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Shiranui117
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« on: March 17, 2011, 04:48:09 PM »

Hello all, I was wondering if you could answer a few quick questions I have.

1: Is it considered sinful not to fast during Great Lent, as in the Roman Catholic church?

2: I'm currently reading the first volume of the Philokalia (of all the things my high school library has, this was the LAST thing I expected it to possess! Shocked) and I know they may as well put a big, red "Don't try this at home" stamp on the front cover, and not to try anything hesychastic without a spiritual father, but would you all consider it okay if I read it for spiritual benefit and advice, and for seeing how different Saints have kept Holy Tradition?
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« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2011, 04:52:12 PM »

1. Fasting is done on an individual basis. Yes the church gives us guidelines but we are to do nothing without the advice and blessing of our spiritual father...so no it is not sinful unless you are disobeying you spiritual Father.

2. I think reading it is fine...you may not want to get to caught up in it though especially without a spiritual father to guide you.

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« Last Edit: March 17, 2011, 04:54:28 PM by Altar Server » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2011, 10:41:53 PM »

If you plan to read the Philokalia you might want something like this to go along with it: A Beginner's Introduction to the Philokalia; Author: Anthony M. Coniaris. Years ago I came across a guide that suggested what parts were best for beginners, and what parts were good for those further along, and what parts were good for the mature. Unfortunately I don't know where to locate it now. Just be aware it is a compilation of works written for those at various stages in their journey…what reading is helpful to one will be less helpful, and possibly harmful to another…which is why guidance is always suggested when reading the Philokalia.

In any event the advice to seek counsel from a priest is quite sound, and this is true for any spiritual undertaking.  Your priest can help you select reading that will benefit you where you are.  The same is true for fasting…be guided by your priest.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2011, 10:42:31 PM by Seraphim98 » Logged
Shiranui117
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« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2011, 11:16:37 PM »

Altar Server, thank you for your swift response! Smiley That helps a lot. I will have to speak to my priest next time I can see him.

Seraphim98, thanks for the book suggestion! Going on my list of books to get. In the meantime, I may find out the hard way what's right for me; that is, what doesn't break my brain!  Cheesy Hopefully Father will have some suggestions for selections out of the Philokalia for me to read and learn from.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2011, 11:22:26 PM by Wandering Sheep » Logged
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« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2011, 09:34:20 AM »

Orthodox look at the fasting guidelines as prescriptive.  If we don't follow the prescriptions the Church or our spiritual father has given us (just as we might not follow our doctor's health advice) we will not receive the spiritual benefits that come with the struggle.  It has less to do with breaking a rule and more to do with following advice.

I have no advice on the Philokalia. 
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Shiranui117
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« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2011, 09:40:09 PM »

I'm back, with a few more questions.  Wink

What is the position of Orthodoxy as regards the St. Benedict Medal? I understand the Rule of St. Benedict is also to be found in Orthodoxy, but does Orthodoxy retain the same views of the St. Benedict Medal? I'll include an explanation of it that I received from my Roman Catholic parish:
Quote
The Medal of St. Benedict is the most highly indulgenced medal in the Catholic Church. When the exorcism blessings are applied by a Benedictine priest, the medal has power over evil: Storms, poisons, pestilence, the devil's legions, etc. You must use the medal by calling down the intercession of St. Benedict. (Use by dipping in liquids, placing on/in important machinery, structures, etc.) On many feast days of Our Lord, it is possible to gain a plenary or a partial indulgence by carrying or wearing the medal; invoking the intercession of St. Benedict; and, praying for the abolishment of heresy. While blessing the St. Benedict Medal, the priest places the exorcism blessing of St. Benedict and St. Maurus on the medal. St. Maurus is a great Benedictine Saint.
^Does that line up with Orthodoxy or Orthodox practice? Does Orthodoxy view the St. Benedict Medal in the same light?

2: What's the position of Orthodoxy on the Promises of the Brown Scapular, such as the Sabbatine Privilege and protection from hellfire by following the rules of the Brown Scapular? http://carmelnet.org/scapular/brown/brown.htm
« Last Edit: March 28, 2011, 09:45:39 PM by Wandering Sheep » Logged
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« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2011, 02:58:20 AM »

2: What's the position of Orthodoxy on the Promises of the Brown Scapular, such as the Sabbatine Privilege and protection from hellfire by following the rules of the Brown Scapular?

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« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2011, 08:47:04 AM »

Plenary or partial indulgences have never been part of Orthodox teaching or practice. And Michal is dead right on his comment on the brown scapular.
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« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2011, 12:56:45 AM »

Theres a thread on Novena's ,are scapulars  part of the novena practice ,
it's seems to me like they would go hand in hand......  Grin
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« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2011, 10:01:29 AM »

Wandering Sheep,

Orthodox spirituality is based upon the teachings of the early Church and its development through the Holy fathers and the 7 ecumenical councils. Spiritual traditions of the west and the east are often  different even before the Great Schism. In the West there became a pattern of specific spirituial practices with specific promises or plenary reqards for doing so. In the east the focus was upon theosis, the gaining of a knowledge of the unseen light of God, and the more individualized approaxch to spiritual life. One sees some Orthodox Saints who adopted the Rosary for example into their spiritual practices but with Orthodox Christian flavor while other sainst used only the Jesus Prayer as their spiritual practice. One finds less definition and rules in Holy Orthodoxy enabling one to select within the teachings of the Holy father's of the East an individualized spiritual program that stands united in one faith and one communion. In the West where legalism became a tool for modeling the spiritual belief of the western Christian even among the protestants, one finds a black and white, "my way or the highway" sense of spirituality that seeks cookie cutter duplication of spiritual practices and rewards/punishments.

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Shiranui117
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« Reply #10 on: June 07, 2011, 09:41:38 AM »

Bumping this thread for another question (and thank you all for your answers to my previous question)

This one might tend towards the more mysterious side of eschatology, but... If we all wait in Hades/Purgatory/whatever you want to call it before the Last Judgement, and pray for ourselves, the other dead, those on earth, and vice-versa, then are the Saints already in Heaven due to how far they've come along in theosis, or are they still waiting like the rest of us to "get in," and praying for us all in Hades?
« Last Edit: June 07, 2011, 09:42:14 AM by Wandering Sheep » Logged
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« Reply #11 on: June 07, 2011, 10:00:15 AM »

Wow, good question...I'd like to know as well.

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« Reply #12 on: June 07, 2011, 11:21:08 AM »

The way that I understand this, and because after-life questions are so complex and we know only so much, I welcome any and all correction, is something like this.

When we die, our souls undergo a partial judgment, which is partial because our bodies are not being judged as well - in Orthodoxy your body is just as much a part of you as your soul is.  Subsequent to this partial judgment is a foretaste of what we can expect following the Final Judgment.  If our partial judgment is in our favor, we will experiences some sort of peaceful and blissful state, which will increase when our bodies are united to us.  If our partial judgment is against us, we will experience some sort of unimaginable pain, which will increase when our bodies are united to us.  As I understand it, prayers for the dead may be able to change someone's partial judgment so that instead of condemnation they receive reconciliation.

It is important to remember, I think, whenever we speak of suffering after life, that there is certainly a strain of thought in Orthodoxy which says that rather than a lake of fire that we will all be thrown into after death if we are condemned, we will all be filled with the love of God, being infinitely closer to Him than we are now (I read somewhere on this forum that the word brimstone in Revelation could also be translated as God, this would then mean, if what I read is accurate, that the passage speaks of a lake of fire and God or - probably more accurately - a lake of God-fire).  This will mean that those of us prepared for Him from this life (and I suppose the prayers we (hopefully) receive when we die) will be in a great state of peace, and those who are unprepared will be in horrible agony.  I've read (also on this forum) that this can be compared to nuts (we'll go with pistachios because I love them).  To some people, to hand them a ten pound bag of pistachios would be a wonderful gift that would make them inexpressibly happy (me for instance, they are so expensive).  I would eat them and eat them until I was full.  They could be my dinner, my lunch, and my breakfast until they are gone.  However, some people - and they may not even realize it yet - could be allergic to pistachios.  Then, when they go to put one in their mouth, what they thought was a nice gift, could cause them immeasurable pain, their throat could swell up, etc.
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« Reply #13 on: June 07, 2011, 01:28:45 PM »

Bumping this thread for another question (and thank you all for your answers to my previous question)

This one might tend towards the more mysterious side of eschatology, but... If we all wait in Hades/Purgatory/whatever you want to call it before the Last Judgement, and pray for ourselves, the other dead, those on earth, and vice-versa, then are the Saints already in Heaven due to how far they've come along in theosis, or are they still waiting like the rest of us to "get in," and praying for us all in Hades?


It's important to remember that the word "saint" is derived from the Latin "Santus", and is equivalent to the Greek "Hagios." This simply means "holy" or "consecrated," being "set apart" in service to God. In the Scriptures, we hear talk of the "saints" residing in a specific city (Corinth, Antioch, Ephesus, Rome, Jerusalem, etc.) This simply means "those who are set apart for God's service in [whichever city]" -- The Christians residing there.

However, "saint" took up a different meaning as the cult of martyrs grew. As God raised up witnesses, they were killed by the pagan Emperor (the word martyr is of Greek origin, and simply means "witness") for their Christian faith. God showed His love for these saints in the miracles wrought by them, either in their life (healing, clairvoyence, levitation, emerging from torture/death penalties miraculously unharmed etc.) or after death (their relics becoming healing, gushing with myrrh or milk and honey, sometimes the saints would even appear to people after their death etc.). These signs became a witness not only to the pagans, but to the Christians. They were a sign and promise the resurrection. Due to this, the tradition arose to pray to these holy martyrs, and the Eucharist was prepared on the tombs of the marytrs and to this day, Holy Tables and antimensia (the cloth on which the Eucharist is prepared) are consecrated with the relics of saints.

Now, this idea expanded again after Christianity was legalized, then became the state religion of the Roman Empire. People where no longer dying for the faith. At this time, other types of saints were recognized. Monastics, hierarchs and theologians, fools for christ, etc. And so, "saint" now means those who have finished their race (died) and now have entered the Kingdom of God in forestaste in Paradise (the Bosom of Arbaham) in anticipation of the glorious resurrection. All of those who await the resurrection in Paradise, all of those who are "saved" are truly saints. For example, it is a pious custom for some to pray to beloved relatives (such as parents) who have reposed.

That said, God sometimes shows forth certain persons as examples of saintly lives. A cult of veneration forms around the person, and over time the Church officially glorifies the person, commissioning hymns and icons for the saint in order to acknowledge the work already wrought by God. These people are THE saints, as we often speak of them. Those with feasts days, icons and hymns, that are particular examples to us on how to live out our Christian faith and piety. All who are saved partake of the foretaste of the Kingdom in Paradise, but not all of them are known to us here. Some saints remain unknown to the Church at large, and instead are known only to God Himself. The saints which have been made manifest to us, as well as those who remain unseen, inhabit Paradise together, and await the resurrection of all.

I hope this is helpful, and ask anyone to correct me where I have erred.
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Shiranui117
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« Reply #14 on: June 26, 2011, 11:06:50 PM »

Another question, similar to the last one:

It seems to be the understanding of the Orthodox that Heaven and Hell are not separate places (nor is Hell a place apart from God, since He is omnipresent) but simply different states of how we react to God's presence, much like being eternally stuck in a room with a person A: we hate with a flaming passion; B: we feel awkward around for a while before everything's cream and cheese; or C: or a person we're really close with, to give a brief illustration.

My question is, if this is the Orthodox consensus, then what do we make of the parables Jesus tells (ex. the goats and the sheep) where Jesus says, "Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels"? (Matt. 25:41) Or the various parables (ex. parable of the talents) where it ends with the Lord giving commands such as, "And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth"? (Matt. 25:30) Or the great chasm mentioned by Abraham between the damned and the saved in Luke 16:26? There are many other examples of such divisive language between the place of the saved and damned, but I'm not going to list them all here... Any insight or help on this question would be appreciated!
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« Reply #15 on: June 27, 2011, 01:04:13 AM »

This one might tend towards the more mysterious side of eschatology, but... If we all wait in Hades/Purgatory/whatever you want to call it before the Last Judgement

We don't.
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« Reply #16 on: June 27, 2011, 01:05:55 AM »

Or the great chasm mentioned by Abraham between the damned and the saved in Luke 16:26?

Parable not about the afterlife, but life now.
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