Monday, January 30, 2012

Repentance - What does this Mean?

"The Church Fathers have called repentance a ‘second baptism’ or a renewal of baptism. At our first baptism, we began a journey towards the kingdom of God… Unfortunately not very many of us know what repentance means and what its greater significance is. Most people do not even know of what things we should repent.  Repentance is not, as we think, a legalistic procedure, which exonerates man from certain feelings of guilt. Nor is it the confession practiced by some as a necessary observation before the great feasts of the Church, or when faced with immense psychological pressures…

"The Greek word for repentance, metanoia (change of mind), implies a complete change of life, and the rejection of sin with our whole heart. It is to feel with our whole being that the road we are following leads nowhere and want to return…." 

Father Nektarios Antonopoulos

Reference: Return: Repentance and Confession by Archimandrite Nektarios Antonopoulos

Thursday, January 26, 2012

On Prayer: Prayer Walk

We live in stressful times.  This is both good and bad.  Researchers have shown that a certain level of stress is good for us.  It leads us to high performance.  for example, it is good to feel a bit nervous before giving a speech as this brings the body to top alert status.  Stress involves a physical reaction where the sympathetic nervous system and the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal glands pump stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol into the blood stream.  We feel "pumped."  The blood vessels dilate, increasing the blood flow to the brain, muscles are slightly tensed for action.  This can be useful when we want to perform at our best.  But, when it goes beyond a normal adaptive type of stress, it can be harmful.  When we feel stress in a negative way, such as when we are angry, our logical mind is blocked and we may feel coldness in hands and feet, our heart may beat erratically.  This is unhealthy.  So it's important to know how to deal with the unhealthy kind of stress.

One approach that I have found to be most useful is the prayer walk.  When you feel angry, dejected, upset its time for a walk.  Not a nomad walk, but a walk with God.  The key is to recognize when you are being impacted by this abnormal stress and excuse yourself so you can focus on walking while you recite the Jesus Prayer, "Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me a sinner." Say the words in cadence with your foot steps.  You will find that grace will be give to you and you will begin to slow down and your body will slowly return to its normal state.  You can then go back with a clear mind and make good Christian choices. Next time you find yourself being pushed beyond your limit and feeling angry or upset, try it.  It does not take long for the prayer to do its work and the walk changes your physical environment.  It's better to walk away than to begin to react in anger or say things you later regret. 

You can do this anywhere. You can walk to the rest room, to the canteen, library or other location in your building.  If you can go outside this is even better because it is easier to avoid interaction with others.  Keep you eyes focused on where you are walking and not on the object or people around you. Do not make eye contact with others.  Keep focused on the words of the prayer. Let God enter your heart and guide you.

More on the practice of the Jesus Prayer

Monday, January 23, 2012

On Prayer: The Morning Rush

To live an Orthodox Way of Life it is important to begin the day in peace. One cannot live spiritually if your day begins with a harried mad dash to work, eating on the way, rushing through traffic.  It's amazing what you see people doing in the morning commute.

The morning can be very busy especially if you have small children to get ready for school, but the key is to program enough time for all the essential activities plus Prayer.  This may mean getting up an hour earlier so you have time for meditation and prayer as well as a relaxed and nutritional breakfast.
If you get up earlier you will find that all is quiet. You can shower in peace and then go to your quiet place in the house for prayer.  Because you have provided the proper time, this does not have to a quick perfunctory prayer, but one where you appreciate the quietness and go deep within opening your heart to God.  To enter into prayer we need to sit quietly and steady our minds on God.  We leave behind all the cares of the coming day because we know we have this special time to do this.  You remember that you are God's child whom He loves unconditionally, and then with humility enter into a dialogue with Him.  The essential ingredient is to create this peaceful time where you are not rushed or forced into the worldly cares of the day.  This is your private time with God.  Protect it.

You can find advice on morning prayers here.  Be sure to allow time for the practice of the Jesus prayer as well as this is the prayer that will get you thorough the day.

When you have completed your daily prayer routine think about the difficulties you might face during the day.  Think how you can handle them in a way that will be pleasing to God.  At the end of the day you can evaluate how well you did and give thanks to the Lord and ask for His help to handle them better if need be. (Morning and evening prayer are like bookends on an Orthodox Way of Life.)

Once you have finished this, the you can with a peaceful mind, filled with God's presence proceed with the essential activities which you have organized to accomplish before leaving for work without undue rush.  It's important to allow time to prepare and eat a good breakfast sitting comfortably.  You have nourished you soul and you also need to nourish your body.

As you begin your commute, do not try and beat the traffic or allow yourself to be irritated about delays or missing a stop light.  Allow sufficing time so you will not be rushed but arrive a few minutes early at for work.  Go with the flow of the traffic, not trying to beat it.  Try and keep in mind the quiet presence you enjoyed in prayer. 

Once at work, review your activities of the day and commit yourself to doing them according to the will of God.  All ow for unexpected events.  When you do find situations that begin to upset you, remember your prayer time and immediately recite the Jesus prayer.  If you encounter a situation where you anger is aroused or if you find yourself emotionally upset, take a walk while you recite the Jesus prayer to yourself.  Saying it just ten times will calm your soul so you can continue without causing greater stress or difficulty to yourself or others.

The key is to allow the proper amount of time in the morning so you can begin with peace.  This morning peace will go along way during the day. There is only so much time and we have to allocate it so we can maintain our peace and stay in contact with our Lord. 

Lets share our ideas about how we can begin the day in peace. How do you manage this?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

It's What God Gives Us That is Important

It's what God gives us that is important in attaining perfection – Not what we give Him. He gives us mercy. He gives us forgiveness. He gives us His love. At the moment of our Baptism we are pure. At the moment of absolution in our Confession we are pure, at the moment we receive Him into our body in Holy Communion we are pure. Not as the result of our efforts but as His gift of mercy and love. We then continue to struggle against the evil forces of the world and can be tempted to forget and fall into error anytime. God is still there with mercy, forgiveness and Love. Out of our love for Him we are sorry for our forgetfulness and error and seek His forgiveness and mercy which He freely gives back. We struggle to improve so we will not be as forgetful. We fast to help us remember Him and to increase our control over the passions of the Body. We pray and learn to have the Jesus Prayer on our lips when we are tempted or face difficulty. We work to improve ourselves to be a good servant of our Lord. We do not do this for merit but out of our love of Him, our desire to do what He wills recognizing our weaknesses when facing the spirutual war we are engaged in. This is an ongoing process of growth. It is what we call the Orthodox way of life. It is a life of repentance.

The nature of the difficulties we face are highlighted in St. Paul's Letter to the Ephesians 6:10-17
"Brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.  Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Stand, therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."
What many Protestants see as working for merits are the things Orthodox Christians have done since the time of he Apostles to be good sons, to hallow His name, to live a more virtuous life according to His commandments. We need His grace to do so and we also need to put all our own energies into following what God desires for us. It is living this kind of humble life in eyes of God that we become justified so that at the time of the final judgement when the actions of our life will be examined in detail and truth we will be accepted into His Kingdom. Without these "works", without our own efforts, we will not improve our ability to serve our Lord as his son or to glorify Him as He intended. It's wrong to think of these efforts as earning merits. Orthodox Christians do not have this idea of merits tied to our personal efforts because we have a sacramental life as the foundation of out faith. We have much more than a book to guide us. We know God will help us and we know that we are weak needing his help. We also know we have free will and a body full of passions, that we live in a world controlled by evil forces that we must struggle against. We continually "Lord have mercy on me." we continually seek His grace and participate in His sacraments where we are give the gifts of His healing and grace. It is a complete way of Life in Christ.

Monday, January 16, 2012

On Prayer: Does God Care About Football

Recently there has been a lot of press about Tim Tebow and his public display of prayer relating to his performance in football.  Many even describe games won as "miracles."  But, does God really care about who wins in football?  Is this how God intended for us to pray?  Is this what we are supposed to to be praying for?

To me this public display of prayer seems a bit misguided as we do not pray to God for our self gain, but for His forgiveness, for His help to do His will, to give thanks for the blessing we have received from Him, that He will accept us in His kingdom.  Our relationship with God is about joining with Him in heaven with eternal life.  Our aim is not success in sports, business, school or any other worldly gain.  It is about being accepted in heaven, of being able to set our ego aside to do His will, to love Him with our whole heart and to love others as we love ourselves.

So how are we to pray?  Jesus tells us to go to a private place and in quite to pray.
He says,
When you pray, you shall not be like hypocrites.  For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men... When you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut the door, pray to your Father who is in the  secret place and your Father who sees in secret will reward openly. (Mat 6: 5-6)
Immediately following this instruction He gives us the Lord's prayer as the proper way to pray.  In this prayer we ask for His Kingdom to come, we ask for His forgiveness, we ask for His protection from evil forces.  He also tells us not to worry about physical things and desires, but to practice love of others and be forgiving.  He asks us to trust in Him, not for worldly gain, but  to lay up "treasures in heaven" (Mat 6:19).

A common public display for Orthodox Christians is the making of the cross on our body.  But this too is not to be done in a way as to attract public attention.  We have another football star Troy Polamalu  who like Mr Tebow takes this practice to an extreme using this sign in a public manner after good plays in football..

We are to pray continually, but this is a prayer of the heart which is said internally, Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me a sinner.  This is a prayer of repentance so we can come closer to God and be united with him in His Kingdom. Its an expression of humility, not pride in our accomplishment.

One of my favorite prayers is the morning prayer
Most holy God, we pray and beseech You, give each of us a pure heart and a way of speaking that befits the faith we profess; grant us uprightness of purpose, powers of reasoning unhindered by passions, conduct that becomes those who fear You, and perfect knowledge of Your commandments; may we enjoy health in body and in spirit.Grant us a life of peace, genuine faith and living hope, sincere charity and bountiful generosity, patience that knows no bounds and the light of Your truth to proclaim Your goodness to us, that for ever and in all things placing our trust only in You, we may abound in every good work, and that in Christ Your gifts may increase in every soul.For to You belong all glory, honor and majesty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.
Prayer is an essential part of our Christain spiritual journey.  We need to have a daily prayer discipline with specific times for payer in the morning and evening at a minimum.

To pray we should find a quiet private place where we will not be disturbed. This may be a corner in the bedroom (a room divider can help make a special place), space in a walk-in closet, or, if you are fortunate to have an extra room, a special room that is only for prayer. It needs to be a place where you can be undisturbed and alone. You begin praying by focusing your consciousness in your heart and forcibly gathering there all the powers of the soul and body. Take the time at the beginning of your prayer time to quiet your body and to concentrate your energies in your heart. 

More on daily prayer in the Orthodox tradition.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Baptism is not Symbolic

Holy Baptism and Chrismation are sacraments that we too often take in a routine manner. But, they are of the greatest significance for all Christians. This is the first step towards our salvation.  In Baptism we are renewed and united with Christ. We become God’s “adopted son”, a child of the light, a child of the Kingdom.  We become His disciple. We become a member of the body of Christ. This is no mere symbolism.
From the moment one emerges from the water in the baptismal font a new life begins.  We are reborn, united in Christ.  We are enlightened.
Baptism in the Orthodox Church is much more than a cleansing of our sins.  It is the beginning of a new life in Christ. We become a part of His Church though the grace of God.
The font is likened to the grave of Christ.  When we are immersed in the water we die of an old self and become renewed. This new life is one where we can now look forward to our resurrection and eternal life in God’s Kingdom as we follow Christ.
Forgiveness of sins is one of the results of baptism but we must remember that we do not have the idea of original sin as has been introduced in the Western Churches.  For Orthodox Christians we receive from Adam and Ever the consequences of their sin, which is death, our mortality. We do not inherit any guilt. Because we have a free will we are only responsible for our own sins. So Baptism is not about overcoming original sins but is a renewal that assures us eternal life.
In the service the water is made    holy with the Holy Spirit. As we are immersed we are cleansed of any personal sinfulness by this holy water and renewed. Following this we receive the Holy Chrism. This is a special Holy Oil which is called the “Seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit.” The water of baptism will dry up but the action of the Holy Spirit  seals the action for all time.
When the sacramental rite is completed there is a sedate but joyful dance around the font followed by the reading of Scripture where we hear the words of Jesus Himself.
Crowning this event is the reception of Holy Communion. The new person, with their new Christian Name, is now able to participate in all the sacraments of the Church as one of God’s adopted sons. 
From this moment on we must struggle to maintain our relationship with God striving to act like Him.  This involves a life of continual repentance seeking God’s unlimited mercy for our weaknesses to maintain this union.  Through the sacrament of Confession and Holy Communion we keep our Baptism renewed and gain His grace to  aid us in our efforts to cooperate with Him, to live the life He showed and taught us as is recorded in the Scriptures.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Justification and Salvation

I find myself constantly having to defend Orthodoxy agains a common view held by many Protestants on salvation, known as the "Satisfaction theory".  What I have written is not original but is my attempt to show the limitations of this way of thinking in a simple and concise way.

Justification and Salvation
There are many metaphors and images to help us understand this great mystery of salvation. There is Christ as teacher, as sacrifice, as a ransom, as victor over death and as union or participation.  This multiple view was unnecessarily reduced to a single view in the West with the work of Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury in 12th century.  It was his view that was codified in the creeds of the reformers in the 16th century and has been embraced in most Protestant churches.  It is based on a juridicial view with image of Christ as a sacrifice. It is commonly refered to as the “satisfaction” theory of atonement.  His work is Cur Deus Homo (Why God Became Man)
Anselm believed that Adam through his disobedience of God had committed a crime against God.  See the juridicial nature of this thought.  His disobedience or sin is seen as a crime, not as a turning away from God.  Anselm applied the medieval notion of justice to this act. Since a crime had been committed there needed to  as “satisfaction” of God’s honor (Some will see this as wrath rather than honor).
How could a crime against God be satisfied?  This was of much greater honor than any human crime.  The only way He could be satisfied according to Anselm was by a supra-human as a stand in for us.  But there is problem with this. It implies that God is changeable.  We have to change God’s view of us.  But in James 1:17 it says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”  Anger and pride are both human emotions.  If we accept the notion that sin angers or offends God, then it must be true that before sin God was not angry.  If we agree with the satisfaction theory then after satisfaction God is no longer angry.  God changes. It is therefore blasphemous to base our understanding of salvation on the idea that God gets angry or has a fragile ego.  Anselm use a model of a medieval monarch for his god.  This human model is not sufficient for the God of Scripture or the Church.
You may say, How about all the places n Scripture it talks about the “wrath” of God?.  What we see is Scripture is human emotions being applied to God.  These emotions are no more the true nature of God that He is human than when it says He walks in the garden.  Wrath is how humans experience their separation from God and in not the nature of God. As John reminds us “God is love” (1 John 4:8).
How about the notion of justice?  We know that God is just because He does not change.  If we think that God can’t let man get away with his sins and that justice must be satisfied then we are making God himself subject to some sort of cosmic justice. Justice then become something greater than God.  Also if God wanted justice, why couldn’t he have just forgiven man.  Why did He have to send His son to suffer and be killed?
Anselm with his “satisfaction “ theory put God in a box.  God had to either change or become subject to an external justice.  God’s ways are different than man’s ways so we cannot use human analogies to properly describe God’s ways  It says in Isaiah 55:8-9: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the LORD.  For as the heavens are higher than earth, so are my ways higher that your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
Another problem with Anselm’s view is that “satisfaction” makes sin God’s problem rather than ours.  You may say that God wants to save man because He is merciful, but He can’t violate His own justice.  Sin then is God’s problem.  The issue becomes man’s effect on God due to sin, rather than what sin does to man.  According to Anselm, once God has been satisfied man is off the hook.  Salvation then is reduced to some kind of play where God can declare man’s innocence regardless of his actual state.
Another problem with this idea of satisfaction is that salvation remains external to man and man therefore remains unchanged.  If we think only that through Christ’s death on the Cross and our faith in this event, means only that our sins are erased from the ledger of crimes, man still remains unchanged.  He is still in essence sinful. Man is not recreated, not transformed, not born again.  He is merely declared “not guilty.” This presupposes that God and man cannot be really united on any level beyond that of moral obedience. (This was an early heresy called ) What man needed was to be renewed, to become like God and not simply forgiven His sins. 
There are three problems with the idea of “satisfaction”: 1) God must change, 2) God must be subject to a higher justice, 3) Salvation is external and man remains unchanged.  Orthodox Christians cannot accept this idea because it violates the most fundamental principle of Christian theology and leaves man unchanged.  For Orthodox to be saved means healing, man is restored to spiritual health, united again with Him.  God does not need to be changed but our state needs to changed. Christ came not as a substitutional sacrifice but came as a healer, to renew mankind, to be reunited with Him and to live with his free will voluntarily acting in cooperation with God’s divine will.
Salvation is the work of God as Christ says, “without me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)  If without Christ we can do nothing, then likewise apart from us God will do nothing.  Our free will is an essential condition, for without it even God does nothing.  This interrelationship between divine grace and our human freedom remains always a mystery.  As Paul says, “O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgements and how inscrutable his ways! (Rom 11:33)
Be not confused by this idea of synergia or cooperation.  Salvation is a free gift of God There is no idea of Merits in Orthodox views. Salvation cannot be “earned” or “deserved”.  Salvation is totally an act of divine grace and yet in this act of grace we remain totally free. Like the virgin Mother assented to the angel Gabriel we too must assent to this Grace freely given to us.  This cooperation involves a union with God, an intimate relationship that comes through the work of the Holy Spirit. Our cooperation is the work of the Holy Spirit. The free gift from God requires a free response guided by the Holy Spirit.  As Paul says, “we are fellow-worker (synergoi) with God” (1Cor 3:9).
The salvific work of Jesus was a matter that required for him to become like us.  God took on human flesh. Why? So mankind could be renewed, healed. To be healed we need faith that unites us with Him so we can become like Him.  Salvation is the person Jesus himself, not a particular act of Jesus.  What did the elder Simeon say when he beheld the baby Jesus? “My eyes have see your salvation” (Luke 2:30).  We cannot limit our thinking about salvation to the Cross couched in juridical terms of “satisfaction.”  We must consider what came before. He was God who took on human flesh at His birth.  We must also consider that following the Cross we have the Resurrection, Ascension and His Second Coming.  We must not narrow Jesus to a mere sacrifice to satisfy God’s anger, justice or honor.  We must consider the whole saving economy that embraces all the images Scripture provides for us. We must realize that It is Jesus Himself that is our salvation.
So are you saved?  Salvation is a life long journey.  A journey with Christ in our heart.  In Orthodox daily evening prayers there is a short petition attributed to Saint John Chrysostom, “O Lord my God, even if I have done nothing good in your sight, yet grant me by your grace to make a beginning.”  Metropolitan Kallistos Ware reminds us the right question is not “Am I saved” but “Have I even begun?”
Charles Joiner
Dec 22, 2011
References for further reading
The Life by Clark Carlton
How we are Saved by Metroplitan Kallistos Ware

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Theophany - More than Blessing of Waters

On January 6th we celebrate the Theophany, the full manifestation of God, the Holy Trinity revealed to us. Too often we only think about this as the time when we get Holy Water from the Church or when the Priest comes to bless our homes, but the significance of this event is so much more. 

We are fortunate to have commentary from the second century by St Hippolytus [a.d. 170–236.] who was the disciple of Irenæus. We often raise the question, "Why did Jesus have to be baptized if He was sinless?" He explains why John, who resisted baptizing Jesus because he felt unworthy and inferior to Him thinking that he should be baptized by Jesus, baptized Him who was God Himself.
Hyppolytus shows how Christ comforted John,
And what saith the Lord to him?  “Suffer it to be so now, for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.” (Matt 3:15)  “Suffer it to be so now,” John; thou art not wiser than I. Thou seest as man; I foreknow as God. It becomes me to do this first, and thus to teach. I engage in nothing unbecoming, for I am invested with honour. Dost thou marvel, O John, that I am not come in my dignity? The purple robe of kings suits not one in private station, but military splendour suits a king: am I come to a prince, and not to a friend? “Suffer it to be so now for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness:” I am the Fulfiller of the law; I seek to leave nothing wanting to its whole fulfilment, that so after me Paul may exclaim, “Christ is the fulfilling of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” (Rom 10:4)  “Suffer it to be so now, for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.”
Saint Hyppolytus tells us why Jesus was baptized, speaking from viewpoint of Jesus,

Baptize me, John, in order that no one may despise baptism. I am baptized by thee, the servant, that no one among kings or dignitaries may scorn to be baptized by the hand of a poor priest. Suffer me to go down into the Jordan, in order that they may hear my Father’s testimony, and recognise the power of the Son. “Suffer it to be so now, for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.” Then at length John suffers Him. “And Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and the heavens were opened unto Him; and, lo, the Spirit of God descended like a dove, and rested upon Him. And a voice (came) from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matt 3:16-17)
Jesus wanted to emphasize the role of the priest in baptizing those who chose to follow Him.  He wanted all to hear the testimony of the Father so others would accept Him as His Son as this was the time He began His public ministry.
Saint Hyppolytus continues uplifting our sight even higher,
Do you see, beloved, how many and how great blessings we would have lost, if the Lord had yielded to the exhortation of John, and declined baptism? For the heavens were shut before this; the region above was inaccessible. We would in that case descend to the lower parts, but we would not ascend to the upper. But was it only that the Lord was baptized? He also renewed the old man, and committed to him again the sceptre of adoption. For straightway “the heavens were opened to Him.” A reconciliation took place of the visible with the invisible; the celestial orders were filled with joy; the diseases of earth were healed; secret things were made known; those at enmity were restored to amity. For you have heard the word of the evangelist, saying, “The heavens were opened to Him,” on account of three wonders. For when Christ the Bridegroom was baptized, it was meet that the bridal-chamber of heaven should open its brilliant gates. And in like manner also, when the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove, and the Father’s voice spread everywhere, it was meet that “the gates of heaven should be lifted up.” (Ps 24: 7) “And, lo, the heavens were opened to Him; and a voice was heard, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Most significantly we see in this event that the heavens are opened for all mankind who follow Him and join with Him through Baptism to become His adopted children. Christ shows us that we begin our Journey with Him through baptism. This is a Holy Sacrament where heavens are opened and we join with The Holy Trinity to be transformed, born again, so we can become like Him and have eternal life in His kingdom as one of His children.

Christ’s baptism in the Jordan was A “theophany,” in that the world was granted a revelation of the Holy Trinity. The Father testified from on high to the divine Sonship of Jesus; the Son received His Father’s testimony; and the Spirit was seen in the form of a dove, descending from the Father and resting upon the Son.
In the hymn of the Feast we sing, “Christ has appeared and enlightened the world.” Thus, January 6 is also known as the Feast of Lights. The Church celebrates on this day the illumination of the world by the light of Christ.

Reference: Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol 5, Hyppolytus, Discourse on Holy Theophany

Sunday, January 1, 2012

What kind of Christian are You?

I recently saw a survey of Roman Catholics regarding how important they felt about their church teachings.  Here is the results of a few of the items
   73% thought the resurrection of Jesus to be very important
   64% saw the Mother of God, Mary, as being very important
   63% saw sacraments such as the Eucharist as very important
   46% saw daily prayer life as very important

This means 27% do not see the Resurrection to be very important, 36% so not see the Mother of God to be very important, 37% do not see the Sacraments to be very important and 54% do not see daily prayer as very important.  So what kind of Christianity is this? For Orthodox Christian these are all supposed to be very important.  I have seen similar surveys that show Orthodox Christians to have views similar to the Catholics.

So I have a few questions for you: How important are these to you? What does it mean to be a good Christian?  What do you consider to be very important in the growth of your faith?

Reference: USA Today