Commentary on the Divine Liturgy: the Great Litany

In the Divine Liturgy, after the initial doxology in which the celebrant blesses the Kingdom of God and blesses with the sign of the Cross the altar table and its antimension before using it, the assembled Church next prays the Great Litany. This represents the intercessory prayers of the royal priesthood, wherein the Church prays for the whole world in the Name of Jesus, standing in the gap and lifting up the…

What Good is the Holy Fire?

The so-called “Holy Fire” is the name given to the fire that appears on ends of the candles of the Patriarch of Jerusalem and others every Holy Saturday. The Patriarch, accompanied by a church crammed filled with others, awaits for the annual miracle every Holy Saturday. On that day the Patriarch strips himself of his holy robes and enters the Tomb of Christ with a bundle of unlit tapers, says certain prayers,…

Part Two: Of Homosexual Christians and their Struggle

In a recent blog piece I looked at the issue of gay Orthodox Christians who embraced and celebrated their homosexuality and who were sexually active and who received Holy Communion in Orthodox churches. In this piece I would like to look at the issue of homosexual Orthodox Christians who embrace the teaching of their Church that homosexual desires are disordered and who struggle against giving in to those desires through sexual activity. I…

Sanfilippo’s “Conjugal Friendship”

Recently the Public Orthodoxy site has published a piece by Giacomo Sanfilippo under the title “Conjugal Friendship”. In it Sanfilippo writes, “To the question, ‘Can two persons of the same gender ‘have sex’ with each other?’ we hear from Holy Tradition a resounding no. Yet if we ask, ‘Can two persons of the same gender form a bond in which ‘the two become one?’ the scales begin to fall from our eyes.…

Part One: Of Gay Sex and Leaven

What does the Orthodox Church think about gay sex? The official answer is not hard to find. The Orthodox Church has always condemned gay sex as sinful and as something therefore not allowed to Christians. The case of gay sex is not much different from that of fornication (i.e. illicit “straight” sex)—fornication has also been condemned as sinful and is also not allowed to Christians. If a Christian man is a fornicator…

Converting the Heathen

In the 1996 edition of National Geographic magazine (paged through in a waiting room) I found an article on my old hometown of Toronto, in which a Torontonian commented on how the great urban city had changed over the years and become more multi-ethnic. The aging Torontonian delighted in his city’s diversity, and compared it to the more monochrome Protestant Toronto he had grown up in prior to World War II: “I grew up…