Friday, June 17, 2022

Questions and Answers 198 - 203

Question 198: I noticed while I was recently in Greece that many monasteries and churches are difficult to reach, often requiring hikes up hills and mountains and climbing many stairs. Is there a reason for this?

Answer: "Monasteries are built on high ground, for people to climb upward," according to the words of a contemporary Elder. In other words, effort and toil are required for our own spiritual ascent as we strive to live a life pleasing to God, and for this effort we are rewarded with spiritual fruit, namely divine grace. The Christian (and even more so the monastic) way of life is not a casual stroll; it is a laborious ascent.

There are also historical and practical reasons for this. The higher and more secluded a monastery is, the more monastics can focus on their goal of living their lives completely dependent on God's will. Visitors are therefore minimized to those who truly want to go for the right purpose. Furthermore, the locations historically often offer natural safety and protection during war and pirate raids.

Monday, January 3, 2022

Questions and Answers 191 - 197

Question 191: How do I know I am reading the Bible, the Holy Fathers and the Lives of the Saints the correct Orthodox way?

Answer: If you are often wiping your eyes from the tears streaming down your face and your heart is moved with joy while reading, that is a sign you are on the right path.

Question 192: What do I say if a Muslim says to me that we both believe in the same God?

Answer: Just tell the Muslim how wonderful it is that they believe Jesus Christ is God, because Islam typically does not acknowledge the divinity of Christ.

Friday, June 4, 2021

Questions and Answers 185 - 190

Question 185: I've looked throughout your website to see if you have posted anything on the miracle of the Virgin Mary at Saydnaya Monastery in 2004 to a Muslim who was murdered and cut to pieces then miraculously restored and resurrected. As far as I know, this has never been confirmed as true, and wanted to know what you have to say about it. (If you are confused by what I'm referring to, the story can be read here:

Answer: Yes, I am familiar with this story. It received heavy rotation over a decade ago on the internet. No, I have not posted anything about it. The main reason I have not posted on it is because I wanted to see how things played out. To tell you the truth, I'm still waiting. That's not to say I don't believe the story, but I am skeptical of at least some details about it, to the point where I don't feel comfortable posting about it and even expressing my skepticism without any basis. However, I will point out two things of interest related to this story.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Questions and Answers 179 - 184

Question 179: Every Easter my parish reads the Resurrection Gospel at midnight outside in the courtyard of our church. What is the reasoning behind this?

Answer: The Matins Eothinon Resurrection Gospel, which you are referring to, is the only Matins Eothinon Gospel reading done outside the sanctuary in the entire ecclesiastical year. Every Sunday throughout the year during Matins there are eleven Resurrection Gospels that are read from inside the sanctuary in a cycle that renews every eleven weeks. Every Pascha the cycle is renewed with the reading of the first Eothinon Resurrection Gospel during Matins, and it is supposed to be read outside the sanctuary, preferably in the courtyard or in the narthex. The reason for this is because the procession outside is symbolic of a joyous action, and represents the Apostles being notified about the Resurrection in the Upper Room, and not at the tomb like the Myrrhbearers. It can also be seen as the Apostles bringing the Good News of salvation out into the world.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Questions and Answers 171 - 178

Question 171: I'm a recent convert to the Orthodox Church, but have noticed the same troubling dichotomy in the Orthodox Church that I find in all other Churches, where people are divided into conservative and liberal, particularly the clergy in social media I follow. I can't really put my finger on it, so I was wondering if you, who I find to be balanced, could help me understand how to distinguish between a conservative and liberal cleric.
Answer: The easiest way to make the distinction is to observe who they target as "enemies". A conservative Orthodox will usually target Catholicism and have an Evangelical leaning, while a liberal Orthodox will usually target Evangelicalism and have a Catholic leaning. - I'm sort of joking when I say this, but there is some truth to it. - Though there are indeed issues with both, you will be much happier as a newly-illlumined Orthodox Christian if you are "friends" or "followers" with clergy who focus more on bringing fellow Orthodox together rather than letting their politics manifest. Clergy on social media should not be heresy hunters, but church gatherers. If at the end of each day a cleric on social media helps to inspire and strengthen you in your daily path and life in Christ, then keep him as a "friend". If not, run for the hills.

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