The greatest plague of the 21st century is not AIDS, nor cancer, nor the H1N1 flu, but something that affects much more people in ways we can barely start to understand: depression. Reportedly one in ten Americans suffers from one or the other forms of this malady.
Through the liturgical experience, we feel that, more than anything, people are liturgical beings. They were made to serve, to offer themselves and the whole world to God with gratitude, praise and worship, to unite with God, to be sanctified, to live, through this continual offering/sacrifice/service.
In accordance with the tradition of our Holy Church, we approach our saints every day, honoring their memories, bearing their names and asking for their intercessions and mediations before the throne of God. They are saved, we are sinners; they are in the Light, we are in darkness. Full of illnesses we ask the saints to heal our bodies, though more rarely to heal our souls. And the saints, compassionate as they are, being imitators of the merciful God, graciously give us what we need, assisting us, strengthening us and healing us. But we especially recommend three medicines.
The birth of Christ restored the equality of the sexes. At the beginning of human history, a woman, Eve, was born, without female intervention, from a man, Adam, so in this rebalancing of history, a man, Christ, was born of a woman, Our Most Holy Lady, this time without male involvement. Christ brings the good tidings of the harmonious relationship between us and God and, by extension, with Himself, other people and nature. Love is restored to its place as the mystical axis of life.
“I love you because you are you.” Have you ever thought about the message this sentence conveys? I love you, and I am able to love you because you aren’t me. This is the first interpretation. Essentially I do not love you, if I want you to be like me. Through the diversity of each person, with love, there is achieved a constant enrichment of a relationship. Otherwise, as they say in the world and society: “Relationships and marriage get old.”
“Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy upon me” or, more briefly, “Lord have mercy” was given to Christians at the time of the apostles and was appointed for them to say without ceasing, as, indeed, they do. But what this “Lord have mercy” means is something that very few people know today and so they say it in everyday speech, pointlessly, alas, and in vain. They don’t receive the Lord’s mercy, because they don’t know what they’re asking.
The following encyclical issued by the Sacred Synod of the Church of Greece is meant to uphold the Orthodox Christian principles of marriage and family, and its opposition to the so-called Free Cohabitation Agreement issued by the Greek Government, which is positioned as an alternative form of permanent cohabitation and should not be considered a “soft” marriage.
Faith in God and participation in the Divine Liturgy, especially in the Eucharistic Assembly, constitute two inseparable realities for every lively member of the Church. The true Christian cannot live without the Divine Liturgy. The Upper Rooms of the Mystical Supper and Pentecost, whose continuation are the parish churches, constitute the places of the presence of God and of the distribution of the divine charismas par excellence.
Once, a lady came to my office to talk to me about the sadness she was experiencing for many years; she had had five miscarriages and was mourning the loss of her children. Her biggest difficulty with the issue, she explained, was that her children were condemned to hell because they were never baptized. I asked her how she had come to that conclusion and she answered that she was taught early in her life that all people who die and have never been baptized go to hell, even infants, because of “original sin”.
Like everybody else, people who are religious, who are in touch with the sacramental life of the Church, want continuous improvements in their lives. So they devote themselves to bettering their standard of living and to acquiring material goods for themselves and their nearest and dearest. Most of them, though, don’t want to forget God, and continue to observe the Gospel commandments. But a danger lurks here: people might start thinking that the wealth they have accumulated is a sign of God’s favour towards them. That’s what they thought in the time of the Old Testament.