Church, where the Liturgy has never ceased to be a common action performed by priest and people together, the congregation do not come to church to say their private prayers, but to pray the public prayers of the Liturgy and to take part in the action of the rite itself.

Orthodoxy has never undergone that separation between liturgy and personal devotion from which the medieval and post-medieval west has suffered so much. Certainly the Orthodox Church, as well as the west, stands in need of a Liturgical Movement; indeed, some such movement has already begun in a small way in several parts of the Orthodox world revival of congregational singing; gates of the Holy Door left open in the Liturgy; more open form of iconostasis, and so on. Yet in Orthodoxy the scope of this Liturgical Movement will be far more restricted, since the changes required are very much less drastic.

That sense of corporate worship which it is the primary aim of liturgical reform in the west to restore has never ceased to be a living reality in the Orthodox Church. There is in most Orthodox worship an unhurried and timeless quality, an effect produced in part by the constant repetition of Litanies. Either in a longer or a shorter form, the Litany recurs several times in every service of the Byzantine rite.

In these Litanies, the deacon if there is no deacon, the priest calls the people to pray for the various needs of the Church and the world, and to each petition the choir or the people replies Lord, have mercy — Kyrie eleison in Greek, Gospodi pomilui in Russian — probably the first words in an Orthodox service which the visitor grasps. In some Litanies the response is changed to Grant this, O Lord. The congregation associate themselves with the different intercessions by making the sign of the Cross and bowing. In general the sign of the Cross is employed far more frequently by Orthodox than by western worshippers, and there is a far greater freedom about the times when it is used: different worshippers cross themselves at different moments, each as he wishes, although there are of course occasions in the service when almost all sign themselves at the same time.

We have described Orthodox worship as timeless and unhurried. Most western people have the idea that Byzantine services, even if not literally timeless, are at any rate of an extreme and intolerable length. Certainly Orthodox functions tend to be more prolonged than their western counterparts, but we must not exaggerate.

It is perfectly possible to celebrate the Byzantine Liturgy, and to preach a short sermon, in an hour and a quarter; and in the Patriarch of Constantinople laid down that in parishes under his jurisdiction the Sunday Liturgy should not last over an hour and a half. Russians on the whole take longer than Greeks over services, but in a normal Russian parish of the emigration, the Vigil Service on Saturday nights lasts no more than two hours, and often less.

Monastic offices of course are more extended, and on Mount Athos at great festivals the service sometimes goes on for twelve or even fifteen hours without a break, but this is altogether exceptional. Non-Orthodox may take heart from the fact that Orthodox are often as alarmed as they by the length of services. There is not one, even for the bishop; you see the people all through the service standing like rocks, motionless or incessantly bending with their devotions.

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God help us for the length of their prayers and chants and Masses, for we suffered great pain, so that our very souls were tortured with fatigue and anguish. T he chief place in Christian worship belongs to the sacraments or, as they are called in Greek, the mysteries. This double character, at once outward and inward, is the distinctive feature of a sacrament: the sacraments, like the Church, are both visible and invisible; in every sacrament there is the combination of an outward visible sign with an inward spiritual grace.

At Baptism the Christian undergoes an outward washing in water, and he is at the same time cleansed inwardly from his sins; at the Eucharist he receives what appears from the visible point of view to be bread and wine, but in reality he eats the Body and Blood of Christ. In most of the sacraments the Church takes material things — water, bread, wine, oil — and makes them a vehicle of the Spirit.

In this way the sacraments look back to the Incarnation, when Christ took material flesh and made it a vehicle of the Spirit; and they look forward to, or rather they anticipate, the apocatastasis and the final redemption of matter at the Last Day. The Orthodox Church speaks customarily of seven sacraments, basically the same seven as in Roman Catholic theology:. Only in the seventeenth century, when Latin influence was at its height, did this list become fixed and definite.

Before that date Orthodox writers vary considerably as to the number of sacraments: John of Damascus speaks of two; Dionysius the Areopagite of six; Joasaph, Metropolitan of Ephesus fifteenth century , of ten; and those Byzantine theologians who in fact speak of seven sacraments differ as to the items which they include in their list. Even today the number seven has no absolute dogmatic significance for Orthodox theology, but is used primarily as a convenience in teaching.

The Eucharist, for example, stands at the heart of all Christian life and experience in a way that the Anointing of the Sick does not. Read more Read less. Product description Product Description There are words many North American Christians hardly use any more, God-given concepts, Bible words, which are sacrificed upon the trendy, feel-good altars of "expediency," "relevance," and "success. Not Enabled. No customer reviews. Share your thoughts with other customers. Write a product review. Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon. Brings out so clearly that conviction is Verified Purchase.

Wonderful book! Brings out so clearly that conviction is missing in many and how to turn our lives around and have true conviction - of the Lord and of any sin in our lives. Ok, this book was a gift to me by the author so I could read it and give him a review.