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”.
On September 21 each year the Orthodox Church celebrates the prophet Jonah. His story is not the usual one when it comes to prophets. We normally have this image of an Old Testament prophet as being someone who had brought themselves close to God, and as a consequence they were able through the Holy Spirit to reveal certain future events in order to guide the people of Israel.
Jane Austen's novel, Sense and Sensibility is about two sisters: one is guided by her senses and emotions, and the other is guided by her rational outlook on life. In the end, it all works out, as the emotional one marries someone very sensible, and the sensible one marries someone full of heart. In our lives we are sometimes tempted to separate the sensual from the sensible.
The most important person in a one’s life, after their immediate family and their spiritual father, is the Godparent. As baptisms in the Orthodox Church are traditionally conducted when the child is very young the Church has seen fit that each child has a sponsor. Adults seeking to enter the Church must also have a Godparent. The practice of having a sponsor has existed since the first century. To serve as a Godparent is a special honour, a sacred task, and it comes with many responsibilities.
Elder Amphilochios (Makris) of Patmos (1889-1970) has been added to the register of Saints by the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate (29 August 2018).
Saint Amphilochios was a monk of the St. John the Theologian Monastery on the island of Patmos, where St. John the Evangelist received the Divine revelation that became the book of Revelation. The Saint also served as the abbot of the monastery. He also established women’s monasteries and an orphanage.