30 May 2011

Are You Saved?

"Being saved" is not a one time event. The theology of "Once saved, always saved" is a lie. We must work out our salvation with fear and trembling daily as Saint Paul says in the Bible. Here is the Orthodox Christian response to the errant question of the confused, asking, "Are you saved?" or "When were you saved?"

Are You Saved?, posted with vodpod

25 May 2011

Historic concelebration of OCA, ROCOR, MP bishops

(ROC-USA) - On May 24, the feast day of Saints Cyril and Methodius - Day namesday Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Kirill, at St. Nicholas Patriarchal Cathedral in New York of the Orthodox Church in America, Metropolitan Jonah and the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia Metropolitan Hilarion together celebrated the Divine Liturgy. This is the first joint service of the American Bishops and the Russian Orthodox Church after nearly seventy years of the liturgical period of absence of communication.
Also concelebrating were Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, Archbishop of Naro-Fominsk Justinian, Bishop of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania Tikhon (OCA) and the Bishop of Manhattan, Jerome (ROCOR) and the cathedral clergy of the Patriarchal Parishes in the United States, the Orthodox Church in America and the Russian Orthodox Church.

CNBLUE Vol. 1 - First Step (Limited Edition)

24 May 2011

20 Questions (Answered) About the Miao (Hmong) People

  • ALTERNATE NAMES: Hmong; Hmu; Meo
  • LOCATION: China (also Vietnam, Laos, Kampuchea, Thailand, Myanmar and about 1 million migrants to the West)
  • POPULATION: 7 million
  • LANGUAGE: Miao
  • RELIGION: Shamanism; ancestor worship; Christianity (Both Roman Catholicism & Protestantism)
The Miao have a very long history. Their legends claim that they lived along the Yellow River and Yangtze River valleys as early as 5,000 years ago. Later they migrated to the forests and mountains of southwest China. There they mostly lived in Guizhou Province. Military attacks in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries forced them into the nearby provinces of Guangxi, Hunan, Hubei, and Yunnan. Some Miao even migrated across the Chinese border into Vietnam, Laos, Kampuchea, Thailand, and Burma (Myanmar).

From their earliest days, the Miao practiced primitive farming using slash-and-burn methods. Families never lived in the same house more than five years. As the soil in one area became depleted, they would move away. The Miao became known for always being on the move. However, most of the Miao have settled down since the middle of the twentieth century.

The Miao live in over 700 cities and counties in the seven provinces of south China. They number over seven million, based on the 1990 census. They are widely scattered and live in very small settlements. The Wuling and Miaoling mountain range in Guangxi Autonomous Region is home to nearly one-third of China's Miao people. An old Miao saying goes: "Birds nest in trees, fish swim in rivers, Miao live in mountains."

Miao is a Sino-Tibetan language of the Miao-Yao family. It is similar to the Thai language, and it has three dialects. Today, it is written using the Chinese pinyin system, which is based on the Western alphabet. Language is an important way to recognize the many different Miao groups.

Miao myths describe the creation of the world, the birth of the Miao people, and their battles and migrations. One Miao creation myth is the ancient "Maple Song": White Maple was an immortal tree that gave birth to Butterfly Mama. She married a water bubble and then laid twelve eggs. The treetop changed into a big bird that hatched the eggs over a period of twelve years. When the eggs hatched, they gave birth to a thunder god, a dragon, a buffalo, a tiger, an elephant, a snake, a centipede, a boy called Jiangyang, and his sister. So Butterfly Mama was the mother of God, animals, and human beings.

The Miao believe that a supernatural power in everything around them decides their fate. They also believe that everything that moves or grows has its own spirit. They worship the sun, moon, lightning, thunder, fire, rivers, caverns, large trees, huge stones, and some animals. They also believe the spirits of the dead become ghosts that may haunt their families and animals, make them sick, or even kill them. Shamans (healers) allow people to communicate with ghosts. The Miao also worship their ancestors. Since the nineteenth century, many Miao have become Roman Catholics and Protestants.

There are dozens of Miao festivals. Among the most important are those honoring ancestors. Other holidays celebrate the end of the busy farming and hunting season. Chiguzhang is a ritual held every thirteen years. A buffalo is killed and offered as a sacrifice in honor of the Miao ancestors. The Miao New Year is a joyful holiday. The Spring Festival occurs between January 21 and February 20 on the Western calendar. It is now a major holiday for all of China's nationalities. There are songs, dances, horse races, and music.

To the Miao, a sturdy stone stands for a strong child. When a child is three years old, parents will take gifts to a huge stone. Bowing down, they will burn joss sticks (incense) and pray for blessings and protection. This rite is repeated three times a year. If the child is not healthy, the parents go to a large tree or cavern instead.

Miao boys and girls may date from the age of thirteen or fourteen. In some districts, girls may begin dating at twelve.

The Miao bury their dead underground. A shaman (healer) sings mournful songs. He leads the soul of the dead person back to the family, blesses the children, and tells the dead person how to join his or her ancestors.

The Miao are a very generous people. They always keep their house open for guests and greet them with wine and song. Guests are greeted outdoors. Then they are invited to drink, eat, and sing.

The Miao have a group dating custom called youfang (yaomalang), tianyue, zuoyue, or caiyueliang. Boys and girls meet and fall in love by singing and dancing. Group dating is held on many occasions, such as the Sisters' Feast Festival in February or March. For about three days, the girls of a village are courted by young men. The parents prepare meals that their daughters offer to the boys. Each girl offers food to the boy of her choice, who sings for his meal.

The Miao live in houses one or two stories high. The back of the house is built on the mountain slope and the front rests on stilts. The roof is made of straw. Grain is stored in the ceiling. The first floor of the house is for the livestock and poultry. There are three to five rooms in the living quarters. Sons and daughters live separately and infants live with their parents. Furniture includes a bed, cupboard, table, and stool, all made of wood. There are big bamboo baskets for storing food and clay pots for water and wine. The living conditions of the Miao in urban areas are like those of their neighbors of other ethnic groups.

The Miao are monogamous (they marry one person). The family consists of parents and their children. Property is passed down to men, but women have the most power in the family. Young people may choose who they will marry by dating and falling in love. For the first three years of marriage, the bride goes back to live with her own family. She lives with her husband only during holidays and at certain other times. If she gets pregnant, she moves to her husband's house sooner. The Miao, like China's other national minorities, are not governed by China's policy of one child per family.

The many Miao branches have their own costumes. These costumes and their hair-styles are the best way to tell one branch of Miao from another. Brilliant embroidery and silver ornaments are distinctive national features, as is the accordion-pleated women's skirt.

12 • FOOD
The Miao's main food is rice. Other foods are yams, millet, corn, wheat, buckwheat, and sorghum. All of them are cooked in a rice steamer. Sticky rice is eaten on holidays. The Miao like hot pepper, and all their food is spicy. They also like sour flavorings. Their diet is mainly vegetables. However, they also eat poultry, eggs, beef, veal, pork, frogs, fish, snails, eels, snakes, crabs, and shrimp. Wine is made at home with rice.

All children can have a formal education. Some parents, however, do not believe in educating girls. Many girls drop out of school when they are teenagers. As many as 95 percent of Miao women cannot read or write.

Song and dance are an important part of Miao life. There are many special songs, including love songs, funeral songs, and wedding songs. The Miao also sing as part of the group dating custom.

The dances of the Miao culture express both grief and joy. Sometimes the dancer also blows on a reed pipe.

The Miao are subsistence farmers (they grow food only to feed their families). Rice is their main crop. They also grow corn, yams, millet, sorghum, beans, wheat, buckwheat, fruit, cotton, tobacco, peanuts, sun-flowers, and other crops. They grow a large number of hot peppers.

In the past, weeding was thought to be a woman's job and plowing was left to men. Today, women plow and do other farm work.

The Miao like horse races, which are often held on holidays. Teenagers love basketball, table tennis, and Chinese chess. The dragon boat regatta is a traditional 1.2-mile (2-kilo-meter) race. The members of a team usually come from the same village. Other popular sports are kicking the shuttlecock and Chinese shadowboxing (wushu).

In rural areas people enjoy dining together, chatting, and visiting relatives. Married women like to visit their parents' homes. At festivals, weddings, and funerals, the Miao sometimes dance and sing for several days and nights. Movies, television, videos, libraries, and cultural centers also provide recreation.

Embroidery, wax printing, brocade, and paper-cutting are four famous crafts of the Miao. Craftspeople also create silver ornaments.

The Miao face the problems of poverty and isolation. Many Miao young people migrate from their villages to cities and coastal areas. When they return, they can bring new knowledge and skills back to their home-towns. However, their absence removes talents and skills needed in the present.


CNBLUE Vol. 1 - First Step (Limited Edition)

16 May 2011

China's & Vietnam's Miao Ethnic Minority

The Miao (Chinese: 苗; pinyin: Miáo; Vietnamese: Mèo or H'Mông; Thai: แม้ว (Maew) or ม้ง (Mong); Burmese: mun lu-myo) are a linguistically and culturally related group of people recognized by the government of the People's Republic of China as one of the 55 official minority groups. Miao is a Chinese term and does not reflect the self-designations of the component sub-groups, which include (with some variant spellings) Hmong, Hmu, A Hmao, and Kho (Qho) Xiong. The Miao live primarily in southern China, in the provinces of Guizhou, Hunan, Yunnan, Sichuan, Guangxi, Hainan, Guangdong, and Hubei. Some members of the Miao sub-groups, most notably Hmong people, have migrated out of China into Southeast Asia (northern Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar (Burma) and Thailand). Following the communist takeover of Laos in 1975, a large group of Hmong refugees resettled in several Western nations (United States, France, Australia, and elsewhere.)

The term "Miao" gained official status in 1949 as a minzu (nationality) encompassing a group of linguistically related ethnic minorities in southwest China. This was part of a larger effort to identify and classify minority groups to clarify their role in national government, including: establishing areas of autonomous government and allocating the seats for representatives in provincial and national government.

Though the Miao themselves use various self-designations, the Chinese traditionally classified them according to the most characteristic colour of the women's clothes. The list below contains the self-designations, the colour designations and the main regions inhabited by the four major groups of Miao in China:
  • Ghao Xong; Red Miao; west Hunan.
  • Hmu, Gha Ne (Ka Nao); Black Miao; southeast Guizhou.
  • A-Hmao; Big Flowery Miao; northwest Guizhou and northeast Yunnan.
  • Gha-Mu, Hmong, White Miao, Mong, Green Miao, Small Flowery Miao, Blue Miao; south Sichuan, west Guizhou and south Yunnan.
In China, the first recorded Miao kingdom was called Jiuli, and its ruler or rulers, had the title Chiyou (in Chinese) or Txiv Yawg (in White Hmong) or Txiv Yawg (in Mong Leng). Chiyou means grandfather, and is a title equal to, but no less than, emperor. Chiyou's ancestors are thought to be the Liangzhu people. Jiuli was said to have jurisdiction over nine tribes and 81 clans.

According to Chinese legend, the Miao who descended from the Jiuli tribe led by Chiyou (Chinese: 蚩尤 pinyin: Chīyoú) were defeated at the Battle of Zhuolu (Chinese: 涿鹿 pinyin: Zhuōlù, a defunct prefecture on the border of present provinces of Hebei and Liaoning) by the military coalition of Huang Di (Chinese: 黃帝 pinyin: Huángdì) and Yan Di, leaders of the Huaxia (Chinese: 華夏 pinyin: Huáxià) tribe as the two tribes struggled for supremacy of the Yellow River valley. According to legend, the battle, said to have taken place in the 26th century BC, was fought under heavy fog. The Huaxia, who possessed a form of mechanical compass, was able to defeat the tribe of Chiyou.

After general population movement toward south, southwest, and southeast (due in part to influx of northern and western groups such as Huaxia and Donghu), the tribe of Chiyou split into two smaller splinter tribes, the Miao and the Li (Chinese: 黎; pinyin: lí). The Miao continuously moving southwest and Li southeast as the Huaxia race, later known as Han Chinese, expanded southward. Some members of the Miao and Li tribes were assimilated into the Han Chinese during the Zhou Dynasty. (Recent DNA studies suggest that the movement of ethnic groups such as Miao in ancient East Asia is far more complex than this account.)

Another version of the story says that the tribe split three ways. It is said Chiyou had 3 sons, and after the fall of Jiuli, his eldest son led some people south, his middle son led some people north, and his youngest son remained in Zhuolu and assimilated into the Huaxia culture. Those who were led to the south established the San-Miao nation. Perhaps due to this splitting into multiple groups, many Far Eastern people regard Chiyou as their ancestors, and by the same token, many question the ethnicity of Chiyou as exclusively Mong or otherwise. In some circles of thought, the Koreans also regard Chiyou as an ethnic ancestor. Furthermore, under the present ethnic unification policy of the PRC, Chiyou is now also regarded as one of China's forefathers alongside the ethnic Han ancestors, Huangdi and Yandi.

According to the Miao burial ritual 'Show the Way', Miao history can be traced to as early as the Shang Dynasty (1600–1046 BC). After the fall of Shang to Zhou, then came the Chu. When Chu fell to Qin, the great migration began. Many remained and started the great revolt that helped found the Han Dynasty under Liu Bang. Miao culture greatly influenced the Western Han.

According to André-Georges Haudricourt and David Strecker, the Miao were among the first people to settle in present day China. They found that the Chinese borrowed a lot of words from the Miao in regard to rice farming. This indicated that the Miao were the first rice farmers in China. In addition, geneticists have connected the Miao to the Daxi Culture in the middle Yangtze River region. The Daxi Culture has been credited with being the first cultivators of rice in the Far East.

The study goes on to mentioned that the Miao (especially the Miao-Hunan) have some DNA from the Northeast people of China, but has origins in southern china.

Miao scholars also proposed that an intact female corpse found in 1972 in Changsa, Hunan could be a Miao woman, based on the drawings on the casket which are characteristic of Miao design, and except for a few minor illustrations on the top left, Miao scholars assert the rest of the intricate illustrations resembles Miao legends and folk stories.

In 2002, the Chu language has been identified as perhaps having influence from Tai-Kam and Miao-Yao languages by researchers at University of Massachusetts Amherst. If this is true, then the forced sinicization of the Miao may need to be reexamined. Liu Bang, the founder of the Han Dynasty, is a general under Xiang Yu, Chu/Miao King of Western Chu, meaning he commanded Miao troops and they are his base of power. When the dispute with Xiang Yu broke out Xiang Yu's uncle Xiang Bo and Fan Kuai saved Liu Bang's life. This meant Liu Bang's support among the Miao was strong. The Han-Chu contention was not about a struggle between two groups of people but between two individuals.

When Qin conquered Chu he became emperor but the people of Chu did not see the new king as one of their own. Qin's harsh legalistic system caused many Miao to flee into the higher elevation. When Qin Shi Huangdi died, the people of Chu led by Xiang Liang rose up and revolted, restoring Chu for a time. After Qin was conquered, Xiang Liang's nephew Xiang Yu succeeded Xiang Liang but his inability to govern led to the Chu-Han contention. When Liu Bang defeated Xiang Yu, he became emperor and the Han Dynasty was born.

From this period forward, 'Miao' in recorded Chinese records refers only to the Miao who fled. The term "Miao" was first used by the Han Chinese in pre-Qin times, i.e. before 221 BC, for designating non-Han Chinese groups in the south. It was often used in combination: "nanmiao", "miaomin", "youmiao" and "sanmiao" (三苗; pinyin: Sānmiáo)

During the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368–1911) 'miao' and 'man' were both used, the second possibly to designate the Yao (傜 Yáo) people. The Yuan, Ming, and Qing Dynasties could neither fully assimilate nor control the aboriginal people.

During the Miao Rebellions (Ming Dynasty), when Miao tribes rebelled, Ming troops, including Han chinese, Hui people, and Uyghurs crushed the rebels, killing thousands of them. Mass castrations of Miao boys also took place.

In the Qing Dynasty all people of China suffered greatly especially the Miao. During the Qing Dynasty the Miao fought three wars against the empire. In 1735 in the southeastern province of Guizhou, the Miao rose up against the government's forced assimilation. Eight counties involving 1,224 villages fought until 1738 when the revolt ended. According to Xiangtan University Professor Wu half the Miao population were affected by the war.
The second war (1795–1806) involved the provinces of Guizhou and Hunan. Shi Sanbao and Shi Liudeng led this second revolt. Again, it ended in failure, but it took 11 years to quell the uprising.

The greatest of the three wars occurred from 1854 to 1873. Xiu-mei Zhang led this revolt in Guizhou until his capture and death in Changsha, Hunan. This revolt affected over one million people and all the neighbouring provinces. By the time the war ended Professor Wu said only 30 percent of the Miao were left. The defeat began the Hmong diaspora.

During Qing times, more military garrisons were estalished in southwest China. Han Chinese soldiers moved into the Taijiang region of Guizhou, married Miao women, and the children were brough up as Miao. In spite of rebellion against the Han, Hmong leaders made allies with Chinese merchants.

Politically and militarily, the Miao continued to be a stone in the shoe of the Chinese empire. The imperial government had to rely on political means to ensnare Hmong people, they created multiple competing positions of substantial prestige for Miao people to participate and assimilate into the Qing government system. During the Ming and Qing times, the official position of Kaitong was created in Indochina. The Miao would employ the use of the Kiatong government structure until the 1900s when they entered into French colonial politics in Indochina.

During the founding of the People's Republic of China (PRC), the Miao played an important role in its birth when they helped Mao Zedong to escape the Kuomintang in the Long March with supplies and guides through their territory.

In Vietnam, a powerful Hmong named Vuong Chinh Duc dubbed the king of the Hmong aided Ho Chi Minh's nationalist move against the French, and thus secured the Hmong's position in Vietnam. During the Vietnam War, Miao fought on both sides, the Hmong for the US-North-Vietnam coalition, the Chinese-Miao for the Communists. However after the war the Vietnamese took no aggression against the Hmong given the Hmong in Laos suffered years of reprisals.

CNBLUE Vol. 1 - First Step (Limited Edition)

13 May 2011


WARNING: This post will include pictures of flesh from the back of various people. If you do not want to see such images, I suggest you not continue reading this post. It is not pornography, but some people may be offended at such immodesty.

As many people know, I have a number of tattoos. On my right hand is a mostly faded moon, ankh, and star. On my left shoulder blade is an Anarchy Pooh Bear. On my left calf is a Superman symbol with smoke flowing in and out of it. Over my heart is my wife's name in Chinese.

Tattoos are addicting. Once you get one, you want to continue getting them. My shoulder blade tattoo bleed a lot. I fell asleep when getting the tattoo on my leg. The chest tattoo hurt a lot.

Last month, my 18-year old daughter got her first tattoo on her left shoulder blade. A teapot and cup.

My wife has talked of getting a tattoo too, even though I have always been against it. (I have tattoos, but generally I do not like most tattoos on women)

I told her the only time I have ever liked tattoos on women have been huge back pieces of things such as dragons or phoenixes. Here are a couple of examples.

FINAL WARNING: Again, I warn you, these will be pictures of naked backs and buttocks of women to show their full tattoos. The shape of part of a breast may also be visible. Click on the small images below for a larger version.

CNBLUE Vol. 1 - First Step (Limited Edition)

12 May 2011

What happens to the soul after death?

Many western sects believe that the soul is in a state of sleep after Death, and awaiting Judgement Day. Some others believe the soul dies, only to be awakened after Judgement.

This teaching also helps them to reject the saints. They argue that since the departed souls are either “sleeping” or “dead”, we cannot Intercede to them.

St. Paul's admonition in the Bible to intercede to each other, applies only to the “living”(on earth), they say.

Concept of Soul Sleep contradicts Bible.
Protestants believe that the soul is dormant and inactive till the final Judgement Day.

Ponder over these questions:

  • Where did the Good Thief’s soul go after death? (“Today you will be with me in Paradise”Luke 23:43). Jesus promised him “paradise” right after death.
  • Where are the souls of Elijah and Moses kept alive, so that they could talk to Jesus on the Day of Transfiguration? (Mark 9:1-8)
  • Where is Enoch now, bible says he was taken upto heaven alive. Is he exempt from Judgement Day? "Then Enoch walked with God, and he was no longer here, for God took him".–Genesis 5:2
  • Where is Elijah now, the bible says he too was taken up to heaven alive like Enoch. Is he exempt from judgement day? “….behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven”.–2 Kings 2:11
  • How could Prophet Jeremiah give blessings to the Jewish army, centuries after his earthly death? "Onias then said of him, "This is God's prophet Jeremiah, who loves his brethren and fervently prays for his people and their holy city."–2 Maccabees 15:14

They believe that everyone is in “Soul Sleep” till Judgement Day. This is a wrong concept biblically because of the points/questions raised above.

The Orthodox Church teaches that there are two judgments:

  1. The first, or “Particular” Judgment, is that experienced by each individual at the time of his or her death, at which time God will decide where the soul is to spend the time until the Second Coming of Christ. This judgment is believed to occur on the Fortieth day after death.
  2. The second, General or “Final” Judgment will occur after the Second Coming.

Particular Judgement.
The first or Particular Judgement decides where and how the soul will reside till the Judgement Day.

The greatest example of Particular Judgement is that of the Good Thief, who was promised paradise right after death by Jesus Christ.

There are examples in Old Testament too, like that of Enoch and Elijah who were taken upto heaven alive.

If even the Good Thief, who accepted Christ on his dying state, was given an active and alive soul, which resides in Paradise, how much more will Jesus Christ honour his own Mother, His Apostles, the Martyrs and the Saints?

They too will be alive in Paradise. Mother Mary, the Apostles, Saints, Martyrs and the pious Christians.

Revelation 4:4"And round about the throne were four and twenty thrones: and upon the thrones I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold".

These 24 elders sitting on the thrones in heaven are the 12 patriarchs of Old Testament and the 12 Apostles of the New.

Day 40.
In most cases, the Particular Judgement is supposed to occur on Day 40.

We, Orthodox, consider the first 40 days after the material death of a person as very important.
We pray for them/conduct eucharist on these points during the 40 days:

The 3rd day (because Jesus ressurected on 3rd day).

The 9th day (because there are 9 classes of angels, and it is the angel that delivers the soul safely to its location and protects it from the devils legions)

The 40th day is very symbolic and important in Christian and Jewish theology. Major Changes and Transformations took place after 40 days:

  1. 1)The Great Flood’s rains lasted for 40 days: Gen 7:12“And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights”.
  2. The embalming of Jacob in egyptian fashion. Even though the Egyptians were pagans, they too understood the importance of day 40 in the transitions during after life: Gen 50:3“And forty days were fulfilled for him; for so are fulfilled the days of those which are embalmed”.
  3. Moses was on the mountain with God for 40 days (TWICE) Exo 24:18"And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights".
  4. It took the spies 40 days to search out the promised land and bring back fruit. Num 13:25"And they returned from searching of the land after forty days".
  5. The Israelites spent 40 years in the wilderness, one year for each day they explored the Promised Land. Exo 16:35"And the children of Israel did eat manna forty years, until they came to a land inhabited; they did eat manna, until they came unto the borders of the land of Canaan."
  6. Goliath came for forty days before being killed by David. 1 Sam/Kdm 17:16"For forty days, twice a day, morning and evening, the Philistine giant strutted in front of the Israelite army".
  7. Noah waited 40 days after it rained before he opened a window in the Ark. Gen 8:6“And it came to pass at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made”
  8. Elijah strengthened by one angelic meal went forty days to Mount Horeb where the Lord passed by and he heard the voice of God. 1 Kin 19:8“And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God”.
  9. Jonah warned the City of Nineveh they had 40 days until God would overthrow the city. The people repented in those 40 days and God spared the city. Jonah 3:4 & 10“And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown”.
  10. JESUS fasted for 40 days in the wilderness. Mat 4:1-2"Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered".
  11. JESUS was seen in the earth 40 days after His crucifixion. Acts 1:3"After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God".
Also of note:

  • The ancient Egyptians took 40 days to embalm their dead.
  • The Hindus pray for their dead on day 41.
  • The Tibetan Buddhists Book of the dead speaks of a journey of 49 days after death before reaching the final destination.
  • The Jews mourned their dead for 40 days.
  • The early Christians pray for their departed ones fervently in the first 40 days and they too understood the importance.

St. Symeon of Thessalonika writes: “The forty days of prayer are done in memory of the Ascension of the Lord, forty days after His Resurrection, [in hopes] that likewise, the deceased, rising from the tomb and ascending to meet the Lord, might taken be taken up in the clouds, and thus ever be with the Lord.” Novaya Skryzhal’, Part 4, Chapter 472.

In Christ, we dont die.
The Church (to which St. Mary, St. Peter etc belongs) is the BODY of CHRIST.

There is no separation. So just as Christ is alive, we to live.

Christ and Church are compared to:

Vine and branches

  • Joh 15:1,5 Foundation and building
  • 1Col 3:10,11; Eph 2:20,21; 1Pet 2:4-6 Body and members
  • 1Col 12:12,27; Eph 5:30 Husband and wife
  • Eph 5:25-32

Christ being in us- Eph 3:17; Col 1:27

Our being in Christ- 2Co 12:2; 1Jo 5:20

John 10:34–“Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?”

“Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.”1 John 4:13

So if you say that the Saints, who achieved a high degree of theosis to be grafted onto his body, are dead, then you are saying that Jesus Christ is dead too.

So we can say that some of the Christians (mostly the saints) are in paradise right after death due to particular judgement (as in the case of the Good Thief, Elijah, etc.)

Some maybe in a state of sleep.

Who gets what is upto God alone. We only have the scripture and tradition to give us answers which science cannot provide.

However we Orthodox Christians believe certain Christlike individuals like St. Mary, the Apostles, Saints etc are ones who passed particular judgement like the Good Thief, and like Enoch and Elijah.

We can say conclusively that it is not for nothing that Jesus Christ said thus:

″I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power.”Mark 9:1

More Information:

CNBLUE Vol. 1 - First Step (Limited Edition)

11 May 2011

The Icon, History, Symbolism and Meaning

The Orthodox Church is inconceivable without icons, lit candles and burning incense. The Orthodox Church is a Church of tradition, and the presence and use of icons in the Orthodox Church is a reflection of this tradition.

The word ICON comes from the Greek word EIKONA, meaning image. In its broadest sense an icon is any representation of a sacred personage, produced in many media and sizes. In the narrower sense it refers to a devotional painted wooden panel.

The icon is the result of the synthesis of three different cultures: Greek, Roman and Christian. The technique of Byzantine art has traveled beyond the frontiers of the Empire, having a profound influence on the development of art especially in the Slavic nations.

Christian art first appeared in the catacombs which were underground rock-cut burial places widely spread up to the 6th Century. Although the catacombs were not the prerogative of any particular religious group and were widely spread geographically, they are commonly associated with Christianity. The largest body of catacombs was discovered in Rome. Starting with the 3rd Century Roman Christians buried their dead in extramural subterranean tombs composed of networks of corridors and cubicles of various sizes. Some of the tombs were decorated with a painted or carved inscription identifying the occupant, while other images included scenes from the Old Testament. The images in the catacombs are simple, made with few brush strokes and a narrow range of colors. Subjects range from Christ carrying a lamb to three young men praising God from the fiery furnace, to the raising of Lazarus, to the Eucharistic meal. During the time when Christianity became tolerated, the decorations of the catacombs became quite elaborate. The Roman catacombs ceased to be used for burial in the 6th Century.

The art of the catacombs was a teaching art. Pagan symbols that already existed were used by Christians along with new ones that they invented. For example: the ship represented the Church and also represented prosperity, while the peacock, the dove, and the palm tree were representations of Paradise. The adoration of the Wise Men represented the admission of pagans to the faith, and the multiplication of breads was the symbol of the Eucharistic banquet; the vine symbolized the mystery of God's grace for the baptized. What could not be openly expressed by Christians, because of the fears of persecution, was portrayed in a symbolic language, a secret code used by believers in a hostile world: This secret symbolism of the images in the catacombs was progressively taught to the catechumens. The catacombs bear witness that wherever Christians gathered, they created a visual environment to remind them of the Kingdom of God and help them pray.

The most wide spread symbol used, that appeared in the 2nd Century is the fish. A sign used in antiquity to represent fecundity and later, in Roman times, eroticism, the fish became a condensed form of the Creed: the word fish in Greek is composed of five letters forming an acrostic abbreviating the dictum: Iesous Christos Theou Yios Soter; translated into English, it means: Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.

When Christianity was no longer a forbidden religion, Christian art left the catacombs along with the pagan symbols and moved rapidly and vigorously into creating its own art, its own form of expression. After the victory of Emperor Constantine over Maxentius in 312, Christianity is recognized as a state religion. With emperors now joining Christianity, it led to massive conversions. Constantine the Great, imitated by many others, commanded the construction of many beautifully designed and decorated churches. Indifferent to art until now, the Church becomes the strongest propagator of artistic expression, both in architecture and in image representations. Having great wealth coming from the state and also from the princes themselves, the Church has the opportunity to create and develop a separate form of art: Christian art.

In the year 330 Constantinople becomes the imperial capital. In the centuries that follow it was to become the holy city that harmonized the profane with the sacred. In the 4th Century we find that Christ is no longer portrayed as a philosopher, but as the Master of the Universe; a new and strong bond is now being formed between State and Church, where Christ is the Sovereign of the Christian world and the Emperor is His representative on earth.

Byzantium was the cross road between East and West, and included the entire Mediterranean basin. It had its capital at Constantinople, the meeting point of Europe and Asia. Though well attached to the political and social institutions of the Later Roman Empire, it evolved the new ecumenical religion — Christianity — spoke the Greek language and adopted Greek education. Justinian I (527-565), the last of the great Roman emperors, wanted to achieve political and religious unity in the Empire. His reign was called "The Golden Age." An age of high spirituality and artistic genius.

The works of Byzantine art are the products of deeply held beliefs and piety, created for the most part by anonymous artists, reflecting the decorum of the Kingdom of Heaven. Through their structure and unchangeable principles, they give tangible form to the conception of the divine as received by the Orthodox doctrine. Byzantine artists were not simple copyists of the past; they had their own traditions, values and ideals. They lived in an environment that had political and institutional continuity with the past, and while the Western European states established themselves on the ruins of the Roman Empire, Byzantium was itself the Roman Empire. Also, the Byzantine society and culture was linked to ancient Greece. Byzantine language was closest to classical and post-classical Greek. The literature of classical Greece, of the Hellenistic world, and that of the Fathers of the Church, was accessible to the Byzantines, and through its literature, they absorbed the ideas and the values it expressed.

The series of the works of art in Byzantium started with great masterpieces, such as the churches of Saint Sophia, Saint Irene and Saints Sergius and Bacchus in Constantinople, dating from the middle of the 6th Century, and attributed to the Emperor Justinian and his wife Theodora, while on the other side of the Mediterranean basin, in Ravenna, Italy we find the most impressive series of mural mosaics dating from the 5th and 6th Centuries; the mosaics dating from the 5th Century are found in the mausoleum of Gala Placidia, a Roman Empress, and the Orthodox Baptistery; the mosaics in the church of Saint Appolinaris the New, Saint Vitale, and Saint Appolinaris in Classe, as well as the Baptisterium of the Arians, date from the 6th Century, with some additions from the 7th.

The influence of the Byzantine art is found also in the Eastern parts of the Empire, as far as Egypt. In the monastery of St. Catherine, in the desert of Sinai, we find the same style of mosaic decorations as in the other corners of the Empire. There is also a series of icons painted on wood in encaustic (a method using melted wax in which coloring pigments are mixed) that have been preserved in Sinai, some of them also found now in the Kiev Museum and the church of Santa Maria Nova (Saint Mary the New) in Rome. These are certainly the images that shed light on the origins of the paintings on wood that will develop extensively in the 9th Century and beyond. It is uncertain that these icons were painted in Sinai; it is more likely that they were brought there and the fact that they survived is due to the remote location of St. Catherine's Monastery and also to the respect that the Muslims have for the monastery, therefore sparing it destruction. From Byzantium this kind of pictorial art will travel also to what is known today as Russia.

By the 7th Century Egypt and Syria do not belong anymore to the Empire. We are entering now the dark ages of the Byzantine era, a period that will last almost two centuries: from the time of the Emperor Heracles (611 to 641) to Emperor Justinian II (685 to 711), a period of fierce wars against Islam, the Slavs and the Bulgarians.

Two iconoclastic periods mark the history and life of the Church. The first period of condemnation of icons as symbols of idolatry started with the reign of Emperor Leo III, or Leo Isaurian (717-741). Rejecting any representation of Christ and His saints, Emperor Leo III felt that such images should not be objects of veneration. The Council of 754 which convened in Hiereia, near Constantinople, agreed to a formal condemnation of the cult. It denied that the mystery of Christ included both His divinity and humanity. During this time, painting as an art, was never completely abandoned, with the exception of sacred art. Sacred art has been destroyed and desecrated by the iconoclasts, and profane art has been destroyed and desecrated by their adversaries. Two successors to the throne of Leo III, Constantine (780-797) and Irene (797-802), guided by Patriarch Tarasius, convened the Second Council that took place in Nicea, in 787 — more precisely, the Seventh Ecumenical Council — where the iconophiles vehemently defended the cult of the icons and their victory prompted the restoration of the cult.

The Church was thrown once again into disarray with the coming to the throne of Emperor Leo the Armenian (813-820), by giving rise to the second wave of war against the holy images. Leo was succeeded by Michael Amorias and Michael was succeeded by Theophilus (829-842). With the help of Patriarch Antony I Kassymatas he restored iconoclasm by prohibiting all painted images, and any aid to iconodules. After his death in 842 in Constantinople, his wife Theodora served as regent for their son Michael III. She was a devout iconophile, faithfully venerating icons despite the disapproval of her late husband. She managed to secure the release from prison of painter Lazarus, and in 843 she consented to the restoration of the icons. She is quoted to say: “If for love's sake, anyone does not kiss and venerate these images in a relative manner, not worshiping them as gods but as images of their archetypes, let him be anathema!” For her role in the triumph of Orthodoxy she is commemorated on March 11(the First Sunday of Great Lent in 843). To this day, the First Sunday of Great Lent is dedicated to the restoration of the holy icons by Emperor Michael III and his mother Theodora, and the triumph over all heresies of Orthodoxy.

The theologian who defended the use of icons in Christian worship was St. John of Damascus. In his treatise "On the Divine Images" he writes: "If we've made an image of the invisible God, we would certainly be in error... but we do not do anything of the kind; we do not err, in fact we make the image of God incarnate Who appeared on earth in the flesh, Who in His ineffable goodness, lived with men and assumed the nature, the volume and the color the flesh.”

The return to the art of sacred images, after a long and difficult struggle, meant the return to old practices; the images of Christ and of all the saints are now officially proclaimed by the victorious Church as having divine powers and their contemplation as necessary for our salvation. Charged by this new religious function, all paintings with a religious subject placed in the shade all other art representations.

After 843, Cappadocia became an important center for sacred art. The region, developed in the 4th Century by St. Basil as a center for monastic life, blossomed with hundreds of churches. Many of them were rediscovered at the beginning of the 20th Century. These churches present a great variety of themes and styles, the majority of them dating from the 11th and 12th Centuries. Not only did art flourish during this time, but theology as well. Unfortunately, the Crusaders' invasion provoked by the Venetians in 1204, as well as the plundering of Constantinople, depleted the Byzantine Empire of its material resources and its moral strength. The fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453, and the invasion of the Balkans, marks the end of a most glorious and prestigious epoch in history. The Turks, in their wake, transformed the most beautiful churches into mosques.

A second period in the development of Byzantine art is the one after the 9th Century. At this time, we find a new and different type of Byzantine painting style that is not as close to the art that is developing in the other parts of the world. The gap between East and West and Middle East is starting to widen. Byzantine influence is starting to decrease.

The mural mosaics are without any doubt, the most important and the peak of Byzantine art of all ages. A new art form is developing however, and that is the art of the fresco — the fresco is a mural painting, on a specially prepared plaster material. A totally different technique than the mosaic, the fresco allowed the artist more flexibility and more creative detailing. Just as mosaic, the fresco was used mostly to decorate the churches. The most archaic and extensive fresco of such kind is found in Cappadocia. Others, of more rustic themes are found in Greece, Cyprus, Serbia, Russia, even Bulgaria. Many are still preserved also in Constantinople.

Along with the frescos, beginning with the 9th Century we find also that the Byzantine piety is influencing greatly the development of small scale pieces, icons painted on wood. Icon shops start to exist now, mostly in the monasteries.

In St. John of Damascus' work we find also his argument in favor of painted icons: "Since the invisible One became visible by taking on flesh, you can fashion the image of Him whom you saw. Since He who has neither body nor form nor quantity nor quality, Who goes beyond all grandeur by the excellence of His nature, He, being of divine nature, took on the condition of slave and reduced himself to quantity and quality by clothing himself in human features. Therefore paint on wood and present for contemplation Him who desired to become visible."

Iconography of the icon:

As we have seen so far, in all ages and in all cultures the icon is not nearly a piece of art, but an aid to worship, and an instrument for the transmission of Christian tradition and faith. The Holy Spirit speaks to men through icons. Anywhere an icon is placed (except maybe in a museum) a place of worship and prayer is set, because the icon is not an end in itself, but a window through which we look with our physical eyes at the Kingdom of Heaven and the realm of spiritual experience. It is important to remember thus that the icon is concerned only with the sacred; the icon is theology in images and color. In the words of L. Ouspensky Christianity is the Word of —God expressed in images: “Christianity is the revelation not only of the Word of God but also of the Image of God, in which His Likeness is revealed. This godlike image is the distinctive feature of the New Testament, being the visible witness of the deification of man. The ways of iconography, as means of expressing what regards the Deity are here the same as the ways of theology. The task of both alike is to express that which cannot be expressed by human means, since such expression will always be imperfect and insufficient. There are no words, nor colors nor lines, which could represent the kingdom of God as we represent and describe our world. Both theology and iconography are faced with a problem which is absolutely insoluble — to express by means belonging to the created world that which is infinitely above the creature. On this plane there are no successes, for the subject itself is beyond comprehension and no matter how lofty in content and beautiful an icon may be it cannot be perfect, just as no word or image can be perfect. In this case, both theology and iconography are always a failure; for this value results from the fact that both theology and iconography reach the limit of human possibilities and prove insufficient. Therefore the methods used by iconography for pointing to the Kingdom of God can only be figurative, symbolical, like the language of the parables in the Holy Scripture.” (L. Ouspensky and V. Lossky, The Meaning of icons, SVS Press, 1989, pp 48-49).

For the Orthodox Christian the icon is not an aesthetic object, or an object of study; it is “living art” if we can call it such. It is meant to transfigure and to inspire the person to prayer and contemplation. Leonid Ouspensky says: "Just as the teaching concerning the purpose of Christian life — the deification of man — continues to exist, so the dogmatic teaching concerning the icon continues to exist and live in the Divine services of the Orthodox Church.... For an Orthodox man of our times an icon, whether ancient or modern, is not an object of aesthetic admiration" (L. Ouspensky and V. Lossky, The Meaning of icons, SVS Press, 1989, pp 49).

The First Icon

The first icon, the MANDYLION or The Holy Napkin, sometimes called "Made without hands" is said not only to have been an authentic likeness of Christ, but one which Christ Himself willingly produced. It was thus often cited both as proof of the reality of His Incarnation — as it had been in contact with His body — and as justification for the iconophile position that Christ Himself has endorsed the making of His image.

The existence of The Holy Napkin is first mentioned in the 6th Century. According to one story, Abgar V the Black, king of Edessa (capital of the Turkish province of Oshroene, important Christian and commercial center of the Islamic world until the 13th Century) had fallen ill and begged Christ to come and cure him. Instead of going to visit Abgar, Christ sent him a towel that He had pressed against His face and that retained the impression of His features. Upon receiving the towel the King was miraculously cured. The image was lost and then rediscovered and it remained in Edesa. In the year 944 Edesa was sieged and the Holy Napkin was demanded as a condition for withdrawal. It was then carried in procession to Constantinople, where it was placed in the Sultan's chapel in the Great Palace. The event is celebrated annually on August 16. Later it is said to have been purchased by King Louis IX of France, in 1247, and taken to Paris and placed in St. Chapelle. It disappeared during the French Revolution.

The features of Christ's face on the Holy Napkin are those of the Pantocrator. It is not a bust because it only shows the head and part of the neck; no shoulders are seen. The face is painted as though it is imprinted on a horizontal fringed strip of white cloth, hence the name "napkin." The earliest surviving example is said to date from the 10th Century and it is at St. Catherine Monastery in Sinai. This icon has no fixed place in the decoration of a church.

The image of the Holy Napkin was also known in the West under the name of The Veil of Veronica. The Veronica story is similar to that of King Abgar: Veronica was a woman who comforted Jesus as He was bearing the cross on the way to Golgotha. She offered Him a piece of cloth to wipe the blood and sweat off His face; later she found that she received a 'miraculous image. A building along Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem associated with Veronica is today the home of a community of sisters called "The Little Sisters of Jesus."

St. Luke, First painter of the Virgin Mary

Luke's biography does not contain abundant miracles and dangerous travels. He is presented as a well-educated man, who in Greece and Egypt studied disciplines such as grammar, rhetoric, poetry, ethics and logic. He was a physician and a painter, who died peacefully in Achaia (a late Roman province embracing the Peloponnesus and central Greece, with the capital in Corinth). His relics are said to have been transferred to Constantinople by St. Artemis under the reign of Constantine II.

Legend has it that St. Luke was the first artist to paint the portrait of the Virgin Mary. The monasteries of Hodegon and Soumela claim that the icons of the Virgin Mary in their possession are Luke's paintings. Hodegon Monastery is located in Constantinople close to Hagia Sophia. It was founded the 5th Century by the Empress Pulcheria to house precious relics, which later included the Virgin Hodegetria. Soumela monastery is located on the face of a cliff on the western slopes of Mt. Melas in Asia Minor. The mastery was dedicated to the Virgin; its origins date back to the 4th Century and its beginnings are attributed to two Athenian monks, Barnabas and Sophronios, who supposedly discovered in a cave at Soumela an icon of the Virgin painted by Luke. In the 20th Century the monastery was abandoned.

Although portrayed as white haired in the 6th Century Cambridge Gospels, St. Luke appears in most Byzantine portraits as a young man with brown, curly hair, hollow cheeks, and a wispy beard. He is usually shown writing in front of a desk. Occasionally he is accompanied by Paul who supposedly inspired his Gospel; more often he is accompanied by his patron, Theophilus. St. Luke's feast day is on October 18. He is the author of the 3rd Gospel, and the Book of Acts, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Prototype, Symbolism, and Techniques

Having looked at the history, development and representation of iconographic images around the world and through the centuries, we need to look also at the qualities of an icon, the prototype, symbolism, and technique.

Along with the Holy Scripture, the icon is a tool for the transmission of Christian tradition and faith. The Holy Spirit speaks to us through the use of images, images that are complementing the written words of the Scripture. It follows then that icons are educational and worshiping aids. This is why it is important to mention that the faith of the person who prays is above the aesthetic qualities of an icon. The icon has as its purpose to transport us into the realm of spiritual experience, to go beyond our material world, to show us the greatness and perfection of the divine reality that is invisible to us.

The icon is not meant to be a sentimental piece. There is no sentimentality or drama in an icon. An icon represents mostly biblical events and biblical characters. The faces of those depicted in an icon are always devoid of their feelings, suggestive only of virtues such as: purity, patience, forgiveness, compassion and love. For example, the icon of the Crucifixion does not show the physical pain Christ suffered on the Cross, but what led Him to the Cross: the voluntary action of giving His life for us.

Icons are also silent. A close observation indicates that the mouths of the characters depicted are never open; there are no symbols that can indicate sound. There is perfect silence in the icon and this stillness and silence creates, both in the church and in the home an atmosphere of prayer and contemplation. The silence of an icon is a silence that speaks, it is the silence of Christ on the Cross, the silence of the Virgin, the silence of the Transfiguration, the silence of the Resurrection.

Icons are not three-dimensional. Perspective in the icon does not exist. The attempt is made to suggest depth, but the frontal plane is never abandoned, because the icon is not a representation of our conscious world, but an attempt to suggest the beauty of the Kingdom of God. Natural objects are therefore rendered in a vivid but symbolic, sometimes an abstract manner, because spiritual reality cannot be represented in images, except through the use of symbols. As an example, an icon of the Baptism of the Lord depicts Christ as a young man, even though He was a fully matured man at the time of His baptism in the Jordan. The meaning is that through baptism we enter a new life. Also in this icon (mosaic) of the Baptism we see an old man sitting opposite John. He represents the Old Jordan River. The Holy Spirit descending upon Christ is depicted as a white dove.


Although the iconography is not an artistic creation and can be qualified more as reproduction, it is not simple copying of work done by others. The iconographer uses prototypes but the iconographer's individual spirituality is present in the creation of every icon. Leonid Ouspensky remarked that: "... the personal (in iconography) is much more subtle than in the other arts and so often escapes superficial observation.... although icons are remarkably alike, we never find two absolutely identical."

Another quote, this time from Thomas Merton explains the icon as an act of witness: "What one sees in prayer before an icon is not an external representation of a historical person but an interior presence in light, which is the glory of the transfigured Christ, the experience of which is transmitted in faith from generation to generation..."

Color Symbolism

In iconography there are two distinct categories of colors. First there is white, red, green and blue, used to express life, purity, peace and goodness. The second category of colors is black, brown, grey and yellow, and they are used to express danger and impurity. Christian beliefs follow the thought of Dionysus the Aeropagite who distinguishes three types of symbols: noble, middle and base.

What do colors represent in iconography?

  • White: is the color that represents eternal life and purity.
  • Blue: represents celestial beings, God's dwelling place, the sky.
  • Red: symbolizes activity. In Hebrew thought, red represents life. We find it mentioned in several books of the Old Testament: in the Second Book of Samuel, Saul dressed the daughters of Israel in red garments: "O daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you in scarlet, with luxury..." (2 Kingdoms / 2 Samuel 1:24). In Proverbs we find that the perfect wife wears red, in the book of Jeremiah, Jerusalem beautifies herself in a red garment. The martyr's clothes are red, the clothing of the seraphims are red also. Red is also the color that depicts health, fire and the Last Judgment.
  • Purple: purple is the symbol of royalty, wealth, power, and priestly dignity. In the book of Daniel we learn that the king dressed himself in purple, and in the Psalms it is mentioned that the king and the queen are robed in purple.
  • Green: in the Holy Scriptures, green represents nature and vegetation, and it is thus representative of growth and fertility. It is mentioned in the Song of Songs and the Book of Jeremiah. In iconography it is used for the robes of martyrs and prophets.
  • Brown: represents density and lack of radiance. Brown is composed of red, blue, green and black, and it is used to depict soil, rocks and buildings. It is also used as a symbol of poverty and renunciation for the dark garments of monks and ascetics.
  • Black: represents absence of life; it symbolizes a void. It is the opposite of white. While white represents the fullness of life, black represents the lack of it. Monks and Great Schema monks wear black garments, as a symbol of their renunciation of all that is material.
  • Yellow: representing sadness, it is used in the icon of the Savior being placed in the tomb. In Deuteronomy it is mentioned as a sign of misfortune, bad harvest and blight.

Creation of an Icon

In iconography an icon is not painted, but written. The process of writing an icon is long and tedious. Many hours, weeks, sometimes months are spent in the creation of an icon, depending of course on the size and complexity of it. A Russian monk remarked once that "...icons are not civil paintings. They are not for museums. They are not decorations. They are a reflection of God that has become man. Icons carry the real feeling and teachings of Orthodoxy."

The iconographer does not have the right to change an icon just to be different and creative. As we mentioned earlier, the creation of an icon is not the painter's own work. He is more like a co-author. In the Painter's Manual, preserved on Mount Athos, the master advises him who aspires to become an icon painter to pray before the icon of Christ and that of the Mother of God, because the art of painting comes from God, who alone can guide the painter's hand to give form to the mysteries of God.

Preparation to work on an icon is similar to the preparation for going to church: with prayers and fasting. Painting an icon is a liturgical work. Preparing to paint an icon is like preparing for Liturgy. Always start with prayer. The following is the iconographer's prayer: "O Divine Lord of all that exists, You have illumined the Apostle and Evangelist Luke with Your Most Holy Spirit, thereby enabling him to represent the most Holy Mother, the one who held You in her arms and said: `the Grace of Him Who has been born of me is spread throughout the world’. Enlighten and direct our souls, our hearts and our spirits. Guide the hands of your unworthy servant, so that we may worthily and perfectly portray your icon, that of Your Holy Mother and of all the saints, for the glory and adornment of Your Holy Church. Forgive our sins and the sins of those who will venerate these icons, and who, standing devoutly before them, give homage those they represent. Protect them from all evil and instruct them with good counsel. This we ask through the prayers of the Most Holy Theotokos, the Apostle Luke, and all the saints, now and ever and unto ages of ages."

The materials used to create an icon are of several kinds. The most widely used is wood. The wood has to be hard and non-resinous, such as birch, lime or cypress. In most wood panels two wedges of hard wood are inserted horizontally in the back to prevent warping. The surface of the wood panel is then covered with a sheet of linen that is glued to the wood and on top of it are applied many layers of gesso. (Gesso is a special mixture of plaster and glue that when it hardens it is very strong.) In general seven layers of gesso are applied, and each layer is sanded after it has dried. Because the drying process can take a while, it may take a week or more to prepare the surface of one icon before painting can begin. The final sanding is very important; the surface must remain silky smooth.

The next step is that of tracing on paper the drawing of the prototype that will be used. Once this is done, the drawing is transferred to the icon board with the aid of carbon paper.

The drawing is now on the board, and with what is called a stylus, the contours of the drawing are etched lightly onto the surface of the board. This is done so that the contours do not disappear under the different layers of paint that will be successively applied. If the surface on which the icon will be painted does not have gesso and the contours of the drawing cannot be etched onto it, then the contours are run over with a dark paint, so that they can be seen under the many layers that will be put over.

What follows is the application of the gold leaf. Gold leaf must be applied before anything else. To apply the gold leaf, the area that is to receive the gold leaf is covered with a thin layer of special glue, over which the gold leaf is carefully applied. There are different kinds of gold leaf, the most widely used is 23k gold, but there are also 22k, 18k and 14k gold leaf, and there is of course also gold paint that some may use for economic reasons.

Once the gold leaf is done, the work proper on the icon begins. Contrary to what may be taught in art schools, the painting on the icon is built from bottom up, starting with dark colors and working up to very light colors. In general there are seven layers of paint. After the base layer has been applied, the outlines are redrawn and the subsequent layers are what are called highlights. When the icon is finished, the inscriptions are added and then it is left to dry. Depending on the medium used, drying time can take up to a couple of months. After the icon is dry, a fine layer of varnish or oil is applied to the surface. If the icon is painted in acrylic, then the varnish is brushed on the icon and is left to dry, creating a fairly resistant surface. If the painting medium is egg tempera, then boiled linseed oil is applied to the surface and left to penetrate the painted surface and the wood, it too creating a protective coating on the face of the icon and giving it brightness and depth.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep: and the Spirit of God was moving upon the face of the waters. And God said: "Let there be light" and there was light. In these three verses of the Book of Genesis are reflected both the beginning and the end of the making of the icon. Here we have the spiritual meaning of icon writing: the process of writing an icon, as the movement from being without form to Being of Light; Light means the light of life. The icon develops in the hands of the iconographer from a pure white surface on which there is no form to the general outline of the image of man to a full transfigured figure with a name written on the icon.

The whole process of creation is repeated in each icon: from shadow toward light, adding layer after layer of paint and lines, and from a face darkened to the Face transfigured, transformed, the Face of a holy figure resembling God.

Man is the crown of God's creation and He revealed Himself, made Himself known by taking the form of man in the Incarnation of His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, the Word of God. The Word. "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was God and the Word was with God" (John 1:1). The concept of the word refers not only to the gift of speech, thinking, but also to the gift of hearing and sight. Therefore theology can be expressed not only by the word as in the Holy Scripture but also in sound as in sacred music and in image as in holy icons.

We may say that iconography is theology through God the Word as Image, therefore, the icon is regarded as a form of Christian doctrine. It is the Word of God, the Holy Scripture, in color.

The icons displayed in the church are more than attractive pieces of art, or decorative items; they are not even considered religious art, but because icons do present religious subjects they can be classified as religious art. In fact an icon is a link between the eternal and the temporal aiding the worshiper in his own pilgrimage through this earthly life.

The role of icons in the home of every believer is not to be taken lightly. Icons in the home are an extension of the presence of the liturgical mystery which we experience in church. The icon is an integral part of our worship life style.

The spiritual meaning of the icon

Humanity simultaneously moves towards self-destruction while yearning for restoration or more specifically salvation. While evil still remains a reality infecting man's way of living, the icon points to a new mode of existence. The person depicted in the icon is a new person who regardless of sex is a reflection of the New Man Jesus Christ. Through the incarnation the invisible became visible and the undepictable became perceptible and therefore depictable. By taking on human nature the Son of God opens the way for all mankind to be renewed. By taking on human nature the Son of God reveals the true identity of every man as being created in the image and likeness of God. The icon, therefore, depicts each person as a new being who has been restored to God's image and likeness. For this the icon is able to become an object evoking contemplation and prayer from the one who views it. Because of this, Orthodox iconography can only be properly appreciated in the context of communal prayer which provides the basis for its content and form. Iconography is an art that springs from the liturgical celebration of the new covenant, the Eucharist, established between God and man through the Incarnation of Jesus Christ who says: "Behold I make all things new" (2 Cor. 5:17).

The material used for the icons: wood, paint, stone, fabric, glass, metal, elements of the created world, are brought into the reality of the church and like every person of the community undergo a transformation. The transformation of the matter takes place at the same time with the transfiguration and divinization of man. Why is the mystery of the incarnation so great and so important for us to understand: Through His incarnation God has taken all the elements of this earth in his body as we have them in ours; by His suffering, death and Resurrection He has purified them and made them anew. By His ascension He has taken them into heaven. In the icon we see what will be in the future by what is already here present. History and eschatology are brought together. Everything is depicted as existing beyond time and space. Everything in the icon is on one single plane, figures are long and thin, the center of gravity is upwards and not downwards. The icon is able to witness to the liberation of what is evil and oppressing in this world and reveals human beings as created in the image and likeness of God. This tells us that man has the capacity to know and change creation, because man, like God is able to love. Through love man establishes relationships with other persons and things. In fact man has been entrusted with caring for the life of creation. The idea can be further enhanced by what St. Maximos the confessor says about the cosmological Liturgy, how everything and everyone is sanctified by the act of the Eucharist. When the liturgy is served by the priest and the people in the temple, there is an angelic Liturgy taking place as the priest asks that the angels simultaneously be present and enter the Holy of Holies together. Then there is the Liturgy taking place on the altar of each of the faithful's hearts. According to St. Maximos the whole nature, birds, trees and animals celebrate together and rejoice in this celebration. By this the paradisiac harmony is accomplished, so that all things may remain and grow in God.

The beauty, harmony, unity and joy of life — as God has intended it for us — is disrupted by ugliness, division, alienation, misery and death. Through sin we embark on a course of self-destruction therefore communication with God is interrupted. In such a state man begins a process of self -preservation, misusing everyone and everything including God as St. Paul says in the epistle to the Romans: "For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin as it is written: None is righteous, no, no one; no one understands, no one seeks for God. All have turned aside, together thy have gone wrong, no one does good not even me. Their throat is an open grave, they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips. Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood, in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they do not know, there is no fear of God before their eyes" (3:9-18).

If the icon is to be a means of contemplation and prayer the one standing in front of it must be willing to enter a process of repentance which can be painful. Standing before the icon and seeing it for what it is, makes us realize the state of brokenness we are in and our alienation from God. Contemplating the icon requires repentance which is a conversion from that self-destruction to life. If we can contemplate the icon in silence we will enter into a state of sorrow and joy. Sorrow for we realize the poor state of our spiritual life and the need for change. As we establish a relationship with the icon then we perceive with our minds and senses how the inner light of the icon exposes the inner darkness of our souls and encourages us to enter that light. Once we come to this understanding we enter the joy of the Resurrection that comes to us when we no longer live for ourselves but are willing and ready to give up our lives for our neighbor, we are ready to say with St. Paul: "...It is no longer I who live but, Christ lives in me" (Gal. 2:20).

In the presence of a good icon we move from contemplation to prayer. In fact it is said that a good icon is one that inspires prayer. Prayer requires asceticism. Prayerful asceticism becomes a healing process in which whatever has estranged us from God is transformed into becoming a means of communion with God. The mind, soul, heart, body and will of the person who prays becomes still, attentive, attuned, and peaceful, constantly receptive to the presence of God.

As we pray before an icon we enter in communion with the icon's prototype. This becomes the fulfillment of Christ's prayer: "so that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in us..." (Jn 17:21). St. Isaac the Syrian describes the person who prays as one who possesses uncontainable love and intense compassion. Such a person's heart is aflame for all creation, for man, birds, animals, demons and all creatures. The icon and the one who enters the reality depicted in the icon witness to the eradication of evil which has infected man's achievements. To the ascetic who prays the icon communicates the meaning of life. Matter and Spirit, heaven and earth, are both united in the icon and in the one who has entered the reality it communicates. Already in the present they begin to manifest the future of creation when God will be all in all.


  • The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium. 3 vols. Oxford University Press, 1991, Oxford.
  • André Grabar, Les Grands Siècles de la Peinture, La Peinture Byzantine, Etude Historique et Critique, Skira/Flammarion, 1979, Genéve.
  • Byzantine Museum of Athens, Holy Image, Holy Space; Icons and Frescoes from Greece, Greek Ministry of Culture,1988, Athens, Greece.
  • L. Ouspensky & V. Lossky, The Meaning of Icons, SVS Press, 1989, Crestwood, NY.
  • L. Ouspensky, Theology of the Icon, SVS Press, 1979, Crestwood, NY.
  • Jim Forest, Praying with Icons, Orbis Books, 1997, Maryknoll, NY.
  • Erminia Picturii Bizantine, (după versiunea lui Dionisie din Furna), Text îngrijit de Săndulescu-Verna, 1979, Mitropolia Banatului, România.
  • St. John of Damascus, On the Divine Images, SVS Press, 1980, Crestwood, NY.
  • Ravenna and Her Art Treasures, Plurigraf, 1979, Terni, Italy.
  • V. Lossky, Vederea lui Dumnezeu, Deisis, 1995, Sibiu, România.
  • Michel Quenot, The Icon: Window on the Kingdom, SVS Press, 1996, Crestwood, NY.
  • Pavel Florensky, Iconostasul, 1994, Fundatia Anastasia, România.
  • Dr. Ioan Bria, Dicţionar de teologie ortodoxă, BOR, 1994, București, România.
  • Fr. Robert Arida, “Spirituality and the Person: The Vision of the Orthodox Icon”, from Sacred Art Journal, 1994, pg.11.

CNBLUE Vol. 1 - First Step (Limited Edition)

10 May 2011

12 Questions and Answers on Orthodox Confession and Worship

On Monday 5 September, following an invitation from a Protestant theological school (postgraduate level) located outside Seoul, the Most Reverend Metropolitan of Korea, Met. Ambrose, gave two lectures to 35 postgraduate students, all pastors. The lessons, within which the lectures were given, were on missions and the Liturgy. We have recorded the discussions for the most part that followed after each lecture and provide it below since we believe that the topics raised as well as the manner of their delivery of the Orthodox confession in Korea is of particular interest.
1st Question: What is your understanding of missionary activities in the Orthodox Church?

Answer: To start with, the term “mission” does not express the spirit of the Orthodox Church. We use it compromisingly because it has universal prevalence. Instead we prefer the term “witness.” The term mission, which derives from Western theology, does not exist in Holy Scripture, while the corresponding term, witness, is found many times. The teaching of the Gospel does not mean to say beautiful words about Christ but to give a daily witness of Christ with one’s words and with one’s silence, with works and by example. And if need be, if necessary, to martyr for Christ, namely, to spill one’s blood for Christ, as was done by millions of martyrs and confessors of the faith.
2nd Question: What is your opinion on proselytism?

Answer: In the Orthodox Church we consider proselytism a great sin because it does not honour man. It tramples upon the precious divine gift of freedom and debases man’s personality. Proselytism means to impose on someone else your beliefs by lawful and unlawful means, while confessing Christ means to struggle, to live according to Christ and to repeat by one’s words and life, the perennial “come and see” of the Apostle Philip to any well-intentioned “Nathanael” – your neighbour. The disastrous results of proselytism of the so-called missionary countries by Western Christianity, which we face to this day, I believe, does not leave any margin for the indefinite condemnation of the proselytising process.
3rd Question: What process is followed in the Orthodox Church for someone to work as a missionary?

Answer: In the Orthodox Church, the deacons of the Bible are not self-called but other-called. In other words, someone does not decide by himself to work as a missionary but is sent by the Church. Obedience to the Church is the only soul-saving route. If we remember, for example, the case of Barnabas and Paul, we see that the Holy Spirit chose them and the Church through prayer and fasting sent them to preach. (Acts 13:3) And when they returned to Jerusalem they informed the Church which sent them of “everything that God did through them.” (Acts 15:4)

This subject has great theological significance for the spreading of the true faith and for the unity of the Church. If everyone acts according to his opinion and desire, then the faith and unity of the Church is in danger.

At this point permit me to mention the following event: Once I flew from America to Greece with an American woman, a self-appointed missionary. When I asked her why she chose Greece for her missionary work, she told me that she admired the Greeks a lot because she knew a lot about their glorious ancient history, and that is why she had great zeal to Christianize them.

“Do you know what modern-day Greeks believe in?” I asked her.

“Of course, the twelve gods of Olympus!” she answered.

“Do you know,” I told her, “that 2000 years before you some other apostle, the Great Apostle of the Nations Paul went to Greece and preached Christianity? And that Greeks have had an uninterrupted Christian Orthodox tradition ever since?”
Such waggishness and much worse happens when behind every self-called missionary it is not the Church doing the sending.

4th Question: You accused the woman from America who went to Greece as a missionary. Why did you come to Korea? Are you not doing the same?

Answer: No, I did not do the same, nor did I accuse the lady. I simply mentioned the event to show what can happen if the missionary work of someone does not have proper ecclesiological foundations. You know better than me that in Korea there are millions of people who are not only non-Christians but are also pagans. However, Greece is a country with two thousand years of Christian history with a population of over 90% Christian. If Korea was a Christian country, the Ecumenical Patriarchate wouldn’t have sent me here.

To be more clear allow me to add the following: At the University where I teach, the parents of one of our female students are in Greece as self-appointed missionaries. And, in fact, the place they chose for their missionary activities, was the holy island of Patmos! The island of the Revelation, where the traces of the Evangelist of love, Saint John the theologian, are still fully obvious. On this island, where many Christian saints lived and acted, there are an innumerable number of churches and monasteries where the Orthodox faith of its inhabitants has its roots in the apostolic period. One could ask what could they teach the Orthodox inhabitants of the island, two Koreans who became Christians a few years earlier? Don’t you think that it is not honest to try to change the faith of people who carry in their DNA a tradition of twenty centuries?

In the same way, it was not honorable what the Roman Catholic Church did during the 90’s, after the fall of communism in Russia. Immediately after, the Uniates ran to underhandedly convert the Russians with their centuries-old tradition into Roman Catholics. If one wishes to do missionary work, let him turn to other non-Christian countries.
5th Question: Would you like to tell us about the personality of a missionary (hierapostle)?

Answer: In answering your very substantial question, I will try to explain very briefly what the theoretically ideal missionary is like. Of course, I am not maintaining that what should be done is always what is done. The one doing the missionary work of the Church must first have Christ as their prototype and all those who followed the steps of Christ, namely the saints. The missionary must without doubt be a person of many virtues, the main one being that of a person struggling against his passions. The cleansing for the acquisition of the Holy Spirit is the first step. From cleansing one then progresses to enlightenment and theosis (deification). You cannot transfer to somebody something that you do not have. To give a witness of Christ you yourself must necessarily have tasted the presence of Christ in your life.

Question 6: What is the method for missionary work in the Orthodox Church?

Answer: In the Orthodox Church we follow the practice of the early Church as we find it in the Book of Acts. When the Apostles saw that their numerous cares for the service of the tables would “steal” time away from their main work, they proposed to elect seven deacons. For themselves they announced to all the following decision: “But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4). In other words, the Orthodox Church following the apostolic tradition places worship before preaching. One can easily see this, if they visit a worship service at an Orthodox Church and then does the same at a protestant assembly. The emphasis in a congregation of the Orthodox is dedicated to the worship of God, while for the Protestants it is preaching. That is why we often hear from the Protestants who have come to know Orthodoxy that “in our congregations we hear many words, but in the Orthodox Church we pray a lot and hear few.”

We Orthodox are taught the Holy Gospel, which we always have at the centre of the Holy Altar to remind us that the word of God must be at the centre of our daily life, during our Divine Worship in three ways. Firstly, we read it. At every holy service, holy readings are read. Specifically, at every Divine Liturgy we hear the word of God from the Apostole and Gospel readings and from the divine preaching that follows. Secondly, we sing it. The wonderful, most theological hymns of Orthodox worship are for the most part full of direct and indirect scriptural references. In fact, in many cases if one compares the texts they can see that certain hymns are word-for-word quotes from the scriptural texts. In other words, we have “melodised” the text of Holy Scripture. And thirdly, we see it. We see the Gospel in Orthodox icons. That is, icons are an “illustrated” Gospel. If, for example, we pay attention to the icon of the Transfiguration of the Lord, we shall note that the iconographer through the designs and colours repeats iconographically the words of the evangelists who described the miracle of the Transfiguration. In conclusion we say that in the worship of the Orthodox Church we have a perfect audiovisual system of the Gospel teaching.
7th Question: You said that in the Orthodox Church worship takes precedence over preaching. However, the Apostle Paul only preached when at the Areopagus.

Answer: The Apostle Paul was speaking to the Athenian idolaters for the first time. It was logical to start the preaching about the “unknown God.” To which God could he pray with the idolaters? During any other situations though as we learn from Acts, the Apostles followed the hierapostolic method of worship and then preaching. Their gatherings had as their main purpose the “Breaking of bread” and teaching.
8th Question: You have spoken in great length on worship and its centre point, which is, as you said, the Holy Eucharist? How do you believe that the bread and wine is the body and blood of Christ?

Answer: In the Orthodox Church we believe that the greatest work that is performed on earth is the Divine Liturgy. And this is because during the Divine Eucharist we relive the occasion of the Last Supper for the redemption of the human race. Just as then when in the upper room in Jerusalem Christ surrendered His Body and His Blood to His disciples, so it is that at every Divine Liturgy Christ Himself is invisibly present hypostatically and essentially as victim and sacrificer and imparts His Body and His Blood to the baptized faithful, who occupy the place of the Apostles. And, of course, we who receive Holy Communion believe that we commune the same holy Body and Blood of Christ “for the redemption of sins and unto life eternal.” Not symbolically, because Christ did not say during the Last Supper to His disciples, “Receive, eat, this is like My Body” or “Drink from this all of you, this is like my blood” but “this is My Body” and “this is My Blood.”

9th Question: In other words, what we do in our worship is nothing?

Answer: The great difference between Orthodox worship and yours is the fact that in your worship an imaginary representation is made of the sacrifice of Christ, namely a fictitious act of the Last Supper. In contrast, in the Orthodox Divine Liturgy the Last Supper, the Crucifixion and the Resurrection of Christ are present, and Christ is given “again and many times” to “be eaten and be drunk” by the faithful – “Always consumed but never spent”. The Apostles received the tradition of the celebration of the “Last Supper” from the Lord. They passed it on to their disciples and the Orthodox Church continues this tradition to this day without interruption. In the ecclesiastical history of the Early Church there are great number of references to the time of the persecutions and the catacombs that testify to the zeal of the first Christians and the dangers they ignored by participating in the Eucharistic gatherings to commune the Body and Blood of Christ.

For us Orthodox, it is incomprehensible how Protestant theology interprets passages of Holy Scripture that speak most clearly about the heavenly Bread, such as those found in the sixth chapter of the Gospel of St. John: “He who eats of my Body and drinks of my Blood has eternal life and I shall raise him in the last day” (John 6:54) and “he who eats of my Body and drinks of my Blood dwells in Me and I in him.” (John 6:56) Just as our body has absolute need of actual, and not symbolic, food and drink to be sustained in life, likewise our soul has absolute need of the Body and Blood of Christ that it may not die spiritually. We cannot live either in this or the next life if we do not eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ. Perhaps this sounds harsh. However, let us remember that many of the disciples ceased to follow Christ after everything He told them about His flesh and His blood. And addressing the twelve He asked them “Don’t you too wish to leave?” (John 6:67) He repeats the same even today to all who wish to be Christians but do not wish to believe and accept the whole teaching of Christ.
10th Question: Is man not saved only by preaching? Why do you insist so much on the topic of worship?

Answer: The salvific work of the Church is not accomplished only through preaching. Someone listening to the word of God and saying, “I am saved” does not mean that he has already been saved. The Orthodox Church apart from the word of God also offers man the sacramental life. Man, by participating in the Mysteries (Sacraments) of the Church, is sanctified and achieves theosis. The offering, for example, of Holy Communion to the faithful is done “for the remission of sins and life eternal.” The faithful through the Holy Eucharist are mystically unified with Christ and become “partakers of the divine nature…” (2 Pet. 1:4) What else is the salvation of man beyond this?
11th Question: How can you explain to us what a Mystery (Sacrament) is?

Answer: It is hard for one to believe in the sacramental life of the Church if he does not first understand what the word “Mystery” means. A Mystery is something we see being performed but is impossible for man’s mind to comprehend how it is performed. If we could understand the manner in which the Mystery is taking place then it would not be a Mystery, but a common daily human activity.

We say, for example, that God is Triune. I ask you: Who of us understands the Mystery of the Holy Trinity? Three Persons, one Essence! This Mystery when considered with human logic is absurd. However, if a person sees it through the dimension of Faith then he will understand that it is not illogical but beyond logic. Who could understand what God is? What is, for example, the essence of God? NO ONE! Nevertheless, we believe in God. Not because we understand it, but because we feel His presence mystically and we heartily feel His love. In other words, we can understand the uncreated energies of God, as the great fathers of the Orthodox Church have so beautifully theologized about, but not His Essence. Let us see what God said to Moses when he asked God to show him His glory: “I will make my glory pass before you…but you cannot see my face: for there shall be no man see me and live…” (Ex 33:18-20) The same happens in all matters of faith that surpass natural laws. We “see them without seeing them,” we “know them without knowing them” for they are all wrapped up in the “divine darkness” (Gregory of Nyssa). We experience and participate in them only through the power of Faith. If we insist on believing only in what we understand with our finite logic then we narrow extremely our spiritual horizon and in the end cannot be Christians. For ultimately “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Heb 11:1) And, of course, faith is conditional to true humility, with which we attract the grace of God. For “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6) The humble man who trusts God more than his logic, with the grace of God, can understand the Mysteries of the Church.
12th Question: How can one study Orthodox theology in Korea?

Answer: Because Orthodox theology is almost unknown in Korea, the Orthodox Metropolis of Korea is trying to build an Orthodox School of Theology, which will be the first not only in Korea but in the whole of East Asia, to provide the possibility to anyone wishing to approach this precious treasure. Pray that our wish soon becomes a reality for the glory of God.
[The lectures with question sessions lasted more than three hours (with a 10 minute interim break) were concluded with the following epilogue.]

My dear, before I leave the rostrum, I would first like to thank you for your polite invitation and for your particularly concise questions. Secondly, I apologize, for it is possible that some of you may have been disturbed by my answers. My intention was not to annoy anybody. Because I believe that for a dialogue to be meaningful and fruitful (for I believe that no one came here to hear empty idle talk and waist one’s time), without doubt, frankness and love must govern, that is why I told you what I believe with the language of truth and love. “Speaking the truth in love…” (Eph. 4:15) and “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32) was the scriptural foundation of my thoughts. Finally, I wish to add, to avoid any misunderstanding, that I did not tell you that we, the Orthodox are all holy. Our goal, of course, is our sanctification for which we struggle. However, what everyone does in his personal life is what will be judged by God. What I tried to tell you is that we Orthodox believe steadfastly that we have the correct Faith. We continue in the Faith of the one undivided Church of the first millennium, keeping in mind the apostolic admonition: “Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold fast the traditions you have been taught, whether by word or by epistle of ours.” (2 Thess. 2:15).

I warmly thank you.

Source (in Greek): All the Nations (Panta Ta Ethni)
Trimonthly Hierapostolic Journal
Issue 116, Oct-Dec 2010

CNBLUE Vol. 1 - First Step (Limited Edition)

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