The Mystery (Sacrament) of Marriage

The family, as is well known, comprises the fundamental cell of the organism of society, being the nucleus and foundation of society. Thus also in the Militant (the Church on earth) of Christ, it is a basic unity of the Church body. Therefore the Christian family in itself is called in the writings of the holy Apostles a "church": "Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my helpers in Christ Jesus... and the church that is in their house" (Romans 16:3, 5); Salute...Nymphas and the church which is in his house" (Col. 4:15). From this, it is understandable what great attention should be given to the family from the point of view of the Church so that the family might fulfill its purpose of being a small "church."

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Orthodox Byzantine Music (Part II)

The effect that this concept had on Church music was threefold: first, it bred a highly conservative attitude to musical composition; secondly, it stabilized the melodic tradition of certain hymns; and thirdly, it continued, for a time, the anonymity of the composer. For if a chant is of heavenly origin then the acknowledgment received by man in transmitting it to posterity ought to be minimal. This is especially true when he deals with hymns which were known to have been first sung by angelic choirs - such as the Amen, Alleluia, Trisagion, Sanctus and Doxology. Consequently, until Palaeologan times, was inconceivable for a composer to place his name beside a noted text in the manuscripts.

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Suffering as an Unavoidable Aspect of the Life in Christ (Part II)

Suffering and the spiritual struggle that come with it must be viewed in a positive light since they offer such a wide variety of virtues and rewards. Biblical and Patristic reference to the benefits of suffering is numerous. Let it suffice to cite just a few isolated examples. The Apostle Paul teaches, "...we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint..." (Romans 5:3-5).

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Suffering as an Unavoidable Aspect of the Life in Christ

Suffering is seen as a sign of God's love for man. Saint Silouan also considered suffering as a sort of 'measuring stick' of man's love for God. In his characteristic simplicity, he sums up this particular point using the example of Panayia. Referring to her limitless love for her Son and her inconceivable grief as she stood at the foot of the Cross, Saint Silouan states succinctly, "The greater the love, the greater the suffering".

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Orthodox Byzantine Music

Strictly speaking, Byzantine music is the medieval sacred chant of Christian Churches following the Orthodox rite. This tradition, encompassing the Greek-speaking world, developed in Byzantium from the establishment of its capital, Constantinople, in 330 A.D. until its fall in 1453. It is undeniably of composite origin, drawing on the artistic and technical productions of the classical age, on Jewish music, and inspired by the monophonic vocal music that evolved in the early Christian cities of Alexandria, Antioch and Ephesus.

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Preparing to Receive Holy Communion (Part II)

In general, two views emerge concerning the Mysterion (Sacrament) of Repentance/Confession and the Divine Eucharist. The first sees the Sacrament of Repentance/Confession as necessary before each participation in the Divine Eucharist. The second sees the Sacrament of Repentance/Confession as a periodic practice not required before every participation in the Divine Eucharist (Holy Communion).

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Preparing to Receive Holy Communion

The most important element in the spiritual renewal of the Orthodox Christian is the Sacrament of Holy Communion. It is the one sacrament that transcends all other sacraments. When we receive Holy Communion we receive Jesus Himself into us. So great is this Mystery that we are left without any possible response which would express what God has done. Therefore, we offer the only answer we can, 'Thank you.'

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The Inner Unity of the Triodion: The Pre-Lenten Period (Part II)

The Sunday of the Last Judgment (Gospel reading: Matthew 25:31-46). The two past Sundays spoke to us of God's patience and limitless compassion, of His readiness to accept every sinner who returns to Him. On this third Sunday, we are powerfully reminded of a complementary truth: no one is so patient and so merciful as God, but even He does not forgive those who do not repent. The God of Love (Agape) is also a God of righteousness, and when Christ comes again in glory, He will come as our judge. 'Behold the goodness and severity of God' (Romans 11:22). Such is the message of Lent to each of us: turn back while there is still time, repent before the End comes. In the words of the Great Canon:

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The Inner Unity of the Triodion: The Pre-Lenten Period

The Triodion possesses an inner coherence and unity that are not at once apparent. Why, for example, should Saint Theodore the Recruit be commemorated on Saturday in the first week, the holy icons on the first Sunday, and Saint Gregory Palamas on the second? What special connection do these three observances have with the ascetic fast of Lent? Let us consider briefly the pattern which links into a single whole the different commemorations during the ten weeks of the Triodion. We shall not enter into details, but shall simply seek to indicate the place of each observance in the general structure of Lent.

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