We say in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed that we believe in “One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church” and we casually understand the idea of Apostolic Succession as the meaning behind this phrase. The Holy Apostles, through the laying on of hands, ordained bishops who ordained bishops who ordained bishops, all the way through to today. But the laying on of hands is just the outward expression of the meaning of Apostolic.
Today is the Feast of the Apostle Peter and Paul, chief apostles according to the Tradition of the Church. Some think that the ‘real’ feast is tomorrow, the Synaxis of all the Holy Apostles, but if you’re paying attention to the life of the Church, you realize today is the Feast of note. Here are some indicators that today is the main feast, and tomorrow is the ‘follow up’ feast.
All this talk about life has created a great opportunity for Christians. We have been challenged to care for the very lives we protect in the womb once they are born. It seems, though I admit I am not in contact with those who believe this, we are accused of ‘only caring’ for babies until they are born. Once they are born, they are left to suffer in a cruel world. So today, let’s get real about our Christian calling.
When it comes to living as God wants us to live, humans have always struggled to keep His Commandments, beginning in The Garden until now. While we have never been 100% successful in following The Law, that in no way should dimmish the purpose of The Law. The purpose of The Law has always been to lead in the life God desires for us, but we more often than not fall short. That is called sin.
Yesterday our nation began the next step in a journey that began many years ago. With the release of the most recent decision on Abortion by the United States Supreme Court, what had been our nation’s legal basis for debate has been changed. After more than fifty years, it has been declared the Court that, contrary to what was decided before, there does not exist a constitutional right to abortion. That decision has angered some and pleased others.
Saint Seraphim of Sarov taught, “Acquire the Spirit of Peace and a thousand souls around you will be saved.” We pray for peace in ever Orthodox Christian Church service, not just once but many times. Saint Paul taught, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” (Romans 12.18) How do we find peace in a world filled with chaos?
Yesterday the Assembly of Bishops, made up of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States, released a document titled, “On the Sacredness of Human Life and its Untimely Termination” in which the bishops outlined the Church’s teachings on issues such as murder, capital punishment, abortion, euthanasia, miscarriage, and suicide. Immediately many began to argue against the teachings of the Church using ‘science’ as a defense for their disagreement.
I’ve worked ‘in the Church’ for nearly thirty years, spending many hours working with young people in the Church. If it is one way most people miss the boat when it comes to raising children is ‘for what’ we are raising them.
Today we begin another fast on the Church calendar, this time in honor of the Holy Apostles. In preparation for the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul on June 29 and the Synaxis of the Holy Apostles on June 30, we are asked to pray and fast. It isn’t a strict fast like the Great Fast before Pascha. It is known as a “White Fast” because we only fast from meat and dairy products, but we still fast.