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.

Question 199: Why is Iakovos translated typically as James and not Jacob?

Answer: I'll give the simple answer. Jacob is a Hebrew name translated from Yaaqob. In the Greek Septuagint and New Testament, sometimes this name was translated as Iakób or it was Hellenized into Iakóbos. When the name eventually was translated into English, as we find in the King James Bible no less, Iakób was translated as Jacob and Iakóbos was translated into James. Therefore, if we see the Hebraic spelling in Greek it maintains the translation of Jacob, but if we see the Hellenized version then it is typically translated as James.

Question 200: I've looked into the court documents about the Frank Atwood case and it seems to me he was indeed guilty of the crime of murdering the girl which he says he did not do and maintained his innocence till his death? Why does the Church so easily accept his repentance?

Answer: You're talking like a lawyer or inquisitor instead of a member of the Church. Imagine if your spiritual father or your fellow parishioners did a private investigation on you after your own confession before your repentance was found to be sufficient and worthy of forgiveness, whether you correctly confessed a sin or left something out. This is not what the Church does nor should it ever do. Perhaps if he wanted to be a priest these things would be considered, since he would be a leader of the people of God and there are strict rules for those who enter the priesthood, but nothing like this is done for laypeople who merely go to confession. But if you want to look at it as a lawyer or inquisitor, I've similarly read hundreds of pages on this case and I came to different conclusions than you, so I don't see things as clearly as you do. But if you feel strongly about it, you got your justice. As for the Church, it did what it was supposed to do.

Question 201: How do New Calendarists explain the liturgical anomaly of not having an Apostle's Fast in some years?

Answer: Though it's rare, it is true that certain years completely eliminate the Apostle's Fast with the New Calendar. It is an unfortunate anomaly and it should be corrected. Fortunately, this is a very small anomaly and it can be remedied with some tweaks here and there. In the Old Calendar there is also a liturgical anomaly, where sometimes the feast of the Annunciation falls during Holy Week or even on Easter itself, but the Church has turned this liturgical anomaly into an extra celebration. Something similar should be done with the Apostle's Fast, perhaps at least designating one fast day before the feast, or making the feast of the Twelve Apostle's a fast day. These are valid remedies.

Question 202: Is there a distinction between Original Sin and Ancestral Sin?

Answer: In Greek, both are the same name, and Ancestral Sin is a much better translation, though this was never the actual translation from the Greek. Even Fr. John Romanides, who wrote his famous thesis on the subject, always translated it into English as Original Sin, whether talking about the Orthodox view or the Heterodox view. This distinction in how it is translated is more of a fairly new thing to differentiate the two teachings or definitions. Personally, I think it confuses people. For example, someone wrote to me some years ago and tried to tell me that Fr. John Romanides did not believe in Original Sin, even though the Church has taught it for centuries. I had to explain to him that Fr. Romanides did believe in Original Sin, just as all Orthodox do, we just do not believe, nor has the Church ever taught, the teaching of inherited guilt, which Orthodox do not include in our definition of Original Sin. Therefore, the difference should really only be in the definition, not in creating a new term which could add to the confusion. But yes, Ancestral Sin is more accurate of a translation from the Greek Propaterikon Amartima, though an even more accurate translation is Forefather's Sin.

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