Secularism in Theology

Venerable Theodosius the Abbot of the Kiev Far Caves Monastery, and Founder of Coenobitic Monasticism in Russia

Beloved brothers and sisters in Our Risen Lord, God, Redeemer and Our Only True Savior Jesus Christ,


O Holy Angel, attendant of my wretched soul and of mine afflicted life, forsake me not, a sinner, neither depart from me for mine incontinency. Give no place to the evil demon to subdue me with the oppression of this mortal body; but take me by my wretched and outstretched hand, and lead me in the way of salvation. Yes, O holy Angel of God, the guardian and protector of my hapless soul and body, forgive me all things whatsoever wherewith I have troubled thee, all the days of my life, and if I have sinned in anything this day. Shelter me in this present night, and keep me from every affront of the enemy, lest I anger God by any sin; and intercede with the Lord on my behalf, that He might strengthen me in the fear of Him, and make me a worthy servant of His Goodness. Amen.


O Theotokos and Virgin, rejoice, O Mary, full of grace; the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb; for thou hast borne the Savior of our souls. (Thrice)




On May 3rd 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, Teachers and every righteous soul perfected in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Our Righteous Father Theodosius, Egoumenos (Abbot) of the Kiev Caves Lavra, Founder of Monasticism in Russia; Holy Martyrs Timothy and Maura (Mavra); Saint Peter the Wonderworker, Bishop of Argos; Saint Ecumenius the Wonderworker of Tricca; Saints Diodoros and Rodopianus the Deacon of Aphrodisia; Saint Ansfried, Bishop of Utrecht; Saint Mamai, Catholicos of Georgia; Saint Timothy the Reader and Maura of Antinoe in Egypt; Saint Xenia the Wonderworker of Peloponnesus; Saint Paul of Vilnus, Lithuania; Saint Theodosius, Egoumenos (Abbot) of the Kiev Caves Monastery; Translation of the holy relics of St. Luke of Mt. Stirion; New holy Martyr Ahmet the Calligrapher of Constantinople; Saints Michael and Arsenius the Georgians.

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

OUR RIGHTEOUS FATHER THEODOSIUS, EGOUMENOS OF THE KIEV CAVES LAVRA, FOUNDER OF MONASTICISM IN RUSSIA. Our righteous Father Theodosius was born in 1009 A.D., not far from Kiev, and brought up in Kursk. From early childhood he showed the wisdom of an elder, avoiding childish games and refusing to wear anything but the poorest of clothing. When he was about thirteen years old, and his father died, he began to humble himself even more, going out to work with the serfs in the field. His mother went so far as to beat him in her attempts to make him behave more respectably. Hearing of the labors of Saint Anthony of Kiev, he fled to him secretly and was accepted by him as his disciple. He was tonsured at the age of twenty-four by Saint Anthony's disciple Nicon, and was elected Egoumenos (Abbot) of the Caves Monastery in 1057 A.D., since Saint Anthony refused this out of humility, and lived his whole life as a hermit. It was Saint Theodosius who introduced in Russia the cenobitic rule of the Monastery of Studium in Constantinople, and under his guidance many monks attained to great holiness, and the monastic life spread. When Prince Svyatoslav drove out his elder brother the pious Prince Isyaslav, and ascended to the throne of Chrernigov in his place. Saint Theodosius courageously rebuked him, and continued reproving him even when threatened with exile. At the request of Prince Shimon, the son of a Varangian (Viking) prince, the Saint wrote a prayer for the nobleman's forgiveness of sins, and, at his behest, had it placed in his coffin, whence arose this custom in Russia. He reposed on May 3, 1074 A.D., being sixty-five years of age.

Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn of the Righteous One. Plagal of Fourth Tone

Raising thyself aloft upon virtue and having loved the monastic life from thy youth, thou didst valiantly attain to thy desire. Thou didst settle in a cave, and while adorning thy life with fasting and purity, thou didst persevere in prayers like one of the bodiless. And since thou hast shone forth in the Russian land as a brilliant lamp, O Father Theodosius, pray Christ God that our souls be saved.

Kontakion of the Righteous One. Third Tone

Today we venerate the star of Russia, the blessed Theodosius, who hath shone forth from the east and come unto the west; for he hath enriched both this whole land with miracles and blessings, and us with the establishment and grace of the monastic life.



Holy Epistle Lesson: Acts 5:21-32
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. John 6:14-27


"Why do they put rubber tires with inner tubes on cars? So that they given in, collapsing a little with every little stone or pothole on the road, and in this way they pass obstacles. If the wheels were firm and unyielding, the car wouldn't be able to move forward. It would fall apart after a short distance because of the vibration from the small inconsistencies of terrain. The same thing happens with yielding to others in the family. In this way many problems are surpassed and continuous spiritual progress is assured." (Geronda [Elder] Epiphanios of Athens]


By His Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos

Theology is the voice and faith of the Church, the logos of God (theo-logia in Greek). It is assumed that someone who talks about God must know God. In the Orthodox Church, the knowledge of God is not intellectual but spiritual, that is, it is connected to man's communion with God. In Saint Gregory Palamas' teaching, the vision of the Uncreated Light is closely connected to man's theosis (deification), to man's communion with God and the knowledge of God. That is why theology is identical to the vision of God and the theologian is identical to the vision of God and the theologian is identical to the God-seer. Someone who talks about God, even reflectively, can be called a theologian and this is why the Fathers attribute the term theologian to the philosophers as well. However, from an Orthodox standpoint a theologian is someone who witnessed the glory of God or, at least, accepts the experience of those who reached theosis (deification).

In this sense, theologians are the God-seers, those who achieved theosis (deification) and received the Revelation of God. Saint Paul is one such theologian. He went up to the third heaven, and on several occasions he describes and reveals his apocalyptic experiences. This occurs to such an extent that Saint John Chrysostom, talking about Saint Paul and about the fact that in his Epistles there are greater mysteries than in the Gospels, argues that "Christ declared more important and unspoken things through Saint Paul than through Himself."

Saint Paul, as he himself says in the third person, was captured "up to the third heaven" (2 Cor. 12:2). Saint Maximos the Confessor's interprets that the three heavens are in reality the three stages of spiritual life. The first heaven is the end of practical philosophy, which is the purification of the heart, the expulsion of all thoughts from the heart. The second heaven is natural theoria, that is, the knowledge of the inner essences of beings, when man through God's Grace becomes worthy of knowing the inner essences of beings: ceaseless inner prayer. The third heaven is theoria, theology, through which, and by Divine Grace and the capture of the nous, one reaches, as is possible, the knowledge of God's mysteries and knows all the mysteries of the Kingdom of heaven. Therefore, theology is the third heaven, which is a fruit, an outcome of the purification of the heart and the illumination of the nous.

All these are related to another teaching by Saint Maximos the Confessor. According to this teaching, all that is seen needs to be crucified and all the thoughts need to be buried, and then the logos rises within ourselves and man ascends to theoria and becomes a true theologian. This means that Orthodox theology is closely tied to Orthodox asceticism; it cannot be conceived of outside Orthodox ascesis. The heretics, on the other hand, tried and still try to make theology in other ways, with impure heart and reflection, not through natural theoria, and mystical theology. For this reason, they failed and were expelled from the Church of Christ.

When theology is not a part of this framework, as presented by all the holy Fathers, then it is not Orthodox but secular. This secular theology is encountered in the West, where they analyze and interpret Holy Scripture through their own human and impure intellect, outside of the correct prerequisites presented by the holy Fathers…

Another way we manifest secular theology is that we seek the rebirth of the Church's liturgical life without simultaneously discovering and living the ascetic life of the Church. We discuss the continual communion of the Sacraments without simultaneously relating this effort to the stages of spiritual perfection, which are purification, illumination, and theosis (deification). We make a great effort so that people can logically comprehend the Divine Liturgy, without making a parallel effort to experience the spirit of Orthodox worship. We seek to abolish the iconostasis so that laymen can peer into the altar, without asking the reason why the instituted the iconostasis and the secret reading of prayers.

Overall, when our theology is not tied to the so-called hesychastic life, when it is not ascetic, then it is secular, it is scholastic theology, it is Barlaamist theology--even if we seem to be fighting Western (Roman catholic and Protestant) theology and struggle to be Orthodox.



With sincere agape in Our Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George