The Orthodox Church and the Gift of Tongues

New Martyr Chryse

New Martyr Chryse

My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,

(PSALM 143 142)
[A Supplication for Protection from Evildoers]

I cry out to the Lord with my voice; With my voice to the Lord I make my supplication. I pour out my complaint before Him; I declare before Him my trouble.

When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, Then You knew my path. In the way in which I walk they have secretly set a snare for me. Look on my right hand and see, For there is no one who acknowledges me. Refuge has failed me; No one cares for my soul.

I cried out to You, O Lord: I said, "You are my refuge, My portion in the land of the living. Attend to my cry, For I am brought very low; Deliver me from my persecutors, for they are stronger than I.

Bring my soul out of prison, That I may praise Your name; The righteous shall surround me, For You shall deal bountifully with me."


[Please note: This is the last of Six Psalms of Orthros (Matins). It is the song of one afflicted, waiting in the darkness for the light. It is a prayer which awaits the light to dawn--both physical and spiritual.]



On October 13th 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, Teachers and every righteous soul made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Saints Carpus, Papylus, Agathodoros, and Agathoniki at Pergamos; Saint Zlata (Chryse) of Meglin, Bulgaria and Serbia; St. Dioscoros of Egypt; St. Nicetas the Confessor of Paphlagonia; St. Florentius of Thessaloniki; Saint Benjamin, deacon, of Persia; St. Vanantius of Tours; St. Benjamin of the Kiev Caves; Saint Anthony of Chkondidi and his disciple Jacob the Elder; Holy Martyr Antingonos; Saints Luke of Demena, Sicily, Cogman, Egoumenos (Abbot) of Lochaish; Translation into Moscow of the "Iveron Holy Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos).

+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Mothers, Holy Deacons, Holy Ascetics, Holy Confessors, Holy Father, Holy Elders, Holy Abbots, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.


Saint Chryse came from Slatina, a village in the region of Meglin in the north-west of Macedonia. Her family was poor and faithful to the Christian tradition of their forbears. St. Chryse was an extremely beautiful girl and a Turk became madly enamored of her. He tried, as best he knew how, to please her and to persuade her to turn Muslim. Failing completely in his purpose, he carried her off and handed her over to some cruel women. These coreligionists of his insulted and ill-treated Chryse for more than six months. Her parents came, begging her to save her life by doing as the Turk wanted. 'You are not my parents,' she answered them. 'You, who ask me to deny my Christ, the True God. I no longer recognize you as parents. I have Christ for a father and the Holy Mother of God for a mother; the Saints are my brothers and sisters.' Seeing that nothing was going to prevail upon her to accept him, the man's infatuation turned to ferocious brutality. He hung her from a beam and tortured her for hours. Finally, he got all his followers to take a sword or a knife and cut off a piece of the holy Martyr's flesh, who, after this manner, gave up her soul to God.


Holy Epistle Lesson: Philippians 2:16=23
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 8:1-3


"The enemy (Satan) often wounds our souls by his malice and burns us. This wound spreads like a gangrene in the heart if we do not stop it in time by the sincere prayer of faith. And God wounds our souls by His love, but this wound is Light, Sweet, not burning, but warming and vivifying". (St. John of Kronstadt)


By Father Alexis (Trader) Monastery of Karakalou Mount Athos, Greece (Source: In Peace Let Us Pray to the Lord)


Following our Lord's Holy Resurrection, He Himself told His divine Apostles that "they shall speak with new tongues (languages)" as a sign following belief in Him. And indeed, the Apostles did speak "in new languages" and with renewed tongues. On the day of Holy Pentecost, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, they proclaimed the Gospel of Christ before those foreigners present at Jerusalem who in turn heard the apostolic proclamation in their native tongue as the foreigners themselves bore witness: "we hear them speak in our languages the wonderful works of God" (Acts 2:11). Before tyrants and rulers, they spoke the words of "the new language" of grace inspired by the self-same Spirit. "For I," Christ told His disciples, "will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist" (St. Luke 21:15). Finally with "psalms and spiritual songs", they spoke "the new language" of prayer in their hearts through the grace of Divine Spirit following the Apostle Paul's exhortation: "teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord" (1 Colossians 3:16).

In Christ's Holy Church, these "new languages" have always been present. One need only turn to the lives of the Martyrs and Confessors to see Christians speaking a new language, full of wisdom and strength that no philosopher or clever sage could overturn. One need only look to the Great Ecumenical Teachers and Fathers of the Church to find that "new language" that is able to formulate the saving Truth of Christ that purifies the heart, illumines the soul, and unites man with God.  One need only to read the lives of the God-bearing Fathers, "of whom the world was not worthy," who lived "in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth" (Hebrews 11:38), to encounter a "new language" sanctified by fasting and tears, the pure, yet silent, tongue of the prayer of the heart.

At the same time, it is clear that "speaking in tongues," when interpreted (or misinterpreted) literally as the gift of "speaking in foreign languages" is by no means the sine qua non of sanctity encountered in the life of every saint. In every generation there are those who are given the grace to heal the sick in soul and body. There are those who can see deep into the hearts of men. There are those who can see the future as though it were the present. [cf. Saint Paul's list of the gifts of the Spirit: "For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues" (1 Corinthians 12:8-10). Yet, it seems that only a few literally speak "foreign languages" by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Modern Pentecostals, Charismatics and non-denominational, born-again Christians clearly see this as a "deficiency." Saint John Chrysostom himself in fact bewailed the difference between the presence of the gifts (and above all virtue) in the first days of the Church and his own time, but he did not seek to acquire a gift that was God's to give, but sought to acquire virtue and holiness, those fruits of the synergy between the human and divine will, fruits which in turn through the grace of God have the power to unite God with man (cf., the commentary on First Corinthians). The Orthodox Christian's broad vision of the meaning of salvation (man's restoration to spiritual health), with the aid of his spiritual father, gives him the perspective necessary to perceive what he in fact lacks. Furthermore, he understands from experience that everything that takes place in his own life and that of the Church at large is governed by the Wisdom of God. Gifts are given not at random, but according to the will of God to those good and faithful servants who have been faithful with a little. And these God-given gifts are precisely what are needed for the salvation of the believer and those around him. It is no deficiency for a heart surgeon to be lacking a plumber's wrench.

Thus, the Holy Orthodox Church was never subjected to a "Protestant Reformation" because, unlike the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church never ceased to pursue Her Apostolic mission of healing the souls of those who turned to Her in faith. [Even the most superficial study of the Medieval Papacy indicates a radical shift in the Papacy's understanding of its mission after the 8th century. For an enlightening interpretation of the cause of this change, please see Fr. John Romanides Franks, Romans, and Feudalism.) In other words, She (the Orthodox Church) never fell into heresy, which spreads spiritual sickness rather than healing it. Likewise, She was never in need of "a charismatic renewal" in order for Her children to experience the life of the Holy Spirit. To assert such is to assert that the Church is not the Church, to utter "a blasphemy against the Holy Spirit" (St. Matthew 12:31). Father John Romanides notes, "we literally cannot speak about renewal of the life of the Church since:

  1. The Church is the Body of Christ in Whom the believers and with Whom the members of the Church are filled from Pentecost.

2.               The life of the Church is the glory of the Holy Trinity in the human nature of the Logos (Word); it is the house of God and the faithful.

Thus, neither the Church nor Her life are renewed. Only Her members are renewed." (Father John Romanides, "Test for the Application of Theology," pages 474-475) [in Greek].

(To be continued)



The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.


Glory Be To GOD For All Things!


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

+Father George