The Orthodox Sense of Holy Tradition

Holy Martyr Artemius

Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,


+In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Glory to You, our God, glory to You. Come, let us bow and worship God our King. Come, let us bow down and worship Christ our God and King. Come, let us bow down and worship Christ Himself, our King and our God.

On the third hour, O Lord, You sent Your All-Holy Spirit upon Your Apostles, Do not take away from us, O gracious Lord, But pour this same Holy Spirit upon us, Who beseech You now.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a right spirit within me.

On the third hour, O Lord, You sent Your All-Holy Spirit upon Your Apostles, Do not take away from us, O gracious Lord, But pour this same Holy Spirit upon us, Who beseech You now.

Cast me not away from Your presence, And take not Your Holy Spirit from me.

On the third hour, O Lord, You sent Your All-Holy Spirit upon Your Apostles, Do not take away from us, O gracious Lord, But pour this same Spirit upon us, Who beseech You now.

Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

O Blessed Theotokos, You are the true vine That blossomed the fruit of Life. We beseech You, intercede for us, O Lady, Together with the Apostles and all the Saints, That our souls may find mercy in the Lord.

Blessed is the Lord God, Blessed is the Lord God day by day. May the God of our salvation, The God Who saves, Guide us aright and make us prosper.

You are blessed, O Christ, Our God, You endowed the fishermen to be all-wise, By sending upon them the Holy Spirit. And through them You have drawn together the whole world. O Lover of mankind, Glory to You.

Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Give quick and steadfast consolation to Your servants, O Christ, For our spirits have become weary and discouraged. Do not abandon our souls in sorrows, Do not distance Yourself from our thoughts and circumstances, But always overtake us in our need. You who are everywhere, come near, come near to us, As with Your Apostles, promising to be always with them. O Compassionate Lord, unite Yourself also with those who love You, So that, united with You, we may praise and glorify Your All-Holy Spirit.

Lord God, Almighty Father, Lord God, Only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, And Lord God, the Holy Spirit, One God, one power and one essence, Have mercy on me a sinner. And through the judgments which You know best, Save me Your unworthy servant, For You are Blessed unto the ages of ages. Amen.


On October 20th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics and Teachers of Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Saint and Great holy Martyr Artemius; Saint Gerasimos the New of Cephalonia; Saint Matrona, wonderworker of Chios; Saint Eboras and Eunous of Persia; Saint Zebinas of Caesarea; Saint Manatho in Caesarea; Saint Nicholas (Liubonudrove) of Latskoye village, Yaroslav; Saint Artemius of Verkola.

THE HOLY AND GREAT MARTYR ARTEMIUS. This glorious Saint was Egyptian by birth, and the commander-in-chief of the army of the Emperor Constantine the Great. When the victorious Cross, encircled by stars, appeared to the Emperor, St. Aretemius also saw it, came to faith in Christ the Lord and was baptized. Later, in the time of the Emperor Constantius, Constanine's son, he was sent to Greece to take the holy relics of Saint Andrew and Saint Luke from Patras and Thebes respectively to Constantinople, which charge St. Artemius carried out with joy. After that, he was appointed governor and imperial representative in Egypt, in which appointment he remained throughout the reign of Constantius and for a certain time under Julian the Apostate. When this renegade Emperor went to war against the Persians, he stopped for a time in Antioch, and summoned St. Artemius and his army to join him there. Saint Artemius went. At that time, the Emperor gave two Christian priests, Eugenius and Macarius, over to torture. Seeing this, Saint Artemius was profoundly alarmed, went to the Emperor and said to him: 'Why are you so inhumanly torturing these innocent and dedicated men, and why are you putting pressure on them to turn back from the Orthodox faith?' He also prophesied to the Emperor that his end was near. The furious Emperor sent the two priests into exile in Arabia, where they soon died, and stripped St. Artemius of his military rank, ordering that he flogged and whipped. All wounded and covered with blood, Saint Artemius was thrown into prison, where the Lord Christ Himself appeared to him, healing and comforting him. After that, the Emperor ordered that he be laid on a flat stone and that another stone be put on him, so crushing his body like a board. Finally, he was beheaded, in 362 AD. The Emperor Julian the Apostate went out against the Persians and perished in a dishonorable way, as Saint Artemius the Great had foretold.

+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints and Holy Martyrs, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.

Holy Epistle Lesson: 2 Corinthians 1:8-11. "Who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe's household, that there are contentions among you."

Holy Gospel Lesson: Saint Luke 7:1-10. "Now when He concluded all His sayings in the hearing of the people, He entered Capernaum. And a certain centurion's servant, who was dear to him, was sick and ready to die. So when he heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to Him, pleading with Him to come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they begged Him earnestly, saying that the one for whom He should do this was deserving, 'for he loves our nation, and has built us a synagogue.' Then Jesus went with them. And when He was already not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to Him, saying to Him, 'Lord, do not trouble Yourself, for I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof. Therefore I did not even think myself worthy to come to You. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man placed under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes; and to another, 'Come,' and he comes; and to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it.' When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him, and turned around and said to the crowd that followed Him, 'I say to you, I have not found such faith, not even in Israel!' And those who were sent, returning to the house, found the servant well who had been sick."


"The Lord is not tired of hearing us complain all the time. He is tired of our sins, not our turning to Him for help. He wants us to call upon Him all the time and to pour our hearts out to him." [Geronda [Elder] Thaddeus of Vitovnica]

by Father John Anthony McGuckin PhD.

One of the most commonly used phrases in the theological vocabulary of the Orthodox is 'The Holy Tradition'. In former times this notion had some resonance with Western Catholics, but perhaps a little less in the present era of extensive theological and cultural changes affecting Roman Catholicism. For Protestants, the term usually brought to mind many of the reasons they had originally challenged Latin Catholicism in the Reformation era, charging it at several instances with corrupting the biblical tradition of Christianity in favor of its own 'customs and traditions'. For most of the non-Orthodox, therefore, the concept of the Holy Tradition probably suggests, at best, a somewhat stultified churchly mentality that looks always to the past and is not able to address the present ear, and, at worst, a readiness to hang on to the 'customs of men' more passionately than to the word of the Lord.

The Orthodox do not understand the concept of tradition in that way. For the Eastern Christians world tradition is the gateway to the theology of Revelation. The Orthodox faith teaches that the Holy Tradition is something different from 'the customs of men' about which Jesus spoke so disparagingly. Orthodoxy understands the Holy Tradition to be the essence of the life-saving Gospel of Christ brought to the world through the Church by the power of the Holy Spirit of God. The Tradition is, theologically speaking, how the Spirit is experienced within the Church of Christ as the charism of truth.

Tradition in this sense is not something that is past-looking only (obsessed with traditions and precedents). It bases its claims to authenticity on the fact that it speaks the words of Christ in the here and now, faithful to His own spirit; but as much as it looks to the past and stands in unbroken continuity with it, thus 'passing on' the Gospel of life (which is the root meaning of the word 'tradition'), it also looks to the future. The Tradition is the Spirit's energy of proclaiming the Gospel and energizing the Church's worship and knowledge of God in the present generation, and for future generations to come. The Orthodox, therefore, understand the Holy Tradition to be venerable and hallowed from times past, but to be essentially charismatic and alive, and full of the power and freshness of the Spirit of God, concerned with bringing new generations to Christ until the end of time: one of the basic functions of His earthly Church.

Orthodox Tradition is understood to be built up from many parts but all together making a single harmonious whole. No part of the Tradition is in conflict with any other part, or could be, but the harmony of all the legitimately different parts cohering together is a sign and proof of the health and authenticity of the Tradition.

Saint Irenaeus added further to the fundamental vocabulary of the theology of tradition when he developed the argument that the key to biblical interpretation was the 'canon of truth', which the Latin version of his works gave the West, decisively so in the hands of Tertullian, the principle of the Regula Fidei, or Regula Veritatis. This 'Rule', Saint Irenaeus says, is the strongest refutation of Gnostic variability, for it is maintained in all the churches and goes back to the Apostles. Apostolic succession, then, is not primarily a matter of succession of individual bishops, one after the other, but the succession of Apostolic teaching from the Apostles to the present. His view is simple and robust: "The Apostolic Tradition in the Church, and the preaching of the Truth have come down to us."

For Saint Irenaeus the touchstone of a test case of Apostolic Tradition lies in comparing Christian doctrine with the proto-credal Regula Fidei. He gives as the basic framework of this Apostolic kerygma: belief in God as Father and Creator of Heaven and earth; Jesus Christ His Son Who came in the flesh to save mankind; the Virginal Conception, the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus, the Holy Spirit Who revealed this dispensation be means of the Prophets.

Orthodoxy does not just hold to the tradition, in this sense. It is the Tradition. It does not simply find the tradition in its fundamental sources (such as the Scriptures, the Councils, the Canons, the Fathers, and the Liturgy); it exemplifies and reveals the tradition in its ongoing charismatic life. It is synonymous with the Tradition, because the Tradition itself is the communion of Grace. Orthodoxy's life, as a Church, is no more or less than a life lived in the grace of the Spirit of God, and the illumination of the Spirit is essential to that truth, conferring on the illumined servant of God the capacity for spiritual discernment, the knowledge of the difference between the ways of Christ, and the ways of the world. Orthodoxy has "the Mind of Christ", and the possession of that phronema is what inspires the constant passion of the faithful to cling to the sacred gift of Christ's communication of the Gospel to the Church.

The Tradition is at once mystical grace (for the presence of the Spirit across time and space within the earthly Church cannot be limited to visible and material phenomena, or organized and controlled as if it were bureaucratically 'biddable', for the Holy Spirit blows where it chooses) and also a concrete, quantifiable reality.

"By Holy Tradition the Orthodox Church means the Divine Revelation given by God to His people, through the mouths of His holy Prophets and Apostles. This Divine Revelation is the body of truth which God Himself has revealed to men, so that they may rightly and savingly believe in Him, love serve and glorify Him, and do His Holy Will."

With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George