29 April 2017

Conservation of the God-Created Environment in the Holy Bible

We as Christians should be conservation minded, to take care of the environments on the world that we live on. We are called to be stewards of that which we are blessed with, including our planet, earth. But where can we find this in Sacred Scripture? Let's look at this in detail, in both the New and Old Covenants/Testaments of Holy Writ.

Verses from the Books of the Old Covenant/Testament are from the Douay-Rheims Holy Bible, except for the Psalms, which are from The Orthodox Psalter: The Psalterion of the Prophet and King David According to the Seventy, with the Nine Odes and Commentary. Also consulted were The Lives of the Holy Prophets: The Major and Minor Prophets of the Old Testament and Genesis, Creation, and Early Man. Verses from the Books of the New Covenant/Testament are from the The Orthodox New Testament Volume 1: Evangelistarion - The Holy Gospels and The Orthodox New Testament: Volume 2: Praxapostolos - Acts, Epistles, and Revelation

First let's look in the Old Covenant/Testament to see to whom all of creation belongs and how we should treat it. All 5 Books of the Mosaic Law speak to this, let's find out where.
Genesis 1:6-12, 21-25, 31 And God said: Let there be a firmament made amidst the waters: and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made a firmament, and divided the waters that were under the firmament, from those that were above the firmament, and it was so. And God called the firmament, Heaven; and the evening and morning were the second day. God also said: Let the waters that are under the heaven, be gathered together into one place: and let the dry land appear. And it was so done. And God called the dry land, Earth; and the gathering together of the waters, he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.And he said: Let the earth bring forth the green herb, and such as may seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after its kind, which may have seed in itself upon the earth. And it was so done. And the earth brought forth the green herb, and such as yieldeth seed according to its kind, and the tree that beareth fruit, having seed each one according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. [...] And God created the great whales, and every living and moving creature, which the waters brought forth, according to their kinds, and every winged fowl according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And he blessed them, saying: Increase and multiply, and fill the waters of the sea: and let the birds be multiplied upon the earth. And the evening and morning were the fifth day. And God said: Let the earth bring forth the living creature in its kind, cattle and creeping things, and beasts of the earth, according to their kinds. And it was so done. And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds, and cattle, and every thing that creepeth on the earth after its kind. And God saw that it was good. [...] And God saw all the things that he had made, and they were very good. And the evening and morning were the sixth day.
Genesis 2:15 And the Lord God took man, and put him into the paradise of pleasure, to dress it, and to keep it. 
Exodus 20:13-17 Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house: neither shalt thou desire his wife, nor his servant, nor his handmaid, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is his.

Exodus 23:10-11
Six years thou shalt sow thy ground, and shalt gather the corn thereof. But the seventh year thou shalt let it alone, and suffer it to rest, that the poor of thy people may eat, and whatsoever shall be left, let the beasts of the field eat it: so shalt thou do with thy vineyard and thy olive yard.

Leviticus 25:3-5 Six years thou shalt sow thy field and six years thou shalt prune thy vineyard, and shalt gather the fruits thereof: But in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath to the land, of the resting of the Lord: thou shalt not sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard. What the ground shall bring forth of itself, thou shalt not reap: neither shalt thou gather the grapes of the firstfruits as a vintage: for it is a year of rest to the land. 
Leviticus 25:23-24 The land also shall not be sold forever: because it is Mine, and you are strangers and sojourners with Me. For which cause all the country of your possession shall be under the condition of redemption. 
Numbers 35:33-34 Defile not the land of your habitation, which is stained with the blood of the innocent: neither can it otherwise be expiated, but by his blood that hath shed the blood of another. And thus shall your possession he cleansed, myself abiding with you. For I AM the Lord that dwell among the children of Israel. 
Deuteronomy 20:19 When thou hast besieged a city a long time, and hath compassed it with bulwarks to take it, thou shalt not cut down the trees that may be eaten of, neither shalt thou spoil the country round about with axes: for it is a tree, and not a man, neither can it increase the number of them that fight against thee.
Now let's look at 4 (of the 9 Books) of the Books of Wisdom from the Old Covenant/Testament which remind us of the above lessons, and that humans can learn about God from His creation, but also warns us not to fall into the error of worshipping the earth or her creatures, who were so beautifully created by God.
Psalm 23(24):1-2 The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the inhabited world and all those dwelling in her. He founded her upon the seas, and upon the rivers He prepared her. 
Psalm 94(95):3-5 For the Lord is a great God and a great King over all the earth. For in His hand are the ends of the earth, and the heights of the mountains are His. For the sea is His, and He made her; and the dry land did His hands fashion. 
Job 12:7-12 But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee: and the birds of the air, and they shall tell thee. Speak to the earth, and it shall answer thee: and the fishes of the sea shall tell. Who is ignorant that the hand of the Lord hath made all these things? In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the spirit of all flesh of man. Doth not the ear discern words, and the palate of him that eateth, the taste? In the ancient is wisdom, and in length of days prudence. 
Proverbs 12:10-11 The just regardeth the lives of his beasts: but the bowels of the wicked are cruel. He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread: but he that pursueth idleness is very foolish. He that is delighted in passing his time over wine, leaveth a reproach in his strong holds. 
Wisdom of Solomon 1:13-15 For God made not death, neither hath he pleasure in the destruction of the living. For he created all things that they might be: and he made the nations of the earth for health: and there is no poison of destruction in them, nor kingdom of hades upon the earth. For justice is perpetual and immortal. 
Wisdom of Solomon 2:1, 6-9, 21-24 For they have said, reasoning with themselves, but not right: [...] The time of our life is short and tedious, and in the end of a man there is no remedy, and no man hath been known to have returned from hell: Come therefore, and let us enjoy the good things that are present, and let us speedily use the creatures as in youth. Let us fill ourselves with costly wine, and ointments: and let not the flower of the time pass by us. Let us crown ourselves with roses, before they be withered: let no meadow escape our riot. Let none of us go without his part in luxury: let us everywhere leave tokens of joy: for this is our portion, and this our lot. [...] These things they thought, and were deceived: for their own malice blinded them. And they knew not the secrets of God, nor hoped for the wages of justice, nor esteemed the honour of holy souls. For God created man incorruptible, and to the image of his own likeness he made him. But by the envy of the devil, death came into the world: And they follow him that are of his side. 
Wisdom of Solomon 13:1-7 But all men are vain, in whom there is not the knowledge of God: and who by these good things that are seen, could not understand him that is, neither by attending to the works have acknowledged who was the workman: But have imagined either the fire, or the wind, or the swift air, or the circle of the stars, or the great water, or the sun and moon, to be the gods that rule the world. With whose beauty, if they, being delighted, took them to be gods: let them know how much the Lord of them is more beautiful than they: for the first author of beauty made all those things. Or if they admired their power and their effects, let them understand by them, that he that made them, is mightier than they: For by the greatness of the beauty, and of the creature, the creator of them may be seen, so as to be known thereby. But yet as to these they are less to be blamed. For they perhaps err, seeking God, and desirous to find him. For being conversant among his works, they search: and they are persuaded that the things are good which are seen.
Next, we will look at the 19 Books of Prophecy, specifically 3 (of the 7 Books) of the Major Prophets of the Old Covenant/Testament who tell us not to harm the earth.
Isaias(Isaiah) 24:4-5 The earth mourned, and faded away, and is weakened: the world faded away, the height of the people of the earth is weakened. And the earth is infected by the inhabitants thereof: because they have transgressed the laws, they have changed the ordinance, they have broken the everlasting covenant. 
Jeremias(Jeremiah) 2:7, 9-10 And I brought you into a fruitful, plentiful land, to eat the fruit thereof, and the best things thereof: and when ye entered in, you defiled my land, and made my inheritance an abomination. [...] Therefore will I yet contend in judgement with you, saith the Lord, and I will plead with your children. Pass over to the isles of Cethim, and see: and send into Cedar, and consider diligently: and see if there hath been done anything like this. 
Ezekiel 34:18 Was it not enough for you to feed upon good pastures? But you must also tread down with your feet the residue of your pastures: and when you drank the clearest water, you troubled the rest with your feet.
Now we will move on to the New Covenant/Testament. First let us check 1 of the (4) Holy Gospels written by the Holy Evangelists which shows us how to be stewards of what we are given, including the earth from the Word of Our Lord and Saviour, God the Son, the Son of Man, and the Sun of Righteousness, Jesus Christ.
The Gospel According to Saint Luke 19:11-26 And as they heard these things He added and spake a parable, because He was near Jerusalem and they thought that the kingdom of God was immediately about to be shown forth. He saith therefore, "A certain well-born man went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And having called his own ten slaves, he gave ten minas to them, and said to them, 'Transact business while I go and return.' But his citizens kept on hating him, and sent forth an embassy after him, saying 'We are unwilling for this man to reign over us.' And it came to pass, when he returned, having received the kingdom, that he commanded those slaves to be called to him, to whom he gave money, in order that he might find out what each gained by trading. And the first came up, saying, 'Lord, thy mina gained ten minas.' And he said to him, 'Well done, good slave! Because in a very little thou wast faithful, be thou having authority over ten cities.' And the second came, saying, 'Lord,thy mina made five minas.' And he said also to this one, 'Be thou also over five cities.' And another came saying, 'Lord, behold thy mina, which I was keeping laid up in a napkin. For I was afraid of thee, because thou art an austere man. Thou takest up what thou didst not lay down, and reapest what thou didst not sow, and gatherest together where thou didst not winnow. He saith to him, 'Out of thy mouth will I judge thee, O wicked slave. Thou knowest that I am an austere man, taking up what I did not lay down, and reaping what I did not sow, and gathering together where I did not winnow; and why didst thou not give my money to the bank, and indeed after I came I would have exacted payment from it with interest?' And to those standing by he said, 'Take away the mina from him, and give it to the one who hath the ten minas.' And they said to him, 'Lord he hath ten minas.' For I say to you that to everyone who hath shall be given; but from the one who hath not, even what he hath shall be taken away from him."
Now let's check from 1 of the (21) Epistles that the Holy Apostles wrote in the New Covenant/Testament, teaching the Word of Christ to the local individual churches of the Church.
The Epistle of Saint Paul to the Romans 8:19-22 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly awaiteth the revelation of the sons of God. For creation was subjected to vanity, not willingly, but on account of Him Who subjected it in hope, that the creation itself shall be freed from the bondage of corruption into the glorious freedom of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth together and travaileth together until now.
And finally we will check 1 of the Apocalyptic Books written by the Saints of the New Covenant/Testament that warn us about our future and the consequences of our actions.
The Revelation of Saint John the Theologian 11:18 And the nations were angry, and Thy wrath did come, and the time of the nations to be judged and to give the reward to Thy slaves the prophets and to the saints, to those fearing Thy name, to the small and to the great, and to destroy those destroying the earth.

28 April 2017

The Holy Prophet Ezekiel

The Holy Prophet Ezekiel lived in the sixth century before the birth of Christ. He was born in the city of Sarir, and descended from the tribe of Levi; he was a priest and the son of the priest Buzi. Ezekiel was led off to Babylon when he was twenty-five years old together with King Jeconiah II and many other Jews during the second invasion of Jerusalem by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar.

The Prophet Ezekiel lived in captivity by the River Chebar. When he was thirty years old, he had a vision of the future of the Hebrew nation and of all mankind. The prophet beheld a shining cloud, with fire flashing continually, and in the midst of the fire, gleaming bronze. He also saw four living creatures in the shape of men, but with four faces (Ez. 1:6). Each had the face of a man in front, the face of a lion on the right, the face of an ox on the left, and the face of an eagle at the back (Ez. 1:10). There was a wheel on the earth beside each creature, and the rim of each wheel was full of eyes.

Over the heads of the creatures there seemed to be a firmament, shining like crystal. Above the firmament was the likeness of a throne, like glittering sapphire in appearance. Above this throne was the likeness of a human form, and around Him was a rainbow (Ez. 1:4-28).

According to the explanation of the Fathers of the Church, the human likeness upon the sapphire throne prefigures the Incarnation of the Son of God from the Most Holy Virgin Mary, who is the living Throne of God. The four creatures are symbols of the four Evangelists: a man (Saint Matthew), a lion (Saint Mark), an ox (Saint Luke), and an eagle (Saint John); the wheel with the many eyes is meant to suggest the sharing of light with all the nations of the earth. During this vision the holy prophet fell down upon the ground out of fear, but the voice of God commanded him to get up. He was told that the Lord was sending him to preach to the nation of Israel. This was the beginning of Ezekiel’s prophetic service.

The Prophet Ezekiel announces to the people of Israel, held captive in Baylon, the tribulations it would face for not remaining faithful to God. The prophet also proclaimed a better time for his fellow-countrymen, and he predicted their return from Babylon, and the restoration of the Jerusalem Temple.

There are two significant elements in the vision of the prophet: the vision of the temple of the Lord, full of glory (Ez. 44:1-10); and the bones in the valley, to which the Spirit of God gave new life (Ez. 37:1-14). The vision of the temple was a mysterious prefiguring of the race of man freed from the working of the Enemy and the building up of the Church of Christ through the redemptive act of the Son of God, incarnate of the Most Holy Theotokos. Ezekiel’s description of the shut gate of the sanctuary, through which the Lord God would enter (Ez. 44: 2), is a prophecy of the Virgin giving birth to Christ, yet remaining a virgin. The vision of the dry bones prefigured the universal resurrection of the dead, and the new eternal life bestowed by the Lord Jesus Christ.

The holy Prophet Ezekiel received from the Lord the gift of wonderworking. He, like the Prophet Moses, divided the waters of the river Chebar, and the Hebrews crossed to the opposite shore, escaping the pursuing Chaldeans. During a time of famine the prophet asked God for an increase of food for the hungry.

Ezekiel was condemned to execution because he denounced a certain Hebrew prince for idolatry. Bound to wild horses, he was torn to pieces. Pious Hebrews gathered up the torn body of the prophet and buried it upon Maur Field, in the tomb of Sim and Arthaxad, forefathers of Abraham, not far from Baghdad. The prophecy of Ezekiel is found in the book named for him, and is included in the Old Testament.

St Demetrius of Rostov (October 28 and September 21) explains to believers the following concepts in the book of the Prophet Ezekiel: if a righteous man turns from righteousness to sin, he shall die for his sin, and his righteousness will not be remembered. If a sinner repents, and keeps God’s commandments, he will not die. His former sins will not be held against him, because now he follows the path of righteousness (Ez. 3:20; 18:21-24).

Apolytikion of Prophet Ezekiel

As we celebrate the memory of Thy Prophet Ezekiel, O Lord, through him we beseech Thee to save our souls.

Kontakion of Prophet Ezekiel

O divine Ezekiel, as God's true Prophet, thou foretoldest unto all the Incarnation of the Lord, the Lamb of God, the Artificer, the Son of God, the Eternal made manifest.

26 April 2017

Saint Meletios the Confessor of Mount Galesion on the Aerial Toll Houses

The following is from The Departure of the Soul, the first comprehensive presentation of the teachings of over 120 Orthodox Saints and dozens of holy hierarchs, clergy, and theologians on the subject of the soul's exodus to the next life. With over 750 pages of source material featuring many rare images and dozens of texts translated into English for the first time, The Departure of the Soul is unique as both the sole reference edition on the subject and a fascinating and spiritually profitable book for anyone seeking insight into one of the greatest mysteries of all. The book also reveals over 100 falsifications, misrepresentations, and errors contained in the publications of authors who oppose the teaching of the Church, thus definitively ending the 40-year controversy in the Church. The book features: ~ Full endorsements by eight Orthodox hierarchs ~ Foreword by His Eminence Metropolitan Nikolaos of Mesogaia and Lavreotiki (Church of Greece) ~ Spans the 2,000-year history of the Orthodox Church with chapters on Holy Scripture, The Liturgical Services, The Writings of the Fathers of the Church, The Lives of the Saints, Iconography, Commemoration and Prayer for the Departed and Contemporary Opponents of the Church's Teaching. Many rare images and dozens of texts translated for the first time from the original languages. Think of it as a massively expanded and more detailed version of The Soul After Death.

Called by God at a young age, Saint Meletios abandoned his homeland and his beloved family and set out as a pilgrim for the Holy Land. Becoming a monk on Mount Sinai, he spent weeks without food and nights without sleep, continuing in fasting, vigils, and ceaseless prayer to the astonishment of all his fellow monks. Having wandered through the desert, like a diligent bee gathering the nectar of the virtues from the holy ascetics he met, St. Meletios settled on Mount Galesion at the Monastery of St. Lazarus, becoming perfect in obedience and the ascetical life.

Christ the Lord appeared to him in glory, commanding him to go to Constantinople to defend the Orthodox Faith, which was in danger from compromises with the Latins that Emperor Michael VIII had made for political reasons. Presenting himself at the imperial court, St. Meletios boldly reproached the emperor for betraying the Faith. Thrown into prison, he was then exiled to the island of Skyros where he authored a long poem, excerpted here, in which he desired to set forth all the essentials of the Orthodox Faith in a single Gathering. Sent to the pope in Rome for trial, St. Meletios continued to boldly confess the Orthodox Faith, confronting the Latin scholastic theologians and rebuking their errors. Imprisoned for seven more years, he was then sent back to Skyros and shut up in a dark dungeon. The peoples’ proclamation of the saint as a confessor of the Orthodox Faith stirred the Emperor to summon him back to the imperial court. Steadfast as ever in proclaiming Orthodoxy, the saint was condemned to torture. He was hung on a dry tree which burst into leaf upon receiving him. His tongue which had so bravely spoken the truth was cut out, but miraculously he was able to continue proclaiming the true Faith. Finally released from imprisonment on the death of Michael VIII, St. Meletios played an important role in re-establishing Orthodoxy. When he departed from this world to God, his face shone like the sun. His body remained incorrupt, becoming a wellspring of
countless miracles.

The texts excerpted below provide a significant early witness to the saints of the Orthodox Church embracing not only the teaching of the toll-houses but also the Life of St. Basil the New, the most complete and vivid description of the toll-houses:

“The soul that yearns for God and does good things, gladly departs to Him when it is called. It soars above the evil demons and with peace proceeds to the assembly of the angels, having certainly passed through safely. The things that are said about the toll-houses are from experience which the divine Theodora has stated wonderfully. You certainly know these things, how fearsome, how terrible, how frightful, how full of shock the time of death is.… The venerable Basil says that they examine that [dissolute] life as well….”

T. Simopoulos, ed., Μελέτιος ὁ Γαλησιώτης (Meletios Galesiotes) (Athens, 1978), no. 180, “On the Remembrance of Death,” p. 492, lines 49–57, 71. (In Greek.)

“The Savior at the time of the Passion said that the ruler of this world will find nothing in Me (John 14:30). But in someone else he will find many or few things. However many passions someone says he has, he has the same number of demons. Each one is marked by the corresponding toll-house. According to the words of the venerable and divine Theodora, each demon incites us towards sin.”

Ibid., no. 181, “On the Separation of the Soul and the Resurrection of the Body,” p. 493, line 15–20. (In Greek.)

Besides these above linked amazing books, you can find more information about the ancient Orthodox Christian teaching of the Aerial Toll-Houses/Toll-Booths at the following links:

21 April 2017

The Mysteries (Sacraments of the Church)

Due to popular demand , I am posting links to my blog post articles on the Sacred Mysteries (Holy Sacraments) of the Orthodox Christian Church and their history from the Old Testament to the Apostolic Times to the Writing of the New Testament to the Modern Age:

  1. Infant Baptism
  2. The Lord is My Shepherd: A Traditional Look at a Well Known Psalm by Archbishop Dmitri
  3. HOW-TO: What to do if You are Having a Baby!
  1. The Holy Mysteries of Penance/Confession and Unction
  2. HOW-TO: A Comprehensive Guide for Confession
  3. Twelve Questions & Answers on Orthodox Confession & Worship
  1. The Gospel According to Saint John, Chapter 6: Parallel of the Passover and the Exodus of Israel
  2. Children and the Church by Archpriest Basil Zebrun
  1. Holy Wednesday Unction: Anointing the Physically & Spiritually Sick
  2. The Holy Mysteries of Penance/Confession and Unction
  1. The Clerical Orders of the Church
  2. HOW-TO: Address Orthodox Christian Clergy
  1. The Orthodox Wedding Ceremony
  2. The Gospel According to Saint Mark, Chapter 10: The Gospel of Family and What is Important
  1. The Didache (This Apostolic Document Speaks of all the Church's Mysteries)
  2. The Orthodox Prayers for a Pregnant Mother and Her Unborn Child(ren)
  3. The Blessings of... ...Everything!
  4. The Prayer at the Blessing of Vehicles of Travel

20 April 2017

Most Popular Blog Posts, Books, Movies, and Toys of All Time!

I found this kind of interesting. These are the 10 most popular posts on my blog over the last 7 years (The blog is actually 14 years old, but metrics were not recorded all this time)! Orthodox Ecclesiology focused posts are #3, #5, #6, and #10. #1, #2, #4, and #8 are posts about the World. #7 and #9 are posts that I rewrote much better and put on the spin-off blog, Steamies vs. Diesels which reviews Thomas and Friends. And actually, come to think of it, #4 and #8 would better fit on the spun-off blog, How to Get Married in China.... This blog started more Worldly-focused and became more Orthodox Christianity focused over time, so I imagine with time, the rankings of the top posts will change. For instance, this Pascha, #5 just made it on this list, bumping off another popular Orthodox Christian Theological post off the top 10 list.
  1. 44,650 Unique Visitors: Sleeping Positions of Married Couples and What They Mean
  2. 14,294 Unique Visitors: Tattoos
  3. 10,453 Unique Visitors: A Timeline of Church History: Tracing the Birth and Continuity of the Christian Church from Pentecost to the Present
  4. 4,993 Unique Visitors: HOW-TO: Get a QQ Number for English Speakers and Mac Users (Updated!)
  5. 3,912 Unique Visitors: HOW-TO: Make a Traditional Pascha (Easter) Basket and the Meanings of Each Item
  6. 9,910 Unique Visitors: 30 Severely Corrupted Scriptures in the New Living Translation (NLT) Bible
  7. 3,432 Unique Visitors: Thomas the Tank Engine and his Racist Friends, "The Steam Team" Part Two: Day of the Diesels
  8. 2,950 Unique Visitors: New QQ International Version for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux
  9. 1,723 Unique Visitors: Thomas the Tank Engine and His Racist Friends, "The Steam Team" Part Four: Misty Island Rescue
  10. 1,384 Unique Visitors: My Favorite Orthodox Christian Android Apps (with Links)
What are your top 10 favorite posts on this blog?

Also of interest, the top ten ordered items over the last year via links from my blog to Amazon:
  1. 19 people bought the $44 Transformers Platinum Edition Optimus Primal Figure
  2. 13 people bought the $12 Transformers Generations Titans Return Titan Master Fracas and Deluxe Class Scourge
  3. 10 people bought the $143 Transformers Generations Titans Return Titan Class Fortress Maximus
  4. 9 people bought the $20 Transformers Animated: The Complete Series DVD Box Set and the $90 Transformers Generations Combiner Wars Computron Collection Pack
  5. 8 people bought the $16 Transformers Japanese Collection: Headmasters DVD Box Set
  6. 7 people bought the $1 The Orthodox Church (1963 Version) Paperback Book by Timothy Warethe $16 Transformers Japanese Collection: Super-God Masterforce DVD Box Set, and the $16 Transformers Japanese Collection: Victory DVD Box Set
  7. 6 people bought the $15 American Tall Tales Hardcover Book by Mary Pope Osborne
  8. 5 people bought the $7 Transformers Generations Combiner Wars Legends/Legion Class Warpath Figurethe $7 Lionel FasTrack Half Straight Track, and the $7 Lionel FasTrack Full Straight Track
  9. 4 people bought the $6 Lionel 1-3/8" Track Section and the $20 Beast Wars Transformers The Complete Series DVD Box Set
  10. 3 people bought the $90 Transformers Generations Combiner Wars Computron Collection Pack
You readers really love your Transformers and Trains

10 April 2017

The Green Patriarch on Environmental Peace

"If human beings were to treat one another’s personal property the way they treat the natural environment, we would view that behavior as antisocial and illegal. We would expect legal sanctions and even compensation. When will we learn that to commit a crime against the natural world is also a sin?"

"The way we respond to the natural environment is directly reflects the way we treat human beings. The willingness to exploit the environment is revealed in the willingness to permit avoidable human suffering. So the survival of the natural environment is also the survival of ourselves. When we will understand that a crime against nature is a crime against ourselves and sin against God?"

"We have traditionally regarded sin as being merely what people do to other people. Yet, for human beings to destroy the biological diversity in God’s creation; for human beings to degrade the integrity of the earth by contributing to climate change, by stripping the earth of its natural forests or destroying its wetlands; for human beings to contaminate the earth’s waters, land and air – all of these are sins."

"We are treating our planet in an inhuman, godless manner precisely because we fail to see it as a gift inherited from above. Our original sin with regard to the natural environment lies in our refusal to accept the world as a sacrament of communion, as a way of sharing with God and neighbor on a global scale. It is our humble conviction that divine and human meet in the slightest detail contained in the seamless garment of God’s creation, in the last speck of dust."

"It should not be fear of impending disaster with regard to global change that obliges us to change our ways with regard to the natural environment. Rather, it should be a recognition of the cosmic harmony and original beauty that exists in the world. We must learn to make our communities more sensitive and to render our behavior toward nature more respectful. We must acquire a compassionate heart – what Saint Isaac of Syria, a seventh century mystic once called "a heart that burns with love for the whole of creation: for humans, for birds and beasts, for all God’s creatures"."

"The fundamental criterion for an ecological ethic is not individualistic or commercial. It is deeply spiritual. For, the root of the environmental crisis lies in human greed and selfishness. What is asked of us is not greater technological skill, but deeper repentance for our wrongful and wasteful ways. What is demanded is a sense of sacrifice, which comes with cost but also brings about fulfillment. Only through such self-denial, through our willingness sometimes to forgo and to say “no” or “enough” will we rediscover our true human place in the universe."

"This sacrifice for the sake of sharing means learning to give, and not simply to give up. It is learning to share and to connect with others and with the natural world. It is a way of loving, of moving gradually away from what I want to what God’s world needs. It is liberation from fear, greed and compulsion. It is regaining a sense of wonder, being filled with a sense of goodness, seeing all things in God, and God in all things."

"If we are guilty of relentless waste, it is because we have lost the spirit of worship. We are no longer respectful pilgrims on this earth; we have been reduced to careless consumers or passing travelers. This spiritual vision of worship guides us to a life that sees more clearly and shares more fairly, moving away from what we want individually to what the world needs globally. Then, we begin to value everything for its place in creation and not simply its economic value to us, thereby restoring the original beauty of the world, seeing all things in God and God in all things."

"We have been commanded to taste of the world’s fruits, not to waste them; we have been commissioned to care for the world, not to waste it. When Christ fed the multitudes with a few loaves and fish on a hill in Palestine, he instructed his disciples to “gather together the fragments which remain over, that nothing might be lost.” (John 6:12) This instruction should serve as a model in a time of wasteful consumption, where even the refuse of affluent societies can nourish entire populations."

"It is a qualitative element of our faith that we believe in and accept a Creator, who fashioned the world out of love, making and calling it “very good.” Tending to and caring for this creation is not a political whim or a social fashion. It is a divine commandment; it is a religious obligation. It is no less than the will of God that we leave as light a footprint on our environment."

"It is never too late. God’s world has incredible healing powers; and human choices can change the tide in global warming. Within a single generation, we could steer earth toward our children’s future. With God’s blessing and help, that generation can begin now. For the first time in the history of our world, we recognize that our decisions and choices directly impact the environment. It is up to us to shape our future; it is up to us to choose our destiny. Breaking the vicious circle of ecological degradation is a choice with which we are uniquely endowed, at this crucial moment in the history of our planet."

"Ecology cannot inspire respect for nature if it does not express a different worldview from the one that prevails in our culture today, from the one that led us to this ecological impasse in the first place. What is required is an act of repentance, a change in our established ways, a renewed image of ourselves, one another and the world around us within the perspective of the divine design for creation. To achieve this transformation, what is required is nothing less than a radical reversal of our perspectives and practices."

"Poverty is not caused by the lack of material resources. It is the immediate result of our exploitation and waste. There is a close link between the economy of the poor and the warming of our planet. Conservation and compassion are intimately connected. The web of life is a sacred gift of God -- ever so precious, yet ever so delicate. Each of us dwells within the wider ecosystem; each of us is a part of a larger, global environment. We must serve our neighbor and preserve our world with both humility and generosity, in a perspective of frugality and solidarity."

"All of us have to work, each from his or her own place in the world; indeed, we must work together, irrespective of religious conviction, racial origin, and professional discipline. Our efforts will remain meaningless and fruitless if they remain fragmented and isolated. For, the protection of the world’s natural beauty is one consideration, one concern, one song, to the glory of God and all creation."

"Climate change is much more than an issue of environmental preservation. Insofar as human-induced, it is a profoundly moral and spiritual problem. To persist in our current path of ecological destruction is not only folly. It is suicidal because it jeopardizes the diversity of our planet. Moreover, climate change constitutes a matter of social and economic justice. For, those who will most directly and severely be affected by climate change will be the poorer and more vulnerable nations (what Christian Scriptures refer to as our “neighbor”) as well as the younger and future generations (the world of our children, and of our children’s children)."

"Indigenous peoples throughout the world are the stewards and guardians not only of the forests and the seas, as well as of a vast store of knowledge about the natural world, which they regard as the “library of life.” They know the properties and potential uses of every living thing around them. The rest of the world is sometimes jealous of that knowledge, and indigenous peoples are understandably, and often justifiably, cautious about sharing it."

"The word “ecology” contains the prefix “eco,” which derives from the Greek word oikos, signifying “home” or “dwelling.” How unfortunate, then, and indeed how selfish it is that we have reduced its meaning and restricted its application. This world is indeed our home. Yet it is also the home of everyone, just as it is the home of every animal creature and of every form of life created by God. It is a sign of arrogance to presume that we human beings alone inhabit this world. Moreover, it is a sign of arrogance to imagine that only the present generation enjoys its resources."

"Whenever we narrow religious life to our own concerns, then we overlook the prophetic calling of the Church to implore God and invoke the divine Spirit for the renewal of the whole polluted cosmos. For, the entire world is the space within which this transformation is enacted. When we are transformed by divine grace, then we discern the injustice in which we are participants; but then we will also labor to share the resources of our planet; then, we realize that eco-justice is paramount -- not simply for a better life, but for our very survival."

"As Orthodox Christians, we use the Greek word kairos to describe a moment in time, often a brief moment in time, which has eternal significance. For the human race as a whole, there is now a kairos, a decisive time in our relationship with God’s creation. We will either act in time to protect life on earth from the worst consequences of human folly, or we will fail to act. May God grant us the wisdom to act in time. Amen."

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