samedi 28 novembre 2009

Epilogue by Photios Kontoglou1

Music is of two kinds (as are the other arts also)—secular and ecclesiastical. Each of these has been developed by different feelings and different states of the soul. Secular music expresses worldly (i.e., carnal) feelings and desires. Although these feelings may be very refined (romantic, sentimental, idealistic, etc.), they do not cease being carnal. Nevertheless, many people believe that these feelings are spiritual. However, spiritual feelings are expressed only by ecclesiastical music. Only ecclesiastical music can truly express the secret movements of the heart, which are entirely different from those inspired and developed by secular music. That is, it expresses contrition, humility, suffering and godly grief, which, as Paul says, "worketh repentance to salvation." [2] Ecclesiastical music can also evoke feelings of praise, thanksgiving, and holy enthusiasm. Secular music, on the other hand—even the purest—expresses carnal emotions, even when it is inspired by suffering and affliction. This type of suffering, Paul calls "worldly grief," which "worketh death." [3]

Thus two kinds of music were formed, the secular, which arouses emotion—any kind of emotion—and ecclesiastical music, which evokes contrition. St. John Chrysostom strongly condemns the attempts that were made by some of his contemporaries to introduce into the Church secular music, the music of the theatre and the mimes.

Only the arts which were developed by devout motives since the early years of Christianity have given expression to the spiritual essence of the religion. These alone can be called liturgical, that is, spiritual, in the sense that religion gives to the term spiritual. The "spiritual odes" of which Paul speaks [4] were works of such art. All the liturgical arts express the same thing: architecture, hymnody, iconography, embroidery, and even writing, the manner of walking, and in general the movements and gestures of the priests, the chiming of the bells, and so forth.

That these arts are truly of unique spirituality has been realized by many non-Orthodox, especially clergymen, whose sense-organs have been exposed, from youth on, to formative influences different from those in which Orthodox Christians have been brought up. Nevertheless, they confess that our icons and psalmody evoke in them contrition-of course, when executed by inspired and pious artists.

Thus, the value of the liturgical arts is not merely conventional, but real, extending beyond the limited conceptions that are due to nurture, habit, and taste, since even persons who are not of the Orthodox faith recognize that the arts of the Orthodox Church reflect the spirit of the Gospels and for this reason lift the soul above the earthly realm. And how could it be otherwise, inasmuch as these arts have been developed by sanctified hearts, which felt deeply the liturgical element in speech and music? Liturgical music is the natural musical garb of liturgical speech. Both sprang up together; they are one and the same thing. Essence and expression here have an absolute correspondence, even more exact than that of an object and its reflection in a mirror, for the objects of which we speak here belong to the spiritual realm. The profound and apocalyptic spirit of Christian religion and its mysteries could not be expressed faithfully and worthily except by these arts, which are called liturgical and spiritual, and which were developed by that same profound spirit. Only this music, and none other, uniquely expresses the spirit of our religion, because only this music has an absolute and most exact correspondence with it. This is testified to, I repeat, by certain men whose spiritual upbringing, religious training, phyletic and other heritage have no relation to that of the Orthodox. "The Spirit bloweth where it listeth," [5] and is transmitted to souls by means of sounds which the same Spirit formed, by illuminating the souls of the holy writers of hymns.

The Fathers of the Church ordained that Christians use the voice alone in execution of hymns, chanting as did our Lord Himself and His disciples. St. John Chrysostom says: "Our Savior chanted hymns just as we do." The Apostolic Constitutions forbid the use of musical instruments in the church. From the time of the Apostles, psalmody was monophonic, or homophonic, as it is to this day in our churches [in Greece].

The Western Church, in order to gratify people and flatter their tastes, put instruments inside the churches, disobeying what was ordained by the Fathers. They did this because they had no idea what liturgical music was and what secular music was, just as they did not know the difference between liturgical painting and secular painting. But the Byzantines distinguished the one from the other, and this shows how much more spiritual they were in comparison with the Westerners and how much more truly they experienced the spirit of Christianity. Byzantine music is, in comparison with the music of the West, exactly as Orthodox iconography is in comparison with the religious painting of the West.

How divine, indeed, is the psalmody of the Orthodox Church! It seems sweeter and sweeter each year to the Christian—a new wine that fills the heart with joy and makes it soar to the ethereal region of immortal life.

Byzantine music is peaceful, sad but consoling, enthusiastic but reserved, humble but heroic, simple but profound. It has the same spiritual essence as the Gospels, the hymns, the psalms, the books of the lives of the saints, and the iconography of Byzantium. That is why Byzantine music is monotonous for one to whom the Gospels are monotonous, naive for one to whom the Gospels are naive, circumscribed for one to whom the Gospels are circumscribed, mournful for one to whom the Gospels are mournful, antiquated for one to whom the Gospels are antiquated. But it is joyful for one to whom the Gospels are joyful, filled with compunction for one to whom the Gospels are filled with compunction, enthusiastic but humble for one to whom the Gospels, are enthusiastic but humble, and peaceful for one who experiences the peace of Christ.

Byzantine art is spiritual, and it is necessary that a man have spiritual depth in order to understand its mystical treasures. Byzantine music expresses "gladdening sorrow," [6] that is, that spiritual fragrance which only the spiritual senses are capable of experiencing. Its melody is not unholy, ostentatious, despondent, shallow, tasteless, or aimless; it is meek, humble, sweet with a certain bittersweetness, and full of contrition and mercy. It bestows an unwaning spiritual glory upon souls that have become worthy of the eternal mysteries and the compassion of God. It expresses thanksgiving; it causes the flow of tears of gratitude and spiritual joy. This music is the warmest, the most direct, and the most concise expression of the religious feeling of faithful Orthodox people.


[1] Photios Kontoglou of blessed memory (1895-1965) played a major role in the glorious return of traditional Byzantine iconography to the Greek Orthodox world in the twentieth century. He was also an accomplished chanter and a spiritual writer who inspired countless souls to embrace the unadultered traditions of the Orthodox faith. This epilogue consists of selections from his writings translated in the book Byzantine Sacred Art by Dr. Constantine Cavarnos, who was one of his disciples.

[2] II Cor. 7:10

[3] Ibid.

[4] Vid. Eph. 5:19 and Col. 3:16

[5] Jn. 3:8

[6] Vid. The Ladder, Step 7:9 (Migne, Patrologia Graeca, vol. 88, col. 804B)

vendredi 27 novembre 2009

Fr. John Romanides on Extraterrestrial Alien Life

[It was reported this week that the Vatican has called in experts to study the possibility of extraterrestrial alien life and its implication for the Catholic Church. The Director of the Vatican Observatory commented that the discovery of possible alien life would have "many philosophical and theological implications" for Catholics. In 1965 Fr. John Romanides offered a valuable resource on this topic for a series run by the Boston Globe in which he gives the unique Orthodox perspective. The full text is below: - J.S.]

All Planets the Same: Religion’s Response to Space Life V

Rev. John S. Romanides, PhD.,

The Boston Globe

April 8, 1965, page 18.

I can foresee no way in which the teachings of the Orthodox Christian tradition could be affected by the discovery of intelligent beings on another planet. Some of my colleagues feel that even a discussion of the consequences of such a possibility is in itself a waste of time for serious theology and borders on the fringes of foolishness.

I am tempted to agree with them for several reasons.

As I understand the problem, the discovery of intelligent life on another planet would raise questions concerning traditional Roman Catholic and Protestant teachings regarding creation, the fall, man as the image of God, redemption and Biblical inerrancy.

First one should point out that in contrast to the traditions deriving from Latin Christianity, Greek Christianity never had a fundamentalist or literalist understanding of Biblical inspiration and was never committed to the inerrancy of scripture in matters concerning the structure of the universe and life in it. In this regard some modern attempts at de-mything the Bible are interesting and at times amusing.

Since the very first centuries of Christianity, theologians of the Greek tradition did not believe, as did the Latins, that humanity was created in a state of perfection from which it fell. Rather the Orthodox always believed that man [was] created imperfect, or at a low level of perfection, with the destiny of evolving to higher levels of perfection.

The fall of each man, therefore, entails a failure to reach perfection, rather than any collective fall from perfection.

Also spiritual evolution does not end in a static beatific vision. It is a never ending process which will go on even into eternity.

Also Orthodox Christianity, like Judaism, never knew the Latin and Protestant doctrine of original sin as an inherited Adamic guilt putting all humanity under a divine wrath which was supposedly satisfied by the death of Christ.

Thus the solidarity of the human race in Adamic guilt and the need for satisfaction of divine justice in order to avoid hell are unknown in the Greek Fathers.

This means that the interdependence and solidarity of creation and its need for redemption and perfection are seen in a different light.

The Orthodox believe that all creation is destined to share in the glory of God. Both damned and glorified will be saved. In other words both will have vision of God in his uncreated glory, with the difference that for the unjust this same uncreated glory of God will be the eternal fires of hell.

God is light for those who learn to love Him and a consuming fire for those who will not. God has no positive intent to punish.

For those not properly prepared, to see God is a cleansing experience, but one which does not move eternally toward higher reaches of perfection.

In contrast, hell is a static state of perfection somewhat similar to Platonic bliss.

In view of this the Orthodox never saw in the Bible any three story universe with a hell of created fire underneath the earth and a heaven beyond the stars.

For the Orthodox discovery of intelligent life on another planet would raise the question of how far advanced these beings are in their love and preparation for divine glory.

As on this planet, so on any other, the fact that one may have not as yet learned about the Lord of Glory of the Old and New Testament, does not mean that he is automatically condemned to hell, just as one who believes in Christ is not automatically destined to be involved in the eternal movement toward perfection.

It is also important to bear in mind that the Greek Fathers of the Church maintain that the soul of man is part of material creation, although a high form of it, and by nature mortal.

Only God is purely immaterial.

Life beyond death is not due to the nature of man but to the will of God. Thus man is not strictly speaking the image of God. Only the Lord of Glory, or the Angel of the Lord of Old and New Testament revelation is the image of God.

Man was created according to the image of God, which means that his destiny is to become like Christ who is the Incarnate Image of God.

Thus the possibility of intelligent beings on another planet being images of God as men on earth are supposed to be is not even a valid question from an Orthodox point of view.

Finally one could point out that the Orthodox Fathers rejected the Platonic belief in immutable archetypes of which this world of change is a poor copy.

This universe and the forms in it are unique and change is of the very essence of creation and not a product of the fall.

Furthermore the categories of change, motion and history belong to the eternal dimensions of salvation-history and are not to be discarded in some kind of eternal bliss.

Thus the existence of intelligent life on another planet behind or way ahead of us in intellectual and spiritual attainment will change little in the traditional beliefs of Orthodox Christianity.

dimanche 22 novembre 2009

The Old Calendar

The Old Calendar

Dear M.....,

Greetings in the Lord!

The issue of the Calendar had become a serious problem in the Church during the 20^th century and unfortunately, it still exists. Naturally things are far clearer now than they were when the problem first appeared.

Entire books have also been written in support of one side or the other; however, it is not our intention here to elaborate on the overall situation. What concerns us is to spherically inform you of the Orthodox rationale of our Church. A basic position such as this can be found in the letter of our Venerable Father Filotheos Zervakos, Abbot of the Sacred Monastery of Longovarda on Paros Island: “/*We aren’t followers of calendars; we are followers of Jesus Christ*/.” Essentially, this position solves all the problems surrounding the issue. However, certain clarifications are definitely necessary.

We won’t examine how the calendar was changed in certain countries (although we can certainly find many ugly elements). What is important for the Church is how to confront each problem that arises. Thus, when the calendar issue appeared, certain Orthodox Churches (for example the Church of Greece, the Church of Romania, the Church of Cyprus) officially accepted this change, while others (for example the Church of Russia, the Church of Jerusalem, the Church of Bulgaria) did not accept it, and they adhered to the pre-existent calendar.

Many had reacted, having regarded this change to be an innovation. Perhaps to some degree they were right. However, those who had dissented ended up breaking their communion with the remaining corpus of the Church, and thereafter creating new, independent, “pure Churches”, whose further splintering and lack of restraint has no end, even to this day! Is it ever possible for this kind of thing to be the body of Christ?

As mentioned earlier, the local Churches had not confronted the change in the same manner; some had accepted it and others hadn’t. But then how did each view the other? The Patriarchates and Autocephalous Churches that did *not* change the calendar or react in any way or regard as heretic or schismatic the Patriarchates and Autocephalous Churches that did change*, continued to have canonical relations and sacramental communion*.

It is paranoid for an Orthodox to assert that all those Holy Synods acted incorrectly. And we are not saying this because we regard the Synods to be infallible, but because along with those decisions, we also have *the testimonies of saints of that period, who had accepted this new ecclesiastic event, after having received divine revelations*.

It is our duty as faithful Orthodox to comprehend what the true Patristic spirit is. It is indeed very dangerous and scandalous to make sudden changes – even proper ones – to whatever pertains to ecclesiastic order; however, it is far more important for ecclesiastic unity to be preserved, in every possible way. *The Holy Fathers always avoided schisms in every way they could*, often resorting to significant concessions (“oekonomia”). How much more should this be observed in the matter of the calendar, *which is NOT a dogmatic issue*?

The Church, dear brethren, has a specific structure and boundaries, which have been founded by the head of our Faith – our Lord Jesus Christ – and has been built up by the God-enlightened decisions of the Apostles and the Holy Fathers. The Sacred Canons do not expel from the Church the heretics only, but the schismatics also; in other words, all those who do not have a canonical association with the remainder of Her corpus. Thus, we can be consistent with the position of the Venerable Filotheos, provided we do not stumble over something like the Church of Greece being with the “new” calendar as opposed to the Church of Jerusalem which is with the “old” calendar, *when there is canonical sacramental communion between them*.

Should we however follow a “church” which is self-styled as “pure” or “genuine” on account of its calendar, but has no sacramental communion with *the local, canonical Orthodox Churches*, then we are not acting in accordance to the opinion of the Venerable Filotheos and the Fathers of Longovarda, which you mentioned.

In concluding this letter, we would like to inform you that fr. Filotheos himself did not agree with the change in the calendar, however, he never broke away from the bodyof the Church, to create any new Synod. Furthermore, he also happened to be one of the most vehemently opposed to the pan-heresy of Ecumenism, but he also fought bravely against all those who had embraced it (he even checked Patriarchs), again staying inside the bosom of the Church.

As regards the Orthodox position and stance opposite Ecumenism, we have already written a letter on the subject (_

We would urge you paternally to guard yourself from every heretic teaching and innovation, but also making sure that you always remain united with the only Church of Christ.

May the Lord bless you and illuminate you!

With blessings,

The Abbot

† Archmandrite Cyril

Theosis: Partaking of the Divine Nature

I said, “You are gods,

And all of you are children of the Most High.” (Psalm 82:6)

This is a verse that most Protestants do not underline in their Bibles. What on earth does it mean—“you are gods”? Doesn’t our faith teach that there is only one God, in three Persons? How can human beings be gods?

In the Orthodox Church, this concept is neither new nor startling. It even has a name: theosis. Theosis is the understanding that human beings can have real union with God, and so become like God to such a degree that we participate in the divine nature. Also referred to as deification, divinization, or illumination, it is a concept derived from the New Testament regarding the goal of our relationship with the Triune God. (Theosis and deification may be used interchangeably. We will avoid the term divinization, since it could be misread for divination, which is another thing altogether!)

Many Protestants, and even some Roman Catholics, might find the Orthodox concept of theosis unnerving. Especially when they read a quote such as this one from St. Athanasius: “God became man so that men might become gods,” they immediately fear an influence of Eastern mysticism from Hinduism or pantheism.

But such an influence could not be further from the Orthodox understanding. The human person does not merge with some sort of impersonal divine force, losing individual identity or consciousness. Intrinsic divinity is never ascribed to humankind or any part of the creation, and no created thing is confused with the being of God. Most certainly, humans are not accorded ontological equality with God, nor are they considered to merge or co-mingle with the being of God as He is in His essence.

In fact, to safeguard against any sort of misunderstanding of this kind, Orthodox theologians have been careful to distinguish between God’s essence and His energies. God is incomprehensible in His essence. But God, who is love, allows us to know Him through His divine energies, those actions whereby He reveals Himself to us in creation, providence, and redemption. It is through the divine energies, therefore, that we achieve union with God.

We become united with God by grace in the Person of Christ, who is God come in the flesh. The means of becoming “like God” is through perfection in holiness, the continuous process of acquiring the Holy Spirit by grace through ascetic devotion. Some Protestants might refer to this process as sanctification. Another term for it, perhaps more familiar to Western Christians, would be mortification—putting sin to death within ourselves.

In fact, deification is very akin to the Wesleyan understanding of holiness or perfection, with the added element of our mystical union with God in Christ as both the means and the motive for attaining perfection. Fr. David Hester, in his booklet, The Jesus Prayer, identifies theosis as “the gradual process by which a person is renewed and unified so completely with God that he becomes by grace what God is by nature.” Another way of stating it is “sharing in the divine nature through grace.”

St. Maximos the Confessor, as Fr. Hester notes, defined theosis as “total participation in Jesus Christ.” Careful to maintain the ontological safeguard noted above, St. Maximos further stated, “All that God is, except for an identity in being, one becomes when one is deified by grace.”

C. S. Lewis understood this concept and expressed it compellingly in Mere Christianity:

The command “Be ye perfect” is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command. He said (in the Bible) that we were “gods” and He is going to make good His words. If we let Him—for we can prevent Him, if we choose—He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, dazzling, radiant, immortal creatures, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to Him perfectly (though, of course, on a smaller scale) His own boundless power and delight and goodness. The process will be long and in parts very painful; but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what he said. (Macmillan, 1952, p. 174)

With the Incarnation, God has assumed and glorified our flesh and has consecrated and sanctified our humanity. He has also given us the Holy Spirit. As we acquire more of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives, we become more like Christ, and we have the opportunity of being granted, in this life, illumination or glorification. When we speak of acquiring more of the Holy Spirit, it is in the sense of appropriating to a greater degree what has actually been given to us already by God. We acquire more of what we are more able to receive. God the Holy Spirit remains ever constant.

Theosis in the New Testament

Many passages in the New Testament speak to the Orthodox understanding of deification/theosis. First is 2 Peter 1:3–4, which states that God’s “divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness” through the knowledge of God, who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these things, He has given us His great promises so that we “may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”

This verse clearly and unequivocally states that we can become partakers of the divine nature. How so? Through God’s divine power at work in us, we gain life and godliness and are given His promises so that we can escape from corruption. There is God’s action in and upon us, and there is response and corresponding effort on our part.

This brings to mind Philippians 2:12–13, where St. Paul tells us to “work out [our] salvation with fear and trembling,” for it is God who is at work in us “both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” Thus we get a clear picture here of the process by which we are renewed and unified so completely with God that we become by grace what God is by nature. God works in us, and we cooperate with His grace.

Another passage of note is John 10:34–36. In a dispute with the Pharisees, Jesus refers to the verse quoted above, Psalm 82:6, where human beings are referred to as “gods.” The Jewish leaders accuse Jesus of blasphemy and are ready to stone Him for equating Himself with the Father (vv. 22–33). Jesus replies, “ Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods” ’? If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken),” then why do they label as blasphemy Jesus calling Himself God’s Son? Jesus is truly God’s Son, and we are gods because we share in His sonship.

Consider Acts 17:28–29, where St. Paul approvingly quotes the Greek poets, who state that we are God’s “offspring.” Paul concludes that since we are “the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature” is like some lifeless object.

Throughout Paul’s epistles, we find many descriptive passages referring to the same concepts that we have been considering: union with God, sharing in the divine nature through grace, and total participation in Jesus Christ—the biblical concept of theosis/deification. In Ephesians 1, Paul states that we have been given “every spiritual blessing” (v. 3) so that we should be “holy and without blame” (v. 4); we are His “sons” (v. 5). He made “the riches of His grace . . . to abound toward us” (vv. 6–7). We are given wisdom and insight into the “mystery of His will” (v. 9), which is to “gather together in one all things in Christ” (v. 10).

Furthermore, we are “sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise” (v. 13), the “guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession” (v. 14). We are recipients of “wisdom and revelation” (v. 17), having “the eyes of [our] understanding . . . enlightened” (v. 18); knowing the “exceeding greatness of His power toward us” (v. 19). We are the “body” of Him who is the head and “the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (v. 23).

These are descriptions of sonship, of human beings as children of God with full pedigree and inheritance rights. We are brought into God’s intimate inner circle to know the mystery of His will, being given wisdom and enlightenment. We have grace lavished upon us and are His body, His fullness. The whole purpose of God’s mystery is that all things will be united in Christ and that He will be all in all. Does this not describe partaking of the divine nature, becoming by grace what God is by nature?

Certainly there is much more being described here than “growing in faith and good works,” progressing in sanctification or mortifying sin. Those are indeed excellent enterprises, but not ends in themselves. They are means employed toward a greater end. St. Paul is outlining this compelling, inspiring description of our identity in Christ, indeed showing us what total participation in Christ actually is. Ephesians 1 is a description of theosis.

In other verses in Ephesians, St. Paul continues: we are to “be filled with all the fullness of God” (3:19) and to attain to “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (4:13). We are to “grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ” (4:15). Again, this describes the process of being deified by grace, acquiring the fullness of Christ.

In Romans 6, Paul gives us a wonderful picture of deification. Through baptism we “walk in newness of life” (v. 4). We are not to let sin “reign in [our] mortal bod[ies]” (v. 12), but are to “present [ourselves] to God” (v. 13) so that sin will “not have dominion over” us (v. 14). Our members are to be yielded to “righteousness for holiness” (v. 19). Therefore we have “been set free from sin, and hav[e] become slaves of God” (v. 22). Our hope is to share in “the glory of God” (5:2). Even the very creation “eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God” (8:19).

Continuing in chapter 8, we are indeed called “sons of God” (v. 14) who have received a “Spirit of adoption,” crying (as Jesus did) “Abba, Father” (v. 15). The Spirit bears witness “with our spirit”—union—that we are “children of God” (v. 16). We are children, “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ . . . that we may also be glorified together” (v. 17). Verse 17 also stipulates, “if indeed we suffer with Him.” We will come back to that in relation to the experience of the saints who have attained deification.

In verse 29, St. Paul writes that we are destined to be “conformed to the image of His Son.” Furthermore, those He “justified, these He also glorified” (v. 30). Note that he did not say God will glorify them only after they die, at the final resurrection. This glorifying can be a present reality. Verse 32 says that God will “with Him also freely give us all things.”

Does this not get you just a little bit excited? Does it not describe something more than “being saved” or “going to heaven when I die”? Is your heart racing just a little? If so, you are starting to grasp theosis. It is an understanding of our purpose as believers that is not just Orthodox, it is thoroughly biblical.

Before we briefly note some other New Testament passages, let’s consider an additional way to understand deification from the Book of Genesis. There we learn that we are created in God’s image. Through sin, that image has been greatly broken and damaged, but through redemption in Christ it is renewed “according to the image of Him who created” it, as Paul notes in Colossians 3:10. Add all these other motifs—sonship, being fellow heirs, union, being made like Christ, partaking of the divine nature—and we see that these describe the divine image, broken and marred (but not altogether lost) through Adam’s fall, being remade in us through Christ’s redeeming work, so that we become like God. Thus in Genesis we are created in God’s image; through Christ we are given the opportunity to acquire God’s likeness. In Ephesians 4:23–24 this very idea is reinforced: “be renewed in the spirit of your mind” and “put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” And in 5:1 we are enjoined to be “imitators of God.”

A number of other New Testament passages describe theosis:

Romans 12:1–2: We are to present our bodies as a “living sacrifice,” doing so as part of our spiritual worship. And we are to “be transformed” by the renewing of our minds into the likeness of God.

1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:17: We are reminded that we are God’s “temple” and that “he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him”—union with God.

Galatians 2:20: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”

Philippians 1:21: “For me, to live is Christ.”

Colossians 3:3: We have “died” and our lives are “hidden with Christ in God”—total participation in Christ.

1 Thessalonians 5:23: May God “sanctify you completely”—complete conformity to the image and likeness of God.

2 Thessalonians 2:14: We were called by God “for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

1 John 4:17: “Because as He is, so are we in this world”—the possibility of deification, total participation in Christ this side of eternity.

John 17:22: In His high priestly prayer, Jesus says that He has given us the glory that the Father gave Him.

Revelation 21:7: At the beginning of the eschaton, Christ says of each of us, “I will be his God and he shall be My son.”

1 John 3:2: “We know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”

Philippians 3:21: Christ will “transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body.”

These passages promise to all Christians an ending “like Christ” at the consummation of history. Since that is our end—actually a new beginning, for which we were created and redeemed—we are urged throughout the New Testament to obtain more and more of that reality in this life, as a “dress rehearsal” for the life to come. In short, this is what theosis/deification is: the possibility that we can acquire in this life that state that we will have as resurrected, glorified persons in the presence of God in eternity.

Finally, we must consider our Lord’s transfiguration on Mt. Tabor (Matt. 17:1ff; Mark 9:2ff). One of the twelve major feasts of the Orthodox Church, it provides great insight for our understanding of theosis. Jesus went up the mountain with Peter, James, and John and was transformed before their eyes. He appeared to them in His glorified humanity and was illumined with the light of divinity. Moses and Elijah, representing the Law and the Prophets, appeared with Christ as He was enveloped by the glory cloud, the presence of the Holy Spirit. As at His baptism, the Father spoke, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” (Matthew 17:5).

Here we have the whole Bible summed up in this one event. The Old Testament, the Law and the Prophets, point to Christ, the eternal Son come in the flesh. He appears with the Holy Spirit and the Father—the Trinity. Through His Incarnation He is joined to our humanity and glorifies it in Himself, uniting us to God, fulfilling the purpose of our creation in Genesis. We are to listen to Him because He is God’s ultimate revelation of Himself to us (cf. Hebrews 1:1; John 1:14). Furthermore, this event occurred to prepare the disciples for Christ’s crucifixion, which would deliver our fallen humanity from sin and death and raise us up with Him in His resurrection.

Thus we may be glorified together with Him. We are joined to Christ in His glorified, deified humanity and so are united to God. Through this union we are made partakers of the divine nature. Through grace we can become what He is.

Theosis in the Writings of the Fathers

We began with a somewhat startling quote by St. Athanasius: “God became man so that men might become gods.” Keep in mind that this is the same Athanasius who championed the orthodox (in its common sense of correct) understanding of the full divinity of Christ in opposition to the Arian heresy. Numerous other early Church Fathers made similar statements.

Gregory of Nazianzus, another great champion of correct views about the Trinity and Christ’s divinity, stated: “Man has been ordered to become God.” His close friend, Basil the Great, said, “From the Holy Spirit is the likeness of God, and the highest thing to be desired, to become God.”

Origen noted that the spirit “is deified by that which it contemplates.” And Cyril of Alexandria commented that we are all called to take part in divinity, becoming the likeness of Christ and the image of the Father by “participation.” Irenaeus noted, “If the Word is made man, it is that man might become gods.” Finally, John of Damascus taught that Christ’s redemptive work enables the image of God to be restored in us so that we become “partakers of divinity.”

These are not just Eastern Church Fathers being quoted. Most, if not all, are recognized by East and West. Theosis is a truly catholic understanding of the goal of our relationship with God in Christ.

Theosis in the Lives of the Saints

Finally, countless saints throughout history have demonstrated the possibility of deification as a reality in their lives. They attained deification only after intense suffering. Their sufferings came through persecution and martyrdom, intense ascetic discipline and countless nightly prayer vigils wrestling with evil spirits to obtain victory in the spiritual life. Through suffering such blessed victory was won.

Two stories of two saints show the effects of theosis on the body. Some may wish to discount these accounts as “hero worship” or “mythology” or “hagiographic exaggeration.” I prefer to offer them as inspiration to strive toward theosis in each of our lives.

St. Seraphim of Sarov, a Russian monk of the nineteenth century, went into the forest with his disciple, Motovilov, during a snowstorm. While praying, St. Seraphim became iridescent in appearance, to the point of emitting what was for Motovilov an almost blinding light. Accompanying this glow was a warmth in the midst of the Russian winter snow, along with a beautiful fragrance and unspeakable joy and peace. St. Seraphim attributed this blessed state to his having acquired the Holy Spirit, or deification.

Abba Joseph, a desert father, was approached by Abba Lot, who informed him that he had kept his rule of prayer, fasted, purified his thoughts, and lived peaceably—what more could he do? Abba Joseph held out his hands toward heaven, fingers extended, and said, “You can become fire.” Each fingertip blazed like a candle. Abba Joseph’s point was that the younger monk could be set ablaze by the Holy Spirit.

May we all be set ablaze by the Spirit, the “Heavenly King, the Comforter . . . Treasury of blessings and Giver of life”—as the Orthodox prayer addresses Him. And through that same Holy Spirit, may we come into union with God and experience “total participation in Jesus Christ.” May our lives be “unified so completely with God” that we become “by grace what God is by nature,” so that we share in “the divine nature through grace.” So much so that we become not just Christ-like, but the likeness of Christ.

Suggested Reading

At the Corner of East and Now, by Frederica Mathewes-Green. She writes clearly, with wit and charm. But she also communicates the majesty and beauty and profound glory of Orthodox worship and life.

The Jesus Prayer, by Fr. John Hester. This booklet is an excellent overview of the Jesus Prayer, its history, and its influence in the process of deification.

Living Icons, by Fr. Michael Plekon. The book begins with a wonderful chapter on St. Seraphim of Sarov and stresses his impact on the lives and thought of so many Russian émigrés after the Bolshevik Revolution.

Eastern Orthodox Christianity, by Daniel B. Clendenin. This is an insightful and mostly sympathetic examination of Orthodoxy by a Protestant scholar.

Mark Shuttleworth lives in Pittsburgh, PA. He and his wife, Sara, are members of the Holy Virgin Orthodox Church (OCA) in Carnegie, PA. Mark was raised in an evangelical Protestant family, earned a Master of Divinity at Gordon-Conwell Seminary, was ordained and served for over ten years as a Presbyterian youth minister. Mark’s journey to Orthodoxy began in late 2002. He and his wife were chrismated in spring 2004.

by Mark Shuttleworth


This article is available as a printed booklet from Conciliar Media, a department of the Antiochian Archdiocese, as part of their popular series of attractive and informative booklets and brochures about the basic teachings of the ancient Orthodox Christian faith. To learn more, visit Conciliar's online booklet catalog. This essay is copyrighted by Conciliar Press.

lundi 16 novembre 2009

The sign of the Cross

The sign of the Cross

Its Power, Meaning and Miracles.


Twenty centuries ago the Cross was an instrument of dishonourable punishment and of frightful death. The Romans condemned violent convicts to the punishment of crucifixion.

Today the Cross is paramount in the whole life of pious Christians, and of the whole life of our Church, as an instrument of sacrifice, salvation, joy, sanctity and grace. As Saint Chrysostom writes, "this cursed and abominable symbol of the worst punishment now has become a desirable and beloved. One sees it everywhere. "On the holy Altar, in the ordination of priests, in the divine liturgy, in the homes, at the markets, in the deserts and on the roads; at sea in the ships and the islands; on the beds and vestments, at the weddings, at banquets, on gold and silver utensils, on jewelry and on frescos....... So desirable, this gift has become to all an inexpressible joy.

Truly, wherever one looks, whether inside or outside the Church one sees the sign of the Cross. As a visible symbol but also as a sacred gesture. The sign of the Cross dominates in the life of the Church.

But why?

Because from the time God, our Lord Jesus Christ Himself was nailed to the Cross and died for the salvation of the world, this instrument of punishment became an instrument of salvation. "... for no more it is an indictment to punishment but a proven trophy of our salvation" says a troparion. The object of shame became the glory of the Church. The symbol of a curse became "the release payment for the ancient curse". The wood, from mourning and death, became "sign of joy" and "treasury of life". And all these because upon the wood of the Cross with His immaculate body, the Lord nailed also our sins. As saint Paul writes; He gave us "the document erasing all our trespasses..... and nailed it on the Cross".

The Cross of Christ reconciled us with our heavenly Father, from Whom the devil separated us, by deceiving our forefathers. The Cross of Christ opened the kingdom of heavens to us, which, up until the Crucifixion, Hades swallowed insatiably even the righteous. That is why it has so much power and grace, the power and grace of Christ, which while He was crucified, He transferred it in a mystical and incomprehensible way to His holy Cross as the hymnology wisely tells us. "Your Cross, Christ, being visible wood in essence, yet it represents a divine reign and appearing perceptible to the world, noetically miraculously works our salvation...."

The Cross therefore has become the symbol of Christ Himself. Symbol that causes the demons to tremble.

The invaluable worth of the Holy Cross

If therefore it is so, why then there are people who deny, detest and dishonour the Cross? "For those who trespass" writes the Apostle Paul, "to whom I would tell, now even crying I say, the enemies of the Cross of Christ, their end is perdition".

Truly, certain heretics are "enemies if the Cross". They say, the Cross is a tool of crime and granting it honour constitutes idolatry. They even maintain that the early Church did not use the sign of the Cross.

This view is fallacious. Firstly, because our Church does not honour the Cross as though a random geometrical shape. Secondly, because the honour given to the sign of the Cross already has its beginning from apostolic times. Thirdly, because God Himself showed with supernatural events on different occasions and times that the Cross is His symbol. And fourthly, because with the sign of the Cross were performed and are performed amazing miracles.

Let us however take things in their order.

A. The honour given to the Cross is inseparably tied with our Crucified and Resurrected Lord, Jesus Christ.

Our Church does not honour the Cross by itself, as a simple sign, separate from the crucified Lord. This would have truly been idolatry. She honours it as a symbol of the great sacrifice of Christ from which flows grace, sanctity and the salvation of man. She kisses and venerates it as the sign of the Son of man (Matt 24:30) that has received mystically and incomprehensibly as we already said, the grace and His power.

The faithful seeing the sign of the Cross, making the sign of the Cross, venerating the "type" and symbol of the Cross, sees with the eyes of his soul and worships the crucified Christ. "We do not embrace the Cross as God but we demonstrate this way the sincere disposition of our soul towards the crucified" writes Saint Hieronymos. Saint John Damascene also clarifies that apart from the holy Wood, we venerate also the type of the holy and life giving Cross, even if it is made from different matter, of course not honouring the matter, God forbid, but the type, as symbol of Christ".

How justified are the Holy Fathers, can be determined below, testing the sanctifying and miraculous power of the sign of the Cross.

B. The honour to the sign of the Cross existed always and from the beginning in the Church.

The beginning of the honour accorded the sign of the Cross disappears in the depth of early Christianity, once it was delivered from the apostolic times.

Saint Peter the apostle was condemned to death by crucifixion, like the Lord. He so much honoured the sign of the Cross that he begged his executioners "I am not worthy to be crucified upright like my Christ. He was crucified like that to look at the earth, because He was going to hades to free the souls that were there. However, crucify me with my head down, so that I look to heaven, where I am about to go"

The holy apostle Andrew, the first called, when he saw the Cross of his martyrdom (X-shaped) cried out with awe and emotion: "Welcome, o Cross that was sanctified by the body of Christ and who, with His members, as though pearls, you were adorned! Before my Lord was nailed on you, you were formidable to people. Now though all the faithful know how much grace hides within you, I approach you with no fear and with joy. Eagerly receive me too, the disciple of the crucified Christ..... Oh blessed and most desirable Cross, take me from the people and deliver me to my Teacher"!

The antiquity of use of the sign of the Cross is confirmed by one of the great apologetics, Tertullian (ca 160-220AD) who wrote: "Wherever we are going to arrive and whenever we need to begin from, when we arrive and when we depart, when we put on our shoes, when we wash ourselves, when we eat, when we light the lamp, when we go to bed, when we sit on the stool, when we begin a conversation we make the sign of the Cross on our forehead" (De corona 3, 11)

C. God reveals the power of the Holy Cross with supernatural events.

The Lord Himself with supernatural events and amazing revelations revealed during different occasions in a vociferous manner that the sign of the Cross constitutes His symbol and the invincible trophy of the faithful. We shall present a few examples from the innumerable ones that are preserved in the ecclesiastic history, the holy Fathers and the book of Saints.

1.The well known ecclesiastic historian Eusebius of Caesaria (+340), a contemporary of Saint Constantine, describes lucidly and irrefutably the most renown event of the appearance of the bright Cross in the presence of Constantine the Great with the inscription "By this, Conquer" and in fact during broad daylight with all the men of his army as witnesses.

2. Apart from the above supernatural appearance of the sign of the Cross another one happened, again in front of innumerable witnesses when Constantios, the son of Saint Constantine was king and Saint Cyril was archbishop of Jerusalem. The miracle is described by Saint Cyril himself to the king in his letter, in which he says that during that day (7 May 346AD during the period of Pentecost) around the 3rd hour, there appeared in the sky the sign of the holy Cross, huge, brilliant, spanning from Holy Calvary to the Mount of Olives. Not one or two saw it but all the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And it did not appear for only a moment but for many hours remained hanging in the firmament. And it was so brilliant that it was brighter than the sun's rays and that is why they could watch it clearly during noon. Seeing this miracle, the people of the city ran to the Temple of the Resurrection. Everybody glorified our Lord Jesus Christ with one mouth, having by now been taught from these events that the most sacred dogma of the Christians does not rest in human wisdom that convinces with words and logic but in the proofs given by the spiritual gifts and the miraculous powers. And the dogma is not preached only by people but is testified by God Himself from Heaven.

The commemoration "of the appearance of the Holy Cross in heaven" is celebrated on the 7th May, the day of its appearance.

3. The holy great martyr Efstathios (20th September) was found worthy to have a wondrous vision, thanks to which he converted from idolatry to the Christian faith. Sensible, sober, charitable and just, even though an idolater, saint Efstathios (who was then called Plakidas) attracted to himself the grace of Christ who was revealed to him in an unusual manner. Specifically, while hunting one day in the forest, he saw at a distance a most beautiful and large stag, which, while walking away, would turn its head every so often and would observe him eye to eye. The saint spurred his horse to catch up with it but he could not. His friends followed him but in vain. After a while they decided to abandon the effort because their horses were exhausted. Only the saint was determined to ride after the untiring stag. Finally, full of sweat, he and his horse reached a great crevice. The stag easily jumped over to the other side, where it stopped and was looking at the saint. The horse though could not jump over so he decided to stop. Then with indescribable surprise, the saint saw between the horns of the stag a brilliant Cross that bore the crucified Lord and heard a voice telling him: "Plakida, why do you hunt me? I am Christ whom you do not know but you please Me with your good works. For your sake therefore I appeared to you on this stag. Your charities and good works have pleased Me. For this I appeared to you, for it is not just that a person like you not to know the truth .......". These things and many more the Lord told him, before sending him to the local bishop, who baptized him together with his whole family, giving him the name Efstathios.

Three of the innumerable examples of divine revelations regarding the sign of the Cross are the ones we described above, which teach us that the sign of the Cross is the seal of Christ.

D. The sign of the Cross is miraculous

To support with more evidence the honour that the Church accords to the Cross and to present vividly the power of the Cross as a sign of Christ, we will describe below a few sporadic miracles- most of them from the lives of the saints- that occurred at various times with this all-holy symbol.

Saint John the theologian (26 Sept) healed in Patmos the paralyzed idolater priest of Apollo by making the sign of the Cross on him.

Saint Anthony the Great (17 Jan) wishing to put to shame certain idolaters who went to offend him, brought before them some demon-possessed persons and told them: "Either you cleanse them with your musings and any other art or sorcery you want, invoking your idols, otherwise if you cannot, give up your polemics against us and you shall see the power of the Cross of Christ". And at that moment he invoked the Lord, making the sign of the Cross on the demonics three times. Immediately they were freed from the demons and were healed, glorifying God.

When Saint Epiphanios, archbishop of Cyprus (12 May) was still a young, 10-year old child, an unruly calf seriously wounded him in the thigh and threw him down, unable to get up. A pious Christian, Cleovios, made the sign of the Cross three times on his wounded member and immediately the little Epiphanios was healed and stood up. The same saint, much later, made the sign of the Cross on the daughter of the king of Persia and relieved her immediately from the demon that tormented her.

Saint Basil the Great (1st Jan) when the Arian king Valens ordered the surrender of the Cathedral Church of Nicea to the Arians, he requested that God be allowed to opine on the matter. He suggested that the Church be closed and then they, both Arians and Orthodox should pray. If the Church opened with the prayers of the Orthodox then it should remain with them. Otherwise, if it opened with the prayers of the Arians or even if it did not open at all for both of them, then the Arians could take it. So it was. However the prayers of the Arians were not fruitful. On the contrary, when Saint Basil made the sign of the Cross three times on the closed door of the Church, saying, "Blessed is the God of the Christians in the ages of ages" immediately the gears engaged and the door panels opened. Thus the Church remained with the Orthodox.

The holy Vasilissa (3rd Sept) when the ruler of Nicomedia, Alexander threw her into a furnace, she made the sign of the Cross three times and was not at all harmed by the fire.

With the sign of the Cross Saint Thalleleus (20May) healed all the sick that were running to him to regain their health.

With the sign of the Cross, Hossios Andrew, the fool for Christ (28 May) and Saint Zacharias the shoemaker (17 Nov) would open the locked gates of the Churches of Constantinople at night, where they would go to pray secretly from the people and in the same way would close them when leaving.

But there is no end to the miracles of the Cross.

One continuously recurring miracle is that of the blessing of the waters. Only the Orthodox Church, the Ark of the Truth, has this divine gift and right. Only our Church has holy water. With the blessing of the crucifix by the priest and with the triple immersion of the Cross into the water, it becomes sanctified and becomes the "healing of both soul and body and wards off any opposing power" while furthermore it remains intact and unspoiled with the passing of time!

Saint John of Cronstand is correct when he writes: "The Cross is the icon of the crucified Christ, the Son of God. That is why also its sign and even its shadow alone causes terror to the demons because it is the sign of Christ, because it is the protection of the Crucified. For this it is enough for someone to dip the Cross into the water, to sanctify it. After this the water becomes therapeutic and expels demons.

The value of the sign of the Holy Cross and the need for its very frequent use by the faithful.

With everything we briefly expounded on this point it is fully self explanatory and understandable why our Church bestows to the sign of the Cross such a great honour as well as its very frequent use, both during the divine liturgy as well as in the daily life of the faithful.

In all the movements of the officiater during the performance of the Divine Liturgy from the "Blessed is the kingdom..." to the "Through the blessings" the sign of the Cross is predominant.

In all the acts of worship and functions wherever there is mention of a blessing, according to unwritten tradition of the Church it is necessary that the "sign of the Cross" be made by the priest.

Wherever one turns his gaze, inside or outside of the Orthodox Church, he will see the sign of the Cross impressed: on the building of the Church, in the iconography, in the ecclesiastic décor, in the liturgical books, on the sacred vestments and utensils ...

But also in our daily life all the faithful keep as a valuable spiritual and sanctifying heritage, the same holy habit of the use of the sign of the Cross.

The pious Christians make the sign of the Cross very frequently: in the morning when one wakes up from sleep; during the duration of all their prayers; when they leave their house; when they pass outside Churches; when they finish their work; before drinking water or other drinks; before food; after food; before retiring to bed; when they hear either good news or bad news........ At every occasion, the sign of the Cross! .... The day of the faithful begins - and must begin- with the Cross and ends with the Cross! But also vise-versa his night begins and ends again with the Cross!

Many times also Christians go to the Church, asking the priest, to "Cross" them, namely to bless them with the sign of the Cross (either with the Cross, or with another holy vessel or vestment) with the intention to be strengthened against the temptations or to be relieved of some sickness.

So great is the power of the sign of the Cross, the sign of the almighty Son of God. So great is the grace that it envelops mystically within it! As briefly and vividly Saint Makarios of Moscow (+1563) notes "Oftentimes, one single sign of the Cross that is made with faith and intense experiences is more powerful than many words of prayer in front of the throne of the Most High. In it exists the light that illuminates the soul, the healing power that heals the sicknesses of the souls and bodies, the mystical power that acts against all harm. Do unclean thoughts and desires disturb your soul? Become encompassed by the sign of the Cross, double and triple this wall and the unclean thoughts will be tamed. Is your heart tormented from depression and sadness? Are you overcome by fear or are you surrounded by temptations? Do you feel the wiles of invisible enemies? Run to this power of the Cross, and the peace of your soul shall return, the temptation will go away, the consolation of the grace of God and spiritual joy will flood your heart".

Why do we always repeat the blessing of the sign of the Cross?

After the above, however, the question justifiably is raised: If the sign of the Cross has so much grace and so much power, why can't we all enjoy its blessings and gifts always?

The answer is simple: Because we do not use it properly, as we should, as God and the Church wants us to. We shall refer indicatively to only four reasons:

A) Perhaps because we are of little faith and lukewarm. We do not make the sign of the Cross with living faith to the crucified Lord and in the power of the grace of His Cross.

B) Perhaps because we have no humility. Thus because if the Lord activates the power of the sign of the Cross, there is a danger of falling in pride, believing the results of this divine power as our own accomplishment.

C) Perhaps because of our hardheartedness, sinfulness and our unrepentance. As Saint Cosmas the Aetolian characteristically says, "we should have our hand clean of sins and uncontaminated and then, as we make the sign of the Cross, the devil gets burnt and departs. Seeing that we are contaminated with sins, the sign of the Cross is not valid when we Cross ourselves (and so) the demons are not afraid".

D) Finally, perhaps we do not make the sign of the Cross correctly, according to the tradition that the Church has delivered to us, offending this way both the sanctity of the Cross and the Lord Himself.

This last one we must pay a lot of attention to it. A lot of attention. All of us - clerics, monks and lay people - are guilty, some a little and others a lot, for a careless or mechanical or even impious execution of the sign of the Cross on our body.

Some move their hand hurriedly over their chest or in the air, without touching their body at all, other times they make a triangular sign or an X and other times one could say they are playing the guitar. How could one characterize such a pointless and mindless movement, that reaches the limits of blasphemy? Heavy but true is the word of Saint Chrysostom who wrote that sometimes the devil himself moves the hand of these inattentive Christians to mock the most holy symbol of the holy Cross and to damn themselves.

Some Christians again fall into another error. They are those who come to the Church, who usually stand in prominent spots and there, in front of everybody, with hollow exhibitionism, bend their waist in deep prostrations, extend their hands uncontrollably here and there, crossing themselves with excessive, indiscreet and sometimes ridiculous movements......

There is a third category of Christians who completely avoid making the sign of the Cross and especially in public. It is those who are ashamed to confess their faith in Christ and to His Cross. They are afraid of the irony, contempt, the mocking of the people of the world. As the holy evangelist John writes, "They love the glory of the people over that of God". If we belong to them, let us remember the instruction of the holy apostle Paul, "And be not conformed to this world" (Rom. 12:2) as well as the serious warning of the Lord Himself "Whosoever does not confess Me in front of the people I too will deny him in front of My Father in heaven". And beyond these let us be conscious that we deprive ourselves from yet another almighty weapon against the temptations, the passions, the sicknesses and the demons. Let us be careful what Saint Cyril of Jerusalem advises us: "Let us not be ashamed of the Cross of Christ. And if someone else is ashamed and hides it, you make your Cross visibly so that the demons may see the sign of the King Christ and depart far, trembling. In fact make the sign of the Cross often, whether you eat or sit, or rest, or rise or speak or walk, in other words at every situation. Because whoever Crosses himself here on earth, he noetically is up in heaven..... The protection is great. Freely do the poor receive it and without toil by the sick because the grace derives from God. It is the sign of the faithful and the fear of the demons.

How we make the sign of the Cross correctly

How can the sign of the Cross become a protection for us too? How can it become in our hands the terror of the demons? If we do it correctly. If we do it as our Church shows us and teaches us, that is, with faith, piety, consciously, sacredly, humbly and with discretion.

In other words, how?

Firstly we bring together the three first fingers of the right hand, thus confessing our faith to God, who is at the same time three hypostases, three persons- "The Father , the Son and the Holy Spirit- of the same essence, united between them "inseparably" and "indivisibly". The other two fingers that touch against the palm, symbolize the two natures, the two wills and the two energies of our Lord, Jesus Christ, namely the divine and the human. This way we make a symbolic confession of our Orthodox faith, whose bases and foundations constitute the Trinitarian and Christological dogma.

Then we bring our hand to the forehead, the physical spot of our thought function, revealing in this way that we love God with all our mind and we dedicate all our thoughts to Him.

The hand then goes to the abdomen. This way we symbolically declare that we dedicate to the Lord all our desires and all our emotions.

Finally, we bring our hand to our shoulders, first to the right one and then to the left one, this way confessing that every bodily activity belongs to Him.

One other complementary interpretation, most theological in its simplicity is given to us in the fifth teaching of Saint Cosmas Etolos: "Listen my Christians how the Cross is made and what it means. The Bible tells us that the Holy Trinity, God, is glorified in heaven more than the angels. What should you also do? You bring your three fingers of your right hand and not being able to ascend to heaven to worship, you place your hand to your head because your head is round and indicates the heaven and you say with your mouth; Just as Your angels glorify the Holy Trinity in heaven likewise I as an unworthy servant, glorify and worship the Holy Trinity. And as these fingers are three-they are separate and they are together- this way is also the Holy Trinity, God, three persons and a single God. You then lower your hand from your head and place it on your belly and say; I submit and worship You, my Lord, for You condescended and were incarnated in the belly of the Theotokos for our sins. You then place on your right shoulder and say; I supplicate You, my God, to forgive me and place me at Your right, along with the just. Then placing the hand on the left shoulder, you say; I implore You my Lord, do not place me at Your left, with the sinners. Then bending down to the ground you say; I glorify You my God, I submit and worship You, for as You were placed in the Tomb, so too will I be placed in the tomb. And when you stand erect, you indicate the Resurrection and say; I glorify You my Lord, I submit and worship You, for You arose from the dead, to grant us eternal life". That is what is the meaning of the most holy Cross.


As we note from the above, the sign of the Cross includes in it all the salvific events that are found in the infinite love of God for fallen man. Exactly because of this it is a salvific sign, a life giving sign, a sanctifying sign, a "victory-bringing weapon" (Saint Sophronios of Jerusalem), "protection against evil" (Saint Gregory of Nyssa), "the capital of everything good" (Saint John Chrysostom) for the Christians. Let us therefore use it, as often as we can, sanctifying with it every bit of our daily and spiritual life.

"Cross: the guardian of the world,

Cross: the beauty of the Church,

Cross: the strength of kings,

Cross: the support of the faithful,

Cross: the angels' glory

and the demons' injury".



Against Ecumenism

From the Convention of Orthodox Clergymen and Monks    April 2009

Those of us who by the Grace of God have been raised with the dogmas of piety and who follow in everything the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, believe that:

The sole path to salvation of mankind [i] is the faith in the Holy Trinity, the work and the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ, and their continuance within His Body, the Holy Church. Christ is the only true Light [ii]; there are no other lights to illuminate us, nor any other names that can save us: «Salvation is not within anything else; nor is there any other name under the heavens that has been given to mankind, in which we can be saved» [iii]. All other beliefs, all religions that ignore and do not confess Christ "having come in the flesh" [iv], are human manufacturings and works of the Devil, [v] which do not lead to the true knowledge of God and rebirth through divine Baptism, but instead, mislead men and lead them to perdition. As Christians who believe in the Holy Trinity, we do not have the same God as any other religion, nor with the so-called monotheistic religions, Judaism and Mohammedanism, which do not believe in the Holy Trinity.

For two thousand years, the Christ-founded and Holy Spirit-guided Church has remained stable and unshakeable in the salvific Truth that was taught by Christ, delivered by the Holy Apostles and preserved by the Holy Fathers. She did not buckle under the cruel persecutions by the Judeans initially and later by idolaters during the first three centuries; She brought forth a host of martyrs and came out victorious, thus proving Her divine origin. As Saint John the Chrysostom beautifully expressed it: «Nothing is stronger than the Church... if you fight against a man, you either conquer or are conquered; but if you fight against the Church, it is not possible for you to win, for God is the strongest of all» [vi].

Following the cessation of the persecutions and the triumph of the Church over Her external enemies - in other words, the Judeans and the idolaters - the internal enemies of the Church began to multiply and strengthen. The various heresies began to appear, which endeavoured to overthrow and adulterate the delivered faith so that the faithful would become confused, and their trust in the truth of the Gospel and traditions be debilitated. In outlining the ecclesiastic state of affairs that the prevalence for over 40 years - even administratively - that the heresy of Arius had created, Saint Basil the Great says: «The dogmas of the Fathers have been entirely disregarded, the apostolic traditions withered, the inventions of younger people are observed in the Churches; people are therefore technologizing when they should be theologizing; the wisdom of the world seems to be pushing aside the boasting in the Cross. Pastors are sent away, and in their place are inserted harsh wolves, who disperse Christ's flock» [vii].

Whatever happened to the external enemies - religions - also happened to the internal ones - heresies. Through major and enlightened Holy Fathers, the Church demarcated and entrenched the Orthodox faith with decisions by Local and Ecumenical Synods (Councils) in the cases of specific, dubious teachings, but with the agreement of all the Fathers (Consensus Patrum), on all the matters of the Faith. We are now therefore safe, when we follow the Holy Fathers and do not move the boundaries that they had set. The expressions «Following after our Holy Fathers» and «Not withdrawing the boundaries that our Fathers had set» constitute a steady, straight course and a safety valve for the Orthodox faith and way of life. Consequently, the basic positions of our Confession are the following:

1. We maintain, irremovably and without alteration, everything that the Synods and the Fathers have instituted. We accept everything that they accept and condemn everything that they condemn; we furthermore avoid communication with those who innovate on matters of the Faith. We neither add, nor remove, any teaching, nor do we alter it. Already, the God-bearing Saint Ignatius of Antioch in his epistle to Saint Polycarp of Smyrna had written: «Anyone who says contrary to what has been decreed - even if he is trustworthy, even if he fasts, even if he is celibate, even if he performs signs, let him appear to you as a wolf in a sheep's hide, aspiring to the corruption of the sheep». Saint John the Chrysostom in interpreting the Apostle Paul's words "should anyone evangelize to you something that was not delivered to you, let him be anathema", observes that the Apostle "did not say if they should proclaim something contrary or if they should overturn everything, but that even if they should evangelize even the smallest thing that has not been delivered to you, even if they should prompt it, let them be anathema" [viii]. Upon announcing its decisions against the Iconoclasts to the clergy of Constantinople, the 7th Ecumenical Synod wrote: «We have followed the tradition of the Catholic Church, and have not made any omission or any redundancy, but, having been taught in the apostolic manner, we maintain the traditions that we received, accepting and respecting everything that the Holy Catholic Church has received from the first years, unwritten and written... for the true and straightforward judgment of the Church does not make any allowance for innovations within Her, or for attempts to remove anything. We, therefore, by following the laws of our Fathers, having received grace by the one Spirit, have duly safeguarded without any innovations and reductions, all the things of the Church» [ix].

Along with the Holy Fathers and the Synods, we too reject and anathematize all the heresies that appeared during the historical course of the Church. Of the old heresies that have survived to this day, we condemn Arianism (still surviving, in the pseudo-Witnesses of Jehovah) and Monophysitism - the extreme form of Eutychius and the more moderate form of Sevirus and Dioscorus - according to the decisions of the 4th Ecumenical Synod of Chalcedon and the Christological teaching of major Holy Fathers and Teachers such as Saint Maximus the Confessor, Saint John of Damascus, Photios the Great and the hymns of our worship.

2. We proclaim that Papism is the womb of heresies and fallacies. The teaching of the "Filioque" - that is, the procession of the Holy Spirit AND from the Son - is contrary to everything that Christ Himself taught about the Holy Spirit. The entire chorus of Fathers, both in Synods and individually, regard Papism as a heresy because apart from the Filioque, it produced a host of other fallacies, such as the primacy and the infallibility of the Pope, the unleavened bread (host), the fires of Purgatory, the immaculate conception of the Theotokos, created Grace, the purchasing of absolution (indulgences)... it has altered nearly all of the teaching and the practice pertaining to Baptism, Chrismation, the Divine Eucharist and the other Sacraments, and has converted the Church to a secular State.

Contemporary Papism has deviated much further than medieval Papism from the teaching of the Church, to the extent that it no longer comprises a continuance of the ancient Church of the West. It has introduced a swarm of new exaggerations in its "Mariology", such as the teaching that the Theotokos is a parallel redeemer (corredemptrix) of the human race. It has reinforced the "Charismatic Movement" of Pentecostal (supposedly Spirit-centered) groups. It has adopted further innovations to Divine Worship, such as dances and musical instruments. It has shortened and essentially ruined the Divine Liturgy. In the area of Ecumenism it has set down the bases for the Pan-religion with its 2nd Vatican Council, by recognizing "spiritual life" in the people of other religions. Dogmatic minimalism has led it to a minimizing of moral prerequisites, on account of the bond between dogma and morality, the result of which was the moral failures of leading clergymen and an increase in moral deviations such as homosexuality and pedophilia among clergymen [x]. By continuing to support "Unia" - that caricature of Orthodoxy with which it victimizes and proselytizes faithful - Papism is sabotaging the Dialogue and is contradicting its supposedly sincere intentions for union.

Generally speaking, there has been a radical change in Papism and a turn towards Protestantism after the 2nd Vatican Council, and even an adopting of various "spiritual" movements of the "New Age".

According to Saint Simeon of Thessaloniki, the Mystagogue, Papism caused more damage to the Church than all the heresies and schisms put together. We Orthodox have communion with the pre-Schism Popes and we commemorate many Popes as saints. The post-Schism popes are heretics; they have ceased to be successors to the throne of Rome; they no longer have Apostolic succession, because they no longer have the faith of the Apostles and the Fathers. It is for this reason that with each such pope, «not only do we have no communion, but we also call him a heretic». On account of their blasphemy against the Holy Spirit with their teaching of the Filioque, they forfeited the presence of the Holy Spirit and therefore everything of theirs is deprived of Grace. Not one of their sacraments is valid, according to Saint Simeon. «Therefore the innovators are blaspheming and are far away from the Spirit, by blaspheming against the Holy Spirit, hence everything of theirs is Grace-less, inasmuch as they have violated and have demoted the Grace of the Spirit... which is why the Holy Spirit is not among them, and there is nothing spiritual about them, as everything theirs is new and altered and contrary to divine tradition» [xi].

3. The same things apply to an even greater degree to Protestantism, which as the offspring of Papism has inherited many heresies, but has also added many more; It has rejected Tradition, accepting only the Holy Bible (Sola Scriptura) which it however misinterprets; it has abolished Priesthood as a specialized sacramental Grace, as well as the veneration of Saints and of holy icons; it has vilified the Person of the Holy Mother Theotokos; it has rejected Monasticism; of the Holy Sacraments, it accepts only Baptism and the Divine Eucharist, albeit altering in them also the teaching and the praxis of the Church; it teaches absolute predestination (Calvinism) and vindication only through faith. Furthermore, its more "progressive" sector has introduced Priesthood for women and marriage between homosexuals - who they even accept into the Priesthood. But above all, it lacks ecclesiology, because the notion of Church as perceived by the Orthodox Tradition is nonexistent to them.

4. The only way that our communion with heretics can be restored is if they renounce their fallacy and repent, so that there may be a true union and peace: a union with the Truth, and not with fallacy and heresy. For the incorporation of heretics into the Church, canonical precision requires that they be accepted through Baptism. Their previous "baptism", performed outside the Church without the triple immersion and emersion of the one being baptized in specially sanctified water, and performed by a non-Orthodox priest, is in no way a baptism. It lacks the Grace of the Holy Spirit (Who does not remain within schisms and heresies) and as such, we have nothing in common that unites us, as Basil the Great points out: «As for those who have distanced themselves from the Church, they no longer have the grace of the Holy Spirit upon them, for transmission has ceased with those who have interrupted the sequence... as for the ones who have broken away, who have now become laity, they no longer have the authority to either baptize, or ordain by the placing of their hands, being now unable to provide the grace of the Holy Spirit, from which (grace) they have fallen away» [xii]

That is why the new attempt by Ecumenists to project the position that we have a common baptism with heretics is unfounded and hanging in mid-air, as is their assertion that it is possible to support the unity of the Church with this nonexistent baptismal unity, which supposedly exists wherever a baptism may exist [xiii]. In the Church however, one enters and becomes Her member, not with just any baptism, but only with the one, uniformly performed Baptism, officiated by Priests who have received the Priesthood of the Church.

5. For as long as heretics continue to remain in their fallacy, we avoid communion with them, especially in common prayer. The holy canons in their entirety prohibit not only common officiating and in-temple common praying, but even ordinary prayers in private quarters. The Church's strict stance opposite heretics springs from true love and sincere concern for their salvation, and out of Her pastoral care that the faithful are not carried away by heresies. Whosoever loves, reveals the truth and does not leave the other in a falsehood; otherwise, any love and agreement with him would only be counterfeit and false. There is such a thing as a good war and a bad peace. «...for a praiseworthy war is superior to a peace that separates one from God» says Saint Gregory the Theologian [xiv]. And Saint John the Chrysostom recommends: «If you should see devoutness vitiated anywhere, do not prefer the harmony of a truth, but stand fast to the death... betraying the truth nowhere». And elsewhere, he recommends with emphasis: «Do not acknowledge any illegitimate dogma that has the pretext of love»[xv]. This stance of the Fathers was also adopted by the major defender and confessor of the Orthodox faith against the Latins, Saint Mark of Ephesus, who concluded his own Confession of Faith in Florence with the following words: «All the teachers of the Church, all the synods and all the divine Scriptures exhort us to keep away from those with other beliefs, and to refrain from communion with them. Therefore, am I to disregard them all, and follow those who under the pretense of a manufactured peace strive for union? Those, who have counterfeited the sacred and divine Symbol (Creed) and who introduced the Son as the second cause of the Holy Spirit? [...] May this never happen to us, o benevolent Paraclete (Comforter), and may I never fall away from my own duteous thoughts, but, by following Your teaching and the blessed men who were inspired by You, may I be added to my fathers, by bringing in, if nothing else, this: piety» [xvi].

6. Up until the beginnings of the 20th century, the Church has steadfastly and immutably maintained a rejective and condemnatory stance towards all heresies, as clearly formulated in the Synodicon of Orthodoxy which is recited on the Sunday of Orthodoxy. Heresies and heretics are anathematized, each one separately; furthermore, in order to ensure that not one of them has been left out of the anathema, there is a general anathema at the end of the text: «Let all heretics be anathematized».

Unfortunately, this uniform, steady and unswerving stance of the Church has, up until the beginnings of the 20th century, begun to be gradually abandoned, following the encyclical that was released by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in 1920 «To all the churches of Christ», which for the first time had officially characterized heresies as 'churches' that are not alienated from the Church, but are familiar and related to Her. It recommended that «the love between the Churches should above all be rekindled and reinforced, no longer thinking of each other as foreign and alien, but rather as related and familiar in Christ, and co-inheritors and co-incorporated in the promise of God in Christ» (see I.Karmiris', "The Dogmatic and Symbolic Monuments of the Orthodox Catholic Church", vol. 2, page 958).

The path is now open for the adoption, the shaping and the development within the sphere of the Orthodox Church, of the initially Protestant invention - and now with Papal acceptance - heresy of Ecumenism; this pan-heresy, which adopts and legalizes all heresies as 'churches' and insults the dogma of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Now developed, taught and imposed by Patriarchs and bishops is the new dogma regarding the Church, a new ecclesiology. According to this, no Church is entitled to demand for itself exclusively the character of a catholic and true Church. Instead, each one of them is a piece, a part, and not the entire Church; they all together comprise the Church.

All the boundaries that the Fathers had set have been torn down; there is no longer a dividing line between heresy and Church, between truth and fallacy. Even heresies are now 'churches'; in fact, many of them -like the Papist one- are now regarded as 'sister churches' to which God has entrusted, jointly with us, the care for mankind's salvation [xvii].

The Grace of the Holy Spirit now also exists within heresies, and therefore their baptisms - like all their other 'sacraments' - are considered valid. All who have been baptized, and in whichever heresy they may belong, are now considered members of Christ's Body, the Church. The condemnations and the anathemas of the Synods are no longer valid and should be stricken from liturgical books. We are now housed in the "World Council of Churches" and have essentially betrayed - even with our mere accession to participate - our ecclesiastic self-awareness. We have removed the dogma regarding the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church - the dogma of «one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism» [xviii].

7. This inter-Christian syncretism has now expanded into an inter-religion syncretism, which equates all other religions to the unique, God-revealed, through Christ reverence for God, the knowledge of God and the Christ-like way of life. Consequently, it is not only the dogma of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church in relation to heresies that is being attacked, but also the fundamental dogma worldwide of the one and only Revelation and salvation of mankind through Jesus Christ in relation to the religions of the world. It is the worst imaginable fallacy, the biggest heresy of all ages.

8. We believe and confess that only in Christ is there a possibility for salvation. The religions of the world and the heresies all lead to perdition. The Orthodox Church is not merely the true Church; She is the only Church. She alone has remained faithful to the Gospel, the Synods and the Fathers, and consequently She alone represents the true catholic Church of Christ. According to the blessed Elder Justin Popovitch, Ecumenism is a common name for the pseudo-churches of Western Europe; their common name is actually "pan-heresy" [xix].

This pan-heresy has been accepted by many Orthodox patriarchs, archbishops, bishops, clergymen, monks and laity. They teach it, «barefacedly»; they apply it and impose it in practice, communing with heretics in every possible manner - with common prayers, with exchanges of visits, with pastoral collaborations - thus essentially placing themselves outside the Church. Our stance, per the Conciliar canonical decisions and per the example of the Saints, is obvious. Each one must now undertake his own responsibilities.

9. There are of course collective responsibilities also, and chiefly in the ecumenistic conscience of our Hierarchs and Theologians, towards the Orthodox corpus and their individual flocks. To them, we declare with a fear of God and with love that this stance of theirs and their openings towards all Ecumenistic activities are condemnable from every aspect, because:

a) they are doubting in practice our Orthodox-Patristic tradition and Faith;

b) they are sowing doubt in the hearts of their flock and are unsettling many, thus leading things to division and schism, and

c) they are misleading a portion of the flock towards a fallacy, and through it, to spiritual disaster.

We are therefore declaring that, for the aforementioned reasons, those who are moving within this Ecumenist irresponsibility, whichever rank they may be holding within the Ecclesiastic Organization, are opposed to the tradition of our Saints and consequently opposed to them.

This is the reason that their stance must be condemned and rejected, by the entirety of the Hierarchs and the faithful People.


Whosoever of the clergy, monks, nuns and the laity desires to participate in this small deposition of Orthodox confession may declare it, by writing:

"I agree with the Confession of Faith against Ecumenism, and subscribe to it"

They may send this declaration indicating their name and their ecclesiastic, monastic or professional status, to the following address:

Periodical "THEODROMIA", P.O.Box 1602, Thessaloniki 541 24, Greece - Fax +30 2310 276590 - email address:

OODE note:

This is an UNOFFICIAL translation of the original Greek text. The present translation is available for re-publication by anyone who wishes to use it. We would be very pleased to see a reference to our website as the initial translators, but it is not compulsory.


The above Confession of Faith has been signed by the following, as a first indication.

It has been signed and will be signed by many more:

Metropolitan of Kythera and Antikythera, Seraphim

Metropolitan of Aetolia and Akarnania Kosmas

Metropolitan of Piraeus, Seraphim

Metropolitan of Gortyna and Megaloupolis, Jeremiah, Professor of School of Theology Athens University

Archmandrite Joseph, Abbot of the Sacred Monastery of Xiropotamos, Holy Mountain

Protopresbyter fr. George Metallinos, Professor Emeritus of the Athens University School of Theology

Protopresbyter fr. Theodore Zisis, Professor Emeritus of the Thessaloniki University School of Theology

Archmandrite Mark Manolis, Spiritual Superintendent of the "Pan-Hellenic Orthodox Union"

Archmandrite Athanasius, Abbot of the Sacred Monastery of Stavrovounion, Cyprus

Archmandrite Timothy Sakkas, Abbot of the Sacred Monastery of the Paraclete, Oropos

Archmandrite Cyril Kehayioglou, Abbot of the Sacred Monastery of the Pantocrator, Melissohori, Langadas

Archmandrite Sarandis Sarandos, Parish Priest of the Holy Temple of the Dormition of the Theotokos, Amarousion

Archmandrite Maximus Karavas, Abbot of the Sacred Monastery of Saint Paraskeve, Milochori, Ptolemais

Archmandrite Gregory Hadjinikolaou, Abbot of the Sacred Monastery of the Holy Trinity, Ano Gazea, Volos

Archmandrite Athanasius Anastasiou, Abbot of the Holy Monastery of the Great Meteora

Archmandrite Theocletus Bolkas, Abbot of the Sacred Hermitage of Saint Arsenios the Cappadocian, Chalkidike

Archmandrite Chrysostomos, Abbot of the Sacred Coenobium of Hossios Nicodemus, Pentalofos, Goumenissa

Archmandrite Theodore Diamantis, Abbot of the Sacred Monastery of Panaghia Molyvdoskepasti, Konitsa

Archmandrite Palamas Kyrillides, Abbot of the Sacred Monastery of the Nativity of the Theotokos, Kallipetra, Veria

Archmandrite Lavrentios Gratsias, Sacred Metropolis of Florina, Prespae and Eordaia

Archmandrite Meletios Vadrahanis, Sacred Metropolis of Florina, Prespae and Eordaia

Archmandrite Paul Dimitrakopoulos, Sacred Monastery of the Transfiguration of the Saviour, Moutsiala, Veria

Archmandrite Ignatius Kalaitzopoulos, Sacred Monastery of Saint Paraskeve, Milochori, Ptolemais

Archmandrite Simeon Georgiades, Sacred Monastery of the Holy Trinity, Ano Gazea, Volos

Archmandrite Augustine Siarras, Sacred Monastery of the Holy Trinity, Ano Gazea, Volos

Archmandrite Ambrose Gionis, Sacred Monastery of the Holy Trinity, Ano Gazea, Volos

Elder Gregory, Hieromonk, Danielites' Sacred Hermitage, Katounakia, Holy Mountain

Elder Efstratios, Hieromonk, Sacred Monastery of the Great Lavra, Holy Mountain

Elder Philippos, Hieromonk, Retreat of Athanasius the Great, Lesser Saint Anna Monastery, Holy Mountain

Hieromonk Athanasius, Danielites' Sacred Hermitage, Katounakia, Holy Mountain

Hieromonk Nicodemus, Danielites' Sacred Hermitage, Katounakia, Holy Mountain

Hieromonk Nephon, Danielites' Sacred Hermitage, Katounakia, Holy Mountain

Hieromonk Chrysostom Kartsonas, Retreat of Saint George, Lesser Saint Anna Monastery, Holy Mountain

Hieromonk Onuphrios, Retreat of the Precious Forerunner, Sacred Scete of Saint Anna, Holy Mountain

Hieromonk Chrysanthos, Retreat of the Precious Forerunner, Sacred Scete of Saint Anna, Holy Mountain

Hieromonk Azarias, Retreat of the Precious Forerunner, Sacred Scete of Saint Anna, Holy Mountain

Hieromonk Gabriel, Sacred Retreat of Panaghia Gorgoepikoos, Sacred Monastery of the Pantocrator, Holy Mountain

Hieromonk Pandeleimon, Sacred Retreat of Saint Pandeleimon, Sacred Monastery of the Pantocrator, Holy Mountain

Protopresbyter Lambros Fotopoulos, Parish Priest, Sacred Temple of Saint Kosmas of Aetolia, Amarousion, Attica Province

Protopresbyter John Fotopoulos, Parish Priest Sacred Temple of Saint Paraskeve, Attica Province

Protopresbyter Athanasios Menas, Loutraki, Corinthia Province

Protopresbyter Eleftherios Palamas, Saint Christophers, Ptolemais

Protopresbyter Constantine Mygdalis, Parish Priest, Sacred Temple of Saint Constantine, Volos

Protopresbyter Photios Vezynias, Professor, Sacred Metropolis of Lagadas

Protopresbyter Anthony Bousdekis, Parish Priest, Sacred Temple of Saint Nicholas, Nikaia, Piraeus

Protopresbyter Demetrios Vasiliades, Sacred Metropolis of Maronia and Komotene

Presbyter Dionysios Tatsis, Educator, Konitsa

Presbyter Demetrios Sarris, Parish Priest, Sacred Temple of the Mighty Archangels, Sesklon, Aesonia

Presbyter Efthimios Antoniades, Sacred Metropolis of Larisa

Presbyter Anastasios Gotsopoulos, Parish Priest, Sacred Temple of Saint Nicholas, Patrae

Presbyter George Papageorgiou, Sacred Metropolis of Demetrias

Presbyter Peter Hirsch, Petrokerasa, Chalkidike

Presbyter Theophanes Manouras, Parish Priest of the Sacred Temple of Saint Athanasius, Velestino, Magnesia Province

Deacon Theologos Kostopoulos, Sacred Monastery of the Holy Trinity, Ano Gazea, Volos

Presbyter Paschalis Ginoudis, Sacred Metropolis of Larisa

Presbyter George Diamantopoulos, Lavrion, Sacred Metropolis of Mesogaia

Presbyter Basili Kokolakis, Parish Priest of the Sacred Temple of the Precious Cross, Holargos, Attica

Presbyter Peter Pantazis, Parish Priest of the Sacred Temple of the Transfiguration, Halandri, Attica

Elder Theoliptos, Monk, Retreat of the Precious Forerunner, Sacred Scete of Saint Anna, Holy Mountain

Elder Gabriel, Monk, Retreat of Saint Christodoulos, Karyes, Holy Mountain

Elder Hilarion, Monk, near the Constamonite Monastery harbour, Holy Mountain

Elder Daniel, Monk, Danielites' Sacred Hermitage, Katounakia, Holy Mountain

Elder Akakios, Monk, Danielites' Sacred Hermitage, Katounakia, Holy Mountain

Elder Stephanos, Monk, Danielites' Sacred Hermitage, Katounakia, Holy Mountain

Elder Paul, Monk, Sacred Retreat of the Holy Apostles, Scete of the Xenophon Monastery, Holy Mountain

Elder Onuphrios, Monk, Sacred Retreat of the Nativity of the Theotokos, Holy Monastery of the Pantocrator, Holy Mountain

Elder Nectarios, Monk, Sacred Cell of the Zoodochos Fount, Holy Monastery of Koutloumousion, Holy Mountain

Elder Isaac, Monk, Sacred Cell of the Nativity of the Theotokos, Sacred Monastery of Stavronikita, Holy Mountain

Monk Arsenios Vliagoftis, Sacred Retreat of Saint Arsenios the Cappadocian, Halkidike

Monk George, Sacred Retreat of the Nativity of the Theotokos, Holy Monastery of the Pantocrator, Holy Mountain

Monk Christophoros, Sacred Retreat of the Holy Apostles, Scete of the Xenophon Monastery, Holy Mountain

Monk Maximos, Danielites' Sacred Hermitage, Katounakia, Holy Mountain

Monk Dositheos, Kathesma of the Holy Monastery of Koutloumousion, Holy Mountain

Monk Spyridon, Cell of Saint Nicholas, Holy Monastery of Koutloumousion, Holy Mountain

Monk Damascenos, Sacred Cell of the Precious Forerunner, Holy Monastery of Karakallou, Holy Mountain

Monk Savvas, Holy Monastery of the Great Lavra, Holy Mountain

Monk Theophilos, Sacred Cell of Sambre, Holy Mountain

Monk Paisios, Sacred Cell of the Holy Archangels "Savvaioi" of the Holy Mountain

Monk Cherubim, Sacred Cell of the Holy Archangels, of Saint John Koukouzelis, Holy Mountain

Monk Nicodemus, Sacred Cell of Saint Nectarios, Kapsala, Holy Mountain

Monk Dositheos, Sacred Monastery of the Transfiguration of the Saviour, Sochos, Lagadas, Thessaloniki

Monk Chariton, Retreat of the Precious Forerunner, Sacred Scete of Saint Anna, Holy Mountain

Monk Nicodemus, Retreat of the Precious Forerunner, Sacred Scete of Saint Anna, Holy Mountain

Monk Averkios, Retreat of the Precious Forerunner, Sacred Scete of Saint Anna, Holy Mountain

Monk Prodromos, Retreat of the Precious Forerunner, Sacred Scete of Saint Anna, Holy Mountain

Monk Arsenios, Sacred Retreat of holy martyr Gerasimos, Scete of St.Pandeleimon, Holy Monastery of Koutloumousion, Holy Mountain

Sister Mariam, Abbess of the Holy Monastery of Saint Lavrentios, Pelion

Sister Christonymphe of the Holy Monastery of Saint Lavrentios, Pelion

Sister Lavrentia of the Holy Monastery of Saint Lavrentios, Pelion

Nicholas Vasiliades, Theologian-Author, Brotherhood of Theologians "SOTER"

Despina Anastasiadou-Georgouda, infant school teacher, former School Counselor

Panagiota Anjou, Philologist-Theologian, Thessaloniki

George Georgoudas, Dr. of Theology, former School Counselor

John Dekliomis, Theologian, Thessaloniki

Stephen Ziogas, Philologist-Educator, Thessaloniki

Demetrios Karayannides, Gymnast, Thessaloniki

Vasilios Kermeniotis, Professor, Ptolemais

Agathe Kyriakidou-Theodosiou, Philologist, Thessaloniki

Gabriel Lampsides, Journalist, Thessaloniki

Sotirios Lysikatos, Theologian-Philologist, Thessaloniki

Christina Boulaki-Zisi, former Reserve Professor of the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki School of Theology

Dimitrios Mavrides, Mathematician, Thessaloniki

Constantine Nousis, Philologist-Theologian, Volos

Lavrentios Digiorgio, publisher-author, President of the Philorthodox Union "Kosmas Flamiatos"

Andreas Papavasiliou, Dr. of Theology, former Inspector of Secondary Education, Cyprus

Panagiotis Sematis, Professor of Theology, Secretary of the Philorthodox Union "Kosmas Flamiatos", Aegion

Constantine Stavrinides, Holargos, Athens

Marina Stravakou, Philologist, Thessaloniki

Aphrate Strakali-Tzoanopoulou, Philologist, Thessaloniki

Malamate Strakali-Papaioannou, Philologist, Thessaloniki

Dimitrios Zisis, School Counselor, graduate of theology, Kastoria

List updated to the 3rd June 2009.

This list will be regularly updated with added names.

Readers can see the constantly updated list of signatures in Greek, here:"


[i] See treatise by Gennadius II Scholarios, Patriarch of Constantinople: "Regarding the only way to the salvation of mankind" , to George Scholarios "The complete extant works - Oevres Completes de Georges Scholarios", Volumes I-VII, Paris 1928-1936, publ. L. Petit - X. Siderides - M. Jugie, Vol. III, 434-452.

[ii] John 8:12 «I am the light of the world - whosoever follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life». John 3:19 «The light had come to the world and men loved the darkness rather than the light».

[iii] Acts 4:14.

[iv] 1 John 4:2-3 «Every spirit that confesses Jesus had cometh in the flesh, is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus Christ had cometh in the flesh, is not from God. And this is what you have heard regarding the antichrist: that he cometh and is now already in the world».

[v] See "Didaches" (Teachings) of St.Cosmas of Aetolia, of I.Menounos, "Cosmas of Aetolia teachings (and biography), Tinos publications, Athens, Didache A1, 37, page 142: «"All faiths are false, counterfeit, all of them the Devil's. This I realized as being true, divine, heavenly, correct, perfect, both by my word and by your word: that the faith of the pious and orthodox christians is good and holy, and that we must believe and be baptized in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit».

[vi] 'Homily prior to the exile' 1, ΕΠΕ 33, 186.

[vii] Epistle 90, "To the most holy brothers and bishops in the West" 2, ΕΠΕ 2, 20

[viii] Galatians. 1, 9. To Gall. Homily chapt. 1, PG 61, 624.

[ix] Mansi, 13, 409-412.

[x] The moral laxity and decadence, even among the clergy, had already been noted at the beginning of the 15th century, by Saint Simeon of Thessaloniki (see 'Dogmatic Epistle 16' in D. Balfour, by Simeon of Thessaloniki (1416/17-1429) "Theological Works, Vlatades gleanings 34, Thessaloniki 1981, page 218: «And furthermore, that they did not regard fornication at all entailing Hell, not even among their priests, but instead, they would unscrupulously have concubines and youths for fornication and would every day officiate.» Ibid, 15, page 216: «They also do not follow an evangelical lifestyle; for, every kind of luxury and fornication to them is not a reprehensible matter, nor anything else that is forbidden for Christians». ) The moral decadence that is observed of late even among the Orthodox clergy is the result of Ecumenism's liberalism and secularism..

[xi] Dialogue 23, PG 155, 120-121. Epistle regarding blessedness 5, in D. Balfour, Simeon Archbishop of Thessaloniki (1416/17-1429), "Theological Works, Vlatades gleanings 34, Thessaloniki 1981, page 226.

[xii] Canonical Epistle Ά, To Amphilochios of Iconion, Canon a.

[xiii] In the text of the 9th General Convention of the World Council of Churches in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 2006, which was accepted by the representatives of the Orthodox churches and was titled "Called to be the One Chuch", in paragraph 8 it states: "All those baptized in Christ are united in His name." In paragraph 9: "That we all belong in common to Christ through baptism in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, gives the churches the possibility and it invites them to walk together, even when they disagree. We assure that there is one baptism, exactly as there is one body and one Spirit, one hope in our calling, one Lord, one Faith, one God and Father to all of us (see Ephes.4:4-6)". The Metropolitan of Pergamos John (Zizioulas) in his work "Orthodox Ecclesiology and the Ecumenical Movement", Sourozh Diocesan Magazine (England, August 1985, vol.21, page 23), had paved the way for this position, by stating: "Within baptism, even if there is a break, a division, a schism, you can still speak of the Church... The Orthodox, in my understanding at least, participate in the ecumenical movement as a movement of baptized Christians, who are in a state of division because they cannot express the same faith together. In the past this has happened because of a lack of love which is now, thank God, disappearing."

[xiv] Apologetics on the flight to Pontus 82, ΕΠΕ 1, 176.

[xv] To Romans, Homily 22, 2, PG 60, 611. To Philippians, Homily 2,1, PG 62, 119.

[xvi] Confession of faith displayed in Florence, in Documents relatifs au Concile de Florence, II, Oeuvres anticonciliaires de Marc d'Ephèse, par L. Petit, Patrologia Orientalis 17, 442.

[xvii] See joint statement by Pope John-Paul II and Patriarch Bartholomew during the latter's visit to Rome on the 29th of June, 1995. The same had been proclaimed at an earlier date by the Combined Theological Committee for the Dialogue between Orthodox and Papists, in Balamand of Lebanon in 1993.

[xviii] Ephesians 4: 5.

[xix] Archmandr. Justin Popovitch, Orthodox Church and Ecumenism, Thessaloniki 1974, page 224...