Fascination with wickedness obscures what is good, and roving desire perverts the innocent mind.
Wisdom of Solomon 4:12

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Orthodoxy for Orthamerica - Faith and Love

As I learn to put on this great Tradition known as Orthodoxy, almost every part of my person is being affected. It is truly a glorious thing, and I am very grateful for the experience. With that said, I find that my blog might also benefit from a more Orthodox approach.

For some time now I have been trying to grasp the way that the Orthodox experience operates (no small task). While, I am but an infant in this Orthodoxy, some things are beginning to pull together. One of these things is the purposeful design within Orthodoxy for transmitting the whole paradosis (tradition). For example, in the liturgical cycles there are a series of interweaving themes that continuously pass on particular aspects of the paradosis (tradition). These themes are found in the yearly, seasonal, weekly, daily, feasts, and fasts that are assigned to each day of the year.

To each day falls a set of hymns and readings that encompass the whole tradition. These all work together to present the fullness of that which we call Orthodox Christianity.

I intend to bring my blog inline with this methodology. Not that I will necessarily write about the theme of a particular day, but I will be attempting to weave the scriptures, the ancient fathers, the hymnody, the liturgies, and the contemporary fathers writings together into one unit. I have chosen to try this approach because I believe that this is precisely the beauty and the power that drives Orthodoxy.

At times I may even comment on them. However, if I do comment I will clearly state is under “COMMENTS”. I do not want to confuse my comments with that which the church has called the paradosis.

My hope is that this approach might in some tiny way make the beauty of Orthodoxy visible to America.

Here goes:


Faith and Love

St Paul of Tarsus (1st cent.)

Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin… But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man's offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many… For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame." For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. Rom 3:20; 5:15;10:10-12

Yet, though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own… 1 Cor 13: 2-5

An Anonymous Hermit (4th cent.)

A hermit was asked, “How is that some struggle in their religious life, and yet do receive grace like our predecessors?” Because for them love was the rule, and each one drew his neighbor upward. Today, love has grown cold, and each one draws his neighbor downward, and so we do not deserve this grace.

The Epithegmata

COMMENT: Grace here is used in the classical sense and not in the reinterpreted post Augustinian sense. To our Lord, the apostles, and the early fathers, grace meant the actual presence of God by His energies and not merely a created gift bestowed upon man. Thus the hermit is saying, due to our lack of love we do not deserve to experience the presence of God.

 The Resurrection Hymn from the Octechos (8th cent.)

Let us praise him who was willingly crucified in the flesh for our sake; who didst suffer, was buried, and who rose from the dead, saying, O Christ, confirm thy Church in sound doctrine and preserve our lives; for thou art good and the Lover of mankind.

 Fr. John Romanides (20th cent.)

The justice of God as revealed in Christ does not operate according to objective rules of conduct, but rather according to the personal relationships of faith and love. "The law is not made for a just man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners..." Yet the law is not evil, but good and even spiritual. However, it is not enough. It is of a temporary and pedagogical nature, and in Christ must be fulfilled and surpassed by personalistic love, according to the image of God's love as revealed in Christ. Faith and love in Christ must be personal. For this reason, faith without love is empty. "Though I have all faith, that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing." Likewise, acts of faith bereft of love are of no avail. "Though I bestow all my goods and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing." 

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