FAITH IN A TIME OF PANDEMIC: CORONAVIRUS AND HOLY COMMUNION by Archbishop Sotirios of Canada

In publishing this announcement we wish to express Orthodoxy in Dialogue’s solidarity with Archbishop Sotirios and prayers for brotherly unity in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Canada during this most difficult of times for the life of our Church.

A Chronicle of Events

With the advent of the coronavirus, our churches were closed to the public on March 17, 2020, by order of the government authorities in Canada (we are generally referring to government authorities in Canada, because matters in regard to health do not fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government, but rather under the jurisdiction of provincial governments and local municipalities). The churches reopened on June 12, 2020.

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Archbishop Sotirios (Athanassoulas)

For the period between June 12 to July 3, 2020, the churches dispersed Holy Communion normally, until one or more persons (their names are known, but will only be made public at a later date) complained to the government authorities in Canada that the Greek Orthodox Churches are giving Holy Communion with a common spoon for all the faithful, and that this practice would create serious health problems. It is noted here that all Christian churches, as well as places of worship of all other religions, have received and continue to receive the same treatment on behalf of government authorities.

Following this complaint, I met with some priests on Friday, July 3, 2020. (Not all of the priests were present since the authorities did not allow gatherings of more than 10 persons). Because it was a Friday and we could not communicate with the government authorities in time, it was decided that on Sunday, July 5, 2020, no Holy Communion was to be given to the faithful during the Divine Liturgy. Read More


NOTES FROM AFRICA: HAGIA SOPHIA A PLACE OF ENCOUNTER OR EXCLUSION? by Metropolitan Petros of Accra

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Metropolitan Petros of Accra

There can be no doubt that Hagia Sophia evokes strong sentiments. For Orthodox Christians, the Greeks in particular, the “Great Church of the Divine Wisdom of God” was the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarch, the greatest cathedral in the Christian world for almost a thousand years, the spiritual heart of the Byzantine Empire. When Constantinople fell in 1453, Mehmet the Conqueror made it a mosque. For Turks (and I stress Turks, not Muslims) who have now turned it back into a mosque, it has become once again the symbol of the conquest of Constantinople and victory over Byzantium, but also the victory of Islam over Christianity.

Hagia Sophia embodies the complexity of Turkish and European history, and of Christian and Islamic traditions. Recognizing this, and driven by his efforts to secularize Turkey, in 1935 Mustafa Kemal Atatürk turned it into a museum and it subsequently became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It thus became a “place of encounter,” inspiring people of all nations and faiths, an expression of Turkey’s desire to leave behind the conflicts of the past. Read More


THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT: ON CHASTITY, ASCETICISM, AND SEXUAL LIBERATION by Giacomo Sanfilippo

This brief reflection was submitted to Public Orthodoxy in May 2017, shortly after the appearance of Conjugal Friendship and three months before the launch of Orthodoxy in Dialogue, in response to The Power of Sexual Purity by Drs. David and Mary Ford. It has lain forgotten in an email file until now.

In his conversation with Nicholas Motovilov, St. Seraphim of Sarov offers a succinct elucidation of life in Christ:

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The true aim of our Christian life consists in the acquisition of the Holy Spirit of God. As for fasts, and vigils, and prayer, and almsgiving, and every good deed done for Christ’s sake, they are only means of acquiring the Holy Spirit of God.

And again:

In the parable of the wise and foolish virgins, when the foolish ones lacked oil, it was said: “Go and buy in the market.” But when they had bought, the door of the bridal chamber was already shut and they could not get in. Some say that the lack of oil in the lamps of the foolish virgins means a lack of good deeds in their lifetime. Such an interpretation is not quite correct. Why should they be lacking in good deeds if they are called virgins, even though foolish ones? Virginity is the supreme virtue, an angelic state, and it could take the place of all other good works. Read More


WE KNEW NOT WHETHER WE WERE IN HEAVEN OR ON EARTH

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Grand Prince Vladimir/Volodymyr of Kyiv (AD 958-1015) sent his emissaries to tour the world in search of the True Faith. Upon their return they reported to him as follows: 

Then we went to Greece [Constantinople], and the Greeks (including the Emperor himself) led us to the edifices where they worship their God, and we knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth. For on earth there is no such splendour or such beauty, and we are at a loss how to describe it. We only know that God dwells there among men, and their service is fairer than the ceremonies of other nations. For we cannot forget that beauty.

The Primary Chronicle
St. Nestor the Chronicler (AD 1056-1114)
Monastery of the Caves in Kyiv

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