Monday, April 27, 2015

Bookstore on the Library Walkway

Today we set up a bookstore outside the library hoping to raise awareness of our Fellowship. It great to see so many people stop by to discuss the Orthodox Faith!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Q&A Forum: "God's Will or Free Will?"

The Orthodox Christian Fellowships of UNSW (FOCUS) and Usyd (SOPHIA) are very excited to announce that we are holding a Q&A Forum on the topic of “God’s Will or Free Will?”
The forum will include three perspectives on the topic, revolving around the following questions:
  • How do we align our will with God’s will?
  • How can a loving God send someone to Hell?
  • What does it mean to be truly free?
We will also have a Question & Answer segment, so this is a great opportunity to bring along any questions you may have on the topic!
The speakers on our panel will be:
  •  Father (Dr.) Dimitri Kokkinos – M.B.B.S., F.R.A.C.P. Parish Priest at St. Ioannis, Parramatta; Visiting Medical Officer in Neurology at Bankstown Hospital; Conjoint Lecturer in Neurology at the University of New South Wales.
  • Professor Socrates Dokos - he received his PhD in Biomedical Engineering in 1996 from the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, where he is currently an Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering.
WHEN: Thursday 30th April, 6:30pm (dinner will be provided)
WHERE: LG03, Wallace Wurth, UNSW (cnr. High St & Botany St) – there will be signs!

If you have any further questions, please feel free to send us an email at:
We hope to see you there!
God bless,

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Talk: The Resurrection

Yesterday we were very blessed to have Fr Peter Mavromatis speak to us about the "Feast of Feasts!" To better understand the Resurrection of our Lord, here is a homily by St Epiphanios, Bishop of Cyprus (403 A.D.):
Something strange is happening: There is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and Hades trembles with fear. 
He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, He has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve. The Friend of man goes to lead forth them held captive from ages past, those whom bitter death has stolen from God.
In a manner befitting God, He tramples down the tyrant of Hades and death, having with Him the immortal legions of the bodiless hosts. The blinding bolt of lightning from above darkened the countenances of the hostile powers of Hades and they heard thunder-like voices commanding, “Lift up your gates, O princes.” And they trembled saying, “Who is the King of Glory?” The hosts of the Master replied, “The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in war. This is He who by the Cross triumphed over you.”
Adam heard the sound of the Master’s feet as he came to the imprisoned, and He recognized His voice, which sounded in the prison as He walked. The Lord approached bearing the Cross, the weapon that had won Him the victory. At the sight of Him Adam, the first man He had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” 
“I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in Hades. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I in you; together we form one person and cannot be separated. 
“For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden. 
“See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree. 

“I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in Hades. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you. 
“Rise. Let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am Life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. 
“Rise. Let us leave this place. Let us go from death to life, from corruption to incorruption, from darkness into everlasting light. Rise. Let us go from affliction to joy, from slavery to freedom, from prison to the Jerusalem on high. For this I died and arose, that I should be Lord both of the dead and the living.
“Rise. Let us leave this place. For my Heavenly Father awaits the sheep that was lost. The angels await their fellow servant Adam. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.”
O faithful, let us now joyously welcome the Master’s resurrection on the third day. Let us behold it and embrace it, as we form one chorus with the angels and glorify Christ who raised us up from corruption and gave us life. To Him be glory and dominion with His Father, who is without beginning, and His all-holy, good, and life-creating Spirit. Both now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Paschal Catechetical Homily of St. John Chrysostom

Whosoever is a devout lover of God, let him enjoy this beautiful bright Festival. And whosoever is a grateful servant, let him joyously enter into the joy of his Lord. And if any be weary with fasting, let him now receive his reward. If any has toiled from the first hour, let him receive his just debt. If any came after the third, let him gratefully celebrate. If any arrived after the sixth, let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss. If any have delayed to the ninth, let him come without hesitation. If any arrived only at the eleventh hour, let him not be afraid by reason of his delay; for the Master is gracious and receives the last, even as the first. He gives rest to him, who arrives at the eleventh hour, as well as to him, who has labored from the first. He is merciful to the one who delays, and nourishes the first. He gives also to the one, and to the other He is gracious. He accepts the works, as he greets the endeavor. He honors the deed, and the intent He commends.

Let all of you then enter into the joy of our Lord. The first and second enjoy your reward. Your rich and poor, rejoice together. You temperate and you heedless, honor the day. You who fasted, and you who did not, rejoice today. The Table is richly laden. All of you, fare sumptuously on it. The calf is a fatted one; let no one go away hungry. All of you enjoy the banquet of faith. All of you enjoy the riches of His goodness. Let no one grieve poverty; for the universal Kingdom has been revealed.

Let no one grieve over sins; for forgiveness has dawned from the tomb. Let no one fear death; for the Death of our Saviour has set us free. He has destroyed it by enduring it. He despoiled Hades, when He descended thereto. He embittered it, having tasted of His flesh. Isaiah foretold this when he cried out: “You, O Hades, have been embittered by encountering him below.” It was embittered, / – for it was abolished. It was embittered, / – for it was mocked. It was embittered, / – for it was slain. It was embittered, / – for it was annihilated. It was embittered, / – for it is now made captive. It took a body, and, lo, it discovered God. It took earth and, behold! It encountered Heaven. It took what is saw, and was overcome by what it could not see. O death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? Christ Is Risen, / and You are annihilated. Christ Is Risen, / and the demons have fallen. Christ Is Risen, / and the Angels rejoice. Christ Is Risen, / and life is liberated. Christ Is Risen, / and the tomb is emptied of dead; for Christ, having risen from the dead, has become the first fruits of those who fall asleep. To Him be the glory and the dominion to the Ages of Ages.  Amen.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Talk: The Supplementary Events of Holy Week

Yesterday we were privileged to have Professor Angelo Karantonis speak to us about Holy Week. We discussed certain events that occur during Holy Week, all of which supplement and contribute to our experience of the Crucifixion and Resurrection.
We pray that everyone has a blessed and spiritual Pascha. To prepare, here is an excerpt from the book 'Comforting and Controlling Thoughts,' by Anthony Coniaris:

"Wracked by grinding pain and despair, Jesus looked down from the cross and saw the soldiers, gambling and laughing. He heard the taunts, the sarcasm of the Pharisees nearby. Even his own disciples had forsaken Him.

At this point, Satan appeared to our Saviour and whispered the fourth and final temptation in His ears: "They are not worth it. Face it Jesus. They are not worth it."

It was at this moment that Jesus raised His voice and said, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.""

Friday, March 27, 2015

Bookstore on the 'Library Walkway'

This week we had a bookstore right outside the library, where we spent the day meeting new people and explaining to them what the Orthodox Church is all about. It was great to see people so eager to find out about Orthodoxy!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Excerpt from the Homily on the Annunciation, by St. John Chrysostom

Again tidings of joy, again messages of freedom, again calling back, again return, again voice of rejoicing, again driving back of slavery. An angel speaks with a virgin, because a woman spoke to a serpent. “In the sixth month”, as it is written, “The Angel Gabriel was sent by God to a virgin betrothed to a man.” Gabriel was sent with the message of universal salvation. Gabriel was sent, bringing the writ of the recall of Adam. Gabriel was sent to the Virgin, that the dishonor of womanhood might be transformed into honor. Gabriel was sent, as is worthy, to rejoice at the pure chamber of the Bridegroom. Gabriel was sent, and the Creator is betrothed to His creation. Gabriel was sent to the spiritual palace of the King of the Angels. Gabriel was sent to a virgin, who though betrothed to Joseph, will bear the Son. The bodiless servant was sent to the spotless Virgin. Sin was sent free towards corruption by the inviolate one. The lamp was sent to tell of the Sun of Righteousness. The morning star precedes the light of day. Gabriel was sent to relate of Him Who is in the bosom of the Father, and in the arms of His Mother. Gabriel was sent to show Him Who is on the throne and in the cave. The solider was sent to cry out the mystery of the King. We know this is a mystery through faith, not one that can be studied in various ways. We venerate the mystery, not a joining together. We theologize a mystery, not a study. We confess a mystery, we do no count it. “In the sixth month, Gabriel was went to a virgin...”

And he [the Archangel] received all the commandments like these [from the Lord]: “Come, O Angel, become a servant of this awesome mystery. Serve this hidden wonder, as an answer to fallen Adam, who will come under my compassion. Sin has made he that is fashioned in my image to grow old, and has soiled my creation, and has darkened where I created beauty. The wolf has scattered my flock. The dwelling place of Paradise has become a desert. The Tree of Life is guarded by the flaming sword, and the place of nourishment is closed. I have mercy on him who was attacked, and I wish to make war with him who fought against him [i.e. the devil]. I wish for all of the heavenly powers to know, but to you alone I impart the mystery. Go to the Virgin Mary, go to the Spiritual Gate, of which the Prophet said: “Glorious things have been said of you, O City of God.” Go to my Rational Paradise. Go to the Eastern City. Go to her who is the worthy dwelling-place of the Word. Go to the second Heaven on earth. Go to the Light Cloud. Tell her of my coming, the Thunderstorm. Go to her who is my prepared holy place. Go to the Bridal Chamber of my incarnation. Go to the pure Bridal Chamber of my nativity in the flesh. Speak to the ears of this rational Ark, to prepare the entrance of my hearing. But do not be fearsome, do not trouble the soul of the Virgin...First cry out to her with a voice of joy, and tell Mariam: “Hail, O Full-of-grace,” that I might have mercy on Eve, who is full-of-shame.”

The Angel [Gabriel], having heard what was spoken to him, said: “Strange is this thing, surpassing every thought to speak. He Who is awesome to the Cherubim, and invisible to the Seraphim, He Who is incomprehensible to all the Angelic Powers, is proclaimed to become nature!”

...But having truly all of this, the Physician has come to the sick, and the Sun of Righteousness has dawned for those who sat in darkness, the Anchor and Calm Harbor to those storm-tossed, the Intercessor has been born for the despised slaves, and peace has been united, and the Redeemer of captives has come, the strong unspeakable Joy and Love and Protection has come for those who are embattled. He is our peace, as the divine Apostle says, through Whom we have all received grace, Christ our God, to Whom belong glory to the ages of ages. Amen.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Love for Christ

From the writings of St Porphyrios:

Christ is the summit of desire; there is nothing higher. All sensible things lead to satiety, but with God there is no satiation. He is everything. God is the summit of desire. No other joy, no other beauty, nothing else can rival Him. What is higher than the highest?
Love for Christ is something else. It is without end, without satiety. It gives life; it gives strength; it gives health; it gives, gives, and gives. And the more it gives, the more the person wishes to fall in love. Human love and passion, by contrast, may be destructive and even drive a person mad. When we love Christ, all other loves abate. Other loves have a point of satiety. The love of Christ has no point of satiety. Fleshly love has a point of satiety. Thereafter jealousy and disgruntlement may set in, and may even lead to murder. Love in Christ knows no alteration. Worldly love remains for a time, and is gradually extinguished, whereas divine love continually grows and deepens. Every other kind of love can lead a person to despair. Devine eros, however, raises us up into the sphere of God; it bestows on us serenity, joy and fullness. Other pleasures enervate us, but of this pleasure we can never have enough. It is an insatiable pleasure, which you never tire of. It is the highest good.

We should regard Christ as our friend. He is our friend. He asserts this Himself when he says, "you are my friends..." (John 15:14). Let us stretch out to Him and approach Him as a friend. Do we fall? Do we sin? With familiarity, love and trust let us run to Him - not with fear that he will punish us, but with confidence which we derive from the sense of being with a friend. We can say to Him, 'I have fallen, forgive me.' At the same time, however, let us have the sense that He loves us and that He receives us with tenderness and love and forgives us. Don't let sin separate us from Christ. When we believe that He loves us and we love Him, we don't feel strangers and distanced from Him, even when we sin. We have secured His love, and however we behave, we know that He loves us.