Orthodoxy and Orthopraxis
by Very Rev. Fr. Mark Aziz
Fr. Mark: In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
I will just read one verse with you. Mumkin, can you come? We’ll make it informal please, we’ll discuss and talk about it together. In Romans 8, chapter 8 verse 29, “For whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.” To conform to the image of his Son. Can you tell me how you understand this verse? To conform to the image of his Son. Yes? I’m here to learn, so please, be gracious. To conform to the image of his Son.
Male: His commandments
Fr. Mark: He command. What else? Anything else? Tayeb. The title is Orthodoxy and Orthopraxis. What does it mean, orthopraxis? Have you seen this word before?
Let me share with you one word first, and then we’ll go further to see what the Lord is going to talk to us, how to conform to the image of his Son. I want to talk with at most of you are servant, so it’s a mission. You are the mission church of the Coptic Church in the whole world. So, we are here to learn from you before anything else.
There are two words. One of them is bapto. The other one is baptizo. You will find both of them in many verses in the Bible. Jesus himself said “No one can be baptized,” or can be having this bapto, baptizo, “like me.” Why? A very famous quote here by a Greek scholar who is trying to show us how to pickle, to make pickle. He was using the two words to show us the difference between both them.
If you like to make pickles, you need first to bapto this vegetables in water and then baptizo in vinegar. It ends up when you bapto something in the water, just you clean from outside, but if you are baptizo, making baptizo to this vegetables, then the vinegar is inside and outside. It’s a total conversion. It becomes something totally different. So, when we say orthodoxy and orthopraxis, we are trying to find out what we learn, how we read the Scripture, how we reach others, but with this baptizo, not bapto. How we are totally different from inside and from outside as well.
So, let me today three words only to see the orthodoxy in them and the orthopraxis in them. The first one is Trinitarian. I’m sure that all of you used to read books written by many authors, whether it is orthodox, non-orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, even sometimes atheist, if you read for example psychology. Very different books. If I’m trying to understand the book for myself or to convey this message as a servant in the church in which way?
I’m sure everyone else has read before books written by different authors, especially the famous names: Rick Warren, Max Lucado and so on. What is the difference between their way of addressing a certain topic and if I were read the book and read it to someone else? When we say our church’s teaching is Trinitarian, what does it mean for us personally? If you look to the letters, even before we start, when we are crossing the tunics, I want to say the, reciting the Trinity three times before we start anything.
The Church is always focusing that we are worshiping the Trinity. We are not focusing only on the Son. We are not focusing only on the Holy Spirit. We are not focusing only on the Father. We show at all times, everything is a Trinitarian act. Trinity is not something we use to say when we are so young. “In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” it’s alive.
Saint John said in 1 John 1:1-4, the aim of the Christian life, let us read it. Can you go with me to 1 John chapter 1? He is trying tell us, when you believe in the Trinity, you need to live the Trinity. When you preach the Trinity, you need to show if it’s an orthodox teaching or it is an orthopraxis. It is an act of the Trinity in my life. Let us read it together.
“That which was from the beginning, which was heard, which was have seen with our eyes, which have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life. The life was manifested, and we have seen and bear witness. And declare to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us, that which we have seen and declare to you that you also may have fellowship with us and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.”
If what I have received is Trinitarian, I’m going to convey it as a transformation in my life to the life of the Holy Trinity. This is orthopraxis of the Trinitarian teaching. We hear many people talking about psychology or Christian counseling, but when we look to the details of it, we discover that they are talking about the Holy Spirit is going to heal you. Where is the Father and Son? Or the blood of Jesus will cleanse you, which is true, but where is the Father and the Holy Spirit? Very few churches, one of them of course the Orthodox Church, are very focused on worshiping the acts and the fellowship of the Holy Trinity.
When we say that we are serving God and we believe the Holy Trinity, it’s the Holy Trinity working in me, with me, through me in everything I speak. When we say it’s a personal relationship with the Holy Trinity, I’m not ignoring any one of them. The Church is encouraging us in every single occasion, if it’s a wedding, liturgy, vespers, matins, to tell us the love of God, the Father, the grace of his Son, Jesus Christ, the communion and the gift of the Holy Spirit. We are in a fellowship with the Holy Trinity.
The first deed we did when we read the book would be convey a message to show that we are worshiping the Holy Trinity. This is exactly what the whole liturgy is telling us. We are in a fellowship with the Holy Trinity through the incarnation. The same thing, when we receive anything, when we try to convey a message and we ignore the incarnation, as we read now, “and life was manifested”. Who is this life? It is the Son of Man who was manifested. He was incarnated to show us how to be in fellowship with the Holy Trinity.
When we receive teaching or we convey teaching as servants, we need to know to know these two clear facts. We are worshiping the Holy Trinity, and the second thing through the incarnation we have this fellowship with the Holy Trinity. You can read any book. You can convey any message. You can hear whatever you want, but focus on when I read it, when I convey it, when I receive it, I have to receive it in this way and showing how I am living this orthopraxis as well. I know that every liturgy I am uniting myself with the incarnated Son of God.
Saint Cyril the Great says it’s like two pieces of wax melted together, and they become one. This is what’s happening in each liturgy. I’m uniting myself like two pieces of wax. He said something else. It is recieved physically, it’s a natural participation. I and the Christ have natural participation, we are one flesh. This is the reality of being in the life of the Holy Trinity.
Without this we are talking about a doctrine called Holy Trinity, not something to live. It’s not something to experience every day. It’s not part of my own personal life. When we believe in the Trinity, the teaching of our Church, the teaching we receive and convey is a Trinitarian teaching through the incarnation of the Son of God. It is a very simple one.
The second one, we have more rhymes, three T’s. The first “T” is Trinitarian. The second one is tradition. Let me stop for one second. What is tradition in your mind? What does it mean, the word tradition? Something boring and very old? What’s tradition? Apostolic. Orthodox. What else? When you hear the word tradition, what is the first thing that comes to your mind?
Male: Passed down.
Fr. Mark: Passed down with? What else?
Male: Very old.
Fr. Mark: Very old. You know, for a long time we hear the word and because of the bad reputation of the word in West, like it’s a traditional church. Boring church. But, the word is totally different. The word mentioned in the New Testament 30 times, 8 of them in a negative way, 3 of them only in Mark chapter 7, but the word itself is very positive. It’s a dynamic act. The word in our mind is very static, something very old, but the word is totally different. Why?
Let me tell you first the historical background of the word, and then you can, and then you can find out how our teaching that we receive and convey is traditional and how to live the orthopraxis of this tradition. Until 1054, when the church in the West was one church as Roman Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox was one church which we call the Chalcedonian church. We are non-Chalcedonian churches, we are the oriental churches.
At that time all churches were Chalcedonian and believe in one thing. We have one source of revelation. God revealed himself through one source. This source is the tradition, not the Scriptures. What we hear now is the Scripture, it’s very non-orthodox teaching, because the church at the time believed in one source of teaching or one source of revelation, that tradition. This tradition meant six components. The first one is the Scripture itself. The second one is the liturgies. The third one, the canons. The fourth one, the creeds. The fifth one, the Fathers. The sixth one, some people added the icons.
Let me spend a few minutes on each one of them. We are discussing today in the morning about the meaning of the Scripture, Why, for example, now we have a big debate with most of the reformed churches about the real presence of the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist. Why? What do you think? Why even most of the reformed churches are confused with each other about the real presence of the Eucharist particularly? Why? Yes. If you whisper, I will hear you.
For a major problem, we thank God we don’t have it. Why? If now we just flip to Matthew 26:26, the four verses of our Eucharist. Every denomination now is trying to pick up the text, trying to understand the text, right? That’s why we have different interpretations. Some of them said it’s a symbol. Some said it’s for “do this for remembrance of me”. We said, “No, it’s the real presence. It’s the real body and blood of Christ.” What is the difference between both of them?
Let me take you to a small journey back in time to visit a church three or four years after the resurrection of our Lord. Can you imagine a church three or four years after the resurrection of our Lord, how the church would look like? Let us go and have to attend when a liturgy was there. Maybe the priest of this church was Saint Peter himself. We have the liturgy of the Word. Definitely there was no New Testament.
So, they read part of the Old Testament, and then Saint Peter was explaining as he did, for example, in the Pentecost. This is the fulfillment of Jesus Christ. Then he added something more, his own personal experience. He told them the story when he walked on the water. Then he continued, and we have the communion at the end of this liturgy. At the time, the church had something called the Apostolic Creed. It was quite short, but they had the creed at the time.
Later, in 49 we have a council, the first ecumenical council, at that time the Council of Jerusalem, and we have a decision for this council. We have a canon for the church at that time. All this has been done without writing a single word in the New Testament. So, the Church was living a real, full life, having a liturgy, having canons, having creeds, and having interpretation from the Apostles, but we have no New Testament.
So, when the Holy Spirit inspired some of the disciples to write down the Scripture, we were not making an event. We were recording a living event. What all the churches are trying now, we are bringing the text and trying to make an event out of a text, which is totally the opposite. That’s why they are mixing up. When you think of our traditional church, it means we believe in the event before the text. We lived the event, the fullness of the event, before having a text.
Later, the Holy Spirit inspired churchmen to write the Scripture. Later, the church canonized the Scripture, kept the Scripture, and even explained the Scripture as well. That’s why we have some of the Fathers, we call them, Apostolic Fathers. They were direct disciples of the Apostles, and we have their successors. So, we have a continuity of understanding the Scripture.
When you see we are a traditional church, it is something very dynamic. As you said, the word in Greek means, handing over, which is not something old, we keep it aside. We are handing over a life. That’s why when we say now the Scripture, like some other church think “the Scripture alone”. It’s a heresy. Never heard of until the sixteenth century.
Even Luther never said so, but he puts authority of the Scripture over everything. It’s amazing to see that Luther himself, who pushed the church to believe in Scripture alone, he is the one who took off seven books from the Old Testament. He was insisting to take another seven books from the New Testament, but he failed. He spoke very badly about them, especially the Epistle of Saint James, but he couldn’t take it off. And in the end they are saying, “Scripture alone”.
So, we say are a traditional church or our teaching is traditional. It means we use event, we live the event, and we have the Scripture to endorse the event. There is something very important. The event can explain the text but not vice versa. I will give you one example, very simple example.
You know the Lord’s Prayer? Where can you find in the Bible? Where can you find in the Bible? In Matthew 6 and in Luke 11, but there is a difference between both of them. Those who are trying to find something wrong in our Scripture, your Bible is corrupted. Even the Lord’s Prayer which you are praying it every day many times, there’s a big difference, especially the end. One of them is ending with the Gloria. The other one is not ending with it.
Which one Christ said? Open your Bible and look. Check your Lord’s Prayer. Open to Luke chapter 11 verse 2. It ends in verse 4. “And not lead us in temptation, but deliver us from the Evil One.” That’s it. It is the end of the Lord’s Prayer in Luke 11. In Matthew 6 it ends, “For thine is the power”. Which one is right do you think? If just we have two texts, one of them having this Gloria. The other one doesn’t have the Gloria. You want to ask question?
Since Luke wrote his Gospel to the Gentiles, to the Romans. Saint Matthew wrote to Jewish people. In the Jewish tradition, it was no prayer that does not end with the Gloria. So, when Saint Matthew wrote to the Hebrews, he was telling them, here is how we are going to pray it. Like, if now a woman is asking you, “Please pray?” Will she ask you, “Cross yourself before you pray? Cross yourself after you finish prayer?” No, because you will do it. Your culture, your background, it says when you start praying, you cross yourself. The same thing.
Because we have the event that no Jewish prayer does not end with a Gloria. Saint Matthew is writing through this event, so we are not comparing text with text. We know the event. Through the event we can understand the difference in the text. If we have only two texts, we are saying, “This one is missing one verse.” Which one is right? We have a wrong question because we are trying to make from the text and understanding and comparison between two texts.
The Church is always living the tradition. We have one source of revelation. That’s why you’ll find the Church after 1054 when the Great Schism between the West and the East, the Eastern Orthodox and the Catholic Church. We started to have two sources of revelation, which makes a big problem later during the time of Reformation.
In the Church there was a time, they believed in two sources. One of them is tradition, and the other one is Scripture. This tradition has extra-Biblical teaching contradicting even the Scripture. All the Reformers, starting from as early as John Hus, they were objecting on the difference in this extra-Biblical teaching which is against the Bible itself. In our church, we never had this problem. We always believe in one source of revelation.
I spoke only now about the Scripture, the liturgies. When we say the Scripture, here is very important point because always people are raising this point. Are you able to understand the Scripture by yourself? You’ll miss out. Don’t read the Scripture alone. Don’t have your quiet time. Have you heard this before? Why? Because people are mixing up between two things.
We have something called in the church “internal judgment” and “external judgment”. This is how to live the orthopraxis of the Scripture. I will give you a very simple example also from the Church. Saint Simon the Tanner, he was illiterate. He heard the verse, “If your eyes are going to stumble you, just pluck it out.” He was stumbled, he took off his eye. Is it right interpretation? No? But, he is a saint, and through him God moves the mountain.
When we misunderstand the Scripture in a good conscience, God is going to sanctify your life, and you will be a saint like Saint Simon the Tanner, but you can’t stand here and teach if your eyes are going to stumble you. Take it off literally, this external judgment. When we teach, we teach the interpretation of the Church to the verse, not your personal experience. The Church encourage us to read your Bible. Understand as much as you can, even if you are going to misunderstand, God is going to bless you for your faithfulness. Don’t teach your personal experience.
Many even Church saints at one point messed up because he taught on personal experience as a dogma or doctrine of the Church. We are required to read the Scripture as much as we can, to allow them in our life as much as we can, but we are not going to teach our own personal interpretation. When we teach, we teach from the heritage of the Church, the 200 years. We believe in the Scripture as lived by the saints, as explained by the Fathers. Still, I read my Scripture, understand whatever I can understand, and God is going to bless me.
When we say the liturgy and how to live it to the fullness of it. The liturgy is the whole public prayers, not only the Eucharist. When we say it has two wings, everything in the Church has these two wings: personal act and corporate act. I will give you one example, and then we can speak more about it. In the Eucharist, I as an individual, as a person, am uniting myself with the head of the body, Jesus Christ. It is a personal act between me and God. At the same time it is a corporate act. I am uniting myself with all believers, past, present and future because the Eucharist is an eternal act.
Anytime we hear in the Church has two wings: personal one and corporate one. When we say we are traditional church, it means it’s not you alone or we alone. We find again I am talking about theology not people. In the Catholic theologies there is no “I”, only “we”. You have no presence. You should be only within the “we” of the Church. In the 13th century when the humanistic movement started, we saw that there is no “I”, so they started to empower the “I”. And once, they formed this habit they started to say I am saved. I can take my position. I can’t understand the Scripture alone. To empower the “I” which was missed out with the “we” of the Catholic.
In our church, there is a balance between the “I” and the “we”. If you see it in the liturgy, sometimes you are saying “We believe”, other times “I believe”. I have my own personal believe, which is within the Church of the “we”, the Church. If you look to the baptism, you’ll find forms. In our church is the smaller one. After renouncing the devil, the new baptized or his parents are saying, “I believe in one God,” but when we recite it together we say, “We believe in one God.” It’s the baptismal, personal act of the belief and then the communal. All of us believe the same, but I personally have my own belief. The Church in our tradition we are balancing between the “I” and the “we”. We are not missing out any of them.
We say this liturgy, which means the whole year is a liturgical year from day one in the Coptic year until the last day, we are living the whole life of Christ. We find some teaching or some people focusing the whole year about one thing: the Holy Spirit or the cross or salvation, which is good. Our Church is telling us Christ is offering all his life to everyone, so it’s a yearly reminder, a daily reminder, weekly reminder that we are celebrating the whole life of Christ. We are called to live the whole life of Christ.
Saint Paul says in II Corinthians 4:10-11, twice, “that the life of Christ may be manifested in our mortal bodies.” So, when we say we are a liturgical church, part of the tradition is the liturgy. I am living the full life of Christ on the personal act and a corporate act. The whole world has to see it in my life. This is orthopraxis. The Fathers said there is no orthodoxy without orthopraxis, and there is no orthopraxis without orthodoxy, so both of them. It’s not a matter of doctrine to argue with others. It’s how to live it, in the fullness of it.
Sacramental I’m not going to speak about a lot. When we say sacramental, it means we have real means of grace. It is not an old tradition that we have to baptize a child or anoint him with Holy Myron or to tell people they need to confess and have communion and, and, and. No. It is a real action in my life. When the Church was telling us about especially the baptism and the Eucharist, it is something through it who receives the fullness of the life of Christ once more. The whole theology of St Cyril of Alexandria or most of the theology of the Church, for example, is based on the new life, the newness of life through the baptism and the charismation and then the renewal of life through the Eucharist.
Again, it is my daily life. Every day I am coming to church for this renewal. Every liturgy I am receiving something new. Every liturgy I am moving on towards eternity. In the Greek tradition everyone who is coming for the communion is asking the priest on a daily basis, “Today I ask you, Son of God, to accept me to partake today of your body and blood.” And then the command – you’ll find in most of the liturgy books – today is the opening of the everlasting now. The everlasting now. I start my eternity, for I renew my eternity in every liturgy. It’s not a habit. It’s not a good thing to have a communion every Sunday. It is the everlasting now that I am invited every liturgy to enjoy, to experience.
The creeds, as I told you, the Church is insisting when we recite that creed it is with a loud voice, all of us. Why? Because this is what we believe. It has been written, done for my transformation. So, the Church is the place where the beings are transformed into becomings. We are changed every time we come to church. Even in the Scripture.
You know, you read your Bible, and we encourage everyone to read his Bible at home. Father Schmemman said, when you come to church and we read the same Scripture in the liturgy, the Holy Spirit is converting these words into personal revelations. Even to read the Scripture in the liturgy, it’s not that I am to sit down or to sleep. It’s a time of new revelations. It’s the same verses you read before at home, but now the Holy Spirit is going to reveal it as a personal revelation for every one of us.
So, when you recite the Creed in the Church, we are, as I was discussing with some of you yesterday, it’s who for us our salvation became man. The Creed is very personal. Who is, for me and for my salvation, became man. Then we start to say the whole story. And he is coming once more. For whom? Who? For me and for my salvation is again the baptismal form of the Eucharist.
When you go home after the Eucharist you believe that you have received something differently. You received the eternal Jesus inside you. You become one with him. Saint Augustine says that in every liturgy we are not transforming the body of Christ to be ours, but He is transforming us to be him, to be like him.
One of the prayers that we have in the liturgy of baptism, we ask the Lord that he might become to conform to the image of your Son by becoming one with him. It is the reality of our identity in Christ. I am becoming one with him. I’m not going home as I came. I’m going home with the Eucharist. Saint John Chrysostom says we are going out to breathe fire on our enemy. We are going to fight against our enemy outside the Church.
The canons, as I said, we have the first council, and we have many councils later. In each time we believe it’s a dynamic act. It’s not old rules. No, it’s a dynamic act. The patrology or the Church Fathers. The Church is insisting we are not following the Fathers but are following consensus Patron, which means the consensus of the Fathers. We believe no one of the Fathers is infallible. We can find in each Father something the Church as a whole does not agree with him. So, we are not following one Father. We are following the consensus of the Fathers. That’s why we are not giving infallibility to anyone whoever he is. We love our Fathers. We learn from them, but we are not putting them aside that “They said so.” No.
For example, we have some of the fathers we call them the Apologetic Fathers. You are defenders of faith. We can take the dogmas from them, but some of them were very saintly people, and you are not teachers of dogmas. You are contemplating some verses. Sometimes you are missing out some of the dogmas at that time. As we were discussing outside, the problem of the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father, as we believe or as the Catholics believe, and of the Son. This sentence was mentioned many times by Saint Hilary of Poitiers in his writings in the 4th century. This debate was starting in the 9th and ended up in 11th, but he doesn’t mean it. He was talking about something totally different. So we can’t say that, “He said so. Let us follow him.” No, it is not the consensus Patrum.
Tertullian is the one who taught us that the Trinity is one essence and three persons. He is the one who fought harshly against the infant baptism. We are not with him on this point. We believe in the infant baptism from the apostolic era until today, but one of the Fathers, especially in the first five centuries, there was only one Tertullian who was against infant baptism. We don’t accept what he said, but we accept what others as a consensus of the Fathers was agreeing upon.
Many examples, but we are not here to give them. When we say we are a traditional church, we are not following a father, but the consensus Patron. Again, how to live this orthopraxis. How we adore the teaching of those Fathers. Some of them paid their life as a price to keep these feasts for us. Some of them, like Saint Athanasius was exiled four times. He was Pope for 46 years, 41 out of them he was outside the country in exile.
Saint Dioscorus, the 25th Pope was suffering a lot. How we adore the feasts we receive through those people. Again, we are not saying any one of them is infallible. That’s my Saint Gregory the Theologian said something very nice. He said, “You are not going to quarrel about names if all of them leads to the same understanding.” He was talking about that in his book called “The Holy Spirit” about the ousia or the essence and the nature and person and hypostasis.
He said, “They are not going to quarrel about names.” You must focus on what you mean by this word, and we can find out what is it.We say we are a Trinitarian church, traditional church. It is not something to say we are old or boring. We are very dynamic, but we are holding the truth which is the Lord Jesus Christ, himself.
Finally, as I said, some of the churches adding icons as part of the tradition. This is a very famous icon in the church. Why does he put it? Sometimes Icons tell a story without writing a story. It was well proven especially these two, we’ll find the the holy family with the baby Jesus entering into the land of Egypt.
The top one, you’ll find the right one here, is exit from Egypt. It was discovered in 1988, a German scholar, he found an old manuscript to say that the holy family spent three years and eight months in Egypt. So, the icon is telling us he came as an infant, but when he went out he was just a young boy, nearly five and a half years. Some of them put icons as part of that tradition to convey message without writing. Not all the churches, but some of the churches are approving this.
First of all, the Church is Trinitarian in belief and in acts. Traditional with the very dynamic meaning of tradition.
Finally, it makes a big difference between our tradition and our teaching and any other church, theandric. That word is theo - god and anthropos – man. Salvation of our Church and every single thing in our Church comes through a unity, union between God and man. Without it we are throwing balls to each other. When we say theandric, which means through the eucharist.
One of the main characters or teachings of our Coptic Orthodox or any Orthodox church is Eucharistic teaching. If you know what is the Eucharist, you can understand intercession. If you know what is the Eucharist, you can understand is the others for me, whether it is an animal or human being, I can know differently. I can see with different eyes with Eucharistic approach.
When you say theandric, it means I can’t do anything alone. It Is through unity with God. It is through the Eucharist. Every single act in my life is a divine human act. Nothing is only human, and nothing is only divine. Salvation is a divine human act. The work of grace is through divine human act. Nothing is only human, and nothing is only divine. The Church is telling me, if you believe in the theandric, you believe that you have to live a life of repentance and confession without wishing you, without telling you if you are not confessed for the last two months or whatever it is, don’t have communion today. No. I believe in this theandric power through unity with Christ.
Most of the Fathers said the steps of our spiritual growth is beatification, illumination, union. Where we are if we are looking at orthodoxy and orthopraxis. Still in the first stage of beatification or illumination or I am seeking this theandric, this union in the life of Christ. I always say we have this union or theandric. It means we accept the incarnation. We live the incarnation. We live the cross and the resurrection because in the Eucharist I’m uniting myself with the whole life of Christ. I’m enjoying the fullness of it, enjoying the power.
When we say in the liturgy, “Lift up your hearts,” you all say, “We have them with the Lord.” Where? If you remember at this moment, just a few minutes before this, Abouna is thinking of the prosphorine to proclaim the resurrection and ascension of our Lord, Jesus Christ. When we say, “We have them with the Lord”, “I am raising ascended Lord”. I am in Heaven with him. It’s not a response from the congregation. It’s the reality. We need to live it because we believe in the theandric. Here in the liturgy, here to enjoy the fullness of the unity with God.
Most of the Fathers said these three stages beatification, illumination, and union – part of my life today is still in the beatification stage. Some other part in the illumination. Some other part in the unity. I am working also time towards this theandric. Why? Because the Church is telling me, if you are believing in this theandric, if you are believing in this divine human union, it means you are living everlasting life now. What does that mean? Just in a minute because I have to finish.
The Church is teaching us there are two words in Greek translate into time in English or in Arabic. What? Kairos and chronos. Kronos is chronology. No one of us choose to be born in a certain time and to grow in a certain way and to be graduated. It’s a chronology. We spent maybe now half an hour or 45 minutes. It’s a chronology. You could be somewhere else.
Kairos is accepted time of salvation. When you convert chronos into an eternal time. You’ll find it in the Bible many times with a great difference. We just search for each word of them we’ll be amazed to see how come the Holy Spirit is choosing the word when he is, meaning kairos or chronos.
The Church is telling me if you are living in this theandric, the Lord in his ministry, he was converting every single second, every single minute of chronology he received into kairos, an eternal time. Let me give you a very simple example. The Lord said if you give just a glass of water, the Lord will never forget for you. You will have a reward in Heaven. So, now if someone is asking you for this glass of water, you can go and bring it while you are grumbling. Maybe he is not going to tell you thank you even. You did it in a minute or two in chronos You could convert this two minutes into kairos, into an eternal act, and you have a heavenly reward for just bring a cup or a glass of water for someone.
When you come to the Church and attend the liturgy, the Church is telling me these two hours are kairos, not chronos. You are joining eternity. Let me give you an example again. Because we say the two hours of the liturgy is living eternity. There is no boundaries of time anymore. So we said it is a personal act. I am uniting myself with the head of the body, Christ himself. What else? I’m uniting myself with every single believer in the Church, past, present and future. I am one with Abraham, Isaac, Saint Peter, and Saint George, all the saints because there is no boundaries of time anymore.
I’m uniting myself with all believers everywhere in States and Europe and Egypt and Australia, everywhere. More than that with my next generation as well, because you have no limitation of time. You are living this kairos, the eternal now. There’s no boundaries of time anymore. That’s why sometimes people when we have someone who is very near to them died, they are not going to church because we are sad. When we come to the liturgy we are uniting ourself with all the family of God. It’s the joy of the Church. When we seek the intercessions of the saints they are not aliens to us. We are with them through oneness in the Eucharist when we are united at the end of the liturgy.
So, we see it’s theandric. It means you are living this eternal now. You are enjoying every single thing. The liturgy, you are reciting the story from creation until the second coming. We are living the eternal now. We are not too far from Adam. We suffered from him. We are not too far from salvation. We enjoy it. We’re not too far from the second coming. We are collecting the whole, not the story, the whole reality of eternity and offering it to everyone in the Church. So, it has a different meaning when I am living with theandric.
Remember just the three words: Trinitarian, the teaching is Trinitarian, traditional and theandric. It’s not only teaching, it’s how to live it. Orthopraxis of the trinity, of the tradition, and of this theandric or this divine human unity.
May the will of the Lord Jesus Christ use you from now and forever more. Do you have any questions?
Male: [inaudible question 00:50:45]
Fr. Mark: Thank you. Any other questions or comments?
Male: [inaudible question 00:51:05]
Fr. Mark: Yes, but again we are trying to take the text and make an event out of this, which is a failure. If you look to old heresies a bit in the Church history, people have started to pick out the verses to re-understand them out of the living event of the Church. That’s why when, for example, Arius started his heresy, why was all the Church against him? Because they know what we believe. There is an event. We live this event for 300 years. Now you are trying to change the event by a text, despite is an inspired text.
Said Irenaeus in his book, “Against Heresies”, he was trying to explain what the heretics are doing. He said someone who came and make a great statue of the king with very precious stones. Someone else came and knocked down this statue. With the same precious stones he made a statue of a fox. So, when we rearrange the verse as we want, we are taking the text from the event itself.
If you heard at all any of the Seventh Day Adventists, they can prove literally, verse by verse, that Jesus Christ is the Archangel Michael, just connecting words and verses. It’s very well versed, but we never lived this. It’s not a matter of how to put verses beside each other because we can’t have a belief from the verse. That’s why we say the Church believes in one source of revelations – the tradition. Not the Scripture. The Scripture is part of the tradition. Once we insist on the Scripture, it means you would like to make events out of the texts. You can’t make it.
We can’t understand or interpret a verse without the event. The event can interpret the verse, but the verse cannot make it vice versa.
Any other questions or comments?
Male: [You also said you can’t teach personal experience as dogma? 00:53:47]
Fr. Mark: Yes, I will give you a very simple example. We all love, I personally love very much Saint Augustine. Saint Augustine lived a very loyal life after his repentance. He repented at the age of 32. His personal experience, he was too far, and then the grace of God and picked him up out of his miserable life. Right? His own personal experience. Later on he said, “Salvation is by grace alone.” He is the first one in the Church history to say salvation is by grace alone. He is the first one who believed in the greatest nation, and he is the first one who believed in the election, unconditional election.
The Church didn’t agree on his teaching, but they didn’t excommunicate him. Because of his teaching, he tried to generalize his own personal experience. We never heard what Saint Paul say, “If your life needs the Lord, go out and persecute the Church. Go to Damascus. You’ll meet him at the gate of Damascus. He never said so. You can share your experience, but you can’t generalize and you can’t teach it as a dogma.
Later, the first book written by Martin Luther, notes on the interpretation of Saint Augustine on Romans. That is why he is the first one to pick up predestination, salvation by grace alone. Luther from Augustine, but between them … Augustine died 430. Luther wrote his first book 1578, so how much? Nearly 1100 years. Because it was kept, it was revived after 11 centuries later.
The same thing for the experience of Saint Simon the Tanner, it was real for him, but you can’t tell everyone “black out your eyes. Anything else. Thank you. Forgive me and absolve me.
Fr Bishoy: I almost wrote every word I heard because we know bits and pieces, but I never heard it all put together in such a beautiful way. God bless you Abouna. I think we’re going to steal your password or something, I think, and return back. Thank you for this wonderful work. As I said, he’s going to be with us in the family conference, and then will be here on Sunday, God willing. So, we’ll get to take some more. Let’s conclude with a prayer.
Female singing CCM: Eagles wings. Here I am waiting, abide in me I pray. Here I am longing, for You. Hide me in your love, bring me to my knees. May I know Jesus more and more. Come live in me all my life. Take over. Come breathe in me, and I will rise on eagle’s wings. Come live in me all my life. Take over. Come breathe in me, and I will rise on eagle’s wings.
Prayer: In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Thank you, Lord Jesus Christ because you love us so much. Thank you, Lord, because you’ve opened up your bosom to us, Lord, and you take us in your embrace. Thank you, Lord, because you’ve prepared every good thing, every heavenly blessing in Christ Jesus for us. Thank you, Lord, because day by day, moment by moment, you teach us, and you bring us to know you more and to see you more clearly until the day comes, Lord, when we will see you face to face.
Give us, Lord, to grow in your love, to grow in the knowledge of you, to see, Lord, the knowledge of you as more worthy, Lord, than anything else in the world. To truly count everything as rubbish with the excellence of the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Spirit, come pray within us. Come pray within us. Give us an utterance that’s too deep for words. Bring us into the heavenly places of Christ Jesus where is he is seated at the right hand of God. Intercession and prayers of all the saints, prays of my Fathers, prayers of St Mark. Prayers of all of our friends who are in Paradise with you, all of those who have been well pleasing to you since the beginning of time until now. Saint Mark, saint Mary.
First to the last, dearest heavenly Father, we pray to you in the way that your Son taught us saying, Our Father, who art in Heaven. Hallowed by thy name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy Will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the Evil One. Through Christ Jesus, our Lord. For Thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory. And now, with the Lord God our Father, the grace of his only begotten Son, the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Depart in peace. May the peace of God be with you.