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Sunday of Orthodoxy (First Sunday of Lent)

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by Fr. John Kaloudis

Since 843 the Church has designated the first Sunday of Lent as Sunday of Orthodoxy.

Specifically, we celebrate the restoration of Icons by the Empress Theodora. Generally, we commemorate: 1) The victory of Orthodoxy-right worship, over heresy-false worship. 2) The victory of light over darkness and 3) The victory of truth over falsehood.

The battle of truth over falsehood still rages. Orthodox Christians should be in the forefront of this battle. Falsehood, darkness and evil are not neutral, they are always at work, always attempting to destroy and distort the truth.

The first step to winning this battle is to acknowledge that there is truth. To acknowledge that truth exists; that there is absolute right and wrong and not just "differing opinions." Relativism as is being taught in schools and Universities, as we read about in books and magazines is foolishness. Listen to Isaiah who says: "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who call darkness light and light darkeners, and falsehood truth and truth falsehood."

Falsehood is all around us. Especially in the bazaar distortions in the meaning of words. These distortions have one purpose which is to deceive and to spread falsehood. Lust for example is called "love". Pro-choice is a term used to kill unborn children. People with adolescent peeping-Tom mentalities are called "mature audiences". People living in since call that "living together". Homosexuality is called "an alternative life style". An after work drinking spree is called "happy hour". Christmas spirit is often something found in a bottle. Crimes are called "mistakes". Criminals are called "victims". Sins are called "indiscretions". Lies are called "misinformation". Multi-million dollar T.V. endeavors with people clothed in religious garments are now called "ministries".

Beneath all this linguistic confusion, lies a serious moral problem. It is our inability to distinguish between good and evil. Our inability to determine truth from falsehood. This contributes to the state of moral insanity that exists today.

The following story was told of President Lincoln: A committee of people were gathered to address a particular problem. Then there was an argument that they made based on supposes-suppose this, suppose that. Lincoln listened and after a little while he asked a question. "How many legs would a sheep have if you called his tail a leg? They answered: "Five." Lincoln answered: "No, Just because you call a tail a leg, doesn't make it a leg."

So giving something a new name doesn't change it. Calling falsehood truth, doesn't make it right. Calling sin by another name doesn't make it less of a sin. Let's look at the way we are distorting definition today:
1) Art, once meant to portray through human hands the beauty of life or the beauty of form. Anything can be called art today. The National Endowment for the Arts which is funded by our tax dollars, has on public display a crucifix submerged in the urine of the artist. This is not art but an attack on Christianity. At the same display a human being is in a trash can. This artist was asked to interpret this art. He stated that humans are nothing more than trash. We are created in the image of God, and God doesn't make trash!!

2)Look at the definition of family. Family is meant to be sacred. It is meant to be the basic unit instituted by God for the propagation of our race. It is meant to be the first school of human instruction. It was also supposed to be the means by which society transmits values and standards of right and wrong from generation to generation. That's not the case today. Today family is what you want it to be. In the late 70s President Carter called a White House conference on Family. Instead of being praised, he was criticized by different militant groups. They criticized the president' view as too destructive , too traditional. Bowing to the pressure the conference was renamed "Conference of Families". Homosexual couples and couples living together were included.

So family was no longer a God instituted unit but instead was anything they wanted it to be.

Ex-mayor of New York Koch said "Marriage is not needed for a good family". And feminists say that "Marriage is a Patriarchical institution which must be abolished".

This is how far we as a society have strayed from the truth: look at the definition of family.

Not as strange as it may seem, when we remove God from the picture, everything takes on a different (strange) meaning.

Recently, an article was printed in a local paper in conjunction with the death of Howard Hunter. It gave a list of things that Mormons believe. They use some words we (Orthodox) use such as Jesus, salvation, Trinity, Savior but they have redefined or redesigned and distorted what these words mean so that they are radically different from what the Bible and the Church originally meant. What is most sacred to us Orthodox Christian is the Eucharist. The term is being used by many groups today. We get many definitions that are different than Jesus intended. Jesus said: "Take, eat this is my body". "Take drink this is my blood." He meant what He said. He was giving us Himself. He did not say this bread represents my body, this wine symbolized my blood. What people call Eucharist (Communion) in many churches is not Communion. We cannot manufacture our own definitions. The definitions of our Church have been consistent for 2,000 years.

There are many falsehoods in the world masqueraded as truth. There is truth. Jesus is the incarnation of Truth. The Church is here to define truth and protect it.

According to Isaiah: "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who call darkness light and light darkness, and falsehood truth and truth falsehood."

Let us make Sunday of Orthodoxy a Sunday for truth.



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