Climate Change Protests

A Church of England vicar was arrested in London this week after climbing on top of an electric train to protest against Climate Change. The Archbishop of Canterbury said he supported the aims of the protestors. Should Orthodox Christians support these protests? The answer is simple. No, we shouldn’t. We will discuss our reasons below.
Christ says that His Kingdom is not of this world (see John 18:36) and that the earth will pass away (see Matt. 24:35). Our goal as Christians is to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. We're not trying to save the planet, we're trying to save our souls by showing love for our neighbour. Disrupting public transport thereby stopping people getting to college, work and hospital is not Orthodox. It's utterly selfish and immature and shows hate and not love for our neighbour.
Most of these extremist protestors seem to be Marxists or Communists. They openly talk about overthrowing our society and even abolishing money altogether. We cannot support these a…

Can gay people be cured?

The Orthodox Church does not support the so-called 'gay conversion therapy' carried out by various secular or religious groups. The methods that some of these groups use are not even vaguely Christian and harm people physically, psychologically and more importantly, spiritually.

The Orthodox Church, in contrast, is a spiritual hospital; the Mysteries of the Church can cure all kinds of spiritual sickness. First of all, we need to get rid of any notion that gay people are evil and that we are superior to them, even though we are ruled by our own passions. Judging people in this way is a sure way to fall into the same sins or worse.
On the other hand, Orthodox Christians should not refer to themselves as ‘gay Orthodox’ because being gay is not something we are proud of. Fr. Thomas Hopko sums this up brilliantly:
The tragic truth, however, is that countless people, especially in contemporary secularized societies, have become convinced that their sinful thoughts and feelings, in…

How does the Church decide whether someone is a saint?

The Roman Catholic process of ‘making saints’ is very different from the process the Orthodox Church uses to acknowledge that a person is a saint. When a person is ‘glorified’ (the term we use for the Church service that proclaims someone a saint), the Church is just formally recognizing the belief of the people that this person is a saint. For someone to be recognized as a saint the Church as a whole has to recognize them, from the ordinary Orthodox Christian up to the most important bishop. The bishops investigate the life of this person to make sure that their life and teachings were Orthodox. There is no points system or a set number of miracles that need to be worked for someone to become a saint.

Of course, there are many saints that the Church hasn’t formally glorified. There are thousands of martyrs, monks, nuns and other Orthodox Christians that are saints of the Orthodox Church but known only to God.

The martyrs Raphael, Nicolas and Irene of Lesvos (right) are famous modern…

Why shouldn’t Orthodox Christians celebrate Halloween?

Most of us know that we must avoid celebrating Halloween, but why do we avoid it? Quite simply, Halloween is a celebration of evil, the devil and the demons. We can see this by the fancy dress costumes that people wear to Halloween parties. Dressing up as devils, witches or wizards even as a joke is spiritually dangerous because we are making fun of something deeply serious. Evil is not a joke.

Some people say that by dressing up as demons they are trying to scare off demons. This is clearly nonsense. We protect ourselves by making the Sign of the Cross and by prayer not by imitating the demons. Christ Himself says: 'Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? (Matt. 12:25)

We have said that this festival is a celebration of evil. The horrible practice of ‘trick or treat’ is one example of how people celebrate e…

Wearing black at funerals

The tradition of wearing black for mourning is well established in England. Queen Victoria, for example, wore nothing but black for the rest of her life after the death of Prince Albert. Until recently, mourners at Church of England funerals were expected to wear black; as a result most middle-aged Englishmen own a plain black tie to wear at funerals.
Although most people wear black to Orthodox funerals there is no rule that says we have to. Dressing modestly is more important than wearing something black. Actually, in most Orthodox parishes the clergy wear white vestments at funerals like they do on Pascha night reminding us that that Christ destroyed death by His Resurrection.
The clergy wear white because, in the words of St. Paul, we look for ‘that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity’ (Titus. 2:13). When we die, we do so ‘in the hope of eternal life’ (Titus 1:2…

Why do we worship facing east?

The tradition of Christians facing east to worship is ancient and was universally accepted in the time of Saint Basil the Great (fourth century). There are many reasons why we worship eastwards.
The Old Testament Tabernacle
In worshipping east we recall the orientation of the Tabernacle in the Old Testament. This portable tent-like structure that contained the Ark of the Covenant accompanied the Hebrews on their forty-year journey through the wilderness. Every time it was pitched, the tabernacle was aligned on the east-west axis with the gate at the east end.
It is not compulsory, however, for Orthodox churches to be aligned this way. For example, it might not be possible to have the iconostasis and Holy Table at the east end of a house chapel due to the design of the building. Even in nineteenth century Russia this situation actually occurred relatively frequently. The vital thing is that we all face the same direction in church – whether we are facing geographical east is less impor…

Social Media Survival

In Sunday School a few weeks ago we discussed the Facebook data harvesting scandal. We came to the conclusion that it really isn’t a big deal for Orthodox Christians. We should be asking bigger questions about our Internet, social media and mobile phone use.

It is very important that before posting anything on social media we ask ourselves the question: ‘Is this Orthodox?’ At the very least we should ask ourselves: ‘Is this anti-Orthodox?’ Christ says that ‘by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned’ (Matt. 12:37). This applies just as much to our social media posts as it does to what we say with our mouths.
Some of us think that social media makes us popular and wins us new friends. It actually does the opposite! Although social media makes us feel connected with people, it actually isolates us from the real world. We can see this clearly by opening our eyes to what is happening around us. People go out with friends but ignore them and use their …