Tuesday of Clean Week – Second part of the Great Canon of St Andrew of Crete

Andrew_of_Crete

Tuesday of the First Week

Ode 1

A Helper and a Protector has become salvation to me. This is my God, I will glorify Him. God of my fathers I will exalt Him for in glory was He glorified. Have mercy on us, O God, have mercy on us.

Deliberately have I imitated blood thirsty Cain, O Lord, enlivening my flesh while murdering my soul by striking it with my evil deeds.

I have not resembled Abel in his righteousness, O Jesus, never having offered to You actions worthy of God, pure gifts, an appropriate sacrifice, an unblemished Life.

Like Cain, O my wretched soul, my offering to the Creator of all has been filthy deeds, a polluted sacrifice, and a worthless Life, and like him I now stand condemned.

You formed my flesh and bones as a Potter, O my Creator, my Redeemer and my Judge, by moulding clay into flesh and infusing in it the breath of Life. Accept me now as I return to You.

O my Saviour, I confess the sins which I have committed, the wounds which murderous thoughts, like thieves within me, have inflicted on my soul and body.

Thought I have sinned, O Saviour, I know that in Your love for mankind Your punishment is merciful and Your compassion profound. Seeing my tears You will run to me as the Father calling His lost son.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

O Trinity above all essence and worshiped as One God, take from me the heavy burden of sin, and since You are compassionate grant me tears of repentance.

Now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

O Theotokos, Hope and Protection of those who sing to you, take from me the heavy burden of sin and as one pure Lady accept me as I repent.

Ode 2

Attend O heaven and I will speak, I will sing of Christ, Who from the Virgin took flesh to dwell with us. Have mercy on us, O God, have mercy on us.

Sin stripped me of the garment created for me by God, leaving me in a coat of skin.

Sensing his shame, Adam dressed himself in fig leaves, and like him I now wear a garment of shame which reveals my many passions.

A soiled garment clothes me, one shamefully stained with blood flowing from a Life of passion and love of fleshly things.

I fell beneath the weight of the passions and the corruption of my flesh, and from that moment has the Enemy had power over me.

Instead of seeking poverty of spirit I prefer a Life of greed and self gratification. Therefore, O Saviour, a heavy weight hangs from my neck.

Joseph’s was a splendid coat of many colours, but mine is one of shameful thoughts, which condemns me even as it covers my flesh.

I persist in caring only for my outer garment, while neglecting the temple within me, one made in the image of God.

The woman searched her house for the lost coin until she found it. Now the beauty of my original image is lost, O Saviour, buried in passion. Come and as she did, search to recover it.

Like the prostitute I cry to You, O Saviour, that I have sinned. I alone have sinned against You! But accept my tears as You did hers when she came to anoint Your feet.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

O God of all, I sing of You as One yet Three in Person, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

O Most holy Theotokos, Virgin alone praised everywhere, pray fervently that we may be saved.

Ode 3

Establish, O Lord, my unstable heart on the rock of Your commandments for only You are holy and the Lord. Have mercy on us, O God, have mercy on us.

In You, the Destroyer of death, have I found the Fountain of Life, and now from the heart cry out before my death, “I have sinned. Be merciful and save me!”

I have sinned, Lord, I have sinned against You, but be merciful to me, though there is no one whose sins I have not surpassed.

I have imitated those who in the days of Noah indulged themselves, and like them I deserve to perish in a flood.

Noah’s son Ham failed to conceal his father’s nakedness, and even dared to look at him in his shame. And you, my soul, in your treatment of your neighbour have imitated him.

Run my soul! Run from sin, as Lot ran from the fire! Run from Sodom and Gomorrah! Run from the flame of every deceiving desire!

“Have mercy, O Lord, have mercy on me,” so shall I cry to You when You come with Your angels to render to us all our deeds deserve.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

One simple and uncreated nature without beginning Whom we praise as God in Trinity, save us who in faith worship Your power.

Now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Without seed you gave birth in time to the timeless Son of the Father, O Theotokos, and, O strange wonder, you nourished Him at your breast while remaining a virgin!

Ode 4

The prophet heard of Your coming, O Lord, and was afraid that You was to be born of a virgin and appear to men, and he said “I have heard the report of You and am afraid”; Glory to Your power, O Lord. Have mercy on us, O God, have mercy on us.

Prepare yourself, my soul! Be courageous like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, that acquiring diligence and wisdom you too may meet your God. Through contemplation may you reach the awesome depths in which He dwells and in so doing become a good steward of the Lord.

Jacob and his sons, the patriarchs, established for you, O my soul, an example in the ladder of active ascent. By his way of Life Jacob took the first step, fathering twelve sons and offering them as further rungs, which step-by-step ascend to God.

But you, my hopeless soul, have rather imitated Esau, surrendering to the crafty evil the beauty you inherited from God. In two ways, works and wisdom, have you been deceived and now is the time for you to change your ways.

Esau’s consuming lust for women, his turning passion, and his soul marred by senseless pleasures, earned for him the Hebrew name “Edom” (meaning “red”), for his soul was like a flame burning with love for sin.

My soul, have you not heard of Job, who even while sitting on a dunghill was justified? Why then in times of temptation have you never imitated his courage or firmness of purpose, or endured with patience?

Once Job sat on this throne surrounded by children and greatly admired, but now lies naked on a dunghill, childless, homeless, and covered with sores. Even so, he considers his dunghill a palace and his sores precious pearls.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

I confess You as one God in Trinity, a single essence unconfused in Persons, co-enthroned and co-ruling. And I sing to You, “Holy! Holy! Holy!” Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

As a virgin you gave birth, and a virgin you remained by nature, your womb giving birth painlessly, for He Who was born of you renewed the laws of nature, since when God wills its order is overthrown.

Ode 5

Out of the night watching early for You, enlighten me I pray, O Lover of man, and guide me in Your commandments, and teach me, O Saviour, to do Your will. Have mercy on us, O God, have mercy on us.

You have heard, O my soul, how the waves and waters of the river formed a protective chamber for the baby Moses, allowing his basket of reeds to escape the cruel edict of the Pharaoh.

The midwives, though instructed by Pharaoh to kill the male infants of the Hebrews, obeyed their God instead. Now that you, my hopeless soul, have been spared death like Moses, like him also be nourished on the wisdom of the Lord.

By killing the oppressive Egyptian, Moses severed his bond to Pharaoh. But you, O my hopeless soul, have not even begun to attack the wickedness of your mind. If you have not accomplished even this much, how can you expect to pass through the time of repentance, which alone can drive away our sinful passions?

Go, my soul, and imitate the great Moses in the wilderness, that like him you may behold God present in the burning bush.

Think of the staff that Moses stretched over the waters to divide them. It is an image of the Cross of Christ whereby you, my soul, can also accomplish great things.

Aaron’s faithfulness was shown by his offering an acceptable sacrifice to God. But you, my soul, like the priests Hophni and Phineas have offered only your deceitful and selfish life.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

We glorify You, O Trinity, One in essence, and we praise and adore You forever, singing, “Holy! Holy! Holy!” Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

God, the Creator of all things, became incarnate through you, O pure Virgin Mother, uniting our human nature to Himself.

Ode 6

With my whole heart, I cried unto the compassionate God, and He heard me; and He lifted up my soul from the depths of hell and from corruption. Have mercy on us, O God, have mercy on us.

The waves of my transgressions have turned back on me, O Saviour, just as once the Red Sea turned back to engulf the Egyptian forces.

Like Israel of old you have an arrogant will, O my soul, preferring gluttony and self gratification to the manna from heaven.

The Canaanites’ wells can be likened to worldly philosophies, from which you, my soul, have preferred to drink rather than from the rock from which when struck by Moses there poured out a river of wisdom, the knowledge of God.

Like the arrogant Israelites in the wilderness, you prefer the comforts of Egypt and unclean food to manna, the food sent from heaven.

Water pouring from the rock when struck by Your servant Moses, prefigured Your life giving side, O Saviour, from which we saw the Water of Life.

Find the Promised Land and explore it secretly as Joshua, son of Nun, once did. See what kind of land it is and settle there, obeying the Law of God.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

“I AM the Trinity, simple and undivided in essence, yet divided in Persons. I AM also the Unity united in nature”, says God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Your womb, O Theotokos, held God Who for our sakes took human form. Implore Him, the Creator of all, that through your prayers we may be justified.

Kontakion (Tone 6)

My soul, my soul, Arise! Why are you sleeping? The end is drawing near, and you will be confounded, awake then and be watchful that Christ our God may spare you, Who is everywhere, and fills all things.

Ode 7

We have sinned, transgressed, done wrong before You. We have not watched or done as You have commanded us, but do not give us up utterly, O God of our fathers. Have mercy on us, O God, have mercy on us.

Merely for touching the Covenant Box to prevent its falling to the ground, Uzzah was struck dead by God. Avoid His anger at such presumption, O my soul, by showing true honour to holy things.

You have heard of Absalom and how he rebelled against his father David, and know how he defiled his father’s bed. So why do you still imitate his wild impulses and his love of pleasures?

By following Satan your freedom has become enslaved to your body, O my soul, as when on Ahitophel’s advice Absalom revolted against his father. But Christ has scattered the enemy’s counsel that you might at all costs be saved.

Solomon was mighty and full of wisdom, but did wrong before the Lord when he turned to idols. And you, my soul, resembled him in your evil life.

Solomon was carried away by gratification of his lust. Alas, he who loved Wisdom now makes love to prostitutes and finds himself estranged from God. But in your misery though you have imitated him, O my soul, through your disgraceful love of luxury.

Your sin rivals Rehoboam’s, who ignored the wise advisers of his father Solomon; and you have imitated Jeroboam who divided the Kingdom and turned Israel to idols. Flee such likeness and cry out to God, “I have sinned, have pity on me!”

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Simple and undivided, One in essence and nature, Light and Lights, One Holy and three Holies, God is praised as Trinity. So sing praises to Him, O my soul, and glorify the Life and Lives, the God of all.

Now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

We praise you, we bless and venerate you, O Mother of God, for from the undivided Trinity you brought forth the only Son of God and restored to us on earth the heavenly realms.

Ode 8

Him Whom the hosts of heaven glorify, Whom the Cherubim and Seraphim dread, let every breath and creature praise, bless and magnify throughout all ages. Have mercy on us, O God, have mercy on us.

King Uzziah, though mighty in battle and faithful in his own observance of the Law, tolerated idolatry among the people, and for this was he struck with a dread disease. Now you, my soul, are twice as sick as he, for your life is polluted with evil thoughts and wicked deeds.

Have you not heard how the Ninevites, moved by Jonah’s preaching, repented in sackcloth and ashes? Why then have you not followed their example? For in its pride your heart is harder than all that have sinned both before and after the Law.

Thrown into a well, Jeremiah lamented bitterly the fall of Zion. Only by such a life of mourning and weeping, O my soul, will you find the way to salvation.

Jonah the prophet fled to Tarshish, for he was well aware of how merciful our God is. And foreseeing the conversion of the Ninevites he feared their repentance would prove false his threat of destruction.

You have heard, O my soul, how by faith Daniel shut the mouths of the roaring lions in the den, and the three Holy Children extinguished the flames in the furnace.

I have reviewed as examples for you, O my soul, all the figures of the Old Testament. Learn to imitate the deeds of those who in righteousness loved their God, and flee from the sins of the wicked!

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

O Eternal Father, co-eternal Son, and gracious Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, O Father of the Divine Word, Word of the eternal Father, and life creating Spirit, Trinity in unity, have mercy on us.

Now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

O pure Virgin, the flesh of Emmanuel was formed within your womb as a robe of royal crimson is spun from scarlet silk. We proclaim you to be truly the Mother of our God.

Ode 9

Ineffable is the child bearing of a seedless conception, a mother remaining pure. For the birth of God renews nature, so in all ages we magnify you as mother and bride of God Have mercy on us, O God, have mercy on us.

The Devil showed stones to Christ, which he could turn into bread, then led Him to the top of a mountain to show Him at a glance all the kingdoms of this world. O my soul, fear the Devil’s craftiness, watch and pray to God at every hour!

John the Baptist, that “Dove who loved the desert,” the “Light which went before Christ,” the “Voice crying in the wilderness”, heralded the preaching of repentance. But Herod, unwilling to listen to him, sinned with Herodias. By embracing repentance, O my soul, beware yourself of falling into the snares of the Wicked One.

When John the Forerunner of grace was living in the wilderness, all the people of Judea and Samaria came out to hear him. O my soul, why have you not imitated them by confessing your sins and receiving the washing of repentance?

Marriage is honourable and the marriage bed undefiled, for Christ blessed both by His presence at the marriage in Cana. He ate and transformed water into wine, thus performing His first miracle, that you, my soul, might be transformed.

Christ strengthened a paralytic, enabling him to rise and walk. He raised from death a widow’s son, and healed the servant of a Roman officer. By revealing Himself to the woman in Samaria, he made clear to you, O my soul, how to worship God in Spirit.

When a woman suffering from severe bleeding touched the hem of the Lord’s garment, she received healing from Him. Just as by His words He healed lepers, gave sight to the blind, strength to cripples and hearing to the deaf and dumb, and straightened the crippled woman, all in order that you, my miserable soul, might believe and find salvation!

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

We glorify the Father, we exalt the Son, and we worship the Holy Spirit, the indivisible Trinity Who exists as One, the Light and Lights, the Life and Lives Who grants light and life to the ends of the world.

Now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

O purest Mother of God, preserve your people, for through you are we kept faithful, strengthened, and made able to overcome every temptation, trial, and tribulation.

O holy Father Andrew, pray to God for us.

O honourable Andrew, thrice-blessed Father and pastor of Crete, never cease praying to God for those who sing your praises, that He may deliver from anger, sorrow, corruption, and countless sins all of us who faithfully honour your memory.

Tuesday of Clean Week – Second part of the Great Canon of St Andrew of Crete

Andrew_of_Crete

Tuesday of the First Week

Ode 1

A Helper and a Protector has become salvation to me. This is my God, I will glorify Him. God of my fathers I will exalt Him for in glory was He glorified. Have mercy on us, O God, have mercy on us.

Deliberately have I imitated blood thirsty Cain, O Lord, enlivening my flesh while murdering my soul by striking it with my evil deeds.

I have not resembled Abel in his righteousness, O Jesus, never having offered to You actions worthy of God, pure gifts, an appropriate sacrifice, an unblemished Life.

Like Cain, O my wretched soul, my offering to the Creator of all has been filthy deeds, a polluted sacrifice, and a worthless Life, and like him I now stand condemned.

You formed my flesh and bones as a Potter, O my Creator, my Redeemer and my Judge, by moulding clay into flesh and infusing in it the breath of Life. Accept me now as I return to You.

O my Saviour, I confess the sins which I have committed, the wounds which murderous thoughts, like thieves within me, have inflicted on my soul and body.

Thought I have sinned, O Saviour, I know that in Your love for mankind Your punishment is merciful and Your compassion profound. Seeing my tears You will run to me as the Father calling His lost son.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

O Trinity above all essence and worshiped as One God, take from me the heavy burden of sin, and since You are compassionate grant me tears of repentance.

Now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

O Theotokos, Hope and Protection of those who sing to you, take from me the heavy burden of sin and as one pure Lady accept me as I repent.

Ode 2

Attend O heaven and I will speak, I will sing of Christ, Who from the Virgin took flesh to dwell with us. Have mercy on us, O God, have mercy on us.

Sin stripped me of the garment created for me by God, leaving me in a coat of skin.

Sensing his shame, Adam dressed himself in fig leaves, and like him I now wear a garment of shame which reveals my many passions.

A soiled garment clothes me, one shamefully stained with blood flowing from a Life of passion and love of fleshly things.

I fell beneath the weight of the passions and the corruption of my flesh, and from that moment has the Enemy had power over me.

Instead of seeking poverty of spirit I prefer a Life of greed and self gratification. Therefore, O Saviour, a heavy weight hangs from my neck.

Joseph’s was a splendid coat of many colours, but mine is one of shameful thoughts, which condemns me even as it covers my flesh.

I persist in caring only for my outer garment, while neglecting the temple within me, one made in the image of God.

The woman searched her house for the lost coin until she found it. Now the beauty of my original image is lost, O Saviour, buried in passion. Come and as she did, search to recover it.

Like the prostitute I cry to You, O Saviour, that I have sinned. I alone have sinned against You! But accept my tears as You did hers when she came to anoint Your feet.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

O God of all, I sing of You as One yet Three in Person, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

O Most holy Theotokos, Virgin alone praised everywhere, pray fervently that we may be saved.

Ode 3

Establish, O Lord, my unstable heart on the rock of Your commandments for only You are holy and the Lord. Have mercy on us, O God, have mercy on us.

In You, the Destroyer of death, have I found the Fountain of Life, and now from the heart cry out before my death, “I have sinned. Be merciful and save me!”

I have sinned, Lord, I have sinned against You, but be merciful to me, though there is no one whose sins I have not surpassed.

I have imitated those who in the days of Noah indulged themselves, and like them I deserve to perish in a flood.

Noah’s son Ham failed to conceal his father’s nakedness, and even dared to look at him in his shame. And you, my soul, in your treatment of your neighbour have imitated him.

Run my soul! Run from sin, as Lot ran from the fire! Run from Sodom and Gomorrah! Run from the flame of every deceiving desire!

“Have mercy, O Lord, have mercy on me,” so shall I cry to You when You come with Your angels to render to us all our deeds deserve.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

One simple and uncreated nature without beginning Whom we praise as God in Trinity, save us who in faith worship Your power.

Now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Without seed you gave birth in time to the timeless Son of the Father, O Theotokos, and, O strange wonder, you nourished Him at your breast while remaining a virgin!

Ode 4

The prophet heard of Your coming, O Lord, and was afraid that You was to be born of a virgin and appear to men, and he said “I have heard the report of You and am afraid”; Glory to Your power, O Lord. Have mercy on us, O God, have mercy on us.

Prepare yourself, my soul! Be courageous like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, that acquiring diligence and wisdom you too may meet your God. Through contemplation may you reach the awesome depths in which He dwells and in so doing become a good steward of the Lord.

Jacob and his sons, the patriarchs, established for you, O my soul, an example in the ladder of active ascent. By his way of Life Jacob took the first step, fathering twelve sons and offering them as further rungs, which step-by-step ascend to God.

But you, my hopeless soul, have rather imitated Esau, surrendering to the crafty evil the beauty you inherited from God. In two ways, works and wisdom, have you been deceived and now is the time for you to change your ways.

Esau’s consuming lust for women, his turning passion, and his soul marred by senseless pleasures, earned for him the Hebrew name “Edom” (meaning “red”), for his soul was like a flame burning with love for sin.

My soul, have you not heard of Job, who even while sitting on a dunghill was justified? Why then in times of temptation have you never imitated his courage or firmness of purpose, or endured with patience?

Once Job sat on this throne surrounded by children and greatly admired, but now lies naked on a dunghill, childless, homeless, and covered with sores. Even so, he considers his dunghill a palace and his sores precious pearls.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

I confess You as one God in Trinity, a single essence unconfused in Persons, co-enthroned and co-ruling. And I sing to You, “Holy! Holy! Holy!” Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

As a virgin you gave birth, and a virgin you remained by nature, your womb giving birth painlessly, for He Who was born of you renewed the laws of nature, since when God wills its order is overthrown.

Ode 5

Out of the night watching early for You, enlighten me I pray, O Lover of man, and guide me in Your commandments, and teach me, O Saviour, to do Your will. Have mercy on us, O God, have mercy on us.

You have heard, O my soul, how the waves and waters of the river formed a protective chamber for the baby Moses, allowing his basket of reeds to escape the cruel edict of the Pharaoh.

The midwives, though instructed by Pharaoh to kill the male infants of the Hebrews, obeyed their God instead. Now that you, my hopeless soul, have been spared death like Moses, like him also be nourished on the wisdom of the Lord.

By killing the oppressive Egyptian, Moses severed his bond to Pharaoh. But you, O my hopeless soul, have not even begun to attack the wickedness of your mind. If you have not accomplished even this much, how can you expect to pass through the time of repentance, which alone can drive away our sinful passions?

Go, my soul, and imitate the great Moses in the wilderness, that like him you may behold God present in the burning bush.

Think of the staff that Moses stretched over the waters to divide them. It is an image of the Cross of Christ whereby you, my soul, can also accomplish great things.

Aaron’s faithfulness was shown by his offering an acceptable sacrifice to God. But you, my soul, like the priests Hophni and Phineas have offered only your deceitful and selfish life.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

We glorify You, O Trinity, One in essence, and we praise and adore You forever, singing, “Holy! Holy! Holy!” Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

God, the Creator of all things, became incarnate through you, O pure Virgin Mother, uniting our human nature to Himself.

Ode 6

With my whole heart, I cried unto the compassionate God, and He heard me; and He lifted up my soul from the depths of hell and from corruption. Have mercy on us, O God, have mercy on us.

The waves of my transgressions have turned back on me, O Saviour, just as once the Red Sea turned back to engulf the Egyptian forces.

Like Israel of old you have an arrogant will, O my soul, preferring gluttony and self gratification to the manna from heaven.

The Canaanites’ wells can be likened to worldly philosophies, from which you, my soul, have preferred to drink rather than from the rock from which when struck by Moses there poured out a river of wisdom, the knowledge of God.

Like the arrogant Israelites in the wilderness, you prefer the comforts of Egypt and unclean food to manna, the food sent from heaven.

Water pouring from the rock when struck by Your servant Moses, prefigured Your life giving side, O Saviour, from which we saw the Water of Life.

Find the Promised Land and explore it secretly as Joshua, son of Nun, once did. See what kind of land it is and settle there, obeying the Law of God.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

“I AM the Trinity, simple and undivided in essence, yet divided in Persons. I AM also the Unity united in nature”, says God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Your womb, O Theotokos, held God Who for our sakes took human form. Implore Him, the Creator of all, that through your prayers we may be justified.

Kontakion (Tone 6)

My soul, my soul, Arise! Why are you sleeping? The end is drawing near, and you will be confounded, awake then and be watchful that Christ our God may spare you, Who is everywhere, and fills all things.

Ode 7

We have sinned, transgressed, done wrong before You. We have not watched or done as You have commanded us, but do not give us up utterly, O God of our fathers. Have mercy on us, O God, have mercy on us.

Merely for touching the Covenant Box to prevent its falling to the ground, Uzzah was struck dead by God. Avoid His anger at such presumption, O my soul, by showing true honour to holy things.

You have heard of Absalom and how he rebelled against his father David, and know how he defiled his father’s bed. So why do you still imitate his wild impulses and his love of pleasures?

By following Satan your freedom has become enslaved to your body, O my soul, as when on Ahitophel’s advice Absalom revolted against his father. But Christ has scattered the enemy’s counsel that you might at all costs be saved.

Solomon was mighty and full of wisdom, but did wrong before the Lord when he turned to idols. And you, my soul, resembled him in your evil life.

Solomon was carried away by gratification of his lust. Alas, he who loved Wisdom now makes love to prostitutes and finds himself estranged from God. But in your misery though you have imitated him, O my soul, through your disgraceful love of luxury.

Your sin rivals Rehoboam’s, who ignored the wise advisers of his father Solomon; and you have imitated Jeroboam who divided the Kingdom and turned Israel to idols. Flee such likeness and cry out to God, “I have sinned, have pity on me!”

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Simple and undivided, One in essence and nature, Light and Lights, One Holy and three Holies, God is praised as Trinity. So sing praises to Him, O my soul, and glorify the Life and Lives, the God of all.

Now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

We praise you, we bless and venerate you, O Mother of God, for from the undivided Trinity you brought forth the only Son of God and restored to us on earth the heavenly realms.

Ode 8

Him Whom the hosts of heaven glorify, Whom the Cherubim and Seraphim dread, let every breath and creature praise, bless and magnify throughout all ages. Have mercy on us, O God, have mercy on us.

King Uzziah, though mighty in battle and faithful in his own observance of the Law, tolerated idolatry among the people, and for this was he struck with a dread disease. Now you, my soul, are twice as sick as he, for your life is polluted with evil thoughts and wicked deeds.

Have you not heard how the Ninevites, moved by Jonah’s preaching, repented in sackcloth and ashes? Why then have you not followed their example? For in its pride your heart is harder than all that have sinned both before and after the Law.

Thrown into a well, Jeremiah lamented bitterly the fall of Zion. Only by such a life of mourning and weeping, O my soul, will you find the way to salvation.

Jonah the prophet fled to Tarshish, for he was well aware of how merciful our God is. And foreseeing the conversion of the Ninevites he feared their repentance would prove false his threat of destruction.

You have heard, O my soul, how by faith Daniel shut the mouths of the roaring lions in the den, and the three Holy Children extinguished the flames in the furnace.

I have reviewed as examples for you, O my soul, all the figures of the Old Testament. Learn to imitate the deeds of those who in righteousness loved their God, and flee from the sins of the wicked!

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

O Eternal Father, co-eternal Son, and gracious Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, O Father of the Divine Word, Word of the eternal Father, and life creating Spirit, Trinity in unity, have mercy on us.

Now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

O pure Virgin, the flesh of Emmanuel was formed within your womb as a robe of royal crimson is spun from scarlet silk. We proclaim you to be truly the Mother of our God.

Ode 9

Ineffable is the child bearing of a seedless conception, a mother remaining pure. For the birth of God renews nature, so in all ages we magnify you as mother and bride of God Have mercy on us, O God, have mercy on us.

The Devil showed stones to Christ, which he could turn into bread, then led Him to the top of a mountain to show Him at a glance all the kingdoms of this world. O my soul, fear the Devil’s craftiness, watch and pray to God at every hour!

John the Baptist, that “Dove who loved the desert,” the “Light which went before Christ,” the “Voice crying in the wilderness”, heralded the preaching of repentance. But Herod, unwilling to listen to him, sinned with Herodias. By embracing repentance, O my soul, beware yourself of falling into the snares of the Wicked One.

When John the Forerunner of grace was living in the wilderness, all the people of Judea and Samaria came out to hear him. O my soul, why have you not imitated them by confessing your sins and receiving the washing of repentance?

Marriage is honourable and the marriage bed undefiled, for Christ blessed both by His presence at the marriage in Cana. He ate and transformed water into wine, thus performing His first miracle, that you, my soul, might be transformed.

Christ strengthened a paralytic, enabling him to rise and walk. He raised from death a widow’s son, and healed the servant of a Roman officer. By revealing Himself to the woman in Samaria, he made clear to you, O my soul, how to worship God in Spirit.

When a woman suffering from severe bleeding touched the hem of the Lord’s garment, she received healing from Him. Just as by His words He healed lepers, gave sight to the blind, strength to cripples and hearing to the deaf and dumb, and straightened the crippled woman, all in order that you, my miserable soul, might believe and find salvation!

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

We glorify the Father, we exalt the Son, and we worship the Holy Spirit, the indivisible Trinity Who exists as One, the Light and Lights, the Life and Lives Who grants light and life to the ends of the world.

Now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

O purest Mother of God, preserve your people, for through you are we kept faithful, strengthened, and made able to overcome every temptation, trial, and tribulation.

O holy Father Andrew, pray to God for us.

O honourable Andrew, thrice-blessed Father and pastor of Crete, never cease praying to God for those who sing your praises, that He may deliver from anger, sorrow, corruption, and countless sins all of us who faithfully honour your memory.

Monday of Clean Week – First part of the Great Canon of St Andrew of Crete

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Monday of the First Week

Ode 1

A Helper and a Protector has become salvation to me. This is my God, Whom I will glorify. God of my fathers I will exalt Him for in glory was He glorified. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.

How shall I begin to mourn the deeds of my wretched life? What can I offer as first fruits of repentance? In Your compassion, O Christ, forgive my sins.

Come, my wretched soul, and confess your sins in the flesh to the Creator of all. From this moment forsake your former foolishness and offer to God tears of repentance.

My transgressions rival those of first created Adam, and because of my sins I find myself naked of God and of His everlasting kingdom.

Alas, my wretched soul, why are you so like Eve/ You see evil and are grievously wounded by it; you touch the tree and tasted heedlessly of its deceiving fruit.

Instead of the person Eve, I have within my inward being an “Eve” of passionate thoughts which though seemingly sweet never lose their bitter taste.

For failing to observe just one of Your commandments, O Savour, Adam was justly exiled from Eden. What then shall I suffer for continually ignoring Your words of life?

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

O Trinity above all essence and worshiped as One God, take from me the heavy burden of sin, and since You are compassionate grant me tears of repentance.

Now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

O Theotokos, Hope and Protection of those who sing to you, take from me the heavy burden of sin and as one pure Lady accept me as I repent.

Ode 2

Attend O heaven and I will speak, I will sing of Christ, Who from the Virgin took flesh to dwell with us. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.

Listen, O heaven, and I will speak. O earth, hear the cry of one returning to God and singing His praises.

Look down on me in Your mercy, O compassionate God and Saviour, and accept my fervent confession.

More than all have I sinned; I alone have sinned against You, O God my Saviour, but have compassion on me, Your creature.

Through love of pleasure has my form become deformed and the beauty of my inward being has been ruined.

O compassionate One, as You saved Peter when he was about to sink, so reach out now to me, for a storm of evil surges around me.

O Saviour, I have defiled the garment of my flesh and polluted that which You fashioned within me according to Your own image and likeness.

With passions have I darkened the beauty of my soul and permitted my whole inward being to become mire.

I like naked, having torn up the garment which my Creator fashioned for me in the beginning.

I am ashamed, for the serpent deceived me and my garment is in tatters.

O compassionate One, like the prostitute who anointed Your feet so now do I offer You tears. Have mercy on me, O Saviour.

I like naked and ashamed, for the beauty of the tree, which I saw in the middle of the garden, deceived me.

The demons have cut deep wounds of passion into my back; their lawlessness has made it like a plowed field.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

O God of all, I sing of You as One yet Three in Person, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

O Most holy Theotokos, Virgin alone praised everywhere, pray fervently that we may be saved.

Ode 3

Establish Your Church, O Christ, on the unshakeable rock of Your commandments. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.

The Lord once caused fire to rain down from heaven, O my soul, and the land of Sodom was consumed.

Save yourself from sin, O my soul! Like lot on the mountain, take timely refuge in the town of Zoar.

Run from the flames, O my soul! Run from the burning of Sodom! Run from the destruction caused by fire sent from God!

O Christ my Saviour, I have sinned more than anyone; I alone have sinned against you, yet do not forsake me!

As a Good Shepherd search for me, Your sheep who has gone astray, and do not forsake me.

I confess, O Saviour, that I have sinned against You, but since You are compassionate, absolve and forgive me.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

O God, Trinity yet One, save us from delusion, temptations and misfortune!

Now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Hail, O Womb which received God! Hail, O Throne of the Lord! Hail, O Mother of our Life!

Ode 4

The prophet heard of Your coming, O Lord, and was afraid that You were to be born of a virgin and appear to men, and he said “I have heard the report of You and am afraid”; Glory to Your power, O Lord. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.

Do not forget Your saving acts, O righteous Judge, or turn away form Your creatures, but in Your compassion forgive me, though I have sinned more than all. For Yours is the power to remit the sins of all.

The end is approaching, O my soul, it is approaching! So why do you not care or prepare yourself for it? Arise! The time is short! The Judge already stands at the door. Life is vanishing like a dream, so why do you continue living in vanity?

Arise, O my soul, and reveal the evil things you have done. Ponder them well and allow your tears to flow. Then confess your deeds and thoughts openly to Christ, and He will make you righteous.

There never has been a sin, a deed, an evil act that I have not cherished, O Saviour. I have sinned in my thoughts, my words, and my deeds, and no one has sinned more than I.

Despair condemns me in the tribunal of my conscience where judgment is harsher than by any law on earth. O my Judge, Who created and redeemed me, spare, deliver and save me, Your servant.

The ladder which long ago Jacob the great patriarch saw is for you, O my soul, an image to consider. The bottom most rung is a first step towards doing the will of God, while those that follow lead to a true knowledge of Him. Therefore, renew your Life if you wish to do God’s work, to receive knowledge and insight.

Wishing to marry Rachel, Jacob tended her father’s sheep for seven years through the scorching heat of day and the frost of night. When given Leah by deceit he struggled and slaved yet another seven finally to win his chosen bride.

Now consider these two wives as images of diligence and wisdom Leah, who bore many children, is untiring labor, while Rachel is that wisdom which one acquires only through diligence. Neither, however, is possible, O my soul, without your effort.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

I confess You as one God in Trinity, a single essence unconfused in persons, co-enthroned and co-ruling, and I sing to You, “Holy! Holy! Holy!” Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

As a virgin you gave birth, and a virgin you remained by nature, your womb giving birth painlessly for He Who was born of you renewed the laws of nature, since when God wills its order is overthrown.

Ode 5

Out of the night watching early for You, enlighten me I pray, O Lover of man, and guide me in Your commandments, and teach me, O Saviour, to do Your will. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.

In the darkness of night has my whole Life passed, amidst shadowy delusions I cannot escape But, O Saviour, make me now a child of the day.

My soul is in despair, for like Reuben who defiled his father’s bed, I have disobeyed the will of God my Father by defiling His image within me.

I confess my sins to You, O Christ my King, like Joseph’s brothers have I sold into slavery him who was chaste and pure.

As an image of our Lord was that righteous soul cast out by his brothers and sold into slavery, while you, my soul, have sold yourself into your own evil hands.

O suffering and hopeless soul, imitate the purity of mind in righteous Joseph, and do not sin by being led astray by irrational desires.

Joseph’s being placed in a pit formed an image of Your burial and resurrection, O Lord and Master. Will I ever be able to endure such things for Your sake?

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

We glorify You, O Trinity, One in essence, and we praise and adore You forever, singing, “Holy! Holy! Holy!” Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

God, the Creator of all things, became incarnate through you, O pure Virgin Mother, uniting our human nature to Himself.

Ode 6

With my whole heart, I cried unto the compassionate God, and He heard me; and He lifted up my soul from the depths of hell and from corruption. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.

I offer you, O Saviour, sincere tears and the deepest groans of my soul, crying from the heart, “O God, I have sinned against You, be merciful to me”.

When Datham and Abiram defied Moses and turned from the Lord, the earth opened to swallow them. Now you, my soul, having turned from the Lord as well, must cry with your whole heart from the depths of hell to be spared, lest you share their lot.

Having lived as a stubborn mule, O my soul, like that idol worshipper Ephraim, now as an agile deer flee the hunters and save your Life, strengthening it with good deeds, wisdom, and prayer.

Be assured, O my soul, that as God was able to turn Moses’ hand white with disease and cleanse it once again, so can He also cleanse and purify a diseased Life. Therefore, do not despair of yourself even though infected with many sins.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

“I AM the Trinity, simple and undivided in essence yet divided in Persons. I AM also the Unity united in nature,” says God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Your womb, O Theotokos, held God Who for our sakes took human form. Implore Him, the Creator of all, that through your prayers we may be justified.

Kontakion (Tone 6)

My soul, my soul, Arise! Why are you sleeping? The end is drawing near, and you will be confounded, awake then and be watchful that Christ our God may spare you, Who is everywhere, and fills all things.

Ode 7

We have sinned, transgressed, done wrong before You. We have not watched or done as You have commanded us, but do not give us up utterly, O God of our fathers. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.

I have sinned, I have erred, I have rejected Your commandments. I have increased in sin and added to the wounds of my soul. But in Your compassion, be merciful to me, O God of our fathers.

I have confessed to You, my Judge, the secrets of my heart. See my humility, my distress, and give me now Your judgment, in Your compassion being merciful to me, O God of our fathers.

Saul lost his father’s flock and found himself suddenly proclaimed King of Israel. Watch, O my soul, lest your animal instincts now block you from the kingdom of Christ.

David was a forefather of the Lord, O my soul, yet sinned doubly by committing both murder and adultery. Your sickness, however, is even worse than his deeds because of your impulsive will.

David, though once compounding his sins by first murdering a man and then stealing his wife was quick to repent of both. You, however, O my soul, have done worse things than he, yet never repented of them before the Lord.

David once showed us the image of true repentance in a psalm he wrote exposing all he had done. “Be merciful to me and cleanse me!” he wrote, “for against You only have I sinned, the God of our fathers”.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.

Simple and undivided, One in essence and nature, Light and Lights, One Holy and three Holies, Gd is praised as Trinity. So sing praises to Him, O my soul, and glorify the Life and Lives, the God of all.

Now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

We praise you, we bless and venerate you, O Mother of God, for from the undivided Trinity you brought forth the only Son of God and restored to us on earth the heavenly realms.

Ode 8

Him Whom the hosts of heaven glorify, Whom the Cherubim and Seraphim dread, let every breath and creature praise, bless and magnify throughout all ages. Have mercy on us, O God, have mercy on us.

O Saviour, I have sinned! Now convert my soul and receive me in repentance as I cry, “Against You only have I sinned and lived lawlessly. Have mercy on me!”

Remember, O my soul, how Elijah once drove the fiery chariot into heaven, abandoning all earthly cares by perfection in every virtue.

Elisha inherited a double portion of prophetic spirit when Elijah’s mantle fell from heaven upon him. But how can you, O my soul, hope to share in such graces, not yet having learned to control your love of worldly pleasures?

Once the river Jordan was divided when Elisha struck its waters with Elijah’s mantle. But how can you hope to share in such wonders, not yet having learned to control your love of worldly pleasures?

The wealthy woman of Shuynem showed her good will by entertaining the righteous Elisha, but you, my soul, receive neither strangers nor travellers, and will find yourself an alien cast out of the bridal chamber of Christ.

When Elisha cured Naaman of a dread disease he asked no price in return. But you, my soul, have imitated his wicked servant Gehazai, who sought money in his master’s name. Abandon such greed before the end, lest you be cast into eternal fire.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

O Eternal Father, co-eternal Son, and gracious Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, O Father of the Divine Word, Word of the eternal Father, and Life-creating Spirit, Trinity in unity, have mercy on us.

Now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

O pure Virgin, the flesh of Emmanuel was formed within your womb as a robe of royal crimson is spun from scarlet silk. We proclaim you to be truly the Mother of our God.

Ode 9

Ineffable is the child bearing of a seedless conception, a mother remaining pure. For the birth of God renews nature, so in all ages we magnify you as mother and bride of God. Have mercy on us, O God, have mercy on us.

My inward being is wounded, my body is weak; my spirit is ill, and the word is powerless. Life is giving way to death and the end is near. What shall I do when the Judge comes and I must stand before Him?

I have reminded you, O my soul, from the books of Moses how the world was created, and from accounts throughout the Old Testament have shown examples of both the righteous and the unrighteous. But of these you have imitated the latter rather than the former and thereby have sinned against your God.

The law has no power over you, O my soul. You have made the Gospel fruitless, scorned the Scriptures, and reaped yourself no value from the prophets or the writings of the just. Your wounds have increased and you have no physician to heal you.

Therefore, O my soul, I will remind you of examples from the New Testament to lead you to contrition. Imitate the righteous and shun the ways of sinners that through prayer, fasting, purity, and reverence you may obtain the mercy of Christ.

Christ became a man, taking our flesh and of His own free will enduring everything which pertains to human nature (except sin). He has shown you an image of His own condescension.

Christ became a man and called both robbers and prostitutes to repentance. Return, therefore, O my soul, to Him. For the doors of the kingdom now stand open and the Pharisees, tax collectors and adulterers who have changed their ways are entering ahead of you!

Christ granted salvation to the Magi who worshiped Him; He summoned shepherds to His crib; He manifested as martyrs the infants whom Herod slew, glorified Simeon the Elder and the widow Anna, but you, my soul, have not imitated the lives and works of any such as these. Therefore, how terrible it will be for you when you are judged!

After He had fasted forty days in the wilderness, hunger revealed the Lord’s human nature. Therefore, O my soul, do not despair if the enemy attacks you, for it is only through prayer and fasting that he shall be defeated.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

We glorify the Father, we exalt the Son, and we worship the Holy Spirit, the indivisible Trinity Who exists as One, the Light and Lights, the Life and Lives Who grants light and Life to the ends of the world.

Now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

O purest Mother of God, preserve your people, for through you are we kept faithful, strengthened, and made able to overcome every temptation, trial, and tribulation.

O holy Father Andrew, pray to God for us.

O honourable Andrew, thrice-blessed Father and pastor of Crete, never cease praying to God for those who sing your praises, that He may deliver from anger, sorrow, corruption, and countless sins all of us who faithfully honour your memory.

couple of weeks – proportional response

Found myself in a crazy couple of week spiral that would challenge the strongest of wills, let alone mine. On my way to Singapore for a week of customer and management meetings, back in Australia just in time for a wedding only to wake up the next morning and head off for knee surgery. Perhaps the first wedding I have been to where I will not be touching a celebratory drink so I am in fair shape for the operation.

I came across some prayers for those who are sick last week and tripped over a “Prayer before an operation” no doubt meant to be inserted at the end of a molten or prayer service for the sick. I felt quite pathetic reading this prayer ahead of my knee surgery particularly when I came across the following “granting that he may so endure his sufferings in the flesh that the wounding of his body may serve for the correcting and salvation of his soul”. My goodness.

To start with, as I noted here, this surgery is really self induced. I have not looked after my weight for many a year making my general life and service to the church harder and prone to illness and injury such as that which sends me to the surgeon again now. Sure, life is a little more difficult when you have to hobble around and the simplest things are more difficult and some things are just off the agenda. But I think of the rise to near epidemic proportions of cancer in our society (looking at my prayer list for those who are ill and how many are suffering from this) or at my new friends at our Orthodox Mission in Pakistan who face regular investigation from secret police just for feeding the hungry, and well, doing what Christ asked of us.

Everything in proportion I think. So while I ask God for mercy in my upcoming operation there is a strong need to put this in perspective. The White House would call this a “Proportional Response” but only if it was about whether to fire 10 missiles or 15.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.

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the Jesus prayer in the Arena

Some quotes on the Jesus Prayer and unceasing prayer as I re-read the Arena . . .

At first set yourself to say a hundred Jesus Prayers unhurriedly and with attention. Later, if you see that you can say more, add another hundred. In course of time, if need be, you can still further increase the number of prayers said. To say a hundred prayers attentively and unhurriedly about half an hour is needed; but some ascetics require even longer. Do not say the prayers hurriedly, one immediately after another. Make a short pause after each prayer, and so help the mind to concentrate. Saying the prayer without pauses distracts the mind. Breathe with care, gently and slowly; this precaution prevents distraction. When you have finished praying the Jesus Prayer do not give yourself up to different considerations and dreams, always empty, seductive, and deceptive; but according to the guidance received in the work of prayer, pass the time till sleep. On going to sleep, repeat the prayer; fall asleep with it.

The Fathers advise us after dinner to occupy ourselves with the remembrance of death. That is perfectly correct, but actually the living Jesus Prayer is inseparable from a living remembrance of death.

It is obvious that unceasing prayer cannot be the possession of a novice; but in order to become eventually capable of unceasing prayer he must practice frequent prayer. Frequent prayer in due time passes automatically into unceasing prayer.

The Arena: Guidelines for Spiritual and Monastic Life by Ignatius Brianchaninov

Brianchaninov

Holy Week and Pascha: a time to share the love of Jesus Christ

As we leave Great Lent for the I would like to suggest a switch to a more external focus. Holy Week is our final leg in the voyage to the Holy Pascha of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; but how often do we take this time to reaqlize that He came for the salvation of all.

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We tend to be worried about juggling our work and church commitments, transporting ourselves and family, perparing the final items for our Paschal Feast; what better time than the Feast of Feasts to focus on sharing the love of Jesus Christ with those who may not know Him, or know the church he established through his Apostles.

How can we do this? Should be go knocking randomly on doors and stand in the street ringing bells? Perhaps not. These are the actions that lead the Orthodox world to shy away from Evangelism. What we need is to share the love through discipleship rather than through the pen (or sword). Some may feel shy to answer questions on their faith.

Some simple suggestions for sharing the love of Christ over the coming weeks:

*Invite some of your friends to the start of the Paschal service, or the vespers Sunday night (joyous but short and sweet)
*Having a Paschal meal with friends and family, invite some non-Orthodox friends to break the fast or later on during the Paschal period. Scared about lots of questions? Ask you Priest or Deacon over for dinner as well 😉
*Many of us due to our Eastern heritage cook enough food in case the entire Mother Church is coming for dinner; take some Paschal items into the office to share with colleagues and drop an email around describing what they are and inviting people to share with you.
*Learn more about the detail of your faith or give a book to an inquiring friend (such as)
Support some local or global missions giving others the resources to spread the love of Christ (examples: ROCOR mission in Pakistan, Fund For Assistance, OCMC)

For the law is old,
but the word is new.
The type is provisional,
but grace is everlasting.
The sheep is perishable,
but the Lord,
not broken as a lamb but raised up as God,
is imperishable.
For though led to the slaughter like a sheep,
he was no sheep.
Though speechless as a lamb,
neither yet was he a lamb.
For there was once a type, but now the reality has appeared.
Melito of Sardis

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Just some short ideas to think about. May you all have a profitable Holy Week and a joyous Pascha!

have you been saved? (sidebar)

Looking back at my previous recollection on this topic in light of a comparative theology essay I am working on, I tripped over the reverse almost of what I am to write about. The document titled “Witnessing to People of Eastern Orthodox Background” was produced way back in 2001 as a manual for Baptist Missionaries who came into contact with people of Orthodox Faith. I will leave it to this paragraph from the preface to explain it’s purpose:

“Rarely in the history of missions has such a large area opened to the gospel as did Eastern Europe following the fall of Communism in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Although clearly God was at work behind the “wall” prior to the fall, once the wall fell, there was an unparalleled openness and freedom for sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. Thousands came from the West to participate in evangelizing people who for so many years had been told by Communist governments that there was no God. Many who came were surprised to find that despite the years of Communism, many people in Eastern Europe claim to have a Christian heritage via the Eastern Orthodox Church. What are the beliefs of the Orthodox Church and how should these beliefs affect our attempts to witness? The manual I have written is an attempt to address this question.”

There are more than a handful of items in the above that have me grumbling under my breath, but the now Patriarch Kyrill in 1995 publicly raised his concern (as a Metropolitan) that after surviving a godless atheist regime Russia was now being bombarded by sects and branches of protestantism engaged in proselytism. But I digress . . .

After discussing where many of these Orthodox folk hide out in the world, the paper moves on to discuss the spiritual condition of the Orthodox people which is what I will focus on with some reference to other items in document. While I will not go through a full discourse on the entire item, it would behove many Orthodox Christians to read this item in light of their faith and understand the misconceptions that are out there.

It is stated that “the spiritual condition of peoples in so-called Orthodox countries is in actuality quite poor” referring to a study published in 1995. Considering communism only “fell” in 1991 and the propagation of years of forced atheism on the people of Eastern Europe I find it not unusual for this to be the outcome of a study. It is this spiritual state and later comments on levels of personal faith in Christ that I feel are most relevant to us Orthodox in the Diaspora.

While I have no empirical evidence my experience, over the past 10 or so years, points to more of what I will term “nominal Christians” attending more often in the Orthodox Church, than my experience in many protestant denominations. Even if one just takes a subjective visual attendance at Easter and Christmas between the two in my experience – the multiplication factor of those coming to the Orthodox Church is far greater. One of my first lightbulb moments was the emphasis put on Easter (Pascha) compared to my protestant experiences which were limited to a couple of extra services and a little more targeted teaching about the time of year.

Now, don’t get me wrong I am not laying the foundation for a heretical theology where coming to Church for Easter and Christmas gets you a ticket through the so-called “pearly gates”, rather that due to many factors cultural or otherwise I have experienced more attendance by irregular church-goers in the Orthodox Church than in my protestant lifetime. There are often many obstacles for the “cradle” Orthodox to overcome; from services in another language to poorly catechised relatives not able to put into words the context behind the Orthodox life. This provides the challenge of how to “re-catcechise” it’s faithful and teach the true faith rather than abandon the Faith once and for all delivered to the Saints.

Fortunately in our diocese there is slowly more and more happening in this regard. We now have yearly conferences for various levels of youth to teach and answer there questions. We have a handful of parishes that are completely in English including the Holy Annunciation Parish in Brisbane that is heavily focused on teaching the Faith to all who wish to “Come and see”. I still believe we have a long way to go and that our most critical challenge for missions lie within our walls; converting those occasional attendees to Christians on the narrow path to Salvation.

The text also points out the difference between Holy Tradition and scripture, but taking the expected Sola Scriptura stance. Many more eloquent than I have written well on this, but suffice to say that our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ didn’t write a book, He founded a Church, and that Church through it’s Holy Tradition and conciliar approach decided what was to be Scripture over hundreds of years of consideration.

One of my other old favourites came up also, the “Corporate vs Private” prayer and the thinking that “the church building is the only place God’s Spirit works”.

“There is the potential barrier posed by the Orthodox concept of the Holy Spirit, which taken to an extreme seems to limit the Spirit to working only in the corporate context of the church. The idea of the Holy Spirit working in the lives of the individuals who comprise the church, a concept so important among evangelicals, is foreign to the Orthodox mind.”

Human beings can say some special things even in the light of obvious exception but I have never heard this extreme ideal before. The Church has always been defined as the gathering of the faithful, the buildings supporting this gathering and the services and sacraments that make up their worship. Early in my journey I came home meeting with friends after a vigil service and was questioned by them in depth about what I had experienced. Apart from not understanding why I would spend two and a half hours at church on a Saturday night, the focus was then moved on to why there was no sermon at a church service. Out of those two and a half hours almost one and a half was pure scripture (psalms chanted, old testament readings and a Gospel) with most of the rest being hymns or prayers founded in Scripture.

Those denying the personal aspect of Orthodox faith have no doubt never seen the prayer rule requested of the faithful to direct their hearts to worship and humility rather than, as Father Thomas Hopko puts it on occasion, “We stop explaining to God what he already knows and telling him what he ought to do about it, which is what lots of people’s prayer, too many people’s prayer is”.

Now time to step off the soapbox for a bit I am very glad to have come across this paper. A critique of ones beliefs from time to time is helpful to nudge you into clarifying your understanding, not that the current secular materialistic society doesn’t smack us around enough every day. While some of the information suffers I think in the translation and other information is, well, wrong, I think it good to have Protestants looking at church history which is outlined in the start of the document. If they look back far enough they will find the Orthodox Church.

Again, we must all focus on our continual conversion. Everyday we need to recommit ourselves to Christ, immerse ourselves in the Scriptures, give ourselves to Christ in our services, and participate in the holy mysteries of the church given to us by our Saviour for our salvation.