The Orthodox faith has not yet faced the full front of the crisis that is Postmodernity. This is because the Oikoumene—insulated from the subversive ideologies and trends that made inroads into the West after the end of the Second World War—was under the totalitarian boot of Communism which, in a very roundabout way, managed to shield most of the Orthodox world from what would eventually become an even greater threat.
This week’s broadcast Dr Matthew Raphael Johnson clarifies and expounds on some of the points made in previous broadcasts on theology. week. These are some of the most fundamental issues man can face, so dealing with them is a delicate project. Rarely are these basic issues dealt with properly and rationally.
Justinian re-established and reformed Roman power. His great claim in this regard was in his internal policy, especially in his codification of older Roman laws adapted to the realities of the Christian era. Ultimately, after many years, the Corpus Juris Civilis was published, serving as the font for all European law afterwards.
The zenith of the Byzantine Empire was in the middle of the 6th century during the reign of the great Emperor Justinian (527-565). The internal consolidation of the state was his first order of business and from that, his agenda could be launched. Justinian’s focus was to restore the Roman Empire in the west, that had been in a state of anarchy for several centuries. He wanted to strengthen domestic law, and sought to make Byzantium the successor of Rome as it had been meant to be, and in the process, ruling all Europe and a unified Christendom.
Christians have proven time and time again that we will always have the readiness to bleed, suffer and die for our faith. Let us then go forth and participate as athletes in the contest for Christ, proving true the adage that the blood of the martyrs is closer to God than the ink of the theologians and the prayers of the faithful.
The 1st to 3rd centuries AD were a time of religious resurgence and upheaval in the ancient Near East. In Rome, the cults of Mithras, Isis and Serapis, once considered to be mere exoticisms, were becoming more widely accepted among the Roman middle and upper classes. Second Temple Judaism had suffered a rift with the crucifixion of Christ and the missionary work of Paul and the Apostles had turned Christianity, a once obscure group of Jewish schismatics, into a messianic force that would eventually become the state religion of the Roman Empire. Among the various mystery cults and apocalyptic movements (of which there were many) that had emerged in this climate, a curious religious movement whose adherents called themselves gnostikoi or “Gnostics” began to emerge around the time of the early 1st century and whose ideas would arguably survive up until the end of the 4th century.
Hildegard of Bingen was a twelfth-century seeress from Germany known for her ecstatic visions in which she would hear a voice from heaven that she described as the un-created “Living Light.” Hildegard had a deep impact on Western spirituality and mysticism, not only in her own day, but in recent years as interest in her has been rekindled in the contemporary era.
Through our reciting of the Trisagion we are imitating the angels who perpetually glorify God in His majesty. This is further advanced by the act of ritually rising and falling during it’s recitation, always oriented towards the holy altar. We should aim to always incorporate the Trisagion into our personal prayers because in doing so we implore the mercies of the Holy Trinity into our lives. I would especially recommend the praying of the Trisagion especially during fast days.
The world, it can be said, began anew with the Resurrection. Man, whose true nature had been disfigured after the Fall that had taken place in Eden, has now been restored. History now becomes sacred history– what the Church would call the Sixth Age of the World. Just as when we participate in the Liturgy, surrounded by the icons of saints and angels, we are no longer a part of profane time, but entering into a sacred time, the eternal time-beyond-time that exists with God. Likewise, when we participate in Lent, we are recovering those events which led to the sanctification of mankind which restored the human race to it’s Primordial condition and gave man a new and unique place in the cosmos.