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4 October, Vespers - 5:00 p.m.

5 October, Matins - 9:00 a.m.
Liturgy - 10:00 a.m.

11 October, Vespers - 5:00 p.m.

12 October, Matins - 9:00 a.m.
Liturgy - 10:00 a.m.
14 October, Hours - 9:30 a.m.
Protection of the Theotokos, Liturgy - 10:00 a.m.
18 October, Vespers - 5:00 p.m.

19 October, Matins - 9:00 a.m.
Liturgy - 10:00 a.m.

25 October, Vespers - 5:00 p.m.

26 October, Hours - 9:30 a.m.
Slavonic Liturgy - 10:00 a.m.


1 November, Vespers - 5:00 p.m.
2 November, Matins - 9:00 a.m.
Kazan Theotokos Liturgy - 10:00 a.m.
8 November, Vespers - 5:00 p.m.

9 November, Matins - 9:00 a.m.
Liturgy - 10:00 a.m.

15 November, Vespers - 5:00 p.m.

16 November, Matins - 9:00 a.m.
Liturgy - 10:00 a.m.

22 November, Vespers - 5:00 p.m.

23 November, Matins - 9:00 a.m.
Liturgy - 10:00 a.m.

29 November, Vespers - 5:00 p.m.

30 November, Hours - 9:30 a.m.
Slavonic Liturgy - 10:00 a.m.

Note: The Nativity Fast begins on 28 November and ends on 7 January, 2015.


3 December, Vespers - 5:00 p.m.
4  December, Hours - 9:30 a.m.
Liturgy - 10:00 a.m
6 December, Vespers - 5:00 p.m.

7 December, Matins - 9:00 a.m.
Liturgy - 10:00 a.m.

13 December, Vespers - 5:00 p.m.

14 December, Matins - 9:00 a.m.
Liturgy - 10:00 a.m.

19 December, Hours - 9:30 a.m.
St Nicholas Liturgy - 10:00 a.m.

20 December, Vespers - 5:00 p.m.

21 December, Matins - 9:30 a.m.
Liturgy - 10:00 a.m.

27 December, Vespers, 5 p.m.

28 December, Hours - 9:30 a.m.
Slavonic Liturgy - 10:00 a.m.

31 December, Church New Year Eve Moleben - 12:00 midnight



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                                        (see the Photo Album for more pictures PHOTO ALBUM.)
Using "rubber stamps" to judge people with is a shameful and wicked act. It is simply not responsible to assess any circumstance on anything but a person by person basis without committing some kind of destructive results. If we must err, then far better it is to err on the side of love and compassion that to crush someone's spirit and risk destroying their lives. I can already see the tight-lipped, faces becoming angry, their furrowed brows inscribing their wrath on their foreheads like vultures in full flight. However, we have, over the past many decades, helped to dig many deeply wounded souls out from under the grim burdens of those who have little discernment and much wrath and fanaticism. (Vladika Lazar)

    Number 9
(Copies of each Point of Faith subjects are available in booklet form for $1.00)
    It must be remembered that keeping the fasts is not a matter of "being good," and failing to fast a matter of "sinning." The matter is far greater and deeper than this. We do not enter the Heavenly Kingdom, the "Bridal Chamber," by being clad in "good works" or having become sinless or having more good points than bad. We enter the Heavenly Kingdom in no other way than by having acquired the Holy Spirit and become clad in divine grace. Fasting is a special keystone in our struggle to acquire the Holy Spirit and to become robed in the "wedding garment" of divine grace.
    Keeping the prescribed fasts is, first and foremost, a struggle to develop self discipline and self control. It is a quest for freedom, for no one can force us to fast. We must do so willingly, and the self discipline and self control that we develop through keeping the fast means that we are not controlled by other forces, primarily our passions. Self discipline and self control serves us well in every endeavour and activity in life.
    To understand the fasts and to keep them is, therefore, fundamental to our salvation itself. To fail to keep the fasts in a true Orthodox fashion is to undermine our salvation and turn ourselves away from the Heavenly Kingdom. To teach others to be lightminded about the fasts or even to ignore them, is simply wickedness and a service to the Evil-One. This is especially true in our present century when our youth are being taught to have a low regard for self-discipline and self-control. When parents refuse to set an example of such self-control and make cheap, unconvincing excuses for refusing to teach their children to fast, those parents are betraying their own children to the destructive spirit of our society, and to the hands of Satan. This booklet is intended to offer the Scriptural meaning and basis of the Orthodox Christian fast. We urge you to obtain the longer work on this subject and study it together with your family.


    We find the teaching of fasting set forth at every state in the history of the Church on earth, and the various reasons for fasting are also set forth. The very first example is perhaps the most vivid: the fast imposed on Adam and Eve was clearly both a physical and a spiritual fast. The fruit which was forbidden to them was both material, spiritual and symbolic. Indeed, it was a very great revelation. Our first ancestors were intemperate in disobedience to God's command. And they gained a knowledge of good and evil by doing evil (Gen.Ch.3). So too, all of us, when we refuse to fulfil the physical/ spiritual fasts which God has commanded through His Holy Church, increase in our knowledge of the passions by having yielded to them.
    How necessary is the Orthodox fast? If Adam and Eve could not remain in paradise without it, how shall we return to paradise without it?
    Adam and Eve fell into captivity and slavery to the passions through incontinence, and the Israelites were prepared to return to slavery and utter destruction in Egypt for the sake of the stomach. In Exodus, we read how the Hebrews grumbled against God because of their hunger and desired to return to slavery in Egypt for the sake of the "stew pots" of Egypt, from which they had received their daily slaves' rations (Ex.16:2-3).
    This was not merely a matter of turning back into a physical captivity for the sake of a pitiful allotment of food. The Israelites were willing also to sacrifice faith in God and the promise of salvation. They were willing to renounce the baptism in the Red Sea and reject the redemption of God for the sake of their stomachs and the cares of the flesh.
    The story of the Egyptian captivity and the liberation through Moses is a prototype of all human history, just as Moses is a type of Christ. We too are led from the captivity of sin and the bondage of death through the waters of baptism, and into the wilderness and isolation from this world. We carry on, suffering, struggling, falling and rising again because we have the sure hope of the promise of God's Kingdom. And yet, we too are called by our stomachs, by our passions, back into that former bondage. Like Esau, many of us sell the inheritance of our rebirth for the sake of the stomach (Gn.25:29-34).
    In these two mentioned instances, the necessity and value of the fasts are profoundly demonstrated, and we see the first two aspects of the fast: obedience to God, in return for which Adam and Eve would have remained in paradise, in a condition of freedom from bondage to Satan, and liberation from bondage by the passions so that we may be free for spiritual ascent, and regain paradise.
    The third great example of fasting is to be found in that spiritual ascent itself. For when Moses was in the presence of the Lord, he fasted for forty days. For more than a month, his food was communion with the Creator, his drink was the word of God (Ex. 34:18; 34: 28; Deut.9:9; 10:10). Our Saviour fasted in the Jericho wilderness for forty days in order to defeat the temptations of the Evil-One, but Moses fasted on Sinai in order to be in the presence of God. We, therefore, beloved, fast for forty days before Holy Pascha, so that we too might overcome the temptations of the Evil-One and stand in the presence of God. This is the third aspect of the fast: that we put aside all earthly cares, all concern of the flesh, to the best of our ability, that we "Take no thought for your life, what you shall eat..." but " first the kingdom of God," (Lk.12:22, 29, 31); rather, "Cast all your burden upon the Lord, for He will sustain you" (Ps.54:25).
    We stand in the presence of the Lord at every divine service (and, of course, we fast before every Liturgy) but never more so than at Pascha when we, like Moses, having beheld the Passover, stand on the summit of a spiritual Sinai and receive the promise of God.
    The great prophet Elijah, too, when the angel called him to go to the mount of God, fasted for forty days, not only to purify his soul, but also from awe and wonder of God, and because he took no thought for the flesh, but put all his hope on the Lord (3Ki.19:8). In this wise, we also prepare ourselves for the peak of the liturgical year with a forty day fast.
    We fast also when we have fallen and been defeated by the enemy, and wish to call upon God for special help. We do this to purify our souls and humble ourselves in order to receive God's grace. Thus, Joshua and his troops and all Israel fasted after their defeat at Ai, prostrating themselves before the Ark (Josh.7:6).
    Now, this is a very great matter, for the historical acts in the life of the Old Israel, we know to be revelations about the spiritual struggle of the Holy Church and of each Orthodox Christian in particular. When Joshua (ch.7) called out to God, "Why have you let us fall to the enemy?" God replied that it was because they had sinned. And what sort of sin? Disobedience for the sake of avarice. They had taken som of the accursed possessions of Jericho and distributed them among themselves.
    They had fallen, and God, accepting their prayers and fasting says: "You have sinned and transgressed the covenant...therefore you could not stand against the enemies. Arise, sanctify yourselves ...there is an accursed thing in your cannot stand before the enemies until you remove the accursed thing from among you" (see Josh. Ch.7).
    Here then, we see that we also fast when we have fallen in sin, in order to seek out the cause of our fall and struggle against it. We fast and pray in order to receive God's grace to "remove the accursed thing from our midst." The "accursed thing" in the book of Joshua was symbolized by the forbidden, pagan spoils of Jericho, but in fact, it was the passion of avarice, which led the Hebrews into disobedience, and thus to defeat. This occurred again at Gibeah in the days of Phineas, when Israel obtained a victory over Benjamin by fasting and prayer (Jd.20:26). And again, they were granted a victory over the Philistines at Mizpah by fasting and prayer and "removing the accursed thing from their midst" __ this time, they had turned to the surrounding idolatry in order to conform to the contemporary world around them (1Sam. 7:6).
    So then, by means of prayer and fasting in Orthodox fashion, we obtain our victories over the enemy of mankind. For, fasting helps us to "remove the accursed thing [passions] from our midst," and to humble ourselves before God, confessing that our victory is in Him. This is a fourth aspect of the fast: that it gives us an insight into ourselves so that we may recognize and, with God's help, remove the passions which make us prey to the Evil-One and separate us from God.
    Esther fasted, and the faithful fasted and prayed with her when she was about to set forth on a perilous task (4:16). Jehosephat too, when Judah was faced with great peril by the invaders from Amman, proclaimed a fast, and he and the whole congregation prayed and fasted for strength and help from the Lord. We too fast and pray regularly because the path of our life is fraught with spiritual perils. We fast and pray also that we may hear and understand the words the Lord spoke to Jehosephat:
    "Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude: for the battle is not yours, but God's" (2Chr.20:15).
    A sixth aspect of the fast lies in repentance. This is an overriding factor which permeates every fast: fasting facilitates true repentance, because it is such a complete struggle against the passions we wish to repent of. For this reason, the Ninevites fasted in the days of Jonah, (Jonah 3:4-10) and when Joel called Israel to repentance to deliver them from disaster, God said, through him: "Sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly...gather all into the house of the Lord your God and cry unto the Lord... therefore now says the Lord, turn to Me with all your heart, and with fasting and weeping and [spiritual] mourning...sound the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast...sanctify the congregation...then will the Lord...answer and say unto His people, behold I send you wheat, wine and oil... no longer will you be a reproach among the heathen" (Joel 1:14; 2:15- 16). Most of the fasts of the Old Testament were fasts kept for the sake of repentance. Repentance is necessary to prepare us to stand in God's presence, to obtain God's help in rising from our falls, to obtain God's help in facing spiritual perils and dangers, and for every spiritual ascent, as David says, "I humbled my soul with fasting" (Ps.35:13).
    There were four definite lents in the Old Testament period of the earthly Church. The Lord made mention of them through Saint Zachary the Prophet (8:19), saying:
     "Thus saith the Lord of Hosts, `the fast of the fourth month and the fast of the fifth, and of the seventh and the fast of the tenth month shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness and cheerful: therefore, love the truth and peace'."
    In this our New Testament period of the history of the Church, the New Israel, we find exactly the same ideals of fasting: the apostles before taking a serious decision, as we see in the Acts: "As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit spoke...." and "when they had fasted and prayed, they consecrated them...and sent them forth...." Again, "And when they had ordained presbyters in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord" (Acts 13:2-3; 14:23).
    Moreover, when Apostle Paul advises the Corinthians of those works in which one must "approve oneself as servants of God," he includes fasting (2Cor.6:5). The holy prophetess Anna, great in the sight of the Lord, served Him "with fasting and prayer," (Lk.2: 36-37) and God sent His angel to call Cornelius to salvation as he was "fasting and praying" (Acts 10:30).


    We have mentioned only a few examples, yet see how many and how great are the benefits of fasting and prayer shown forth in the divine Scripture. See how every gift of grace, every victory, every spiritual advance and every ascent toward God is preceded and accompanied by fasting. Let the holy prophet Saint Isaiah set forth the matter in words inspired by the Holy Spirit.
    "Wherefore have we fasted? Wherefore have we afflicted our souls...? Behold, in the day that you fast, you find satisfaction and recompense in all your labours...behold you make your voice heard on high...Is it such a fast that I have chosen? A day for one to afflict his soul? ...Is not this the fast that I have chosen? To loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens and to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to divide your bread among the hungry, and to bring in the poor who are outcasts? To cover the naked when you see them? Then shall your light break forth as the morning, and your health shall spring forth speedily: and your righteousness shall go before you: and the glory of the Lord shall be your double portion" (Is.58:3-9).


    Fasting is one of the great moral weapons which we have in our struggle against the Evil-One. And yet, it is a weapon which many would like to abolish and deprive us of. In our era, we, and especially our youth, are enduring torments and temptations of the Evil-One which older generations never even dreamed could exist. There has rarely, if ever, been a time in our history when the Orthodox fast was more vital to our spiritual and emotional survival. Love demands that we strive with all diligence to instruct ourselves and our children with an understanding of the fast: not a purely legalistic knowledge of the rules of fasting (for the letter of the law killeth) but with a true, vital understanding of the real and spiritual value of fasting (for the spirit giveth life).
    There is more than one aspect of the fast. St Gregory the Theologian profoundly sets forth the one which I think is the most urgent in our day. In his sermon on Holy Baptism, he says:
    "Christ fasted for some time before His temptations, we before Pascha. So far as the days of fasting are concerned it is the same.... He armed Himself with them against temptation."
    Our holy and God-bearing father Ambrose of Milan instructs us likewise, saying:
    "Wherefore also the Lord Jesus Christ, wishing to make us more strong against the temptations of the Devil, fasted when about to contend with him, that we might know that we may in no other way overcome the enticements of evil."
    Apostle Paul often likens the Christian struggler to an athlete __ and this is the essential meaning of the term "ascetic": one who trains and disciplines oneself (as in athletic training) to compete in the arena of spiritual warfare, for the crown of salvation.
    We who are called upon to be spiritual athletes, to contend with Satan, begin our struggle as our Saviour Himself demonstrated to us: with fasting. The fast is the training ground upon which the spiritual athlete develops the discipline and self control which is necessary for us in order to enter into spiritual warfare.
    The athlete who has trained to contest for sensual pleasures has developed his spiritual physique, his nervous system and mental disposition quite differently from one who has trained to contest for the crown of salvation. In the first instance, Satan has been the trainer, having trained us for carnality and sensuality. He triggers certain immoral desires or passions within our hearts by means of various suggestions, certain enticements, thoughts, direct seductions or mental deceits, and a carnal person quite often tempts himself. If a carnal person desires to change to the godly contest, it is somewhat like a runner who desires to become a wrestler. It is necessary for him to rework his muscle tone, to completely retrain his nervous system, and so forth, for running ability serves only for the wrestler who, through cowardice, will desire to flee from his opponent. So also in the case of the struggle for moral perfection: the passions, the former training, must be totally weeded out.
    The struggle begins with the bodily fast in which we abstain from food which helps feed the former passions. Using the discipline and self-control which we develop in actually keeping the prescribed fasts, we can then begin to turn our minds toward the internal, spiritual struggle.
    Apostle Paul sets forth this spiritual aspect of the fast when he says:
    "Assuming that you really have heard Him and been taught by Him, as all truth is in Jesus, strip yourselves of your former nature which characterized your previous manner of life and becomes corrupt through lusts and desires which spring from delusions; and be constantly in the spirit of your mind; and put on the new nature created in God's image, in true righteousness and holiness" (Eph.4:20-24).
    To understand this, we must consider the soul as a fallow field in which we are called upon to create a garden of salvation. This field is overgrown with tares (the passions). The sower in the parable sowed life-giving seeds, but some fell among the tares and, when they tried to grow up, they were choked off. Still, the sower plants these seeds all our lifetime, and when we see that the young sprouts are being choked off by the tares, we ought to understand that it is necessary to weed the garden of our soul so that the next season's planting can take root and bear fruit.
    This gardening of the soul is called "interior work." It begins with the bodily fast, which we understand, and continues with the mutual spiritual fast, which is called "guarding the mind." Abstinence and moderation in eating make possible a spiritual acuity which facilitates the "guarding of the mind."
    Guarding of the mind is a spiritual practice which absolutely requires regular fasting. Sin, allowing the passions to be aroused to the level of manifestation, most often enters the heart through the mind as a result of external suggestions. One must strive to be ever alert to catch temptations as soon as they enter the mind so that they do not linger long enough to be committed in thought or deed (cp. Mt.5: 27-28). To explain this more clearly: everyone knows, in a general sense, what is bad and what is good. If a person is alert, he can quickly recognize destructive thoughts entering the mind (though not, perhaps, infallibly in every case). Concerning how to take action to repel these thoughts, one ought to consult one's spiritual father. The primary thing is intent. It is easily possible to entertain the most foul thoughts, while at the same moment repeating prayers. One must have a sincere intent to guard the mind from destructive thoughts and influences, remembering above all that nothing can be done without Christ.
    The mind is something like a door to the temple of the Holy Spirit (for, the body, the Scripture says, is the temple of the Holy Spirit 1Cor.6:19). The guard of the door is responsible for discerning whether "deliveries" to the temple are for its adornment or for its defilement: in this, the mind resembles a customs official who carefully searches what is entering the country, rejecting what is harmful and admitting what is beneficial. Thus, what enters the mind ought to be searched. Yet, the guard ought not to hope on his own strength, but rather, as a watch-dog which barks to awaken his master when an intruder enters, so one ought always to call on the Master, Jesus Christ, to repulse the intruding temptation.
    Everyone is able to practise this sort of guarding of the mind to one extent or another. Yet it is evident that the ability must be constantly built up and strengthened. In the end, the less that comes to the "door," the easier is the "door" to guard. The more one withdraws from what is profane and distracting and enters into an environment of edifying things, the easier is the guarding of the mind. This withdrawal from the spiritually destructive and advancing into the spiritually profitable is the basis of the spiritual aspect of fasting.
    If the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, then what is there that can enter into it which is more edifying than that for which it is intended? It is most beneficial, then, to enter into the temple and, as a servant and worshipper, to clean out, to sweep, to dust and to purify the temple with repentance, fasting, confession, soul-searching, heeding the spiritual father, and communicating the Holy Mysteries: and to strive most diligently in these tasks so that there will be a fulfilment of the temple, since the Holy Spirit does not co-habit with defilement, with the filth of pride, with the darkness of sinful thoughts. Either the one will increase and the other decrease, or the other will advance and the one withdraw. A "happy medium" will not be found, and no person is more foolishly deceived than the one who thinks that he has acquired the Holy Spirit not having first laboured long and obediently at the cleansing and purification of the temple. Moreover, in this matter, one does not stand still: one is either on the way up or on the way down.
    What enters the mind is either harmful or edifying. So the guarding of the mind depends upon intent and concept and is a much greater task than just "sifting through parcels that arrive at the door." It begins with the free and open confession of every temptation to the father confessor. Together with this is the cutting off of external enticements __ fasting from harmful spiritual food, and replacing it with spiritually edifying food: reading the Divine Scripture, sacred books and the Lives of the Saints, constant prayer and participating in the divine services, for the bodily fast is the plough with which we break the ground and these other things are the hoes, rakes and seeders of those who wish to cultivate a garden of salvation in the soul. Prayer is the disk and harrow, the stamina and strength, for every success will be seen to be a direct gift from God. Obedience is the crop insurance and the tending of the young sprouts once they begin to grow. Obedience is the protective cultivation against the re-invasion of the tares.
    Frequent communion of the Holy Mysteries is the ultimate weapon which burns up the tares so that the field of the soul can receive the seed and bear fruit. Nothing is attained without diligent struggle and whatever is attained is a gift of God's grace in response to our volition and obedience.


    One final and dramatic aspect of the Great Fast must be contemplated.
    As we are about to set forth on the spiritual voyage of Great Lent, we prepare ourselves with readings about Antichrist from the Synaxarion for Meatfare and Cheesefare Sundays. Finally, we celebrate the day of the commemoration of the Second Glorious Coming of our Saviour Jesus Christ.
    Christ our Saviour fasted for forty days before He encountered those "temptations" which are a revelation about Antichrist. For, the things which Christ rejected __ demonstrative, theatrical spiritual power, political power, and the provision of food, all rooted in Satan's suggestion __ Antichrist will accept and fulfil. From this fact, and from the Synaxarion readings and the Feast of the Second Coming, we understand that fasting, and in particular, the Great Lent, help to prepare us and every generation for the advent of Antichrist. We know that in the day of Antichrist, when there will be a great famine, and food will only be available to those who accept Antichrist, his world government and world religion and his special mark, we will either fast or follow Antichrist.
    Thus, as we do not know in which generation Antichrist will come, we must keep the fasts with all diligence, and lovingly pass on the rules of fasting in all strictness to our children, that they too may struggle in preparation and training against the day of Antichrist, so that whichever generation encounters his reign will be prepared for it, and will know how to fast for the salvation of the soul in that last and most terrible moment of mankind's existence on this earth.
    From this we can understand that a legalistic and ritualistic view of fasting, which breeds carelessness and neglect, is deadly. We must understand the reasons and need for fasting, and teach them with love and compassion. We cannot judge people who do not actually keep the fasts, but we have no right to teach people not to fast or to have a low regard for fasting. The strictness of a person's fast is modified by health problems, and a person reduces his food intake according to his strength. But we can also understand that those who want to "soften" the fast "so more people will come to church," to lessen it, to make unwarranted exceptions to it and otherwise undermine it, to bless non-lenten food during fast periods and concoct legalistic "exceptions" for such activities as summer camps, etc, do so not out of love or concern for the souls of the faithful, but out of unbelief, hatred and total lack of concern for the salvation of the souls of our children. This is why St Seraphim of Sarov denies the name "Christian" to everyone who does not keep the fasts.
    The things of this world, the passions, ideals, desires and goals of this world, all work together to enslave mankind both individually and collectively. And enslaved we truly have become. Satan uses avarice __ greed __ as a motivator to lead some human beings to help enslave other human beings to his "principality of this world." This is done by creating a great spiritual void in the life of mankind, and then telling man that this void can be filled by material possessions, shallow, often emotionally destructive entertainments, and various types of foods. This is the liturgy served daily on television, the litany chanted on the radio, the icon portrayed on the billboards. We worship in church perhaps once a week, although we worship before the television daily. Daily, the age of sexual maturity in our children is lowered while their emotional capacity to cope with it is deformed and, by highly refined means, the whole scope of our various passions are increased, and products are devised to fulfil them. Daily, we and our children become more and more enslaved.
    How can we interrupt this process? How can we break this chain? Our Saviour in His mercy and love has given us the fasts. This, beloved of Christ, is what the Orthodox fast is mainly about in our time. It is nothing less than a declaration of independence from the world, from the principality of Satan. More than this, to fulfil the Orthodox fast is to begin to actually live the theology of the Holy Church, it is to begin the ascent toward knowledge of God.
    The Orthodox fast is not mere, legalistic abstention from certain foods, and it is more than a knowledgeable abstention from foods which are well known to help increase certain passions. We fast not merely from the foods with which the body is fed, but also from harmful food with which the mind and emotions are fed. On the day we begin to fast, we turn, as it were, to the world and declare: I reject the goals, aspirations, judgments and bondage of this life of the passions. I set the eyes of my soul heavenward; I set my desire upon God and the Heavenly Kingdom, I set my aspirations upon that which is greater, more desirable and ineffably more glorious than the highest and the finest that this world has to offer.

Response to Your Questions and commentary on Major News Stories
by Archbishop Lazar Haler-Puhalo
n the Annunciation Service, we say that the angel Gabriel appeared to the Theotokos and proclaimed, “Rejoice.” We also use the refrain “Rejoice....” in the Akathist hymns. But I have seen some translation that read “Hail” and some versions of the Akathist that also use “Hail” in place of “Rejoice.” Does it make any difference, and why would one be more correct than the other?

    It makes a great deal of difference, and rendering the greeting “hail” in place of “rejoice” shows a lack of knowledge of the Scripture and of basic theology and revelation. The Latin translation of Scripture interpreted the word khaire as if it was “ave,” thus “hail” in English.
     The Archangel greets Mary with the word khaire (χαiρε), literally “rejoice” for a very specific and profound reason. This greeting refers directly to the messianic prophecies in Zephnaia and Zachary. This is precisely what the Evangelist, indeed, the Holy Spirit speaking through him, was inviting our attention to. (And according to St Athanasios the Great “the apostles were also prophets.”) This meaning of the word in the context of the prophecies of the Hebrew Scripture is also directly reflected in the ecclesiology of the three great Cappadocian fathers.
    So where does the greeting “Rejoice, O full of grace....” come from and to what does it refer? I believe that if one examines the holy fathers, and understands the use of the Hebrew prophets by the Evangelists, we will find that the Archangel’s greeting, “Rejoice” directs us straight back to Zephanaia 3:14-15 and Zachary 9:9:

Sing aloud, O daughters of Zion; shout out, O Israel.
Rejoice and exult in your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem...
The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;
you shall never again fear evil. (Zeph.3:14-15)


Rejoice exceedingly, O daughter of Zion,
Shout out, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Lo, your King comes to you. (Zach.9:9)

In the Septuagint, the translators render the Hebrew Gul; Gil (rejoice; be joyful) in both the Zephanaia and the Zachary verses as χαρε. The connection is clear and immediate.
    Thus, the proclamation of the Archangel, and our use of the word “Rejoice....” in the Church hymnology is neither accidental nor incidental. It is directly connected to the revelation about the messiah, about the coming of Christ the Lord and King, first into the womb of the virgin, the “daughter of Zion,” and then into the midst of mankind.



Dear Vladyka,
Your blessing.
I have a question, please. Was man created mortal or immortal? Some of my reading seems to suggest one thing, and some to suggest the other. Can you shed any light on this for me?


All created things are mortal, only God is immortal. Man may become immortal by Grace. This is a matter that seems to confuse some: if death of humans is a result of the fall, then were they naturally immortal before the fall? The Holy Fathers answer, "No. Man is not immortal by nature. Only God is immortal by nature. Life itself is a gift." God's intention for many was to be immortal by Grace, and this required unity with God, which he had in "paradise." Death (not mortality) came about because of man's separation from God. When Fundamentalists argue that there could not have been living things that died before the fall of man, they completely misunderstand the narrative. This is natural to them, because they have a completely false notion of what redemption and salvation consist in. Death is the wages of sin precisely because sin separates us from unity with God. In Christ Jesus, immortality becomes possible again because Christ has first of all reunited man with God in Himself (thus, it is critical that we confess Christ as being fully human and fully Divine). He has made it possible for us to become reunited with God, even though we so often fall short of the mark (sin). We make the best effort we are able, and Christ has made up the difference for us. This is what "Theosis" actually means: we obtain immortality through union with God, sharing in His immortality, and since only God can be immortal, we become "gods by Grace."
Archbishop Lazar


We seldom think of fasting as being a theological act, and perhaps this is because we do not understand the full meaning of "theology," or of the word "asceticism." Orthodox theology is an ascetic theology; this means that we try to actually live what we teach.
    Fasting is an ascetic act, but what does "ascetic" mean? ascesis in Greek indicates the kind of training and preparation that athletes undergo in order to compete. As Orthodox Christians, we are called upon be spiritual athletes. This means that we should train and prepare to actually live the theology of the faith. We should strive to have a living faith in the living Christ, but we cannot do this without active effort. Keeping the fast periods prescribed by the Church is a significant part of training ourselves for the moral struggles before us. What we mean by this is "putting our faith into practice in our daily lives."
    We are not talking about "moralism." Moralism is not true morality. In fact moralism usually defeats our moral struggle by leading us into being judgmental, self-righteous and condescending. We become like the Pharisees whom Christ exposed. They performed all the outward ceremonial correctly and they wanted people to see that they did this. We want to train our hearts and our consciences so that whatever we do, we "do it joyfully as unto the Lord" ( ).
    Where does fasting enter into this? How does it help to train us? No one can force you to keep the fast. You must exercise yourself in self-discipline and self-control in order to fulfill the fasts appointed by the Church. This means also that you exercise your will to strengthen it. At the same time you practice humility by following the fasting rules given by the Church. While strengthening your own will, you control it by not following a self-willed rule of fasting. Moreover, since the whole parish community is working at the fast period together, this can strengthen the sense of community which is so much a part of the Orthodox Christian ethos.
    The Orthodox Christian fast periods are not simply about certain foods. They are about much more. We must also fast from arrogance, judgement of others, pridefulness, gossip, evil thoughts about others, etc. This is why we continually pray the prayer of Saint Ephraim the Syrian during Great Lent.

       Lord and Master of my life, give me not a spirit of idleness, despondency, ambition or vain talking.
   But rather a spirit of purity, humility, patience and love, bestow upon me Thy servant.
   Yea, O Lord and king, grant me to see my own faults and not to judge my brother, for blessed art Thou unto ages of ages. Amen.

    We can say these words easily, but it is not so easy to fulfill them; and yet they are concepts which are at the heart of the theological life. Exercising ourselves in self-control, self-discipline and exercising our will in a disciplined manner through following the fasting rules of the Church help us to have the will and self-control to better fulfill the words of this prayer.
        It is also important for us to see what kind of a fast is truly God-pleasing. Here is what the holy prophet teaches us:

    Is it sort of a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it for him to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Would you call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD? 
        Rather, Is this not the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke?  Isn’t it you share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring the poor that are outcast into your house and when you see the naked, that you cover him; and that you hide not thyself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth as the morning, and your health shall quickly spring forth: and your righteousness shall go before you and the glory of the LORD shall be your reward. (Is.58:5-11).


Thus says the Lord of hosts: The fast of the fourth month,  and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful, therefore love the truth and peace. (Zach.8:19).

    Thus, while fasting is a time for true self-reflection and repentance, it is not a morbid exercise in self denigration as some teach, but a time of self-examination. The fasts are periods of special struggle to acquire the true spirit of the Gospels, the true heart of our theology.

QUESTION (From Thessaloniki)
    Sometimes among the young people in our church, there is some friction and some begin feeling that an injustice has been done to them. Then a question comes to mind, "But we all go together and receive Holy Communion, so how it is possible that we behave this way one towards the other." Then a cold feeling comes into our heart. Can you advise us how to struggle to avoid such situations?

ARCHBISHOP LAZAR: Part of the reason we take offense with each other is because of our own pride, and part of the reason is because some people are very careless in how they deal with each other. With some young people immature emotions can lead one to take offence easily. Of course it would be easier for young people if the older people set a better example, but that it not always the case.
    The fact that we belong to the same parish and that we receive Holy Communion together—this is not going to solve the problem by itself and it is easy to see how the situation you describe can make one feel and coldness in approaching for Holy Communion.
     One thing I would suggest is that all of you who are approximately the same age, in your late teens or early twenties, and perhaps not married yet, should come together periodically and talk about these things openly with each other. But of course you have to talk to each other peacefully. One of the biggest difficulties that we have is that we do not communicate with each other. This is true not only in the parish community but even between husband and wife. The solution to many problems is to communicate with each other in an honest and open manner. If you sit down as a group and talk about these problems it gives you a new closeness among yourselves, and you might even help to heal each other from some problem. If your discussions are peaceful and constructive, you will also develop a valuable deeper sense of mutual trust and appreciation for one another. For example, if one person has the kind of personality which leads them to offend or commit injustice more often than others, they probably know within themselves that they have a problem, but they also might not know how to deal with it. If you discuss problems with each other you might be able to help this person find a way to handle his or her problems. Young people can exhibit much wisdom and intelligence. If a young person in your general age group is a bully, for example, it is far better for his or her peers to help resolve the issue rather than taking the problem to adults.
    We also have to learn not to take offense with injustices. Injustice is a part of the human condition. This is so throughout the whole world, even in the way nations deal with each other (or perhaps, especially in the way nations deal with each other). Injustice is something that you will always encounter throughout your life. But it is also true that sometimes when we see injustices in small matters, in matters that are not as significant as we think they are, then this is a problem with our own pride. Many times as you mature in life you see the same situations in a different light, even though the situations are the same.
    It is very easy for a teenager to feel injustice from his or her parents when the parents are really only showing love. For example, when you are not allowed to do things that other young people are doing, this may seem like an injustice, but the parents deny you the privilege to do these things because they know what kind of dangers are involved. In this case sometimes love is being misunderstood as an injustice. The most important thing about solving these problems among yourselves is to communicate with each other sincerely and peacefully.
    The Church is a spiritual hospital and everybody in the church has an illness, including the priests and the bishops. We are all there to be healed from something, and when we help each other with this healing process this is a great thing. Part of this is praying for one another by name, not just in a general way, and also by communicating with each other in a peaceful way. You will never solve these problems without communicating, without talking to each other
    I do recommend that the  young people in the parish get together sometimes and talk about various problems. I see many times how a teenager can show considerable wisdom, and not only wisdom but  great intelligence, in solving problems and in helping to heal one another. When I am together with a group of young people I often learn as much as I teach, especially when the young people are open and talk freely.
    This is the way you have to be with each other, and it is the only way you are going to solve these kind of problems.
    We should respond in more profound ways when greater injustices, ones that can destroy people’s lives, are being committed. This is why so many teenagers have begun to work at putting a stop to bullying and resisting cultural pressures to participate in injustices. Our youth can make great contributions to the formation of more just and equitable societies.


    You must be born again of water and the Spirit ( Jn.3:5)

    Christ made it clear that being “reborn” or “regenerated” is accomplished through the combination of water and the Holy Spirit; perhaps we should say by the Holy Spirit using the water. Why do some of the newer Christian religions question this and attempt to find a way around the words of our Saviour? Often because of a misunderstanding of the meaning and nature of baptism, and misunderstandings of the meaning of divine grace. There is also a misunderstanding of what it means to be “born again” or “regenerated.” The false doctrine of “Original Sin” confuses the question even more. This erroneous teaching holds that there is a kind of “genetic guilt” that we inherit from Adam, and that baptism is for forgiveness of the genetic guilt.


    In the creation story, which is filled with profound meaning, we are told that the Holy Spirit “hovered over the waters” (Gn.1:2). We know that life on earth began in the sea. This is why we are made up of  50-60% sea water and the rest is minerals. God made water to be a source of life. Nothing can live without liquid water. The Holy Spirit descending upon the ancient water made it life-bearing.
    The Holy Spirit, the “giver of life” also descends upon the baptismal water, transforming it by grace, and this takes us back to the very creation itself. Baptism reenacts (recapitulates) the very beginning of life itself.
    The story of Noah is also a story about the meaning of baptism. In the story, the earth itself is baptised and given a new start, a “rebirth,” a new start of life.


    Before the baptism, we pray for the Holy Spirit to come down upon and into the water and sanctify it, making it life-giving by grace. We also bless the baptismal water with the cross and the sign of the cross.
    In our understanding, Moses used the sign of the cross to open and close the sea when he led Israel out of captivity. He brought his staff down over the water, tracing out where it would be parted. Having crossed the sea, Moses completed the sign of the cross by moving his staff across the opening, closing the sea on the Egyptians.
    Again, when Israel was perishing of thirst, they came to the bitter waters of Marah. This water was “dead,” is was undrinkable. God commanded Moses to take a limb with two branches, like the shape of the cross, and bless the water with it. Moses placed this image of the cross directly into the water and, by grace, the water was “healed,” made life-giving and quenched the thirst of the Hebrews.
    The creation of life in the sea by the descent and grace of the Holy Spirit, the deliverance of God’s people through the sea, with the sign of the cross, the healing of the waters of Marah are all brought together (recapitulated) in the Orthodox Christian baptismal service.


    In baptism, we are born again in the image of Christ. Christ was incarnate in the womb of the Virgin, by the descent of the Holy Spirit. Apostle Paul calls the Church the “pure virgin bride of Christ.” The baptismal font is the womb of the Church, the “pure virgin.” Thus in baptism, we are reborn, regenerated, in the womb of the “pure virgin” Church, through the descent of the Holy Sprit.


    Baptism gives us a new birth into the Body of Christ. We also receive the “seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit” with the chrism oil. This unites us fully with the Body of Christ both in this world and in the age to come.


    In The Old Covenant – the Old Testament – we see that only priests could partake of the “things on the altar.” At our baptism, we become, as Apostle Peter says, a “royal priesthood” (1Pet.2:9). We can now partake of the “things on the altar,” the Communion of the Body and Blood of our Lord and Saviour Christ Jesus.


    Thus, to be “born again” refers to the action of the grace of the Holy Spirit, in the image of the very creation of life itself and in the image of the birth of Christ Jesus for our salvation. This is called “recapitulation” because it brings together all those manifestation when the Holy Spirit has worked together with water to bring forth life, to deliver God’s people from bondage, to heal dead water and make it life sustaining, and even the baptism of the earth in the days of Noah, when the earth was regenerated through a form of baptism.


    Baptism is not a mere symbol or a testimony of a decision you have taken in your life. It is also not about the forgiveness of some kind of personal, genetic guilt inherited from Adam. It is an episode of freely given grace, a true descent of the Holy Spirit. Just as the bitter waters of Marah were healed, so the alienation from God that we did inherit from our ancestors, is healed. The possibility of our growth toward a deeper and deeper unity with God is made possible.
    There is no reason to exclude infants from this great mystery. Indeed, it is likely that, in their innocence, they have a faith that excels ours.

What is the Difference Between BC and BCE, and also A.D. and CE
BC=Before Christ while BCE=Before the Common Era. AD=Anno Domini, the Year of our Lord while CE=Common Era. It had been traditional in the West to give dates as "Before Christ," and "Anno Domini." However, with the emergence of plualistic cultures and nations that are not Christian, the demand for different, non-religious names for this system grew. In almost all scholarly publications, the new designation "BCE" and "CE" are used.

Must confession and Communion always be tied together?

 There is no canonical or patristic justification for tying the two together. Some people believe that you can only have confession if you are preparing for Holy Communion. Sadly, this attitude tends to make confession a mechanical act, often void of any deep, heartfelt repentance. One should have confession regularly, whether or not one is going to receive Holy Communion. Confession is a medicine for the soul and mind, a cleansing and healing process which must be accompanied by contemplation and heartfelt repentance. We do not confess "as part of preparation for Holy Communion," but to unburden our souls and spirits and seek prayerful help in resolving of spiritual problems.
    Confession is not prescribed in preparation for Holy Communion by any canon of the Church, and I am not personally aware of any patristic injunction making it so. Requiring confession before every Holy Communion is a “local practice,” and one must follow what is practised in the diocese that he or she belongs to. It does appear to presuppose that you will be communing infrequently — perhaps no more than four times a year. It must be seen as a custom where it is locally required. Fasting, on the other hand, is clearly required before Holy Communion, and this is something deeply ingrained in the conscience and Tradition of the Church. Regular confession is also an essential part of our spiritual life.

Why do our churches face East and is it really important for them to?

People living in the West sometimes developed the idea that churches were built with the altar to the East in order to face Jerusalem. This is not true. If one lived East of Constantinople, the the altar would actually be facing away from Jerusalem. As one ancient bishop of Edessa explained in the 500's, the church faces East because (1) Paradise was "in the East" and the altar is a type of paradise and (2) because at the second coming, Scripture says, Christ will appear "in the East." The same bishop added, "We do not pray toward Jerusalem, for there Christ was rejected and crucified, and there also, Antichrist will reign."


Q: Your Eminence, the Islamic Outreach Centre here is raising doubts about the virgin birth and resurrection of Christ. They point out that, historically, there are many myths of virgin birth and resurrection in several pagan religions. What are we to believe?

A: Allow me to point out, first of all, that the Quaran (Koran) fully accepts the virgin birth of Jesus (peace be upon Him). In some species what we would call "virgin births" are the norm. Female is the default gender and the males in a number of species are little more that parasites or are insignificant, and function only to add genetic diversity in fertilising the female eggs. In theory, a virgin birth among humans would be possible. Or course, "where God wills, the order of nature is overturned. Aside from this, the story of a virgin-born spiritual leader (of whatever rank and calling) is so pervasive in cultures across all race boundaries, that there has to be some singular basis to the concept. I am going to offer the thought that there was a primordial prophecy of a virgin-born saviour and resurrection inscribed almost genetically in humanity from mankind's most early history. We have the protoevangelion in the book of Genesis, and I understand the two trees as a prophecy about the Cross of Christ. It is for these very reasons that I feel that taking the Genesis narrative in a literal, fundamentalists fashion, is so destructive and so corrupting for us: the most profound revelations and prophecy of the narrative are destroyed by literalism and fundamentalism. It seems to me that all the previous stories of virgin births and resurrections were leading up to the full manifestation in Christ Jesus. Note how radically different the message of Christ is to all that preceded. Note also that the Holy Fathers, who accepted the Divinity, virgin incarnation and resurrection of Christ were not ignorant peasants, but among the most erudite and highly educated in the Roman world. I would suggest that all the previous stories of virgin birth and resurrection were, in a manner of speaking, etimasia ---- the preparation of the throne.


QUESTION: Last time you had a discussion with us [the teenagers at one of the parishes], you mentioned that because of your different kind of clothing you are distinguished from other people. People come and ask you what you are and this often opens an opportunity for you to confess the Orthodox faith to them. But we as lay people do not have something that distinguishes us from other people. So we do not have an opportunity where people come and ask us about our lives or about our faith. What should our approach to other people be? Should we try to talk to them by ourselves, and if we try to confess and give an oral witness what should our first words be toward them?

ARCHBISHOP LAZAR: There are seldom any situations in which you should initiate such a conversation. Some Protestants do this, and it usually has a negative results. It is difficult to do this without being offensive to people. Often you are only making ordinary conversation with people, and it is only when you meet someone who is interested in spiritual matters that you are able to talk to them about the faith. I remember that we had one boy around fourteen years old in one of our parishes who went to school near the monastery. When it came time for lunch in the big lunch hall at school, he always stood up and said a short prayer and made the sign of the cross on himself. A few people would ridicule him because of this and some people thought he was a bit strange. On the other hand, many people also respected him because of it. Protestants would come and try to convert him because they could see that he was pious. They would tell him ,"You should not make the sign of the cross because Protestants do not do that." Then he would begin to explain to them why they should make the sign of the cross. He told one young woman who came to him to try to convert him ,"Are you ashamed of the cross of Jesus? If you are not ashamed of the cross why do you not make the sign of the cross?" She was unable to answer so she went to her home and asked her parents about it. Because of that one thing the parents began to investigate a little bit and eventually the whole family became Orthodox. It happens that the Holy Spirit often provides the opportunities for us to witness by giving us an opening toward those people who are able to hear what we have to say.
    It is difficult to initiate a conversation about the faith without appearing to be self-righteous or arrogant, but because it is also necessary to witness for the faith we need to have classes periodically where we teach people how to do this. Above all, we must learn to approach discussions about the faith in an Orthodox manner, rather than imitating the highly condescending and obnoxious Protestant manner. One of the first steps is to gain complete control of anger, because in any discussion, debate or argument, if you become angry then you are going to lose the discussion or argument. The Holy Spirit brings us the spirit of peace. In the Holy Scripture we read: "Be ye angry and sin not," but here it is talking about an internal spiritual struggle, not a disposition. When we are witnessing for Christ we are witnessing to a spirit of peace, so we have to acquire a spirit of peace. If you have a spirit of peace and an inner joy that comes from the Holy Spirit, then people who are open to the things of the Spirit will ask you how you arrived at the spirit of peace. Also when somebody tries to get you to do something wrong or something negative, when you refuse to do it you can tell people why you have refused without being angry or self-righteous. Remember that your concept of what is wrong or negative may differ substantially from theirs, and a condemnatory tone will not only come across as arrogant self-righteousness, it will also turn the listener away from considering your point of view.
    We do not want any kind of self-righteousness. In order to truly witness for Christ one has to be natural and open, and not take on an attitude or the appearance of religiosity. In Slavic we call such an attitude svyatosha. This applies to a person who tries to consciously take on the appearance of "holiness." But we do not need to have a long face, a sleepy, closed eyed countenance or a sorrowful look as an effort to demonstrate that we believe in God or in an effort to make us look spiritual.
    One thing that I would like to say is that when I lecture at universities many times the students ask questions and I explain the Orthodox perspective on the problems. The students are very often amazed at the Orthodox answers. Sometimes they say ,"Oh but it sounds very liberal!" by which they mean "enlightened." In fact, the statements are simply patristic. Many people have turned away from our Lord Jesus Christ because the teaching they have received is heavy and dark, sometimes very dry and often filled with superstition. Students are amazed when they hear that we are comfortable with the principles of evolution and find it easy to understand in a spiritual way the whole process of evolution, or how comfortable Orthodoxy is with modern science. They are also surprised when we explain to them the true meaning of marriage. When you know and understand the Orthodox perspective on these things then you have a great deal more to teach and to say to other people.


QUESTION: On what basis do Christians celebrate Sunday and not Saturday (the Sabbath) as was commanded by God (Ezekiel 20:8, Isaiah 58:13-14, Jeremiah 17:27)?

ANSWER: There is a misunderstanding about the meaning of the word "sabbath" or Shabbat; shavath. The word does not mean "seventh day" or "seventh." Sabbath means, literally "cessation." Therefore, the "Sabbath" is "a day of cessation," not "the seventh day." The Lord "sanctified" the Sabbath, the day of the “cessation of His work” as a "day of cessation from work" on which His people would rest (Genesis 2:3, Exodus 20:8-11, Isaiah 58:13-14). This was in commemoration of His creation of the universe, but God also set the day apart for the sake of mankind. He gave a special law (Exodus 20:8) commanding that this "day of cessation" be celebrated so that people who were engaged with life's cares and heavy toil, could be freed from their bondage to endless work and the slavery of caring for their daily needs, for at least one day a week. On the Slavic Calendar, incidentally, what is called “Sunday” on the Western Calendars, is actually the seventh day of the week. Remember that Tuesday in the Slavic Calendar, is named “Secondday” (vtornik), while Friday is called “Fifthday” (pyatnitsa). Thus Saturday is the sixth day, not the seventh. But Sabbath does not mean Seventh, in any case.
    On this day of “cessarion,” the people could wholly serve their God (see Hebrews 4:10-11), but it was also given to man as day for him to rest from his work.
    Just as important, God, out of love, planned to "recreate" and renew the fallen world and fallen mankind would be given a “new birth.” (Isaiah 65:17). Jesus Christ accomplished this  renewal of the world, after sufferings, through His resurrection from the dead — which took place on a “Sunday.” By means of His victory over the power of death and over the evil-one, He also gave us “new day,” a “new era.” Sunday became the eight day, the day of salvation. In memory of this, Christians celebrate the "new day," Sunday (see Hebrews 4:6-11) as a day of the decisive victory of life over death (Romans 8:38-39). Since the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the actual completion of creation (the redemption of the creation, and indeed a "new creation") it is clear that this “new day” became that day of cessation (shavath) which completed the new creation.  Keeping the  Old Testament "day of cessation" (Saturday) is a rejection of the work and victory of Jesus Christ, and a return to a law which the New Testament tells us that we were delivered from.


Orthodox Christians are not fundamentalists and we do not fear truth. We do not have to accept anything that is known to be untrue. What is untrue cannot be made true just by repeating it, and what is true cannot be a heresy. We have a famous example of this in the trial of Galileo. The Latin inquisition demanded that he lie and say that the Earth does not move, and agree that the Sun moves around the Earth, rather than the true fact that the Earth moves around the Sun. However, the historical information given in the books of the Hebrew Scripture (the "Old Testament") have been proved to be generally true. The rulers of other nations, particularly those that fought against Judea and Israel have been named and dated properly, and the major battles with invading armies are accurate. Those things that must be seen in the light of science are mostly not accurate, but represent the best interpretations of the phenomena and facts that coulld be made at the time..
    We are interested in meaning, in all these narratives, and are not so concerned about "scientific accuracy." We know that the Creation Narrative is not literally true, but we also know that it is full of important spiritual meaning. For one thing, it clearly shows that God is the creator of all those things which pagans worshipped as deities, and therefore, that God is the only God, and all else is idolatrous. The process and methods of God's creating was left for us to discover and discern, but the meaning of life, of humanity, of the human condition, of the oneness of God, of our need for a redeemer, or the problems caused by our ego and self-love: all these things are made clear, and this meaning we should take literally. The Earth really is over 4 billion years old, and humanity has been present on Earth for hundreds of thousands of years. In all that time, the human condition continues to be the same as described in the narrative about the Fall of mankind, and about our need for a redeemer, our Saviour Jesus Christ. But we are not obliged to accept those historical and scientific "facts" given in the Old Testament which we know not to be accurate, not to be true statements of reality. Things that are clearly untrue cannot be doctines of Faith; things that are true cannot be heretical.