Pemptousia and OCN have entered a strategic partnership to bring Orthodoxy Worldwide. Greek philosophers from Ionia considered held that there were four elements or essences (ousies) in nature: earth, water, fire and air. Aristotle added ether to this foursome, which would make it the fifth (pempto) essence, pemptousia, or quintessence. The incarnation of God the Word found fertile ground in man’s proclivity to beauty, to goodness, to truth and to the eternal. Orthodoxy has not functioned as some religion or sect. It was not the movement of the human spirit towards God but the revelation of the true God, Jesus Christ, to man. A basic precept of Orthodoxy is that of the person – the personhood of God and of man. Orthodoxy is not a religious philosophy or way of thinking but revelation and life standing on the foundations of divine experience; it is the transcendence of the created and the intimacy of the Uncreated. Orthodox theology is drawn to genuine beauty; it is the theology of the One “fairer than the sons of men”. So in "Pemptousia", we just want to declare this "fifth essence", the divine beaut in our life. Please note, not all Pemptousia articles have bylines. If the author is known, he or she is listed in the article above.
Archimandrite Theodosios Martzoukhos
Already we’re in the second month of the New Year. And we begin with the feast of the Reception of Christ, on February 2. It’s a very great feast. Christ is received by a man for whom the expectation of this moment governed his life. He awaited Him and then received Him. Do we await him, though? Is our life an expectation of the coming of Christ? Symeon waited expectantly for Christ Who was the content and beauty of his life. We alas, have shifted the focus of our lives elsewhere. We have different priorities.
How does someone ‘receive’ Christ? [The name of the feast in Greek means ‘to go out and welcome someone’] What are the necessary conditions for a meeting with Him? What do we expect from Him?
First of all, our lives today are confused and we don’t await Christ. We’re waiting for other things. Our criteria are all mixed up. So are our aims. So are our wishes. Christ is an object of special interest only to the old and the naïve.
We, who are sharp as tacks and have our feet firmly on the ground, as we like to think of ourselves, haven’t got the time to deal with this sort of thing. If we’re not looking for monetary gain, we’re out seeking enjoyment of every kind. If we’re not in the fast lane, we want a holiday. If we’re not concerned with whatever’s buzzing around our brain, we’re reading the newspaper ‘pundits’ who provide an answer to everything: important and fatuous; serious and laughable; interesting and dull. And, the most important thing, who inform us of recent research which has taken place and which ‘proves’ that Christ doesn’t exist. And so, since we now have ‘valid’ facts at our disposal, we’re well-informed and ‘in the know’. What relationship should we be pursuing? How should we be celebrating? More importantly, who should we be celebrating?
Let’s dwell on ourselves for a moment. Let’s sieve our conscience and our heart. Let’s think: ‘The way I’m going, is my life really getting any better? Has it acquired a central meaning? Joy, serenity, calm? I’ve expelled Christ and the Church from my life, but has that made it any the more beautiful? Maybe it’s a wilderness. Maybe it’s filled with wickedness? Maybe my relationships have become problematic? Maybe my soul’s in turmoil?’
The feast of the Reception brings all these questions to the surface. They need to be answered! And forcefully. Sincerely. Recognition may provide a diagnosis, but not a cure. The cure demands decisiveness and hard work.
Even if the feast is strange to us, let’s make it an opportunity for Christ not to continue to be a stranger to us.
The reception of Christ means: a sincere quest for Him; a methodical search (You don’t go to a desert to catch fish!); a helper in the endeavor (spiritual guide); and adherence to the course of treatment we’re given.
When all this occurs, our heart begins to be illumined by the light of Christ. Then everything will become the Light of Christ. Then the prospect of His Reception will be the joy of our lives. Then His face will become that of the person we love the best. Then every sacrifice for Him Whom we love will not be an effort, but a joy. Then the Sunday Eucharist won’t be a duty, but a self-evident expression of life.
Let’s ponder these things. They’re an opportunity for reflection. Let’s expand them both in terms of depth and breadth. Christ, life and death are the only issue which require an answer, a wise man said in the last [20th] century.
I pray that all of us may ‘go out and meet Christ’.
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OCN has partnered with Pemptousia. A Contemporary post-modern man does not understand what man is. Through its presence in the internet world, Pemptousia, with its spirit of respect for beauty that characterizes it, wishes to contribute to the presentation of a better meaning of life for man, to the search for the ontological dimension of man, and to the awareness of the unfathomable mystery of man who is always in Christ in the process of becoming, of man who is in the image of divine beauty. And the beauty of man springs from the beauty of the Triune God. In the end, “beauty will save the world”.