Saturday, August 15, 2015

Dormition of Mary

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In Honor of Mary, our Mother, on this special day of her dormition, we remember that she was the first to receive our beloved Savior into her life, serving as a model for all those who would believe; and as Church Tradition reports was among the first fruits of the resurrection of the saints.  May you be included in her prayers this special weekend as we celebrate her life, death, and assumption into the heavenly Kingdom of our Christ and God.

Commemorated on August 15
After the Ascension of the Lord, the Mother of God remained in the care of the Apostle John the Theologian, and during his journeys She lived at the home of his parents, near the Mount of Olives. She was a source of consolation and edification both for the Apostles and for all the believers. She told them about miraculous events: the Annunciation, the seedless and undefiled Conception of Christ born of Her, about His early childhood, and about His earthly life. Like the Apostles, She helped plant and strengthen the Christian Church by Her presence, Her discourse and Her prayers... (to read more about the dormition of the theotokos click here.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Call No Man "Father" ?

"Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father,
He who is in Heaven." 

The passage above from Matthew 23:9 is one of the several verses found in the fundamentalist tool bag used to justify a perceived inconsistency of a certain customary practice found in Catholic and Orthodox churches as it pertains to Scripture. They accuse their brethren of engaging in unbiblical practices when addressing their priests as "father". 

But is this really the case?  Was Jesus instituting a new doctrine that forbade any future use of titles or honorifics?  I could think of no better time to discuss this topic than on this special day, we Americans have designated as Father's Day. 

Knowing Christ and common sense tells us that Jesus was not forbidding a little boy or girl from calling their earthly father "Daddy" or "Papa" or even "Father".  Eliminating the idea of an earthly father would likewise dismantle the concept of Divine Fatherhood.  There would be no default image or icon for the Christian convert or child to relate to in a paternal sense.   And because the Scripture, both Old and New Testaments are filled with parental references, we can safely deduce that this was not Christ's intention in the above command to "call no one on earth your father".

So what was Jesus trying to communicate to his hearers? 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Vows for Now: Poverty, Chastity, and Obdeience in the 21st Century

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Happy New Year Everyone!

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

In Defense of December 25th

Originally posted in December of 2012
In the last several decades, much to do has been made of the Pagan origins of Christmas, which I hope to prove to you could be no further from the truth.  Arm-chair theologians who carelessly abstract their claims from hearsay and various Internet sites, often ignoring the primary resources and/or their proper contexts, often wrongly conclude that the advent of Constantine brought about the demise of the one true apostolic church, the introduction of pagan idolatry into the church, and the idolatrous celebration of Christmas.

Although many of the practices of our modern Christmas celebration do include pagan activities, which later crept into the holy day as a result of the Western Church's attempt to Christianize its pagan contemporaries, it is naive to think that the early church embraced these as part of their celebration of the nativity.  The earliest mention of the date for Christmas came circa 200 while the earliest documented celebrations came between 250-300 A.D., a period when persecuted Christians were intentionally distancing themselves from their pagan roots, not trying to mingle with them via syncretism.  
The earliest record supporting the 25th of December as the birth of Jesus was written in the early third century by Hippolytus in his commentary on Daniel 4:23.  He states: "The first coming of our Lord, that in the flesh, in which he was born at Bethlehem, took place eight days before the Kalends of January, a Wednesday, in the forty-second year of the reign of Augustus, 5500 years from Adam."   Hippolytus' date for the nativity was Wednesday, December 25th, 5 BCE.  Even before Hippolytus, Clement of Alexandria who lived from 150-215 CE, wrote that "...there are those who have not only determined the year of our Lord's birth, but also the day; and they say that it took the twenty-fifth day of Pachom."  Another early mention of Jesus' birthday came in the mid-300's from a Roman Almanac that lists the death dates of various bishops and martyrs.  The first date listed is December, 25th and writes, "natus Christus in Betleem Judeae". 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Praying to the Dead? Invoking the Saints in Christian Prayer

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 Volume Three of the 
Ancient Faith Matters Series
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In the Lion, In the Lamb,

Mark Whitten

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