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Being Orthodox 9: A Mysterious Faith

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pentecost

A “Mystery” in the Orthodox Church is what is called a sacrament in the West. This work of the Holy Spirit is the very life of the Church.

 

We saw in the post on the importance of the Apostolic Tradition and its reflection in the writings of the ancient Fathers that the very first Christians truly believed that a miracle happened in the Eucharist, and that in a mystery, Christ became truly present in the bread and wine of the Eucharist, so that they became His true flesh and blood. This is one illustration of the fact that the idea of the Holy Spirit working mysteriously in our lives goes all the way back to Apostolic times. When Christ ascended to heaven, He promised not to leave His followers orphaned. He sent to them His own Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, the Paraclete (or ‘Advocate’), the Comforter. In this way, God dwells constantly and powerfully amongst His people.

 

The Apostolic Churches (and a small minority of Protestant Churches) have maintained this faith in the continuous presence and action of the Holy Spirit in the Church through what is generally called in the west, the sacraments. However, the Orthodox prefer the word ‘Mystery’ (Greek / Coptic ‘mysterion’; Arabic ‘serr’) to the word ‘Sacrament’. The word ‘sacrament’ comes from the Latin ‘sacramentum’ which means an oath. It was apparently first applied to baptism, signifying that being baptised involved promising to be a true follower of Christ (until today in the Coptic Baptism rite, the baptised or their parents still make a public oath to reject the devil and all that is evil, and to follow Christ and all that is good). But in the East, the word ‘mystery’ was used, perhaps to indicate that the nature of what happened was hidden from non-Christians. But Eastern theology also emphasises the fact that what happens when the Holy Spirit works in us is something far, far beyond the comprehension of the human mind, something in the liturgical words of St Gregory the Theologian that is “more than we ask or understand”.

 

The historical evidence suggests that although the Mysteries were well known from the earliest Christian times, they were not limited to the seven Mysteries we now teach in the Coptic Church (more…)

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Wow! A new blog system to confuse me all over again…

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Thank you Bill for once again working your magic and upgrading this blog. I hope that this post turns up, becuase if it doesn’t, I’m going to have to bug you for a tutorial!

While there are many disadvantages to our technological age, there are also without doubt many advantages. Communicating via a blog is one of them! So is Skype (and things like it). As a child growing up in the era when dialling a phone number meant poking your finger in a hole and rotating an actual dial, I wondered if the day would ever come when ‘television phones’ would be commonplace. Now, it is not only possible, but you can do it from your mobile phone!

It is not the technology that is good or bad in itself – it is after all just a tool. If anything it allows us a greater ability to achieve the things we wish. If those things are evil, then it allows us to do more evil, if good, then we can do more good. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

I wonder when I’ll have a flying car in my driveway…

Fr Ant

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New BlogBook

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6a00e3982401d788330115713ea98b970b-320piI’m not the best at writing a blog, but I thought I would write one to test the features on the new website for Fr Antonios.

As you probably know Fr Antonios has written amazing articles in the past and youth from all the different churches are being enriched with this great spiritual resource. To enable a more users to interact and benefit from the website we have significantly improved the usability, look ‘n feel and connectivity of the site. One of the main features is the ability to interact with your facebook account and Fr Antonios’ articles. Commenting and sharing articles allows you to you to interact with your facebook friends making it more engaging.

Please let us know of any feedback or suggestions you have.

God Bless

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Welcome

Hi All,

I have set up this page for Fr Antonios to write contemplations on. I wish his service is fruitful and multiply.

Shenouda

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