Monthly Archives

August 1999

1999, Articles, Raiati

The Orthodox Movements Association / 08.08.1999

In the late 1940s, Fr. Alexander Schemann (Russian) met with Nikos Nisiotis (Greek) and the writer of these lines in Europe after feeling that the movements of Orthodox youths around the world need to have more unity and coordination. We launched the idea in a bigger meeting in the suburbs of Geneva. We called this movement “Syndesmos”, which means “the bond”, and we took this name from the expression “bond of peace” that Paul used in Ephesians 4: 3.

It includes now 120 youth movements in addition to Theological institutes from fifty countries. The movement was blessed by the heads of all our churches. The Association revived preaching in pagan nations. It supported Orthodox unity and supported the faithful to have Holy Communion. It also took care of environmental issues. The general assembly meets every four years to elect its administrative body and choose the subjects it suggests on the movements to study.

The last general assembly was held between 15 and 25 July in the Transfiguration monastery, Valamo (Finland). Around 250 delegates came from all over our East, Europe, America and Africa, in addition to representatives from the Oriental Churches (non-Chalcedonic). They were distributed into groups that studied secularism, ecclesiastic traditions and habits, liturgical language, inter-Christian dialogue, social service, laics in Church, Ethical values, Theological institutes, and Orthodoxy & Environment. We were around ten from the Antiochian Church. A president, general secretary and a helping staff were elected. Then, a group went as pilgrims to Russia, to the old Monastery of Valamo situated on the Ladoga Lake next to Petersburg.

The atmosphere of the monastery was amazing in an area of 300 Hectares of land. It is visited by many pilgrims coming from the Orthodox Church of Finland that has around sixty thousand Finnish believers in addition to 150 thousand foreigners (Greeks, Bulgarians, Romanians…). It is a very active Church that has a kind of autonomy under the Patriarchate of Constantinople (i.e. the Ecumenical Patriarchate agrees on the election of the Archbishop while the local Council elects the bishops of the Archdioceses and runs the issues of the Church without going back to Constantinople). Orthodox Theology is taught in an independent faculty that is a part of the state university. All of their priests are intellectual. Piety is obvious. Their liturgical style in performing and composition is Russian because Finnish Orthodox believers were a part of the Church of Moscow before the Russian Revolution. They have a lot of energy and no complex of minority (knowing that we are only 1% of the Finnish people).

This fusion between the youths of all around the world was beautiful. We used many languages because of the presence of many nations. Of course, some of the representative groups were more open and flexible such as the Antiochian group, and in comparison with those some conservative closed tendencies appeared. However, the Orthodox unity was obvious.

The importance of this association is that it is a tool of revival in Churches; it spreads its thoughts in the Orthodox world which is one world distributed into regional units. Here, we have a geographic unit that includes all Arabic youth movements between the Churches of Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem. We hope that the influence of the Syndesmos would become stronger between our Churches and become heard by the spiritual authorities. Perhaps the coming four years would give all our Churches more whiffs from the Divine Spirit.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “رابطة الحركات الأرثوذكسية” –Raiati no32- 08.08.1999

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1999, Articles, Raiati

Getting Ready for Communion / 01.08.1999

There is no doubt that communion isn’t only a right for the believer in every liturgy but also a duty. The attendance towards communion became great when believers understood that they cannot become complete without it. It is their heavenly bread and the source of their eternal life. However, the encounter with Jesus is a responsible encounter based on our love and commitment for him. It is a process that requires an awareness regarding the greatness of the encounter and the depth of the love that it carries. In simpler words, the condition for this communion is repentance and the intention to leave sin and eagerness to stay with the Lord forever.

One of the ways of getting ready is staying without food since dawn. This preparation is fear in the sense: “With fear of God draw near”. He who didn’t plan to be a better person after the liturgy must abstain himself from receiving the Lord’s body. The person that is preparing a sinful plan or that is intending to stay in his hatred and bad relationships and lies isn’t concerned with the call of the priest: “With fear for God and faith and love draw near”.

If your heart wasn’t moved for Christ and you didn’t ask his friendship and intimacy, do not stand in the line of those who are approaching communion. Since the night that precedes the liturgy, you should stay alone with the Lord through prayer and holy readings. Among these prayers, there is the “metalipsis”, which is a collection of prayers that are read after the Small Compline and that contain meanings of repentance, piety and asking for forgiveness. And before going to Church, it is necessary to say any prayer (you can make it up) in which you tell the Lord that you are going to him.

If you arrived very late to the liturgy, this means that you are not interested in it. Therefore, do not have communion. You should attend the whole divine service since “Blessed is the Kingdom of the Father…” and it is also better to participate in the Matins service in order to hear the meanings of resurrection which elevate your soul through resurrectional chants. How could you approach Christ’s divine blood before becoming paschal through tasting His triumph?

Communion isn’t a Sunday habit. We do not get used to things. We are always with Jesus in a renewed love. We receive Him on Sunday as if it is our first time. You cannot become a new man if you didn’t accept Him as a new dawn, as if you were baptized today. If you passed by the liturgy as if it is a group of consecutive segments with a tone that you like, i.e. if you were shallow to this extent, how could you approach such a fearful food?

You can find fondness with Jesus, but you can only earn this after fatigue. If your heart didn’t experience tears and if you weren’t stained with your tears, then you are a dry person, and dry people do not accept Christ in His tenderness. If you didn’t understand that the Lord is the whole life, you should abstain yourself.

Was your heart covered with silence and crowned with mercy? Did you stay away from the noise and glow of lust in you? Did you deny yourself from all the whispers of the devil and pushed him away from you? Did you love the divine lover? If you did so, approach while feeling fear towards your salvation and asking for mercy from your Lord and being crushed to the extent of disappearing in front of the Lord’s feet. If you weren’t in this situation, then you do seem close but you wouldn’t have approached the Lord’s heart, you wouldn’t have been thrown in His bosom. Be fearful, then feel secure and come.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “الاستعداد للمناولة” –Raiati 31- 01.08.1999

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