Monday, August 29, 2016

Eschatology and the Byzantine Liturgy

By David M. Petras

Eschatology as a word immediately invokes in our mind something exotic and exciting. “Eschatos” — “the last,” where are we going and how will we get there? The Byzantine Liturgy also invokes the same feeling — it is something exotic and exciting. Of course, it is different for someone who was born a Byzantine, or has entered the Byzantine world by conversion (not necessarily by a change of religion or faith but even within the same religion or faith), and for someone who experiences a Byzantine Liturgy from the outside. In a talk to the North American Orthodox- Catholic Theological Consultation on the occasion of its fiftieth meeting in Milwaukee on October 26, 1996, the noted theologian Jaroslav Pelikan (+ 2006) suggested that at least one of the fundamental reasons for the division between the Eastern and Western churches was “fundamental differences of spirituality,” and that the schism may date to the fourteenth century. Western Christians entering a Byzantine Church often have very strong reactions to something that is quite different, a totally different spirituality. The reaction may be quite positive, a feeling of connectedness, of mystery, of total immersion in a timeless world. The reaction may also be negative, a feeling of irrelevance, of overwhelming pietism and ritual, a failure to connect. No matter what the reaction, though, most will agree on one point, “the Eastern Church is more eschatological,” even if this means here only more “exotic.”

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The "Last Things" in the Revelation of St. John

By Bishop Gerasimos of Abydos

The "last things" are presented somewhat differently by St. John in the Book of Revelation, the last book of the New Testament. St. John writes differently because he received the truth differently. He is not just writing a book based on certain sources. He writes what he has seen in visions or received through special inspiration. "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day and I heard behind me a loud voice. When I saw him I fell at his feet and I looked, and lo, in heaven there was an open door! and lo a throne stood in heaven" (Rev. 1:10-17; 4:1-3). Every vision stands for itself and has its own message. Through all of these images Christ speaks about the mysteries of God's will for the Church and the world (Rev. 1:1; 2:2-7; 5:1-5).

Friday, August 19, 2016

The "Last Things" in Holy Scripture

By Bishop Gerasimos of Abydos

All matters of religion appear difficult to most people because they are of a spiritual nature; but even more difficult is the topic of the "last things," for they have to do with future realities "that are not seen" (Heb. 11:1; Jn. 3:10-12), that only faith can "see," examine, and make real.

The Jewish people were the beloved people of God and yet they were not satisfied with their present life in this world. All the great personalities of the Old Testament lived with hope for the future, for the fulfillment of the promises made by God to Abraham. Their main hope was the hope of the coming of the Messiah­ Savior, who would bring days of divine blessings for the Jewish people and for the whole world (cf. Lk. 2:25; 24:21). And they expected this to happen at some future date, in the last days of history ­ "in the last days," "in that day," "in the day of the Lord" ­ as this time was often referred to.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Woman Clothed With the Sun (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The Book of the Holy Apocalypse of John mentions a great sign which appeared in heaven, which was a woman clothed with the sun, beneath her feet was the moon while on her head she was crowned with twelve stars, and she was pregnant and crying from the pain of childbirth.

"And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed in the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and crying out in the pain and agony of giving birth" (Rev. 12:1-2).

Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Transfiguration: An Apocalyptic Vision at the Center of the Gospel

By Fr. Jean Corbon

Christians are still too likely to misunderstand the Transfiguration and look upon it as just one miracle among others, a kind of apologetic proof. The feast celebrating it has likewise become indistinct to them, perhaps because it is the only one not to have a place in the chronological sequence of the Lord’s feasts. It is a commemoration of an event that occurred during his mortal life, but it is celebrated after Pentecost and in the bright light of summer (August 6). Yet this event, which upsets the logic that we see as governing time, is precisely the one that best brings home to us the eschatological condition of the body of Christ; it is an apocalyptic vision at the center of the Gospel.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Problems in Contemporary Antichristology

By Protopresbyter Fr. Thomas Bambinis

The Schengen Treaty, electronic identities and sermons on the Antichrist, whose number is said to be in the barcode system, constitute a powerful temptation for the members of the Church. The Orthodox people are choked with terror about future suffering and the risk of losing the gift of Chrismation. Two possibilities are put before them: either receive the mark of the Antichrist which results in eternal damnation, or not accept it which results in suffering, because then you can neither buy nor sell. Naturally this dilemma is stressful and creates anxiety and concern for the future. In some cases this anxiety takes the form of panic or even leads to financial planning for the future in order to overcome the difficult years of the Antichrist. Under these conditions, people's reactions take political overtones. Thus, the struggle is oriented towards pressing the government to not create favorable conditions for the rule of the Antichrist.