Greek Orthodox Chaplaincy
Contact: +61 2 9371 9929 (off campus)
Reverend Gerasimos Koutsouras
THE ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS
What is our outlook on life?
The word orthodox in its Greek usage does not mean fanatic or fundamentalist. Like orthodox medicine, its connotes the idea of mainstream, tried & tested, balanced. And so, we Orthodox Christians seek to find the right balance in life in all things.
Secular society banishes all religion to the fringe, and not without reason, but we Orthodox Christians persistently search for the right path between rationalism and mysticism by means of a meaningful spirituality.
Some religious groups embrace power or condone and even engage in war, but we seek peace by following the Christian law of love, compassion, forgiveness and self-sacrifice.
Some religious groups reject religious art, but we embrace the beauty afforded to us by art, music, architecture and poetry.
And so, in poetic fashion, we can say that ultimately, our purpose is communion with the divine, partaking of the fountain of life, oneness with the light, acceptance of the gift of love from above... because God is love! (First Letter of John 4:8)
Who are we?
The short answer... we see ourselves as the descendants of the original Christians in both faith and blood.
The long answer... the original Christian communities always called themselves ekklesiai (churches). Churches were established in such ancient cities as Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, Ephesus, Thessalonica, Corinth and Rome.
The common language of communication in the Eastern Roman Empire was Greek. It was in that international language of the time that the positive, enlightening and life-changing message of Christ (the anointed one) was spread around the Mediterranean. The evangelion (good news) and other sacred writings of what later became known as the New Testament, were originally written in Greek. This fact, was one manifestation of a long process of selective conciliation of Christian faith and practice with aspects of Graeco-Roman culture, which not only marked the parting of the ways between Christianity and Judaism, but also placed Christianity at the forefront of the evolution of European civilisation.
The coming together of the three forces; Christian faith, Greek mind and Roman governance created a new culture, termed Byzantine by modern historians. The Byzantines actually called themselves Romans, spoke Greek and held Christian beliefs! Such was the gravity of this triple culture that it's influence was embraced wholly or partially by many surrounding nations and cultures such as the Russians and the Serbs.
Original Orthodox Christian churches in the West and in the East were eventually overcome by stronger, more forceful politico-religious forces. Celtic Orthodox Christianity was eclipsed by Gothic Catholicism and Middle-Eastern Orthodox Christianity was overwhelmed by Arabic Islam.
Today, there are an estimated 230 million Orthodox Christians, the second largest Christian group in the world. International migration has brought Orthodox Christianity to all countries with the locus of the community always being the church. In Australia, there are 563,000 Orthodox Christians of mixed ancestry, including Anglo-Celtic.
Why on campus?
Studying at university can be a straight forward process of learning and attainment of qualifications before entering the workforce. But university life can also be a troubling and confusing time for many young people. We can easily lose track of what is important in life, we can easily lose track of our inner person. The Orthodox Christian chaplaincy service of the University of Sydney provides support and guidance for anyone who is seeking a balanced, steady path during their time on campus.
"Seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened..." (Gospel of Matthew 7:7)