Prior to 2019 the week before university commenced for the year was called Orientation Week (shortened to O Week). It was in this week that students would walk around campus, find their lecture rooms and start to change the course of their lives.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19-20)
This Commandment of our Lord also applies to all Christians from every age in history; every person and every nation who has ever existed.
There is abundant scientific evidence that a healthy human childhood, both physical as well as psychological, leads to better physical health in adult life, as well as being a balanced and well-adjusted individual. One factor that contributes to these benefits is the feeling of mateship that connects two or more people, without any erotic desire, with the bond of friendship. Between true friends, there are feelings of respect, devotion and interest of the wellbeing for one another.
It is said that icons are a pictorial representation of Scripture, where iconographers utilise not only geometry and colour, but also symbolism, theology and perspective. This is true for the icon of the Nativity of Christ where the mystery of the Incarnation, which was hidden from before time, is now revealed to all through its contemplation.
Collectively, Australians speak over 200 languages. Other than English, the most common languages spoken today are Chinese, Italian, Greek and Arabic. So many cultures and so many beliefs! Christianity is the most commonly reported religion (52.1% of the population). The Islamic population with 2.6% of the total population is the second largest religion, closely followed by Buddhism (2.4%). However, as many as 30% of Australians reported that they had ‘no religion’. How can we preserve our Orthodox Christian Faith in such a multicultural society?
The phrase, “Be at peace with one another and with all”, is taken from a hymn written by the famous hymnographer Kosmas of Maiouma of the 8th century. The verse is from the troparion of the 8th Ode of the Canon of the Holy Monday matins service and is chanted on Palm Sunday Evening. St Kosmas became bishop of Maiouma, a port-town near Gaza in modern day Palestine and helped defend the Church against the heresy of iconoclasm. This was a turbulent period. Having this in mind, how is it that St Kosmas still wrote the words “be at peace with one another and with all”? How do we begin to search, and acquire this peace that Christ asks of us?
In his conversation with Nicholas Motovilov, St Seraphim of Sarov instructs that the aim of the Christian life is to acquire the Holy Spirit. Practising the virtues should not be the goal of our spiritual life; rather the virtues should be the means by which the goal is achieved.
Above the Kadeesha River sits a pearl of ascetic struggle unworthy of the world. Burrowed in the caves of Mount Hamatoura exists the Monastery of the Dormition of the Theotokos, overlooking a land that once flourished with monastic fervour.
For us today, the Divine Liturgy is a weekly staple of our Christian lives. We drive to church on a Sunday, walk into a great building with flickering candles and hand-painted icons, gold leaf and carved wood, embroidered vestments, burning incense and chanting filling every corner of the church.
The Orthodox Church is vastly different from the various Christian denominations in how it approaches the Holy Mysteries. If you’re thinking, “what are the Mysteries?”, they are those miraculous acts which are part of Liturgies and church services and are often referred to as “sacraments”.