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The Lay Apostolate
An Introduction To It's Basic Commitments
Source: The New England Diocese of The Orthodox Church in America

The contemporary non-church use of terms borrowed from the Christian vocabulary tends to obscure for us the real and technical Christian meaning of such terms. The word 'layman' is one of the best cases in point. It is defined in the dictionary as 'one of the laity' or 'one not belonging to some particular profession.' So it is possible to speak of laymen insofar as medicine or law are concerned. They may have their non-expert or 'lay' opinions, but they, not being especially trained, are not expected to be experts in those fields.

The English adjective lay comes from the Greek laos, which became the technical or theological word in the early Christian vocabulary to describe the whole people of God, the people with a particular calling, in other words, the Church of the people with whom God had made His new pact or testament, they royal priesthood.

The laos includes all Christians, ordained and unordained, those with a special teaching, ministerial, sacramental and liturgical function, and those of the mass of the assembly of believers. The laos is the ecclesia, and never was there to be a difference within it in degree of commitment. No one is expected to be more Christian or less Christian within the laos, for the vocation is the same, and Christ's demands on all are the same. Still, for the sake of convenience, we shall use both layman and laity in this paper to refer to the unordained member or members of the Church.

In order to emphasize to the layman that the clergy is not the sole bearer of the good news, a number of theologians, preachers and writers have begun to use the expression 'lay apostolate.' Far from intending to create for the laity some new role in the life of the Church, the purpose of the call to the lay apostolate is primarily to remind all the faithful of something that is basic to their vocation as Christians. Just as our Lord told the man out of whom lie had cast the devils, when he was "clothed and in his right mind, and sitting at the feet of Jesus," to go to his own house and to show all the wonderful things God had done unto him, so He tells each person who has been redeemed, made an heir to the Kingdom of Heaven, a member of the Body of Christ, and a "partaker of the glory of God," to go and to declare by his life, his actions, and his words that he is a Christian, that there is no part of his life that is unrelated to the new life he has as a citizen of the Kingdom of God, and that he obeys the divine imperative to spread the Gospel of reconciliation.

It is evident that the layman has not been expected to know very much about his faith and that the Church has come to be synonymous with the clergy, and that the layman's role is reduced to almost complete passivity. He is not expected to be even knowledgeable, and much less an expert, about matters of his salvation. Consequently, he is often unable to defend the faith or even to speak intelligently about it. lie usually knows much more about hobbies and other side interests such as lodges and clubs. Except for a few lay theologians in the seminaries and a few Church-school teachers, the possibility of laymen's being spokesmen for the Gospel seems remote indeed. This was undoubtedly not the case in the early Church or in the Church at other times of spiritual greatness.

The conditions of contemporary life and the situation in which the average layman is called to live, in the face of an unrelenting attack by the modem world on every Christian dogma and moral principle, make it imperative that this state of things be corrected, that something so essential to the Christian vocation as the personal apostolate be recaptured and restored. In other words, for the Christian to remain unassailed and strong in faith in the pagan society of today, and to be the messenger of Christ that He calls him to be, the consciousness of his having a mission must be given back to him.

The Church's mission demands the creation of a program specifically designed to foster a teal lay apostolate. in which the 0niy acceptable goal would be total commitment to the Christian life and to the evangelization of the world, and especially that part of the world that is the particular responsibility of the Orthodox Church in America. The initiative for this program belongs to the hierarchy, the clergy and the lay leaders of our Church, and it is they who must realize its urgency. It is a question of a call to maximalism, the only way in which we can heed the call "to redeem the time, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5: 16)


Faith is the means to the knowledge of the revelation of truth in Jesus Christ. "Faith comes from hearing and hearing by the Word of God. (Romans 10: 17) As Christians, we can recognize only "One Faith," that which is founded upon the teachings of the Incarnate God and handed down to us by the Apostles and Fathers of the Church and defined by the Seven Ecumenical Councils.

From this brief statement, we can see, very quickly, that our knowledge of the faith has two sources--Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition.

For those committed to the four points of the Lay Apostolate, knowledge of the faith requires study of Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition. These two sources are joined together in what can be called the "Christian experience." Through this experience, man's soul is made receptive to the truth of Jesus Christ.

In our present age, "Christian experience" of Holy Scripture is quite distorted. "Modern man" has on the whole a superficial acquaintance with Holy Scripture. Although the Bible still ranks high on the best seller list, the context and spirit of the Bible remains far from the Christian experience of our society. All too many times we hear Christians say "the Bible is a difficult book to understand!" The main reason for this common outcry is that man is not willing to make the context and spirit of the Bible a real experience in his life.

Holy Scripture was not written for the common reader. Holy Scripture is given to those who have chosen to commit themselves to Christ. Once a commitment to Christ has been made, together with a desire for repentance, then there will be a real Christian experience of knowledge of faith as is contained in Holy Scripture. In short, Scripture must be applied to every aspect of Christian living.

Holy Tradition has, for the most part, been denied by many Christians of today. Some have chosen to keep only the 'essentials, while others have disregarded Holy Tradition altogether. For the Christian, Holy Tradition is equal in authority to Holy Scripture. The Church teaches us that Holy Tradition is the on-going revelation of God to man. This does not imply that our Lord did not complete His divine mission while on earth; rather it implies that the salutary work of Christ is made alive in us by Holy Tradition in every age.

For the Lay Apostolate, the study of Holy Tradition is imperative. Knowledge of our faith is dependent upon our Christian experience and 'the" Christian experience is. in fact, the 1-loly Tradition of the Church. Holy Tradition encompasses the writings of the Fathers, the canons and dogmas of the Ecumenical Councils and the liturgical life of the Church.

If the Lay Apostolate is to have an impact on the life of those committed to it, then it is certain that a study of the Fathers of the Church should be seen as a link between the Apostolic Age and the period of the Great and Holy Ecumenical Councils. The conciliar period must be studied so that the canons and dogmas of the Church can become part of the total "Christian experience" so vital to the knowledge of the faith.

Finally, there can be no knowledge of the faith without the Christian experience of the Liturgy of the Church. The liturgical life of the Church is the apex of all Christian experiences. It is through the Liturgy of the Church that Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition come alive. The drama of Scripture is 'played out' in the liturgical worship of the Church. The hidden mysteries of the sacraments take on the "fullness of grace," only in the liturgical action. Prayer, fasting, and the celebration of the Feasts of Christ and His elect are transformed and sanctified by liturgical worship. The whole of creation is touched by the liturgical life of the Church. Of all the "experiences" that have been enumerated, the "experience" of liturgical life is paramount for the acquisition of knowledge of the faith, for it is through the Liturgy of the Church that the Kingdom of God is made attainable to man; and the sole purpose for the knowledge of the faith is to enable man to become an inheritor of that Kingdom.

-The Reverend Father Peter Tutko


In February, 1972, the Holy Synod Published and released a booklet entitled Confession and Communion. Included in that booklet were two documents: the first contained a number of resolutions of the Bishops, who blessed the practice of general confession (giving specific instructions how this should be celebrated) and who blessed and encouraged the practice of regular and frequent co-union Concerning that practice, the resolution said, "the idea of renewal in the Eucharistic life in the Church is not only desirable but indispensable.

The second document was a report prepared by Father Alexander Schmemann and presented to the Holy Synod at its request. In that report, Father Schmemann spoke about the need for the restoration of the Eucharist as the 'focus of Christian life,' Particularly in view of the rapid secularization of the Orthodox mind. This secularized understanding of the Church has led to decay--and sometimes to disintegration - in parish life and to the consequent loss of hundreds of Young people who have discerned the parish as being little more than a 'human, all too human' institution. The report Pointed out that a great many problems destroying the peace of our parishes stern from the fact that-in fact--our laity has been spiritually and psychologically 'excommunicated' from the saving Mystery of Christ's Presence and has--in fact--been disconnected from the Altar, and from that which it 'stands for' and belongs to all by right of inheritance as baptized men and women. Finally, the report touched upon the sacrament of confession, about its original understanding and function in Orthodox Tradition and about the mutilation of that understanding, because of (among other reasons) the "western captivity" of the Orthodox mind. (The painful overcoming of that captivity comprises the bulk of twentieth century Russian Orthodox thought and effort, including in my Opinion, the booklet Confession and Communion itself). Included in that discussion was a discussion about the relation of confession to communion a relation which is a peculiarly 'Russian' problem more than it is an Orthodox one.

That report was carefully read by all the bishops, who received it with 'gratitude and approbation.' We have no reason to suspect that our Orthodox Bishops--none of whom are illiterate--were flippant or careless about so vital an issue as Holy Communion. Indeed, the booklet was issued under the series entitled Documents of the Orthodox Church in America. This series has come to include those documents which are 'position papers' of our Church, expressing her official teaching and position.

By now (1977) every member of the Church should have received and read the document and every priest busily implementing it. It is clear and self-evident. If its implications are not recognized by everyone at the present time, they undoubtedly will be--even if that means by the generations who come after us. The implications of the booklet are far- ranging, affecting the life of the Church on all her levels. The die is cast.' In the following short presentation on the relation of the lay apostolate to the sacraments that booklet will be the ultimate 'point of reference,' for already in it, the Vision of a lay apostolate is implied. Since a fundamental premise of the booklet is that, through Communion, each member of the Church real-izes or actualizes his membership in the Church of Christ, I would touch upon two fundamental aspects of the lay apostolate: the Eucharist and the Church, and the Eucharist and membership in that Church.


As a biblical reality, the Church as a whole and as that for which Christ was nailed to the Cross is sometimes called the 'Sacrament of the Kingdom of God.' That means that the Church--both as a whole and as she is manifested in all of her various aspects--exists in order that she might give to us, so that we might make our own--the new life of the Resurrection of Christ in the Kingdom of God. In relation to the Church, the Eucharist is sometimes called the 'Sacrament of the Church." This means that the Eucharist fulfills what the Church is. Putting it in other words: what the Church is is fulfilled and manifested in the Liturgy. "In the Liturgy," says one Orthodox writer, "the 'world' assembles as 'Church' to become the Kingdom of God."

Holy Scripture ends on a note of expectation; "I am Coming soon. Amen. Come quickly, Lord Jesus." Christ Is coming! He is yet to come and the expectation of His Coming re-echoes in the Church as she moves through the ages to her destined consummation. Scripture expresses the thirst of Christians for the return of the Master, for then we will have perfect union and communion with God the Father, in the Son by the power of the Holy Spirit; only then will we have--in God-_perfect union and communion with each other in a sinless and transfigured Universe.

But the paradoxical nature of Orthodox Christian life consists of this: there where--from time to time--the Bread is broken, then there Christ is not only yet to come, but also comes in a mysterious way. The radiant Presence of Christ is manifested, celebrated and 'actualized' every time the Eucharistic Liturgy is celebrated, and His nearness is discerned by those who, out of love for Him, are obedient in His very obedience and purified by prayer, repentance and love for the neighbor. And in the radiance of His meek glory He brings with Him and in Him the new life of the Resurrection whose content is the Kingdom of God. An early, scriptural icon of the Liturgy is the appearance of Christ to His disciples in Emmaus in the breaking of Bread. His radiance appeared to them in that Eucharist; thus, the breaking of the Bread of our Eucharist is our sure sign, our hope, pledge, guarantee, proof, affirmation and celebration that Christ--risen from the dead--Is with us and in us. In Him, we can truly say, "Thou hast endowed us with thy Kingdom which is to come," for in Him we are become partakers and communicants of His divine radiance and life.

Christ came, was rejected, 'cast out,' and killed. Therefore, 'this age' in its structures and attitudes rejects communion with Him, becoming external to Him. Thus, what is given to us as union and communion with God, is, necessarily, “from the other side of the grave,’ so to speak. It is already of the ‘age to come.’ Therefore, Baptism stands as the entrance into the life of the Church for through Baptism it is given to us to ‘die before death’ in Christ’s death and to ‘rise before the resurrec­tion’ in His Resurrection. Baptism is the procla­mation that we are made citizens of the Kingdom of God, partakers of the new life of Christ’s Resur­rection already hidden in the Church. Through Baptism, the general resurrection of the dead al­ready begins; it begins as an internal certitude, it grows as we “put on Christ,” the Only Sinless One, and comes to a certain fruition as we discern that the “lame walk, the blind see and the sick are being healed,” all ‘signs’ of the Kingdom of God. The Liturgy and the Eucharist are what people do who have been baptized in Christ’s death and resur­rection.

This fundamental ‘fact’ of the Church’s nature is celebrated every time the Liturgy is celebrated. And I would propose that this understanding of the connection between the Church and the Kingdom of God is absolutely crucial to a proper understanding both of the nature of the Church and of life in the Church. To the degree that this connection has been lost, then to the same degree has the Orthodox mind and spirit been seduced by the ‘western cap­tivity,’ for I believe that the lack of this con­nection comprises one of the essential differences between Orthodoxy and that which lies outside of it.

Regarding parish life--its administration, its meetings, financial structures and difficulties--it has been written that the Liturgy has become an “engine not connected to the wheels, producing an energy which nowhere becomes motion, light or warmth.” That means that the Liturgy, where baptized Chris­tians assemble as ‘Church’ to become the Kingdom of God has spiritually and psychologically become disconnected from all other aspects of Church life in much the same way we Orthodox have become ‘ex­communicated’ from the Eucharist in our own personal lives. These aspects, in turn, become activated by a dynamic other than that of the Kingdom of God, a dynamic necessarily of ‘this age’ and therefore alien and often hostile to that Kingdom--even if that hostility is expressed in a negative way or cloaked in religious rhetoric. But where the Church is not transparent to Christ and the new life He gives us in the resurrection, then there the Church becomes boring. When she ceases to be consciously expressive of the Presence of Christ on all her levels, then either she is of interest to no one or the reality of her life can become a real block to communion with God.

Relating all that to a lay apostolate: it seems to me that, before it is anything else, that apos­tolate must certainly be a witness to the coming resurrection already illumining the Church from within. A lay apostolate is that which is created, shaped and inspired by the Liturgy, by what has been ‘seen and received.’ Its primary function is to evaluate all action and opinion in the light of the Church as the beginning of the new life in Christ’s Resurrection, creating, if necessary, new modes of expression for that new life. A lay apos­tolate are those people who, according to their talents and interests, are the belts and wheels’ of the Liturgy, and who put into motion the energy of the Liturgy, creating ‘light and warmth’ in dead and boring parish structures. From that point of view, the lay apostolate is a profound sacramental reality. The laity of God is not defined here as the absence of anything, but rather as those who positively and concretely make present the positive Presence of Christ, reconnecting, as it were, the ‘parish’ to the ‘Church’ and, through the Church, to the Kingdom of God on all levels of parish life. On this level, the function of the priest and the layman is exactly the same.


If in relation to the Church, the Eucharist ful­fills what the Church is by celebrating her as the presence and availability of the new life of the Resurrection, whose content is the Kingdom of God, then--in relation to membership in that Church--Holy Communion is our actualization and our appro­priation of that new life. In other terms, before it is an action done for ‘private’ needs, communion is first of all the celebration of one’s member­ship in the Church and--through the Church--of one’s communion with the new life of Christ’s Resurrec­tion. One is not a member of the Church of Christ just because one’s parents were Orthodox, or one has paid all his dues or simply considers himself to be Orthodox. If I am Orthodox, I am not Ortho­dox unless I actualize my membership in the Church by partaking of Holy Communion. No one can be a member of any Orthodox parish who is not a communicant of the Body and Blood of Christ; and, being a member of the Church means that I am in communion with that Body. There is a direct inter-relation­ship between Communion and Church membership. One is not possible without the other. Here there can be no disagreement, for this teaching comes from Christ Himself: “Unless ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, ye have no life in you.”

Thus Communion and Church membership are insep­arable. But they are inseparable not only because Christ said so. Rather, He said so because it is the very nature of life in His Church to be in union and communion with God. Period. Salvation is com­munion; without communion, there is no salvation for if we are made to be perfect human beings we can be perfect only to the extent we put on Christ, sharing and appropriating to ourselves His very own perfection, His own death and resurrection, His very own divine life, humility, wisdom and know­ledge. He is our salvation. If we are forgiven of our sins by God, we are forgiven only to the extent that we enter into union and communion with Christ Who, Himself, is the very Forgiveness of God. Christ forgives because He is Forgiveness Himself.

In releasing the encyclical on Confession and Communion, we can and ought to assume that the Bish­ops were fully aware of the difficulties and ques­tions which would inevitably arise. One of the chief dangers, already foreseen in the documents, is that frequent communion would degenerate into an empty ‘fad,’ as bad as, if not worse, than ‘infre­quent communion;’ that Communion would cease to be a ‘spiritual high,’ or would cease to be ‘meaning­ful,’ I would point out that those who are partisans of ‘frequent communion’ are perfectly aware that the real nexus of the issue is not ‘frequent’ or ‘infrequent’ communion as such. The real nexus is communion. Period. The real nexus touches upon the very nature both of the Church and one’s membership in that Church. “Christianity,” said St. Seraphim, “is the acquisition of the Holy Spirit;” Chris­tianity is the acquisition of union and communion with God every day and in every activity. St. Paul said that he would not unite himself to a prosti­tute because to do so would amount to uniting the Body of Christ with her. Out of an awareness of this profound intimacy and interpenetration between God and man in the Communion which the Church is, the Apostle cries out, “God forbid.” For him the Eucharist is the ultimate focus of his life, de­fining not only the very nature of his membership in the Church--the Body of Christ--but defining and judging as well everything he does, says or thinks.

That there could be some aspect of parish life independent or autonomous of the Chalice in which the parish fulfills its existence is inconceivable. That there could be--and very often is--some aspect of the parish’s or each person’s life not rooted in and expressive of the radiant Presence of Christ is the very source of the problem. Behind every reason given for not approaching the Chalice regu­larly and sincerely (and sometimes these reasons are very ‘pious’), lurks an assumption that it is normal or acceptable not to be in full communion with Christ, sometimes, or in some ways. This is the real heresy, for this attitude in fact raises and celebrates de facto excommunication as being of the very nature of Christian life! We ought not be surprised, then, when this de facto excommuni­cation finds expression in various by-laws. But I would submit that not only does this assumption put to nought most of the Gospel, but, like a fatal cancer, it would destroy the whole life and fabric of the Church as well. I would submit, also, that it was this assumption that our Orthodox Fathers also discerned in the rise of ‘Western Christianity,’ and why communion was broken with that. To the ex­tent our own minds have been ‘westernized’ on that level, then to that extent has our understanding of Christian life been secularized and ravaged and our parishes and Church weakened, and ‘desali­nated’ (having lost their salt: “If the salt have lost its saltness, wherewith will ye season it?” Mark 9: 50; also Matthew 5: 13) It is clear to me that it is the discernment of this, primary, danger that is behind the encyclical on Confession and Communion to begin with.


A recent book published by Alexander Solzhenitzen is entitled From Under the Rubble. In a way, that title aptly describes contemporary life and work in the Church as well. With reference to a lay apostolate, it is not conceivable that that aposto­late would not be, first of all, among that core group of ‘regular communicants.’ who, through prayer, effort and study, seek to rediscover the Truth of authentic Tradition, that Truth that-~alone--makes us free men and women. In that movement of resto­ration and ‘digging out from under,’ the Eucharist will necessarily be the focus of Christian life and the fulfillment and criterion of everything done, said and thought in the Church. In a word, the vo­cation of the lay apostolate is simply to recover the ‘high calling’ of being Orthodox laymen so that others might also be free with the freedom Christ gives and with the freedom ~~~~the Church--simply is. And that freedom is not a freedom of ‘this age,’ which so many of our by-laws seek so hopeless­ly to defend and promote it is, already, a foretaste of the freedom in God of the ‘age to come,’ of which the Church as a whole is the Sacrament.

- The Reverend Father Michael Koblosh


Giving as practiced in our Churches

Even a cursory glance at the system of giving in our Church, the difficulties and ill-will aris­ing from finances, in short, the very crisis, the near bankruptcy of the National Church, would lead one to believe that indeed money is the root of evils, and that insofar as the Church is concerned, it is simply an evil that has to be endured. In fact, there is little evidence that any thought is ever given to the possibility of money’s being sanctified or to its being an integral part of worship. Nor has there been any sustained or general interest in trying to discern the meaning of money from the theological point of view. Almost always, when the various organs of the Church, the National Church, the Diocese and the parish appeal for contributions or gifts or for the fulfillment of the several as­sessments, it is invariably in terms of the needs of those organs. The practical is almost the only consideration, and that every member must give, even sacrifice, of his possessions and wealth for his own spiritual well-being and ultimately for his salvation will strike most of our people not only as a daring innovation, but as a completely non-Orthodox scheme.

It is also true that many of our people think in terms of giving only what they can spare, when ev­erything else is taken care of and no sacrifice would be required. Any suggestion that he give a regular part of his income, a certain percentage, making it a part of his personal or family budget, is looked upon as an attempt to encroach upon his freedom, to coerce him, and to destroy the element of freewill in his offering.

Parish Support

Our parishes have usually supported themselves through the payment of dues and fund-raising, this last either for the general fund or for improve­ments and building programs, in the form of bazaars, raffles, foodsales, dances, and even gambling. We have been trained to think that except for the mini­mal amount required for membership, any other do­nation to the Church is to be made only after clear evidence of the need has been presented. Further, these extra gifts have to be made in exchange for something, food, entertainment, or even the chance for personal profit.

Money, then, in this environment, is the princi­pal temporal business of the parish, and any idea of relating it to the spiritual life is regarded as unorthodox and anti-traditional. The priest thus is not to concern himself with money at all, except to act sometimes as a kind of salesman whose per­sonal persuasiveness may be put to use by and for the parish council, the proper agency for dealing with this necessary, but still dirty business.

Money as Worship

It may be startling to hear that the giving of money is an integral part of worship and can in no way be divorced from the spiritual life. But such is the case, for there is no worship without giving or offering. The Christian’s life demands a total consecration to God, and this means that every as­pect of his life must be sanctified. No one part of his life can be reserved and kept as a purely material, this-worldly concern, for when one re­fuses to let his wealth be sanctified, then it can become the root of all evils, and stand between him and God. In commenting on I Timothy 6:10, St. John Chrysostom says, “but this root is from us, and not from the nature of the things.” The young man thought he was just because he kept all the com­mandments, but went away sad when he learned that the one thing needful for him was to part with his wealth. (Matthew 19: 22)

The Theology of Giving

The offering acceptable to God is nothing less than the offering of oneself. In speaking of the gift of the Macedonians, St. Paul says, “First they gave their own selves to the Lord.” (II Corinthians 8: 5) And, “yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead.’ (Romans 6: 13)

In the Eucharist, the meaning of the offertory is that each member offers himself to God, all that he is and all that he has. His offering is accep­ted, and is returned to him so that he may be a member of the Body of Christ through communion.

Throughout the Old Testament, the sign of man’s offering of himself was his offering from what he produced. Such offering, regularly the tithe or the tenth (Leviticus 27: 30-32), was holy and in turn sanctified the rest of his possessions. So when man produced things, the works of his hands, it was the tenth part of those things that he of­fered. In modern society, the only thing that man produces is money. He usually works for a salary or he invests money and increases his holdings by way of interests and dividends. To this pursuit of mak­ing money he dedicates most of his time and energy, that is, he devotes himself. Unless a certain part of his modern product is consciously and premedi­tatedly dedicated to God, to His work, and to the extension of His kingdom among men, then donations, gifts and dues are merely token amounts. The amount of one’s gift and the spirit in which it is made indicate the relative importance God and His Church hold in the heart of the giver.

The eighth and ninth chapters of St. Paul’s Se­cond Epistle to the Corinthians contain the whole theology of Christian giving. Although he is here speaking specifically about a collection for the relief of the Christians at Jerusalem, he reveals a number of universal truths about giving.

Giving represents the degree of a Christian’s devotion, and is a means of grace. (8:1 and 8:8) It is a part of the Christian life and even proof of one’s love. (8:24 and 8:7) Christian giving is sacrificial (Mark 12: 43-44), and our Lord’s emp­tying Himself and becoming poor for our sakes is the basis for the call to Christians to sacrifice. (8:9) Giving must be in proportion to what one has, though the Macedonians had given even more than they were able. (8:3) It must be voluntary (8:12) and cheerful (9:7) Giving provides a good example to others and is the occasion for thanksgiving.

Truly if each Christian followed the Principles of giving as Outlined by St. Paul, there would be no need for any kind of fund-raising events or as­sessments.


In the light of the clear teaching of the Gospel each Christian must give according to his means. This implies that he must dedicate regularly a part of his income to God’s work (ideally a tithe, or even more if he is especially blessed materially). It would be appropriate for the Church to be a real item in the budget of each family and each indi­vidual. The concept of total commitment which is the only acceptable way of life for a Christian1 means that we must begin, as indeed a few parishes have already done, to encourage the people to con­sider seriously the urgency of adopting the pledge system or any other system in which they could give freely and generously to God’s work to respond to the responsibility of fission to complete the work of Sanctification of their whole lives.

Further, when real Christian giving becomes gen­eral in our Church, the necessity for the parishes to depend on money-making schemes will automatically diminish. Then so much of the energy and tine of the parish can be given over to knowing the saving faith of Christ. to preaching the Gospel, and to deepening the spiritual life.

Parishes in their turn, rather than being sel­fishly turned in upon themselves, must make the work of the whole Church and the carrying out of it’s mission their own concern. This means that parish budgets should include regular and generous contributions and allotments to work Outside their own boundaries--to mission to education (particu­larly to the seminaries) and to works of mercy.

Finally, it should be understood that there is a close relationship between the spiritual life and one’s financial commitment to the Church. Over and over again in the Bible, it is made clear that one’s willingness to give of his possessions to God's work is the measure of his willingmess to give himself, and one's self is the only acceptable offering. "For where your tresure is, there will your heart be also." (Luke 12: 34)

Bishop Dmitri, Working Paper, Section II, The Parish, Third All-American Council.


An area of Christian mission to which the people readily respond if offered the opportunity is in doing good works or deeds of charity. In the New Testament this activity is usually called alms giv­ing, and it often characterized the devout members of the Christian Church. Dorcas was “full of good works and alms deeds.” (Acts 9:36) Giving help to people in need is not only an integral part of the spiritual life, but is even a manifestation and proof of one’s love of God. (II Corinthians 8:8 and 24) The familiar story of the Good Samaritan and St. Paul’s call to the Corinthians to relieve the suffering and the material needs of the Christians at Jerusalem are evidence enough that it is God1s will that His people do good works on behalf of others.

The Individual Christian should have sufficient motivation to do good in Christ’s name on his own initiative, responding to the opportunity to feed, to clothe, to visit and to minister to the hungry, the naked, and those in prison and in any other need, for in so doing he ministers to Christ Him­self. (Matthew 25:40) It is likewise a part of the life of the community or parish to organize and direct projects in which the people may participate. (II Corinthians 8 and 9) The two New Testament examples cited above represent the two types of charitable work, the individual and the parochial.

It must also be shown to the people that not only are they encouraged to give of their means, their money and their possessions. but also their time and energy for others. Recently, the people were asked to contribute money to the relief of the flood victims in Pennsylvania and New York. In the New York-New Jersey Diocese, the Good Samaritan Society regularly works among the hospitalized and handicapped Orthodox in the New York area.

Dioceses and parishes should organize activities to work among those who are in need, not just among members of the Church, but among all those who are deprived and must suffer. It is too easy to abuse the idea of “charity begins at home.” There is no area without its hospitals where there are many neglected and forgotten patients, no area without its poor and hungry.

Groups like the Good Samaritan Society could be organized in every area of the several dioceses. Parishes and groups within parishes could be called upon to help in these activities. Regular contributions of food, medicines and other supplies could be given to the needy, and if there is any diffi­culty in finding outlets for these contributions, they could be given to service organizations that regularly help the needy.

Unless, however, the Church, through her hierarchy, priests and lay leaders, issues the call to do good works, it is probable that the average mem­ber of the Church will neglect to participate in this form of mission, Parishes are sometimes self-centered institutions, but they should be encouraged to make charitable work a part of their programs, even a part of their annual budgets. If they have not already responded to this kind of planning, it might be because they have not heard a call to which to respond.

Finally, whatever one gives or does for others, he must do it out of love for God and his neighbor. One of the real diseases of parish life today that is in need of radical cure, if all that has been said above about almsgiving as a part of the spir­itual life is to be taken seriously, is that of expecting credit or recognition for things that should be done in response to God’s love. Our peo­ple have been congratulated and encouraged to be proud of everything they have done for God, for their neighbor, and for the Church. Regular lists of credits and thanks are published in some parish bulletins. Clergymen and laymen receive awards for their work, their contributions. Our Lord spoke directly on this matter and every Christian or Christian group that undertakes to help others must take His words very seriously:

Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no re­ward of your Father which is in heaven. There­fore, when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have the glory of men. Verily, I say unto you, They have their reward. (Matthew 6:1-2)

For the ‘lay apostle’ a commitment to minis­tering to others is as essential as all his other commitments, that of knowing the faith, of parti­cipating in the sacraments and of meaningful giving.

Bishop Dmitri, Working Paper, Section II, The Parish, Third All-American Council.


On Knowledge of the Faith (I John 5: 2-13)

Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth Him that begat, loveth Him also that is begotten of Him.

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep His corn1fland~nts

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not griev­ous.

For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

Who is he that overcometh the world but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

This is He that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.

For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit: and these three are one.

And there are three that bear witness in earth, the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.

If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which He hath testified in His Son.

He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made Him a liar; because he believeth not the re­cord that God gave of His Son.

And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.

He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

These things I have written unto you that be­lieve on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

II Timothy 2: 15

Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

II Thessalonians 2: 15

Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by Word, or our epistle

II John 7-9

For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh.

This is a deceiver and an antichrist.

Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.

Whosoever transgresseth and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both t he Father and the Son.

On Participation in the Sacraments (John 6: 47-59)

Verily, verily I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.

I am that Bread of life.

Your fathers did eat manna in the Wilderness, and are dead.

This is the Bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof and not die.

I am the living Bread Which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this Bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

The Jews therefore strove among themselves, say­ing, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?

Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you.

Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up in the last day.

For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.

He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.

As the living Father bath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.

This is that Bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead:he that eateth of this Bread shall live for ever.

These things said He in the synagogue, as He taught in Capernaum.

I Corinthians II: 23-29

For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which He was betrayed took bread:

And when He had given thanks, He brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.

After the same manner also He took the cup, when He had supped, saying, This cup is the new testa­ment in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.

For as often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till He come.

Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.

For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and d rinketh damnation to himself, not dis­cerning the Lord’s body.

James 5: 16

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effec­tual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

I John 1: 9

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Stewardship and Giving (I Peter 4: 10)

As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

II Corinthians 8: 1-9

Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God which bath been given in the churches of Macedonia;

How that in a great trial of affliction the abun­dance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.

For to their power, I bear record, yea, and be­yond their power they were willing of themselves;

Praying us with much intreaty that we would re­ceive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.

And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.

Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also.

Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also.

I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sin­cerity of your love.

For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich.

II Corinthians 9: 6-8

But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bounti­fully shall reap also bountifully.

Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity; for God loveth a cheerful giver.

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.

On Ministering to Others in Need (Matthew 26: 31-46)

When the Son of Man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory:

And before Him shall be gathered all nations; and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:

And He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.

Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

Then shall the righteous answer Him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

And the King shall answer and day unto them, verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Then shall He say unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

For I was an hungered and ye gave me no meat1 I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:

I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

Then shall they also answer Him, saying Lord, when saw we thee an hungered or athirst or a stranger or naked, or sick, or in prison and did not minister unto thee?

Then shall He answer them, saying Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

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