Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust
doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. Matt 6:19
This morning I would like us to consider the passage we have just heard from the Gospel of St Matthew. It seems to me that it is a passage which is full of opposites and full of choices. Indeed we are used to having to make choices in our lives. Where will we live? What job will we apply for? What subjects will we study at school or university? Who will we marry? What will we call our children? All of these can have a substantial and lasting effect on our lives. But we make smaller choices each day of our lives. What will we wear? What will be cook for tea tonight? What TV programme will we watch? Our lives are filled with choices. Some we take without thinking. Others overwhelm us with anxiety and uncertainty for days and weeks.......
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust
doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. Matt 6:19
In this audio lecture Father Peter Farrington asks why we should consider the Orthodox Church and Faith. He points to the historic continuity with the earliest Church and the continuity of faith and practice as being important reasons both to investigate Orthodoxy and to be critical of the claims other recent Christian groups.
In this audio lecture from the Discovering Orthodoxy catchesis, Father Peter Farrington considers the importance of the inward disposition required to pray and become a person who stands in the presence of God. The Fathers of the Church give us some instruction on having an aim for our spirituality.
In this audio lecture from the Discovering Orthodoxy catchesis, Father Peter Farrington considers the differences between the texts of our prayers, and actually doing prayer and becoming prayers ourselves. The Fathers of the Church give us some instruction on having an aim for our spirituality.
There is nothing more important to the eternal well-being of a young Christian than making God a priority when you are young. Your whole Christian life will be shaped by choices you make now. Indeed the Christian person you grow up to be is built upon the foundations you lay in your youth. What you do now matters. If it matters that you do your school work well, and keep out of trouble, then it matters a hundred-fold more that you are deepening your relationship with God now. How precious these years of your youth are. It is almost impossible for a young person to realise their value until they have passed. An older person often looks back with many regrets because it is not possible to begin again. Our choices in youth affect us for the rest of our lives, and even into eternity.
Over the course of the last few months we have been considering what it is to be someone whose life is given over to prayer. We saw in our first study that the practice of prayer, and growth in the virtues and in holiness must go hand in hand. To pray does not excuse us from ascetic effort. There is no special form of words which will suddenly transform everything about us. The one who wishes to practice prayer must be committed to a life time of struggle against our own will, against the passions, against the influence of the world around us, and against the wiles and snares of Satan himself.
To begin to pray is to set our hand to the plough, and we will not create a straight and firm furrow in the soil of our heart if we keep turning backwards and looking to the life we have left behind. And we have seen that to pray does indeed require us to leave our old life behind. Abba Isaac teaches us that to pray requires us to put aside all thought of earthly things and to turn towards God with thankfulness and humble worship.
In our first study together we considered the context in which our Lord’s instruction to his disciples on the subject of prayer took place. We saw that it was set into a series of passages in both the Gospel of St Matthew and St Luke which are concerned with the sort of person we are. I would now like us to continue in our study of these passages from St Matthew and St Luke and consider especially the words of the prayer which our Lord Jesus Christ taught his disciples.
I have just uploaded a significant lecture on St Timothy Aelurus of Alexandria. This important figure is unfairly condemned by the Eastern Orthodox and too little known by the Oriental Orthodox. This 72 minute presentation seeks to describe the life and teaching of the successor to Pope Dioscorus using the full range of documentary materials which have been left to us. These include some of his theological works, his letters and references in historical texts.
His significance is especially found in his position as a church leader between the periods of St Cyril and Dioscorus on the one hand, and St Severus on the other. He shows himself as eirenic, and concerned to be reconciled with all those who genuinely abandoned error, and also a man of great principle who would rather face 18 years of exile than abandon the faith he had been taught.
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St John Chrysostom says..
He who is able to pray correctly, even if he is the poorest of all people, is essentially the richest. And he who does not have proper prayer, is the poorest of all, even if he sits on a royal throne.
Prayer matters. It is the heart of the Christian experience and a Christian who does not pray is a contradiction in terms. Over the course of the next three talks at this monthly midweek meeting of the Orthodox mission of St George and St Paul the Hermit we will be considering that request which the disciples made of our Lord to ‘teach us to pray’. It often seems to many Christians that they are just expected to know how to pray, and by simply following the example of those around them, everything will turn out alright. But in my own experience as a committed Christian throughout my life, and then as becoming a member of the Orthodox Church in 1994, and even a priest in 2009, I know that I am still learning how to pray, and will continue to be learning how to pray until the end of my life.
Father Peter Farrington spoke on the text 'Greater than all the herbs' (Matthew 13:32) at a British Orthodox Study day at Mickfield, Suffolk. Father Peter asks what is required of us as Orthodox Christians if we would see the Church grow as God desires, and he encourages all to have an enthusiasm for their faith.
The Oriental Orthodox communion has been regularly and routinely accused of following the teaching of Eutyches, the controversial archimandrite of Constantinople. But Eutyches has never been considered a saint, his teaching, such as it is, has never been promoted, or transmitted, his error is not very clear. The Church of St Dioscorus, St Timothy and St Severus cannot be considered Eutychian. How did he come to be received at Ephesus II after having been condemned by Archbishop Flavian of Constantinople? This lecture which consider the place of Eutyches in the Christological controversy in some detail.
Today is the joyful feast of Pentecost. It is the day in the year when we especially commemorate with thanksgiving the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Christ who had remained faithful, and continued to gather together both through the despair of the cross, the joy of the resurrection and the hope of the ascension. Of course it is also a time for us to give thanks for the continuing outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Church, and even upon each one of us, unworthy though we know ourselves to be....
The Oriental Orthodox are routinely accused of holding an heretical and Eutychianist Christology, and on that basis rejecting the Council of Chalcedon. Yet the evidence, from the time of Chalcedon, through the following centuries, and even to the present day, shows clearly that this is not the case.
Chalcedon was rejected for wholly Orthodox concerns, and though it might be the case that the text of the Chalcedonian Definition is liable to an Orthodox interpretation, it is nevertheless also the case that these concerns were not properly addressed at the time, or at any time following the council. They remain legitimate issues which the Chalcedonian Orthodox should at least make some effort to comprehend and understand.
The Oriental Orthodox Churches are often accused of teaching that the humanity of Christ is deficient in some way, or has even ceased to exist! Yet this has never been accepted as an Orthodox Christology and has always been a misrepresentation of what is taught and believed. This podcast examines the teachings of some of the early Fathers after Chalcedon, as well as modern statements of Faith, and shows that the Oriental Orthodox Churches have always accepted the perfection and integrity of the humanity of Christ, consubstantial with us in all things except sin.
This podcast has been produced as part of the Orthodox Monasticism course being provided by the London School of Orthodox Christian Studies. This course, together with others being offered, is an online, distance learning course, open to students of all ages, background and international locations. Please visit the London School of Orthodox Christian Studies website for more details.
In this podcast I would like us to consider one of those groups which seems to have been an early precursor of the Orthodox monastic life. These are the less generally well known community known as the Therapeutae. They are described to us by Philo of Alexandria and certainly existed at the time of Christ.
The first podcast considering the intermediate state of the soul after death showed that the Fathers of the early Church were unanimous in teaching that the soul continued to exist apart from the body after death, and was in a conscious state of awareness. Over the next series of podcasts on this subject Father Peter Farrington will examine the teachings of some of the most important Fathers in some depth. In this podcast the views of St Severus of Antioch, one of the most important Fathers of the Oriental Orthodox communion, are examined through passages from a selection of his letters. St Severus is shown to be absolutely clear in his insistence on the continuing existence of the soul after death, and in its conscious state of awareness.
The Gospel for the Fifth Sunday of Lent is taken from St John's Gospel, and is that passage where our Lord heals the man who has sat by the pool of Bethesda for 38 years. In this short homily, Father Peter Farrington considers how we are often convinced that we know how we need God to act for us, but he appears in our lives and asks us simply to act in faith and obediece, working out our salvation according to his purposes which are beyond what we expect or imagine.
The Gospel for the Sixth Sunday of Lent is taken from St John's Gospel, and is that passage where our Lord heals the man born blind. In this short homily, Father Peter Farrington considers how we are all of us born blind, as far as spiritual things are concerned, and that just as the Lord Jesus healed the blind man almost without him knowing, so He acts always in our own lives, almost without us knowing, for our salvation.
This podcast contains some brief considerations on Orthodox Monasticism. It particularly refers to the fact that monasticism in Eastern Christianity is not monolithic. It does not have exactly the same forms and practices in all places and at all times. The podcast also looks at the influence which monasticism has had, and continues to have, on the development of the spiritual life of the Orthodox Churches. There is also reference to the monastic experience in Russia and the Persian Empire.
The London School of Orthodox Christian Studies is now accepting registrations for the course on Orthodox Monasticism. More details can be found on the LSOCS website - click here
There are those who consider that Protestantism is simply a less complete form of Orthodoxy, while others take the view that Protestantism as a system of doctrine and spiritual practice is certainly not Orthodox, and can even be considered as not being properly Christian. Who is correct? In this introduction to a comparative study of Orthodoxy and Protestantism, Father Peter Farrington draws on his experience as a convert from Protestant Evaneglicalism.
As the season of Great Lent is about to begin the Church leads us to consider the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ on prayer, fasting, and other works of charity, which should characterise the Christian life. This homily reminds us that our Lord speaks of 'when we fast', not 'if we fast'. Fasting is not a miserable exercise, but one which leads to light and joy and the experience of God.
St Severus of Antioch is one of the great Fathers of the Oriental Orthodox Churches. In the decades after the Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD it was he, more than any other theologian, who expressed most forcefully and clearly the Orthodox Christology of the Oriental Orthodox Churches. This podcasts considers his Christology, especially as it is found in the letters he sent to a certain Sergius. It considers whether or not he is liable to the accusation of heresy which was laid against him by his opponents, and shows his complete commitment to the Christology of St Cyril of Alexandria.