St. Mary Orthodox Church

Cambridge, MA

January 2002

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Fr. Antony PortraitChrist is Born! Glorify Him!

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.

I was recently asked what a particular doctrine of the Orthodox Church attracted me most. That was an easy question to answer. There are two dogmas of supreme importance in Orthodox Christianity: the Trinity and the Incarnation. Two things that are absolutely unchanging because they deal with the one thing that does not change. These two dogmas and the Orthodox knowledge of them are what attracted me most to our Church.

The first is the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. God has revealed himself through Holy Scripture as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This the Orthodox Church holds without equivocation. As difficult as it may be to understand and to explain we do not shy away from proclaiming it. Of course, all others who rightly claim the name of Christian also hold this doctrine firmly. Unfortunately, many Christians do not understand this element of their faith and understandably so. A knowledge of the decisions of the Seven Ecumenical Councils and the writings of the holy fathers (of the early Church) are indispensable here, but even more than that is a life lived in a community whose spiritual life consciously revolves around Trinitarian theology. What is not learned cognitively can be learned existentially.

The second is the doctrine of the Incarnation of the Word of God. Without a good understanding of the Trinity, the Incarnation makes little sense. God is "one in essence and undivided" nevertheless God is known in Three distinct Persons. It is the second Person (the only-begotten Son) Who "was Incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became man" (as we recite in the Nicene Creed), and was born into this world in Bethlehem. This is the Truth that God reveals to us: Three in One, One in Three. This means that Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Son of the Virgin, has two distinct natures: human and Divine. Jesus is the Son of God and the son of man.

Look around you. A cursory knowledge of contemporary sects and cults shows that it is on these two doctrines that most difficulties and confusions arise. Therefore, it is essential that all of us pay close attention to the Orthodox liturgical celebrations of the Nativity of our Lord, God and Saviour and of the Holy Theophany. Pay close attention to the prayers, readings and hymns of both feasts so that, even if you are never asked to give an account of your Faith to others, you will understand, on a personal level, the faith you have either inherited or chosen.

My thoughts and prayers are with all of you this Nativity Season. May God richly bless you with joy and peace as we celebrate the Birth of our Lord and the proclamation of the Holy Trinity through His baptism in the Jordan River.

Yours most sincerely in Christ,

Fr. Antony