Maintenance & Preservation of Orthodoxy
In the name
of the Father, Son, Holy Spirit. One God. Amen.
to the conference of the Year 7, 8 and 9 here in Melbourne. I would like to
thank His Grace Bishop Suriel for inviting me to
give this lecture amongst you. Indeed I am very happy to be with you here this
we will revise yesterdays lecture. Yesterday, we knew that our Lord created man
put him in the Paradise of Joy and then the man committed sin. So we will move
to the next step and that is the altar.
Abraham put our father Isaac as human sacrifice on the altar. We said that this
represents the relationship between God and people, as individuals and as
groups, all at the same time. We went on to the third step, which is the house
of Eli, which includes the ladder between Earth and heaven and we said that the
ladder was representing the incarnation of our Lord, Jesus Christ. We said there
are 5 characteristics of our Redeemer and they are unlimited, a man, sinless,
must die and resurrection. So our Lord Jesus Christ has these five
characteristics and was incarnated from heaven and the ladder, which our father
Jacob saw was representing the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We then went
straight away to step four, which are barnacles. We said that the roof of the
barnacle is black in its colour and this represents
the afflictions or tribulation or temptation that might phase the people of God
and that the barnacles are moveable, indicating that we are strangers in this
world looking for eternal and heavenly life.
Step five was
the temple and we said that the temple is for one nation and in one place. One
place being Jerusalem, one nation being Jewish and this is not going to work for
the church of God because the church of God must be global for all peoples.
In the sixth
step we discussed the church. The Coptic Orthodox Church that was founded by St.
Mark in the year 64 A.D which represents the authority number two. There are
four authorities in this world we have to respect.
has three offices. These are Bishop, Priest and Deacons and the bishop is the
highest degree of the hierarchy of the church.
Today we are
going to understand together the maintenance or preservation of Orthodoxy in
glorifying God. “Ortho” means sound, “Doxy”
means glory. So today we are going to see how to maintain this doctrine, dogma
and worship. Doctrine means teaching, dogma means principles and worship means
that we have to worship God and we have received from our early church fathers.
We have to
keep this faith in the sound way and Orthodox way but unfortunately some
heretics swayed the church in the old days, thus forcing us to have three kinds
of the councils.
lecture will then helps us to understand the doctrine and maintain the doctrine,
how to worship God and how to preserve the three offices of the Orthodox Church.
As I said,
there are three kinds of councils.
counsels. The bishop determines to meet with the priests once a month or twice
every three months to organise church pastoral and
meetings. These are meetings between Metropolitan and the Bishops, not the
Bishops and the priests. This is because the metropolitan and the bishops assist
councils. There are three famous councils that were held– 1.
Nicea 2. Constantinople
3. Ephesus. We will take a quick look at each of
thses and the role they have in the Orthodox Church.
ecumenical council was held in Nicea and it was
chaired by His Holiness Pope Alexandra the 19th. We knew that Pope
Botrous the 17th, had two disciples – one called
Archelaous and the second called Alexander. Before
His Holiness Pope Boutrous the 17th’s departure to
heaven, he commanded his two disciples saying “Look my two disciples, you are
going to be Popes after me. Archelaous, you are
going to be the pope, and Alexander, you are going to be the pope after
Archelaous. But take care very much. Don’t give
Arius the absolution to chair the church because he
was one who committed a very bad heresy in the past. Take care of this
commandment, Archelaous”. Pope
Boutrous the 17th died and Archelaous became
the pope but he disobeyed the commandment of his father and gave made
Arius one of the church members and this
unfortunately made His Holiness Pope Archelaous last
six months on his throne because our Lord was not happy with this resolution.
Pope Alexander came and became the 19th Pope, so the 17th Pope was
Boutrous and Pope Archelaous
of Nicea was headed by Pope Alexander the 19th. The
date of the Nicean council, the first ecumenical
council was 325 A.D. It was attended by 318 bishops,
310 from the east and only 8 bishops from the west. Just imagine the power of
the Eastern Church from the large number of bishops who attended. Also King
Constantine, the son of the Queen Helena attended this meeting. This is the king
who declared that the Christianity must be the religion of
In that first
ecumenical meeting bishops travelled from their
positions to Nicea, the second capital state in
Turkey. While they were travelling, something amazing happened, one of the
bishops who accompanied His Holiness Pope Alexander, Bishop
Bitamon, a simple bishop knowing nothing of events happened with
Arius. The rest of the 310 bishops were afraid that
the bishop was too simple to defend.
The rest of
the bishops decided to kill his donkey in order to prevent him from reaching
Nicea. Unfortunately, Bishop
Bitamon had one disciple and a donkey and his disciple also had a donkey
but the colours of the two donkeys are different,
one was white and the other was black. His Grace Bishop
Bitamon donkey was black.
in the night to kill the two donkeys, to cut their necks to prevent His Grace
Bishop Bitamon from attending the
Nicaean meeting because he was a very simple man and
they might be defeated by Arius, who was very
powerful. The next morning, His Grace Bishop Bitamon
woke up early, while the sun was not yet out and asked his disciple, “Where are
the donkeys?” His disciple went to find the donkeys but saw that their necks had
been cut off and put beside the bodies. So he returned back quickly to his
bishop and said, “Someone killed the two donkeys.” So the bishop went with his
disciple and said “Do not worry my disciple, come”. In the dark he took the neck
of the white donkey and put on the body of the black donkey because he couldn’t
see and prayed and the donkey arose from the dead, so he did the same with the
white donkey it arose from the dead and they were able to continued travelling
morning they saw that the bishop was on a white donkey with a black neck and his
disciple was with a black donkey with a white neck. The 310 bishops heard this
and were convinced that this bishop is a very holy man and took him to
Nicea the first ecumenical council.
decisions came from the first ecumenical council? I think there were three
1. All the
Christians must celebrate the resurrection the first Sunday after the Jewish
Passover. This means we must not celebrate the resurrection with the Jewish
because we are not with the Jewish in the doctrine, dogma, etc.
2. To give
permission to priests to be a married priest. Before Nicea,
there were no married priests. However, if the wife of the married priest dies,
the priest is not allowed to remarry because this priest has consecrated his
life to God.
can only be chosen from the monks.
Arius was born in 270 A. D. in Libya and became a
priest. He was a very intelligent and intellectual man and a good priest but
towards the end of his life, he started to say that the divinity of our Lord
Jesus Christ is not that the same as the Fathers’. He said that the son was
lesser than the Father and this was not sound doctrine. We believe that Jesus
Christ is the Lord who is equal with the Father. So they excommunicated
Arius from the church community.
ecumenical council held in Nicea and the first and
most heroic man of this council was the disciple of His Holiness Pope Alexander,
otherwise known as Pope Athanasius.
Athanasius was only a deacon at that time, not a
priest, hegoman or bishop but a faithful deacon. He
defended the heretics of Arius and King Constantine
said to him, “You are the hero of Orthodoxy.” We call
Athanasius ‘Contra Mondum’ or ‘against the
world’ because some people said to him, “Athanasius,
the world is against you” and he said to them “’and I am against the world.”
ecumenical council was held in Constantinople and
was chaired by His Holiness Pope Timothy in 381 A.D.
56 years after the first meeting in Nicea.
bishops attended this meeting whereas the first council had 318. In this meeting
they decided to excommunicate Macdonias, who said
that the Holy Spirit was created and this is not right. The Holy Spirit is one
of the Holy Trinity. So they excommunicated Macdonias
and completed the creed of the Orthodoxy ‘we believe in the Holy Spirit, One
ecumenical council was held in Ephesus by His
Holiness Pope Cyril the 1st 431 A.D with 200 bishops 50 years later. In this
meeting they excommunicated Nastour, who was one of
the big heretics of the church, who said that the Lord Jesus Christ has two
natures, one is divinity and the other humanity. He separated these two natures,
which is wrong because we say that our Lord Jesus Christ is one in nature and
that His humanity parted not from His divinity without mingling, confusion or
I want to
give you a small warning. There is a church in Sydney and they call themselves
the Astourian church. They do not call themselves
the Nastourians but in fact they are
Nastourians with a priest called Father
Nastour. Take care and recognize their name and
don’t go because this church is not recognized by our church fathers.
meetings fall under our doctrine and we have to maintain our doctrine. His
Holiness Pope Shenouda the third always conducts
meetings to maintain and preserve the Orthodox doctrine/dogma.
In the 21st
century there are heresies as well. The Mormon Church is one in which you must
be aware of. There are many churches in the 21st century that are not sound in
their faith. Pope Sheounda at least has conducted
two meetings with the bishops to see to these issues in order to
finalise these properly.
Now we will
move to preserving and maintaining our worship. The human being consists of
body, psyches, mind and spirit. Each one of us has a body. The psyches or the
senses are like watching or hearing. Each one of us has their own mind and
We have three
elements in our lives God, Satan and friends. What is the influence of God on
your bodies? Just think about this! What is the commandment of our Lord
concerning our bodies? Our body must be a temple of God. Gods’ influence on your
bodies is positive because our bodies His temple.
What is the
influence of God to our psyches? What is the commandment of our Lord Jesus
Christ concerning the psyches? What is the commandment of our Lord Jesus
concerning your eye? If your eye is so simple, your body is light. You must have
a pure and simple vision.
Gods’ commandment concerning our minds? You must try to think of only good and
not evil by being a committed Christian. What about the influence of Satan
concerning these elements? Are they positive like Gods’ or negative? If they are
it is negative, how? What does Satan tell us about our bodies? If you want to
pray, what does Satan tell you? ‘You are too tired; take a break you have been
working all the day.’ Is this a positive or negative influence? It is negative.
What is the influence of Satan concerning our psyches? Your sight, hearing and
touch. Are they negative too? He might tell us, ‘take this, it is yours or touch
that boy or girl it is only natural, watch those bad movies’. Satan only
influences our psyches and minds negatively. How? Who killed his own brother?
Cane did in the book of Genesis. How could he kill him? He envied his brother
Abel and killed him. Who put this bad idea in his head? Be careful Satan
influences the mind of man in a very negative way causing us to sin.
the spirit? How hoes Satan influence our spirit? What is the work of the spirit
of the human beings? Praising God, being holy and being a committed Christian.
Satan wants to destroy man by putting negative influences in our minds, bodies
through our senses and spirit.
friends influence us negatively or positively? Both! How? If you have a good
friend they will influence you positively and if you have a bad friend they will
influence you negatively like Satan.
We want to
mention some people in the Old Testament who gave bad advice to their friends.
Job and his wife were given bad advice, his friends said him, “Job, please die
because you have no hope and you will not be able to rise again from this
can influence you through peer pressure by offering you to try just one
cigarette. Do not give then the satisfaction by obeying them because once you
start smoking not only will you regret it but it will hard to stop which will
cause many problems with friends, family and health.
example is drugs. What if one of your friends says “taste this drug, try it
won’t kill you” you’ll become addicted.
bad advice do you get from your friends? If one of your friends says to you go
out with that guy and take him on as your boyfriend, would you? We call this the
negative influences of friends to the people of God. Maybe one of your friends
will say to you, ‘your all grown up and have your own opinions, don’t depend on
you parent’s on such matters, at the end of the day you find yourself alone with
no help and no experience. It is very important to choose your friends from
committed Christians, from the good people of God, who fear God and who are
What do we do
if we are subjected to bad influences from Satan and from friends? We must have
a spiritual father, remember what His Grace Bishop Suriel
said yesterday, “Tomorrow we are going to have the Mass and the fathers/priest
will be here.” So you have to choose a spiritual father, take his advice,
guidance and blessings. You have to choose a spiritual father, and tell him
what’s going on, be smart get straight to the point. If you are ashamed to tell
him the details then just give the title and he’ll know the rest.
eg. “Father I have committed a sin, which is this.
What is your advice?” You must also pray the before and after confession prayers
from the Agpeya.
with myself before confessing with a piece of paper and pen writing down things
that have happened to you, even in point form and remember to always be frank
because he is your friend and your holy father. How many people have a father of
confession? How many do not have a father of confession? When was the last time
you confessed? Was it a one week ago, one month or a one year ago? We want to
concentrate on confession because this is a way for the people to overcome the
Satans influences and bad friends with our minds,
bodies, psyche and spirit.
We have to
have spiritual discipline. What is the meaning of spiritual discipline? It is
spiritual order. We have to ask our father of confession to give us spiritual
discipline. How can we pray the morning pray, how can we pray the sunset prayer,
how can we pray during the day, what are the arrow prayers? (repeating ‘Our Lord
Jesus Christ have mercy upon us’). How many matanioas
are you going to do in each day? How many chapters of the Holy Bible do you
read? How many virtues am I going to gain? What is the service that I must give
to the church while I am a youth? So you must have spiritual discipline.
spiritual atmosphere is an important element in maintaining worship. What do we
mean by this? We mean that we over come these negative influence through the
right environment. Don’t see the bad films and say to the Lord “Oh God, please
give me the strength to over come this bad film”
question here is did the man create the place or did the place create the man?
Man created the place. An example is Adam who was Paradise but he still
committed the sin. The prophet Daniel was in the Den of lions and he was very
holy man. So don’t ever say that the place lead you to sin, it is you. We live
in a multicultural society where every one in Australia is open to do anything.
Only you can
create the good place for you. Who and where is the best spiritual atmosphere
point is if you want to live in a good environment you, your family and friends
must try to get you friend closer to God. With this plan in mind you are going
to be one with your friend and God.
Now we are
going to answer some question:
Why is it
wrong to listen to rock and roll music? Is it a good or bad influence?
Satan uses it
as a bad influence against us.
Why is it bad
to listen to rap music? And why is it rude to dance?
answer. Satan uses it as a bad influence against us. It is a bad influence from
Satan or friends concerning the body, especially if there is some contact or
Is it true
that the Mormons can marry more than one wife?
of the Mormon Church is not a sound one and we have so many books on the Mormon
Church. We are going to make a research into this church, but they have many
strange beliefs. Just be aware of them.
kills a person and repents, is God going to forgive him?
forgive him depending on his repentance but he will still receive punishment in
law and from his father of confession.
If I am not
comfortable with my father of confession, what shall I do?
Do I change
and do I have to tell him?
I will answer
this question from the mouth of His Holiness Pope Shenouda
because someone asked him this question. ‘If anyone is not comfortable with his
confession father, you can change with or without him’. However, I do believe if
you are comfortable enough tell your previous confession father the reasons
behind the change.
Is it wrong
for someone to be superstitious?
You must have
the faith and not be afraid.
Is there any
chance for the devil to repent?
No, why? He
has already been judged. The devil is a spirit not a body. When a person commits
a sin, he uses both body and spirit to repent.
Do you have
to be sinless, without any sin at all to enter into heaven?
We are doing
our best to be sinless, so just abide in God.
If you do not
confess all your sins before you die, can we still reach heaven because we have
If you do not
confess your sin, it will not be forgiven you. Baptism is the first step in the
Christian life and way. Just try and God will help you and you will be a good
If a little
child dies suddenly without baptism, does he go to hell?
carries the sin of Adam and those who have not been baptized cannot go to
heaven. Same with those whom the preaching of God did not reach them; will they
fall under the judgement of God? We do not know what will happen to them but God
is very merciful.
Is it wrong
to have a boyfriend or girlfriend?
It is not the
suitable time; you must be at a mature level.
When you are
in the altar, do you look to the altar or to the east?
You must look
to the altar.
priests and bishops wear an aema?
In the past
all churches were domes and the hat represents the dome of the old church.
Why does the
Bible use the number 10, 3 and 40 most of the time?
40 is 4
multiplied by 10 and 4 is the earth –North, South, East and West. 10 is the
completion number and 3 is the Holy Trinity.
If you are a
deacon, and you don’t go to church for a long time, is this a sin?
as a deacon you have certain responsibilities such as the handing of candles,
the censor, to clean the church, etc.
Why can’t we
have a tattoo or a cross above the elbow?
This is wrong
because the body is the temple of God and you are not permitted to destroy the
temple of God.
repent, but don’t confess, would God forgive you?
you have to have the absolution from the father of confession and he has to pray
What if you
forget some of you sins while confessing?
remember them, you must go to confess again and before you go, you must sit with
and evaluate yourself.
someone dies before they confess?
manage your time now because you do not know when you are going to die. You must
be prepared for confession at all times.