Holy Synod of OCA Issues a Statement

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Holy Synod issues statement on same-sex relationships and sexual identity

The Orthodox Church teaches that the union between a man and a woman in marriage reflects the union between Christ and His Church (Eph. 5). As such, marriage is by this reflection monogamous and heterosexual. Within this marriage, sexual relations between a husband and wife are an expression of their love that has been blessed by God. Such is God’s plan for male and female, created in his image and likeness, from the beginning, and such remains his plan for all time. Any other form of sexual expression is by its nature disordered, and cannot be blessed by the Church in any way, whether directly or indirectly.That said, the Holy Synod of Bishops expresses its pastoral concern and paternal love for all who desire to come to Christ and who struggle with their passions, temptations, and besetting sins, whatever those might be. The Church is a hospital for the sick; Our Lord has come as a physician to heal those who are ailing. Imitating our Savior, who stretched his arms wide on the Cross, we welcome with open arms all who desire the life of repentance in Christ.

Over the course of recent years, His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon and the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America have made numerous pronouncements affirming the Orthodox Christian teaching on marriage and sexuality. Metropolitan Tikhon, at the 18th All-American Council in Atlanta, Georgia, on July 20, 2015, in his opening address, stated that:

“… the Orthodox Church must continue to proclaim what she has always taught: that marriage is the union between one man and one woman and the Orthodox Church in America can in no way deviate from this teaching…”

Among the Holy Synod’s affirmations of the same teaching are the “Synodal Affirmations on Marriage, Family, Sexuality, and the Sanctity of Life,” from the 10th All-American Council, Miami, Florida, taking place from July 26-31, 1992; the “Synodal Reaffirmation of the SCOBA statement titled ‘On the Moral Crisis in our Nation,’” issued May 17, 2004; and the synodal “Statement concerning the June 26 US Supreme Court decision,” issued June 28, 2015.

Therefore, in accord with the timeless plan of God our Creator, the unchanging teaching of Christ the Savior announced through his holy apostles and their successors, and the consistent witness of the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America, the Holy Synod affirms what the Scriptures clearly and plainly proclaim and the holy fathers unerringly confess, namely: that God made human beings in two sexes, male and female, in his own image, and that chaste and pure sexual relationships are reserved to one man and one woman in the bond of marriage.

As such, we affirm that sexual relationships are blessed only within the context of a marriage between one man and one woman. Motivated by love and out of sincere care for souls, we call those who suffer from the passion of same-sex attraction to a life of steadfast chastity and repentance, the same life of chastity and repentance to which all mankind is called in Christ.

An Orthodox bride and groom who have been crowned by their priest

We call upon all clergy, theologians, teachers, and lay persons within the Orthodox Church in America never to contradict these teachings by preaching or teaching against the Church’s clear moral position; by publishing books, magazines, and articles which do the same; or producing or publishing similar content online. We reject any attempt to create a theological framework which would normalize same-sex erotic relationships or distort humanity’s God-given sexual identity. The holy apostle Paul writes that such teachings will “increase to more ungodliness,” and that such a “message will spread like gangrene” (2 Tim 2:16-17), misleading the faithful and inquirers seeking the truth.

Any clergy, theologian, teacher, or lay person who contravenes our directive thus undermines the authority of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America by disregarding the Holy Synod’s consistent and unwavering teaching on these matters. We call on any such persons to cease their disruptive activities, which threaten the peace and tranquility of the Orthodox Church in America, cause scandal and uncertainty, and tempt those who struggle against their disordered passions to stumble. Consequently, those who teach these errors become participants in the sin of those whom they have tempted or whom they have failed to correct, and thus should seek remission of this sin in the mystery of holy confession. Those who refuse correction open themselves to ecclesiastical discipline.

Thus, we, the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America, conclude by once again affirming that all clergy, theologians, teachers, and lay persons of the Orthodox Church in America should teach nothing other than the fullness of the Orthodox faith, which is the fullness of the saving truth.

We remind our faithful and clergy that every person of goodwill is welcome to visit our parishes. However, reception into the Church, and continued communion in Christ at the sacred Chalice, is reserved for those who strive to live a life of repentance and humility in light of these God-given truths, conforming themselves to the commandments of God as the only path of salvation in Christ. All of us are sinners, but it is for precisely this reason that Our Lord Jesus Christ calls us to “Repent and believe in the Gospel, for the kingdom of God is at hand” (Mk. 1:15).

The Holy Snyod of the OCA

Staying Balanced in a Tilted World

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By Priest Demetrios Makoul for Pravmir
Throughout our day, we must always return to that still, quiet spiritual desert within us. We must start our day there, we return to it throughout the day, and we then return there at the end of the day.
It is difficult to stay or feel connected to God due to our frenetic pace in which we often live our lives. We often rush from one activity to another without taking time to be still, mindful in the present, and process what we have been doing. This can often lead to us feeling out of control or like things in our life are spiralling out of control around us. There is a way however to maintain some level of peace, awareness, and calm even when living life with a hectic pace. It involves maintaining an inner stillness even when all around us seems chaotic. What keeps us grounded and what keeps us balanced throughout the day, even when everything around us seems tilted, is maintaining a constant awareness and connection with God throughout the day. Sounds great and obvious doesn’t it? The following is a reminder of a practice and way of life we all need.

Do you liken the Judean wilderness to your own spiritual desert?

First we have to assess how often, if it all, we focus our mind on God throughout the day. That focus may be in the form of simply reflecting on God, assessing how we are doing spiritually that day (with regards to our thoughts and behaviour), or deliberate prayer even. This awareness of God and of our souls must become a constant undercurrent running beneath the activities of our daily life. In essence, our main daily activity is this awareness of God and monitoring our soul, while our daily earthly activities are the brief ventures out and away from this spiritual activity. For many, this involves a complete reversal to what they are accustomed to. Most of us get lost and immersed in our daily activities, only then making a brief venture out of our earthly duties to reflect on God and our soul.
Are we prepared to make this shift? Throughout our day, we must always return to that still, quiet spiritual desert within us. We must start our day there, we return to it throughout the day, and we return there at the end of the day. God awaits us there and it is the place where we refresh our weary souls from our ventures out into the world. It is where we are replenished with God’s peace. We need to remember the Prophet Elijah’s encounter with God outside the cave on Mt. Horeb. God was not in the destructive wind, the earthquake, or the fire. The presence of the whispering breeze or still voice marked the presence of God (I kings 19). We all need our own Mt. Horeb where we seek an encounter with God.

Statement On Overturning Roe v Wade-Metropolitan Tikhon

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Statement on the overturning of Roe v. Wade

Archpastoral Message of His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon

Monday, June 27, 2022

To the Hierarchs, Clergy, and Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America:

Christ is in our midst! He is and ever shall be!

sanctity life

On June 24, the American people received the news that the Supreme Court of the United States, in its opinion concerning the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, has overturned the right to abortion created by the court in its 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade.

Undoubtedly, this should be a cause for rejoicing for all Orthodox Christians. As I affirmed in my recent archpastoral message for the feast of the Annunciation, “The Orthodox Church in America has always believed, upheld, preached, and defended the sanctity of human life from the time of conception in the womb.” From the earliest times, the shepherds of the Church

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On The Sacredness of Human Life-Assembly of Bishops

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Sunday, June 19, 2022

Passed by the full membership on June 19, 2022

Preamble

We, the members of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America, promote and uphold the sacred and inviolable essence of human life. The continued challenges of our time prompt us to publish a more comprehensive statement of the Orthodox Church’s regard for human life and, in particular, the termination of human life. Prepared by our Committee for Church and Society, and affirmed by the Assembly as a whole, this statement seeks to succinctly articulate Orthodox Christian teaching for the faithful and to continue the Church’s tradition as a beacon and witness to life as freely given by our good and loving Creator.

Sacredness of Life

The sacredness of life is shared with all creatures and creation fashioned and brought into existence by our mutual Creator. From single-celled organisms to plants, reptiles to birds, or mice to elephants, all are created and thus sacred. “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). As such, it is our responsibility as human beings to treat all life accordingly: with care, reverence, humility, and love.

Human Life is Sacred and Inviolable

The recognition of each human person as created in the image and likeness of God, destined for eternal life and therefore, sacred and inviolable, is a cornerstone of Christianity. Through the Church’s canons, dogma, and moral code across the centuries, we have affirmed this understanding of human life from the womb to the tomb. These convictions are taught and witnessed by the Orthodox Church in all its manifestations around the world today. All human life is both sacred and inviolable, regardless of age, health, or any other status. Human life, including free will, is rightly understood as a gift from God, meant to be cherished and respected. We are all meant to “have life, and have it abundantly,” as we know from our Good Shepherd (John 10:10-11). When human life is understood in this way, we are inclined to care deeply for one another and to cherish and protect each and every person.

Taking of Human Life

Any deliberate ending of human life is a rejection of its sacredness and inviolability and is unacceptable. This includes Continue reading

Sermon-June 26

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The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew. (4:18-23)

At that time, as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.  And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.

And He went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the Kingdom and healing every disease and every infirmity among the people.

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The fruit of Pentecost, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is now evident. Last Sunday we celebrated all the saints who were well pleasing to God in every generation, known and unknown. This is the fruit of the Holy Spirit being sown in the Church. This celebration continues today with a focus closer to home, on the Saints of North America.

The people of the ancient Church have Continue reading