The Eucharist: Its Structure

The Eucharist: Its Structure

Despite some talk about our “timeless unchanged Liturgy,” the Orthodox Divine Liturgy actually has undergone a number of changes since the days of the apostles, and even from the days of the second century. This is a good thing, for everything that lives changes and grows and develops. The prayers...

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The Eucharist: Its Meaning and Place in Our Salvation

The Eucharist: Its Meaning and Place in Our Salvation

The earliest title of the main Sunday service of the Christian Church is “the Eucharist”, from the Greek word eucharisteo, meaning, “to give thanks.” As early as about the middle of the second century, Justin the Philosopher (later known as “Justin Martyr”) wrote that the bread and wine which the...

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Historical Contradictions?  Not So Fast

Historical Contradictions? Not So Fast

The Huffington Post, it seems, can always be relied upon to provide fodder for sceptics looking for a stick with which to beat the Christians. They are, of course, not alone, and poking sharp sticks in our cage seems to be on the verge of becoming a national sport. But...

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Baptism and Chrismation

Baptism and Chrismation

We have noted that the service of baptism has undergone a long and profound development. In the early days of the Church’s history, those desiring to become Christians were first enrolled as catechumens, and continued in that state for some months or even years. Their baptism came as the culmination...

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Reception into the Catechumenate

Reception into the Catechumenate

We have seen how our present baptismal service is the result of long development, a part of which consisted of joining the rite for making a catechumen with the later baptismal rite proper. In this fusion, certain baptismal elements (such as the renunciation of Satan, the adherence to Christ, and...

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The Churching

The Churching

The little pew booklet which my church (the OCA) publishes for the baptismal service provides the text of the entire service of Holy Baptism as currently practiced, along with an introduction to the service to explain what it all means. Different jurisdictions have different practices: some practise the rite of...

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Did Jesus Ever Really Exist?

Did Jesus Ever Really Exist?

I used to be of the opinion that for really far-out whacky stuff, you couldn’t beat Jerry Springer. You all know Jerry Springer—he was the showman who began a talk show in 1991 which within a few years became something of a voyeuristic freak-show, featuring topics like “Teenage Girls who...

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Rituals and Sacraments

Rituals and Sacraments

It is difficult to open a book of systematic theology and not find reference to “the seven sacraments,” often capitalized for greater effect: The Seven Sacraments. They take their place in a list of other enumerated realities—the Seven Deadly Sins, the Seven Virtues, the Seven Corporal Works of Mercy, the...

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Living In an Auto-correcting World

Living In an Auto-correcting World

Of late my computer has been helping me out with my bad spelling rather a lot. In particular, whenever I try to write to someone about the Orthodox Christian Network under the handy acronym “OCN”, it auto-corrects for me, and types “con.” “‘OCN’? ‘OCN’? Surely you meant ‘con’?” Given that...

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The Legacy of Robin Williams: Seize the Day

The Legacy of Robin Williams: Seize the Day

Like millions of others, I was stunned to learn of the tragic death of Robin Williams, who took his own life after a long and unsuccessful struggle with depression. My own children grew up watching and rejoicing in Robin’s many movies, such as “Good Morning, Viet Nam,” “Good Will Hunting,”...

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Pre-Nicene Creeds

Pre-Nicene Creeds

The confession of faith which we Orthodox chant or sing every Sunday at our Divine Liturgy has a long and complicated history, and examining its history plunges us back into the earliest days of the Church’s life. It is a glorious plunge. Discipleship to Jesus and inclusion in His Church...

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Nicea and Afterward

Nicea and Afterward

The Church had always confessed the divinity of Christ. The New Testament had proclaimed Jesus as the divine Son of God, and the phrase “Christ our God” had been used since the days of St. Ignatius of Antioch (in his Epistle to the Romans), who died about 107 A.D. The...

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