Standing By…

There is a word that appears in the hymnography of the Church which is prominent in Great Lent and in Holy Week on which I would like to spend a few minutes.  That word is stavrotheotokion.  If we look at this compound word and break it down to its component parts we can recognize a couple of fairly familiar Greek words, Stavro – Greek for cross and Theoto(kos), the Mother of God.  Now, we can connect the concepts The Theotokos and the Cross.  The Stavrotheotokion is a troparion (short hymn with a theme usually sung after a verse of psalm), which is a manifestation of true human emotion.  It is a poetic expression of the pain, sorrow and astonishment of a mother beholding her Son and her God on the Cross.  These verses of theology and tenderness are heard in many of the services of the Great Lent, but reach their zenith in the services of the Holy Passion.  The Theotokos expresses the wonder of us all.  The awe, which could only be articulated by a mother who has kept a secret for many years (“and his mother kept all these things in her heart” Luke 2, 51).  The identity of her Son as the incarnate God was known the Theotokos since the Annunciation.  Now she suffers a new mystery, the inscrutability of her Son and Creator taking on death by His own free choice.  Each of these verses proclaims the truth of Christ’s condescension.

The Lament of the Virgin
The Lament of the Virgin

…”Woe is me beloved Child, light of my eyes!  Thou has hung the earth above the waters, how can you endure to be nailed upon the Tree between two evildoers.”  – Vespers of Tuesday in the Third Week.  

None the less, the Virgin stands by the cross, hour by hour true to her mission to intercede for the entire world.  Her pain is palpable.  Her lament is moving and yet there is true nobility in her devotion.  When all the disciples, except John the Beloved, had fled because of their fear, she and the other women stood there unafraid.  St. Romanos the Melodist has captured her grief and her consolation in a kontakion (a combination of troparia of the same structure, connect alphabetically or acrostically) used on Great and Holy Friday.  This    dialogue between the Theotokos and her Son becomes the revelation of God’s plan of salvation in poetry.  This kontakion is lyrical theology, stavrotheotokion with the voice of response by our Crucified Lord. Christ assures the Theotokos just as she witnesses his hanging on the Cross, she would receive this grace.

The Theotokos at the Cross
The Theotokos at the Cross

 “Courage, Mother because you will see me first on my coming first from the tombs.  I am coming to show you by how many toils I ransomed  Adam and how much I sweated for his sake. I shall show it to my friends by showing the marks in my hands and then you will see Eve, Mother, living as before, and you will cry out with joy:  ‘He has saved my forebears,     my Son and my God.’*
*(St. Romanos the Melodist. On the Life of Christ: Kontakia. Translated by Archimandrite Ephrem Lash. Edited by Kerry Brown, The Sacred Literature Series. New York et al.: HarperCollins Publishers, 1995, p. 148).

Discerning the Signs of the Times ( Part 1)

This edition of the Friday blog will centre on the preface, the introduction and the first two chapters of this book.  In the preface, Fr. Michel Evdokimov introduces Dr. Elisabeth Behr-Sigel.  My mother, of blessed memory, was fond of reminding my sisters and me that you can always tell a person by their acquaintances and friends.  Reading the names of Mme. Elisabeth’s Orthodox friends in the Russian-French community is like reading a who’s who in twentieth century Orthodox theological circles.  The names Bulgakov, Lossky, Evdokimov and Gillet jump off the page, only to stress the rare times in Paris during the life of Elisabeth.

discerning2 Continuing this introduction to Mme. Behr-Sigel in chapter one she relates her journey to embrace the faith.  I was struck how very similar her story was to so many of our fellow Orthodox in this country.  Marriage to a member of the Church combined with study and the influence of church members all contributed to bring Dr. Behr-Sigel to Orthodoxy.  As a noted member of the academy in France, Mme. Behr-Sigel brought a wealth experiences to the Church family.  Additionally, she lived during the critical times of the two world wars and the turmoil within the Christian communities of Europe and the world as the result of the wars.  The two great issues which incited fervor in Dr. Behr-Sigel were questions that, in my opinion, remain to be fully explored and more completely resolved.  These concerns are the subject of the full participation of the royal priesthood, most especially women, in the Church and the question of how the Church responds to the challenges of modernity and its impact on the Church.  These two great trials continue to confront us as the Church.  It will be a voyage of discovery as we read this book.

I read with great personal interest the second chapter of the book.  These pages contain a reprint of an address Behr-Sigel gave at the Orthodox Theological Institute at Cambridge in 1998. The topic of Dr. Elizabeth’s lecture discussed the task of Orthodox Theological Formation.  This talk was an opportunity to once again return to the two themes which animated Behr-Sigel, the role of women in the Church and modernity and the Church.  If one reads the speech closely the call for Orthodox theological formation at a center of western learning was essential to equip future Church leaders to address issues facing us in this age.  The Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies at Cambridge (http://www.iocs.cam.ac.uk/) has provided a fertile environment for teaching theology to the lay, academic, and pan-Orthodox peoples of Great Britain for over ten years.  Ria and I have been privileged to benefit from many of the Institutes programs during our years in Britain.  The vision of Dr. Behr-Sigel, expressed in her address, that the centre at Cambridge becomes a source of teaching Orthodox Tradition has been realized.         Dn. George

Adams Longing

As we enter the second week of Great Lent, I would like to reflect on a theme, which recurs   throughout the hymns of the Church during this period.  Repeatedly, we are reminded of the image of the fallen Adam seated outside the gates of Paradise lamenting his state.

Adam's Grief
Adam's Grief

 Most strikingly this image is brought to our attention during the first and fifth week of the Great Fast with the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete.  This beautiful piece of poetry is more than words and chant.  The difficulty that we experience is that the theology and metaphors are lovely, but how do we relate to them in this day and age.  The theme of repentance has been developed from the pre-lenten Sundays until this time in Lent, so let’s leave that one aside.  I would like to think about an aspect of the illustration of Adam sitting in front of the gates pondering his circumstance.  The idea that we must sit back and consider “where we are” is one painfully close to home.  When I think about the things that must have been going through Adam’s mind, one possibility keeps bothering me more than any other.  It occurs to me that he might very well be thinking about being separated from a friend, a real friend, one who genuinely cared for him.  Was Adam aware of his new condition? How aware was he of the emptiness in his heart and did he long to have God back in his life?

 During these difficult days, people out of work (me included), the economy in a tailspin, major companies in trouble and the markets very unpredictable, the sense of uncertainty can be overwhelming.  What must Adam have been thinking? Talk about an uncertain future!  Did he ask the same questions we all have asked?  Where do I go from here?  My world has changed, it will never again be the same, – can I cope?  Where has God gone?  The reality is that even after Adam had disobeyed God’s law; God came looking for him.  The plan of salvation was already in process.  God loved so much He already had humanity’s restoration willed through the grace of the mystery of the incarnation of the Son through the Holy Spirit, for our sake.  As Christians, we live in the light of Christ’s Resurrection.  Our fallen nature has been lifted out of Hades,  just as our ancestral parents were seized by the hand of Christ and rescued from darkness.  When we think that our life is so dark know that Christ our God is there in the darkness waiting to lift us up by the hand.

The True Helping Hand
The True Helping Hand

                                                   Our prayer should be: “O my God, here is my hand!”

New Friday Feature

I have been asked to write an additional blog entry each week.  Perhaps, Great Lent is a good time to try out this idea.  The Tuesday entry will continue to speak of the general themes of Great Lent and the theology of the Church. The Friday entry, of which this is the first, will centre on another subject.  Each Lenten season it is my custom to read or re-read a book in my library.  This year I have chosen a powerful book of essays by the late, great Orthodox theologian Mme. Elisabeth Behr-Sigel, Discerning the Signs of the Times.  (Plekon, Michael and Sarah E. Hinliky, eds. Discerning the Signs of the Times: The Vision of Elisabeth Behr-Sigel, Trans. by Lyn Breck, Michael Plekon, Deno Takles, and Rachel Mortimer, Crestwood NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2001.).  This will be the focus of this blog each Friday.  I will share with you my thoughts as I re-read this outstanding book.

Dr. Elisabeth Behr-sigel
Dr. Elisabeth Behr-Sigel

So that we start even, this entry will be a bit of an introduction to the remarkable Dr. Elisabeth Behr-Sigel.  This woman was born in Strasbourg FR. in 1907.  Born into a French Protestant family she was introduced to Orthodoxy by the Russian émigré community in Paris.  In her 98 years she became a prophetic voice in twentieth century Orthodoxy.  In one of her great works The Ministry of Women in the Church (Behr-Sigel, Elizabeth., The Ministry of Women in the Church. translated by Stephen Bigham, English ed. Redondo Beach CA: Oakwood Publications, 1991.) she wrote: “The Church is a community equal although different persons within the radiant mystery of the Trinity.  All members, both men and women, are turned toward Christ who saves and reconciles all human beings.”  True to herself and Christ, Behr-Sigel was not afraid to ask uncomfortable questions and to seek answers that might give us all a better vision of the Holy Spirit alive in the Church.  This is why, as I read this book during Great Lent, I would like to share some of my impressions and feelings with you.  In these next few weeks, we will gain a sense of the vision of Mme Behr-Sigel, hopefully, as she did we will pose the right questions and stimulate our thinking to consider the possibilities; most importantly please share your thoughts and comments with us all.  To learn more about Elisabeth Behr-Sigel, Google her name and read about this “Grandmother of Western Orthodoxy”, better still if you have a chance read one of her books.  Thank You   Dn. George

The Beginning of Great Lent 2009

 AS OUR HOLY ORTHODOX CHURCH PREPARES US GREAT LENT, SHE PREPARES US FOR A JOURNEY.  SHE SPEAKS TO US CONCERNING OUR JOURNEY TO PASCHA.  THE JOURNEY WE BEGIN IS TO THE CROSS, TO THE TOMB AND TO THE GLORIOUS RESURRECTION OF OUR LORD, GOD AND SAVIOUR, JESUS CHRIST.  WE ARE REMINDED THAT WE WILL NOT MAKE THIS JOURNEY ALONE, BUT THAT WE WILL JOURNEY WITH THE LORD, AND TRAVEL WITH OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN CHRIST.  PREPARING FOR THIS JOURNEY WE ARE NOT GIVEN A LIST OF THINGS TO BRING, NOR DOES THE CHURCH TELL US WHAT TO EAT OR NOT TO EAT ON THE ROAD.  HOWEVER, SHE SPEAKS DIRECTLY TO US ABOUT OUR ATTITUDES.  LENT CAN BE SUMMED UP BY THE PHRASE, “SHARING AND CARING” INSTEAD OF “DO’S OR DON’TS”.  ATTITUDES CONCERNING OUR NEIGHBOUR ARE OF THE PRIMARY IMPORTANCE DURING THIS PREPARATION FOR PASCHA.  IN OUR HEARTS, EACH OF US KNOWS THAT OUR LIVES ARE FAR FROM PERFECT.  WE REALIZE THAT WE MUST SEEK FORGIVENESS FROM GOD FOR FALLING AWAY FROM HIM, BY PUTTING HIM OUT OF FOCUS IN OUR LIVES.  WE KNOW THAT THIS FORGIVENESS IS NECESSARY FOR OUR RETURN TO HIM.  AT THE BEGINNING OF THE GREAT FAST, WE ARE TOLD THAT THE FORGIVENESS, WHICH WE SEEK FROM GOD IS CONDITIONAL.  IT IS CONTINGENT ON OUR ATTITUDES TOWARD OTHERS. ARE WE PREPARED TO SHARE OURSELVES WITH OUR NEIGHBOUR?  ARE WE PREPARED TO CARE WITH COMPASSION?  CAN WE FORGIVE OTHERS?  DO WE CARRY ANIMOSITY IN OUR HEARTS, WHILE SEEKING FORGIVENESS FOR OURSELVES?  OUR FORGIVENESS FROM GOD IS COMMENSURATE WITH THE FORGIVENESS WE OFFER THOSE WHO HAVE OFFENDED US.  THE GREAT CHRISTIAN MARTYR OF THIS LAST CENTURY, DIETRICH BONHOEFFER SUMMED UP OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO OUR FELLOW CHRISTIANS IN THIS WAY:   

Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

” IN A WORD, LIVE TOGETHER IN FORGIVENESS OF YOUR SINS, FOR WITHOUT IT NO HUMAN FELLOWSHIP CAN SURVIVE.  dON’T INSIST ON YOUR RIGHTS, DON’T BLAME EACH OTHER, DON’T JUDGE OR CONDEMN EACH OTHER, DON’T FIND FAULT WITH EACH OTHER, BUT ACCEPT EACH OTHER AS YOU ARE AND FORGIVE EACH OTHER EVERY DAY FROM THE BOTTOM OF YOUR HEARTS.”

AS WE BEGIN OUR LENTEN JOURNEY, LET US NOT BE SO CONCERNED WITH WHAT ENTERS OUR MOUTHS, AS WHAT COMES OUT OF THEM.  AS WE PROVIDE FOR OUR SPIRIT IN ADDITIONAL PRAYER AND SOUL SEARCHING.  LET US SUBDUE OUR EGOS AND OUR JUDGEMENT OF THOSE WE ENCOUNTER.  LET US TURN TO GOD IN REPENTANCE WITH HUMILITY, ONLY AFTER WE SOFTEN THE HARDNESS OF OUR OWN HEARTS AND GRANT FORGIVENESS TO THOSE CLOSE TO US.  WE MUST REACH OUT TO THOSE WHO HAVE HURT US OR OFFENDED US.  EQUALLY WE MUST GENEROUSLY ACCEPT OTHERS SEEKING OUR FORGIVENESS.  AS THE HYMNS OF VESPERS OF FORGIVENESS REVEAL:

 “REJOICING IN THE VIRTUES OF THE SPIRIT – MAY WE PERSEVERE WITH LOVE, AND SO BE COUNTED WORTHY TO SEE THE SOLEMN PASSION OF CHRIST OUR GOD, AND WITH GREAT SPIRITUAL GLADNESS TO BEHOLD HIS HOLY RESURRECTION.”

A Miracle

Today, I’d like to share a miracle which came into our life.  God provided us an example of his great love.  We shared in the blessing of life.  Today, our new grandbaby arrived.  He is number five.  He joins his three little girl cousins and his big brother, Vassili, but he is the first to grace us while I am doing this blog. It seems only right to share some reflections on him joining our family.  The truth is ever since we learned that Katina, our daughter, and Vastan, our son-in-law were expecting, we have been praying for them and the new baby.

Peter
Peter

When we learned the baby was going to be a boy he acquired a name, Peter Nicholas.  The little guy was going to be named for his two uncles, one on each side of the family. Little Peter has been a topic of great speculation.  When exactly would he come, how much he would weigh, how big would he be? Well, today we got all our questions answered. He made his appearance on February 21, 2009, he is 191/2” long and he weighs 7.4lbs.

I once heard that a baby was proof positive that God is love.  This is one of the most simple and most profound statements we could consider. St. John the Evangelist states so plainly, “God is love” (1John 4, 8). Our God is a community of love, a constant exchange of love between the three persons of the Holy Trinity.  A new life is a reflection of that love. Here on the desk is an icon of the Glukofilousa, (The Sweet Kissing Virgin).  What a beautiful expression of love between the Theotokos and Christ, what peace, what perfect joy.  Here into our life, that joy is revealed once more. glykofilousa-kontoglou2 We need to be open to God’s love, to allow it to permeate our soul and to have appreciation for it when it comes.  This can happen not only in the big events, like the birth of a new baby; but in the little things. That is the challenge, stopping to recognize God revealing Himself and His love to us and letting that blessing soften our heart and bring joy into our life. Look at your life. Has God revealed Himself and His love to you?  Maybe He has, but you were too busy or preoccupied to notice. The pace of life is so fast that many times we can not recognize the love of God. It may be that small event, that person we meet or the opportunity to open our own heart; yet we do not cherish the moment or perceive the encounter with the love of God.   St Silouan the Athonite prayed, “O Lord, by Your Holy Spirit enlighten Your people that all may know Your love.”

What does God want from us?

I don’t know if you ever ask this question, but as far as I’m concerned I seem to ask this question a lot! Ok, God what do you want from me? It seems that I am always asking the question without expecting an answer. Well, the Gospel for next Sunday, the Gospel of the Last Judgment (Matt 25, 31 – 46) answers this

SEPERATING SHEEP FROM GOATS
SEPERATING SHEEP FROM GOATS

question pretty specifically and without equivocation.  The entire exhortation can be boiled down to one sentence. Blessed are the merciful! It requires mercy to feed, clothe, heal, visit, give drink, or welcome. St John Chrysostom remarked in a sermon on this passage, that we take pity on a poor stray dog and feed him when we encounter him, but we are most likely to ignore our fellow human if we come upon them by the side of the road. If we care for the physical needs of our fellow man, do we ignore their more basic spiritual needs? Do we welcome strangers to Church or think about clothing them in the garment of incorruption, their baptismal garment? Do we try to feed them with spiritual food, free them from the prison of loneliness or despair? It seems that if we go down to the soup kitchen or meet people’s physical needs out the back door of the community center, we’ve done our good deed.

How can we reach out? However, we really don’t want “those kinds of people” in the pew next to us. It is easy to give a loaf of bread, but a much more difficult commitment to share the bread of life, the Holy Eucharist. The banquet of the Kingdom is the wedding feast, and the king wishes all to attend. He desires the room to be full. The servants gathered “the good and the bad” and invited them into the feast. Has the king invited you? Whom shall you bring?

WHO AM I?

This coming Sunday is the Sunday of the Prodigal Son, the second Sunday of the Triodion in the Orthodox calendar. It seems to me that every year when this week rolls around I tend to play a mind game with myself. Who am I this year? The quick and the safe answer is to say I am the prodigal.

Return of the Prodigal
Return of the Prodigal

How very humble and fitting. We’re all prodigals at one time or another. After all last Sunday we were reminded that the “good guy” was the Publican; when he realized he had a lot to answer for and admitted it. So, once again the safe bet is to tell ourselves, that’s me. None the less, when we shut the door isn’t it human nature to say, I am really not that bad. So, who do you think you are in this story.? My view is that at times we imagine ourselves to be each of the characters at one time or the other, Maybe that’s the way Christ intended us to look at this parable. At different times of our lives, we are anyone of the characters in the tale. Perhaps we are the prodigal, the owner of the swine, the companions in sin, the brother, the servants who attend to the returning son, the party going friends of the brother, the waiting forgiving father. Or even someone never mentioned, the mother, who may very well waited, worried and quietly rejoiced at her son’s return only to cry again at her elder son’s callousness. The question is: Who am I this year?.

 

Who are the Saints?

It seems to me that we Orthodox look at icons of saints and immediately think of super religious people who are so distant and so removed from our daily lives that we can’t relate to them as people.  As I began to study the life of Patriarch Methodios 1 of Constantinople, I felt exactly this same way.  You may not know, a few years ago I based my doctorate studies on this saint because no one had actually studied him in detail.  He is depicted in an icon which we see at the beginning of every Great Lent on the Sunday of Orthodoxy.

Sunday-of-Orthodoxy - (St. Methodios is to the right of the icon)
Sunday-of-Orthodoxy - (St. Methodios is to the right of the icon)

So, he must have had something to do with icons, but other than that who was he? Ultimately, this is the question we should ask about each saint, but more importantly we must ask how do they make a difference for us today?  At the time I began my studies Methodios was a stranger.  This is the reality of all saints unless we look at them in the light of faith.  They stand as reflections of Christ, in their time and their place.  Every one, young, old, male or female is a person who faced life with one thing in common with us today, struggle.  All of us struggle to live a life that matters, not in the great things but in the real things.  A life that matters is the path each person must travel.  So consider a saint’s life as a journey.  Look how they made the voyage.  When they came to that fork in the road to which we all come, how did they choose?  Yes, Methodios is the Patriarch who presided over the first Sunday of Orthodoxy.  He is right there in the icon!  If the people of the Church made him a saint, put him in icons and gave him a feast day; it is because he a chose a certain path.  What will be your choice?  The life of a saint may show you the “Way”.

[To learn more about Patriarch Methodios link to: https://oca.org/saints/lives/2013/06/14/101719-st-methodius-the-patriarch-of-constantinople ]

Thoughts on the Trinity and Christ in Orthodox Teaching

Have you ever considered the possibility that your idea of God is too small? What do you think about when you hear the word “GOD”? Maybe, it would help if we consider some of the Church’s teachings about God. First, let’s ask the basic question “What is God?” There are certain fundamental Orthodox teachings on this question. When we try to define God, we come to Mystery. Beginning with that question: The Church says “IS” – is beyond all human understanding, language, and abilities to grasp or describe.

God is Love; whoever sought to define Him would be like a blind person trying to count the grains of sand of the sea shore. – St. John Climakos

God is a God, who out of Love, reveals Himself to his creatures and creation. Our God is a Personal God. Our God is a TRINITARIAN GOD. What does this mean? The nature of God as Trinity is explained by a Father of the Church in this way:

Holy Trinity
Holy Trinity

The Father is the origin of all, the Son realizes, and the Spirit fulfils. Every thing subsists by the will of the Father, comes into being though the action of the Son, and reaches its perfection through the action of the Holy Spirit…

The number three therefore comes to your mind: the Lord who commands, The Word who creates, the Breath who confirms and what can it mean to confirm, if not to make perfect in holiness.

Treatise on the Holy Spirit – ST BASIL OF CAESARIA.

Think about the description of the nature of God, as we can understand him. Keep in mind; we can never understand the essence of God. Yet, all Three Persons of the Holy Trinity share the same essence (Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed). They are unique persons; they are distinct but never separate. They have but one will, the will of the Father. NONE of three ever acts separately and apart from the other two. Metropolitan Kallistos Ware states, “They are not three Gods but one God.” What is it about God that we experience and know? We Orthodox view what and how we experience the Trinity in this way.

  • GOD’S ESSENCE – WHAT “IS”, THE INNER BEING OF GOD, IS TOTALLY TRANSCENDENT. MAN CAN NEVER KNOW THE NATURE OF GOD AND GOD’S OTHERNESS. THIS IS BEYOND OUR ABILITY OR CAPACITY TO COMPREHEND.
  • GOD’S ENERGY – GOD’S OPERATIONS OR ACTS OF POWER. THESE REVEAL GOD IN THE WORLD TO HIS CREATION. THIS IS CALLED GRACE, LIFE AND POWER AND IT FILLS ALL THINGS.

God is love (1 John, 8). The Persons of the Holy Trinity relate to one and another in a bond of LOVE, a perfect outpouring of selfless communion that is continuous, constant and mysterious. This is the nature of the relationship of the life of God as Trinity. Our destiny is to share this love and to express it in our lives. When we talk about God, we mean the Holy Trinity; and when we will speak of Christ, the second person of the Trinity, we speak of the Son of God revealed and encountered in the created world. In Christ, empowered by God’s Holy Spirit and through our Baptism and Chrismation, we have the potential to partake in the nature of God as Trinity (2 Peter 1, 3).

For Orthodox, the true image of God and the true nature of man are revealed in history by one event. God has revealed Himself to us in Christ. Through the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, the Theotokos, Christ accomplishes this by His Incarnation in the Flesh. The Incarnation of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, reveals the image of the Father to the world and only through Him, in the Holy Spirit, can we KNOW God the Father (St. John 17, 25-26). The hymn of Christmas, by St. Romanos the Melodist, summarizes the theology of incarnation with this phrase, “A new born child; God before the Ages”.

The Incarnation is an act of GOD out of love. It is an act of God identifying with our nature and of sharing His Nature with us. The nature of God as Trinity was the topic of the first two Ecumenical Councils; the next five great Councils dealt with who is Jesus and what is His relationship to us, His creation.

  • JESUS CHRIST IS FULLY AND COMPLETELY PERFECT GOD.Jesus
  • JESUS CHRIST IS FULLY AND COMPLETELY PERFECT HUMAN.
  • JESUS CHRIST IS NOT TWO PERSONS BUT ONE.
  • JESUS CHRIST IN HIS HUMANITY IS LIKE US IN EVERY WAY, SAVE HE IS WITHOUT SIN.

Earlier we said, the Godhead is a perfect community of love shared between the THREE Persons of the Trinity. The Incarnation is also about sharing and participation. Christ shares our humanity, even to death on the cross. This act of perfect Love enables us, in Christ, through His Spirit to participate in the life of God. We are called to intimate communion, even friendship with our Lord. The entire history of Christ in the world can be summed up in one word ENCOUNTER. Through Him, in Him and with Him, we encounter the Living God. Christ assumed our human nature and our human body. He transformed them with the Glory of God and showed us the true original beauty of our created potential. He presents it to His Father, wholly transfigured, so that we might share in the Nature of God.

This is the reason why the Word of God was made flesh, and the Son of God became the Son of Man: so that we could enter into communion with the Word of God and by receiving adoption might become the Sons of God. Indeed, we should not be able to share in immortality without a close union with the Immortal.

St. Ireneaus of Lyons

In Christ, we are called to KNOW the Father. This knowledge is the prayer of Christ before his crucifixion. His Resurrection abolished the hold which death had on us since our fall. His Accession granted us an intercessor at the Throne of God. At Pentecost, He asks the Father to send His Spirit to continue His Presence among us. His Second Coming will give the righteous immortality and perfect communion with God. These words of prayer explain our relationship to God the Holy Trinity.

My hope is the Father,
My refuge is the Son,
My Protection is the Holy Spirit,
O’ Holy Trinity – Glory to You.
St Ioannicios the Great