by Archimandrite Ioannikios
From the book: Simple Preaching for a Simple Priest (1986)1
This excerpt was translated from the original Greek by Fr. E.H., 1992
What the Church IS
Our Orthodoxy is the Church just as it came out of the hands of Christ and just as the holy Apostles handed it down to us: undefiled, unadulterated, virginal. Orthodoxy is the pure, Apostolic Christianity. Orthodoxy is the Church of the Holy Fathers, who paid homage to her, lifted her up, glorified her and interpreted the holy Gospel correctly, clearly, with the illumination of the holy Spirit.
Our Orthodoxy is the Church of the Ecumenical Councils, which guard her and protect her from the falsity of the heretics and their errors throughout the centuries, till today. Our Orthodoxy is the Church of the Martyrs, holy Ascetics, Hermits, Hesychasts and Neptic Fathers; the Church of the Confessors, Ecumenical Teachers and New-Martyrs; the Church of the grace-flowing holy relics.
Our Orthodoxy is the Church of Byzantium, Byzantine Music, Byzantine Icons, Byzantine Architecture. Our Orthodoxy is the Church of the Holy Mysteries (Sacraments); the Church of the mystical life in Christ and of Theology, of the prayer of the heart and of our union with God. Our Orthodoxy is the Church of the Byzantine worship “in spirit and in truth” and of the Byzantine Hymnology. Our Orthodoxy is the Church of the Resurrection.
Know your Faith!
How many of us who call ourselves Orthodox do not know Orthodoxy! What a terrible thing not to know our Mother. For this reason many Orthodox to this day, lose their faith, leave the only saving flock of the Church and, like “lost sheep”, become heretics.
It is time, my brothers, to get to know better, more deeply and more clearly our faith; to study the enlightened writings of the Holy Fathers, and especially to live experientially the Theanthropic, ecclesiastical, mystical, Orthodox life. Then we too could say as Phillip did to Nathaniel: “Come and see”, to every fellow human being, to every neighbor, even to every deceived heretic, Jehovah’s Witness and non-Christian: “Come and see”. “Come and see” how man, body and soul, is sanctified in the Spiritual and Christ-centered Body of the Church.
“Come and see” the Truth, the Light, the Theology, the Vision of God, the Divine Liturgy, the Mystical Life, the Dogma, the Grace, the Uncreated Energy of the Holy Spirit. This is Orthodoxy. “Come and see” the incense, the beeswax, the prosforo, the Feasts, the all-night vigils, the fasts, the prostrations, the prayer of the heart, the Byzantine Icons, the Byzantine music. This is Orthodoxy.
What the Church IS NOT
Orthodoxy is not the rationalism, the scholasticism, the worldly life, the material interests, the Banks of the Vatican, the Infallibility of the Pope and the fragmentation of the cold Protestantism. Orthodoxy is not the denial of Panagia, the most holy Theotokos, the denial of the holy Mysteries and holy Icons, the denial of the “cloud” of Martyrs and Ascetics.
“Come and see”, my brother, and give this life-long promise, with all your heart:
Published by the Holy Monastery of St. Gregory Palamas, Koufalia, Thessalonica, 1986, pp. 191-194.
Sunday of Orthodoxy: John (1:44-52):
“Philip found Nathanael and told him, We have found the one whom Moses wrote about in the book of the Law and whom the prophets also wrote about. He is Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth.
Can anything good come from Nazareth? Nathanael asked. Come and see, answered Philip.
When Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, he said about him, Here is a real Israelite; there is nothing false in him!
Nathanael asked him, How do you know me? Jesus answered, I saw you when you were under the fig tree before Philip called you.
Teacher, answered Nathanael, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!
Jesus said, Do you believe just because I told you I saw you when you were under the fig tree? You will see much greater things than this!
And he said to them, I am telling you the truth: you will see heaven open and God’s angels going up and coming down on the Son of Man.”