School Chaplain Message: Orthodoxy in Practise
The Orthodox Christian faith is central to our educational philosophy at All Saints Grammar. However, Orthodox Christianity is not simply an academic endeavour. Our Church always seeks to nourish the mind, the soul and the body. Our worship services involve all our senses. There is the sight of icons, the sound of melodious chants, the smell of incense, the taste of sweets, of wheat, of bread and most importantly of Holy Communion.
Our faith in its simplest form can be expressed in one word, love. This is of course because God is Love, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:8) But love is not something to be understood in the mind or in the heart. Love is a verb, an action. Love is not something we feel but something we do. Our faith in God must be expressed in action. For this reason, the scriptures teach us that both faith and works are needed for our salvation.
Good deeds and works on their own without faith are an exercise in futility, “a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So, we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified” (Galatians 2:16). Likewise, if faith is not expressed in action is it of any use? “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (James 2:14-17)
Our students are given many opportunities throughout the year to put their faith into action; to put what is learnt in the Orthodox studies classroom into practise. First and foremost is our partnering with St Nicholas Mission Academy in Ghana. ASG students provide perpetual sponsorship of 8 students from the St Nicholas Mission Academy. Various fundraising activities are organised by students each year for this purpose.
On a more local level students from time to time assist in cooking and running food drives for our parish’s feeding program Mother Maria of Paris.
Orthodoxy is also put into practise through our worship services. Students assist in the altar during school liturgies. On All Saints Day, students assisted in the precession around the church. At Easter, students chanted hymns by the tomb of Christ. Earlier in the year, students made koliva (boiled wheat) to pray for those who have passed away. There are many more activities planned for the second half of the year such as baking “fanouropites” (a sweet traditional Greek cake)
By integrating Orthodox Christianity into our educational philosophy, we are able to emphasise a holistic approach that engages the mind, soul, and body. Love, as the essence of our faith, is expressed through both faith and works. Students actively put their faith into action by partnering with St. Nicholas Mission Academy, organising fundraisers, supporting the local feeding program, and participating in worship services. By instilling the practice of Orthodoxy in the hearts and minds of its students, All Saints Grammar School fosters a deep understanding of the faith and encourages a lifelong commitment to serving others and living out the principles of love and compassion in all aspects of life.
Fr Dimitrios Papaikonomou