The Sanctity of Human Life

A major and overarching concern of the Church arises with its commitment to the God-given sanctity of human life. Some of the developments of the biological manipulation of human life, though promising amazing therapeutic achievements, may also be understood as undermining respect for the integrity of human existence. Others may be seen as providing a new means of healing human illness. Discerning the difference is the challenge the Church faces in developing it’s teaching on these newly appearing issues.

  • Human Life

    The Church’s teaching about human life is based on Holy Tradition, including the Scriptures as a primary resource and the ongoing teaching and interpretation of the Orthodox Faith. Life is a gift of God in the formation of the created world. All life is precious, but human life is uniquely created by God in the “image and likeness of God.” Human life as such is deserving of deep respect and individual human beings are to be treated in accordance to their inherent human dignity.

    Thus, racism, unjust prejudicial treatment of men and women, genocide, forms of sexual exploitation, domestic violence, child abuse, rape, theft or destruction of legitimately owned property, deceptions and deceit, environmental plunder and other such manipulative behaviors violate the human dignity of others. Human life as a gift of God should be respected.

  • Circumcision

    It is known that Jews and Moslems practice circumcision for religious reasons. Some doctors deem circumcision necessary for reasons of health and cleanliness. The Orthodox Church does not prohibit circumcision as long as it is not practiced for religious reasons and is performed by a physician.
  • Suicide

    Since no one is permitted to take the life of another, no one is permitted to take his or her own life, that is, to commit suicide. Suicide is self-murder and consequently a grave sin.

    Committing suicide signifies loss of patience, hope, and faith in our loving, forgiving, and sustaining God. A person of faith does not lose hope, no matter the difficulties he or she faces. If a person has committed suicide as a result of a belief that: such an action is rationally or ethically defensible, the Orthodox Church denies that person a Church funeral, because such beliefs and actions separate a person from the community of faith. The Church shows compassion, however, on those who have taken their own life as a result of mental illness or severe emotional stress, when a condition or impaired rationality can be verified by a physician.
  • Autopsy

    When the causes of illness have not been diagnosed before a person’s death, doctors with the permission of the next of kin, may perform an autopsy. Often an autopsy leads to enlightening observations. Because of this the Orthodox Church does not prohibit autopsies, although a body may not be given strictly for medical research or experimentation. Because the human body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit, the Orthodox Church insists that those who perform the autopsies accord the utmost respect to the body.
  • Cremation

    Various Christian groups, instead of burial, prefer the cremation of the dead, which was customary among many ancient peoples. The Orthodox Church, however, mindful of the fact that the human body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit, and inspired by the affection toward her departed children, refuses to deliberately destroy the body, and has adopted the burial of the dead, in imitation of our Lord Jesus Christ Himself as it appears in the Catacombs, and in the graves of the Martyrs and Saints. Cremation, therefore, is contrary to the faith and tradition of our Church and is forbidden to Orthodox Christians. The Church instead insists that the body be buried so that the natural physical process of decomposition may take place. The Church does not grant funerals, either in the sanctuary or at the funeral home, or at any other place, to persons who have chosen to be cremated.
  • Abortion

    The Church from the very beginning of existence has sought to protect “the life in the womb” and has considered abortion as a form of murder in its theology and canons. Orthodox Christians are admonished not to encourage women to have abortions, nor assist in the committing of abortion. Those who perform abortions and those who have sought it are doing an immoral deed, and are called to repentance thru the sacrament of confession with the parish priest or spiritual father.
  • Donation of Organs

    “No greater love has a person than he lay down his life for a friend.” The Orthodox Church encourages Orthodox Christians to donate their organs. The organ(s) donated gives life to a fellow human being and provides more time on earth for repentance. Even in death, we can ease the pain of some and grant life to others. Again, it is important to note that organs be donated for therapeutic purposes to those requiring healing and not for otherwise experimental reasons. Organ transplants should never be commercialized nor coerced nor take place without proper consent, nor place in jeopardy the identity of the donor or recipient, such as the use of animal organs. Nor should the death of the donor be hastened in order to harvest organs for transplantation to another person. In all cases, respect for the body of the donor should be maintained.

Message from Fr Gary

Fr Gary

Christ-Centered Parish

I learn a lot of interesting things at committee meetings. At one meeting, when discussing the newsletter of our parish, The Myrrh-Bearer, someone frankly said, “Nobody reads that.” That person is either right or wrong depending on how much further you go into this message. At our most recent Parish Council meeting, a parish council member, politely, combined the conversation about healthy church finances with the status of our relationship with Christ.

It wasn’t me, I wasn’t preaching, it was one of YOUR ELECTED OFFICERS, that was sharing this thought. I was mesmerized by his conviction; I looked around at the other members and they were too! The Holy Spirit was present. His inspiration moved us to take the conversation about Parish financial health to a new level.

“Every year we consider ways to raise money. What fundraisers can we hold? How will we meet our obligation to the Metropolis and Archdiocese? How can we motivate better giving? Instead,” he went on, “How can we serve Christ? How can we instill a deep love for Jesus, in every member, young and old, so that our Parish becomes financially healthy and shows greater concern for how Christ-Centered we are as a group?”

It was refreshing to hear a leader of our community express these thoughts. I have offered them in the past, but it is cliché for the priest to say it, because I’m supposed to. A group begins to reexamine the metric for success when a respected member of the Parish Council looks intently at his peers and says, “Are you concerned for your salvation?” If we look at our challenges through the lens of salvation, that is, how what we do will enhance our relationship with Christ, a new perspective is born.

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2018 Lenten Schedule

2018 Lenten Schedule