What does CCOCM stands for?
It stands for: The Companions of Christ Orthodox Catholic Mission.
What is your Mission?
Our mission and values draw directly from the Orthodox Christian teachings; Scripture, Liturgy, the Gospel and the Tradition of the Church. These Christian Orthodox values / visions are at the heart of what we do and who we are.
The Companions of Christ Orthodox Catholic Mission serve also the homeless and the near homeless, the disenfranchised and marginalized, the poorest of the poor, the unseen, the unheard, and the unwanted.
Since we believe each person is made in the image and likeness of God and has inherent dignity, we work with those living in poverty to have access to food, water, housing and other basic amenities which many of us can often take for granted.
Which do you believe in, the Bible or Tradition?
A good short answer to this question is “Yes!” The question implies precisely a kind of polarity (i.e., “Bible verses Tradition”) which is not found in the Orthodox Christian worldview.
“Tradition” or in Greek paradosis, is used very often in the New Testament both as a verb and a noun. (I Corinthians 11:23, where literally translating the original Greek, Paul says “for I received of the Lord that which I also have traditioned to you . . . .” See also 1 Corinthians 11:2, and II Thessalonians 2:15 and 3:6.)
Tradition means “that which is handed over.” The New Testament carefully distinguishes between “traditions of men” and The Tradition, which is the Faith handed over to us by Christ in the Holy Spirit. That same Faith was believed and practiced several decades before the New Testament Scriptures were set down in writing and given canonical (i.e., official) status. We experience the Tradition as timeless and ever timely, ancient and ever new.
We distinguish between The Tradition (“with a capital T”) which is the Faith/Practice of the Undivided Church, and traditions (“with a little t”) which are local or national customs. Due to changing circumstances, sometimes cherished traditions must be altered or respectfully laid aside for the sake of The Tradition.
The New Testament Scriptures are the primary written witness to the Tradition. Orthodox Christians therefore believe the Bible, as the inspired written Word of God, is the heart of the Tradition. In the New Testament all basic Orthodox doctrine and sacramental practice is either specifically set forth, or alluded to as already a practice of the Church in the first century A.D.
The Tradition is witnessed to also by the decisions of the Seven Ecumenical Councils, the Nicene Creed, the writings of the Fathers of the Church, by the liturgical worship and iconography of the Church, and in the lives of the Saints.
Why do you have all those pictures in your churches?
They are called Icons, they are not pictures in the sense of naturalistic representations. They are rather stylized and symbolic expressions of divinized humanity. (II Peter 1:4; I John 3:2.) Icons for the Orthodox are sacramental signs of God’s Cloud of Witnesses (Hebrews 12:1). We do not worship icons. Rather, we experience icons as Windows into Heaven. Like the Bible, icons are earthly points of contact with transcendent Reality.
In the original Greek of the New Testament Christ is called several times the icon (image) of God the Father. (II Corinthians 4:4; Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3.) Man himself was originally created to be the icon of God (Genesis 1:27).
If God is One, how can Christians have so many varying and even conflicting positions on theological, social, and moral issues?
Although the answer to this question is simple, it is not easily accepted, except by the humble. Quite simply: God is truly one, but we are not yet fully one with Him. As St. Dorotheus of Gaza once said, we are as points along the perimeter of a circle and God is at the very centre. As we draw closer to Him, we draw closer to one another, until finally we arrive at perfect union with Him and one another. The fact that we have conflicting positions on theological, social, and moral issues, should indicate to us that we need to draw closer to God, who alone can bring us closer together and make us one. This is the mission and activity of the Church, which has the Lord Jesus Christ as its centre, focal point, and means of unity.
What is the Doctrine of the Incarnation and why is it important?
The doctrine of the Incarnation is that the uncreated the Son of God has entered into creation, taking on flesh and becoming the prophesied Son of Man, the Savior of the world. The doctrine says that Christ is a single person with two natures, divine and human; being both perfectly and fully God, while at the same time perfectly and fully man.
The term used in the Nicene Creed to describe the relationship between God the Father and the Son of God is homoousios – meaning of the same substance. In other words, as the Father is truly God, so is the Son truly God – both being fully divine. In taking on our human nature, being like us in everything except sin (which is simply a deformation of our humanity), the Son of God, becomes also now truly man, taking the name Jesus Christ, and therefore homoousios (of the same substance) with us. And so, as we are fully human, Christ is likewise fully human. And so in Christ, we see the perfect union of the divine and human natures. The Incarnate Christ now serves as the perfect and only vehicle (only mediator) for humanity’s return and reunion with God, who is the eternal Life from which man has fallen. In the Church, we are joined to Christ’s Body, becoming one with Him, and being reconciled through and in Him to God, saved from our sin (separation from God) and from death (separation from life).
Can you please explain how Christ can be both God and man?
There are many who questioned how this can be, how this could have taken place, how this can be intellectually comprehended, articulated, explained, etc.. And each attempt to bring this divine mystery down to the human level and dissect it under the faulty microscope of the imperfect mind has resulted in heresy. This is because the human mind has limitations – the greatest being the ironic lack of awareness of those very limitations (i.e. pride). And so, some said that Christ couldn’t be fully God, others that He could be fully man. The Arians thought the Son of God unequal to the Father and not fully God. The Docetists said that He only appeared to be man and really wasn’t so. But the Fathers in humility preserved and codified the Apostolic doctrine of the Incarnation, not explaining the “how” (which we can never comprehend) but expounding upon the “why”, which is for us men and our salvation. You see the Fathers knew that if Christ were not truly God and truly man at the same time, then He could not be the mediator and Savior, He could not reunite us with God, who is life, and we would remain dead in our sins.
Why is the Nativity of Christ celebrated on December 25th?
There are two main explanations as to why the Church chose to celebrate the Nativity of Christ on December 25th.
The first says that the day was chosen to oppose the great pagan feast of the sun god, which was celebrated near December 22nd at the Winter Solstice, the time of year when the days started to get longer again (at least in the northern hemisphere). It is believed that the Church chose December 25th, because it ensured that Christians would be fasting during the pagan celebration and would therefore not easily be tempted to participate. And also because it would help the pagan peoples to leave off worshiping the false sun god and instead celebrate the coming of the True God, “the Sun of Righteousness”.
The second explanation says that the day was chosen in relation to the feast of the Annunciation, which was celebrated on March 25th commemorating the supernatural conception of the Lord in the womb of the Virgin Mary. The Annunciation was celebrated on this day because of the belief in the ancient world that great men died on the same day as they were conceived. Since the Lord was believed to have been crucified on March 25th, it also came to be believed that He was likewise conceived on this day. And since it followed that the Lord’s birth would be nine months after His conception, the feast of His Nativity was set on December 25th.
Why did God give man free will, if He knew that man would choose evil?
We recall that God created the world good, and man very good. He also gave the commandment not to come to the knowledge of good and evil. In other words, man was commanded to know only goodness, and more than this, man was to grow in the participation of God – who alone is truly and infinitely good. This was God’s will – that man might share in everything that He Himself has as God – love, wisdom, life, light, etc.. And for this to happen, man needed to be like God, free. Man needed free will.
In His infinite foreknowledge, God knew that man would misuse this free will and choose evil. Yet, God permitted this because by so doing, man could come to understand the difference between good and evil, light and darkness, truth and falsehood, life and death. By personal experience, man was to grow in the realization that everything truly good can be found only in God, while everything truly evil can be found only in separation from and rejection of God. The Lord permitted man to misuse his freewill so that he might educate himself by this experience and come to spiritual maturity.
Of course, we might say that the easier path would have been simply to trust God and to listen to His commandment not to know evil. However, by allowing man to choose evil, God opened a way to show His compassion, forgiveness, mercy and love to measures beyond what man could have seen in the Garden of Eden. Man was now able to see the “love of God in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) When Christ hung on the Cross – the Creator rejected and put to death by His creation – He revealed the Father in a way beyond imagination or comprehension. He revealed the unfathomable depth of God’s loving-kindness. In so doing, by being lifted up on the Cross, He draws all men to Himself for truly nothing is more beautiful or desirous than self-sacrificial, unconditional love, even for one’s enemies. This is the love that conquers hatred, the light that the darkness could not overcome/comprehend, and the life that overthrows the power of death.
As Christians, it is our hope that all might be saved and come to the knowledge of the Truth – that all might have eternal life. “And this is eternal life, that they might know You, O heavenly Father, and Jesus Christ, Whom You have sent.” (John 17:3) It is our hope that even those who have sinned in the most horrid of fashions, might be changed by this love of God in Christ Jesus – a love which is and remains unconditional, all-powerful, and eternal. What man can withstand, overcome or outlast God’s infinite loving-kindness and patience?
Truly, the time is coming when “every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” Then no one will ask the question: Why did God give man free will? The answer will be obvious: So that God might reveal His infinite goodness, which is extended even to those who would crucify Him, and by the beauty of this love He might draw all of mankind to freely enjoy and share in His very being and life.
And so, the God Who was hidden, veiled, and invisible throughout the Old Testament, simply saying, “I AM Who I AM”, has now revealed Himself, showing Himself visibly in the Son who redeems man from his fall through the Cross, the Holy Spirit who sanctifies man by His indwelling presence, and the Father who shares not only His kingdom with His created sons but also His very Self. This was, after all, the plan from the beginning: that man might see the infinite beauty, love, and goodness of God, and having seen his Creator, that he might freely choose to share by grace in everything which God has by nature through the revelation and gift of the Holy Trinity.
What do you teach about abortion?
In the eyes of the Church all life is viewed as being sacred and we respect life on "both sides" of the birth canal. We consider conception to be the very beginning and moment when that life is formed. In fact, the Church even commemorates the conceptions of our Lord (March 25), the Blessed Virgin Mary (December 9), and St. John the Forerunner (September 23).
Based upon the Bible, our Theology, and Dogma, we considers abortion to be sinful and wrong.
Why are non - Christians unable to receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion in your Mission?
According to the earliest teachings of the Church, the Eucharist (Holy Communion) can only be administered to those who are Baptized and Chrismated into the Faith. A second century writing known as the Didache instructed believers to “let no one eat or drink from your Eucharist except those who are baptized in the Lord's Name.” In fact, so protective were the early Christians that, there were even restrictions implemented which prevented non-believers from entering churches or attending service.
Do you offer Communion to Christians who are not of the Orthodox faith?
We invite every baptised Christian to partake from the banquet of the Lord, our stand is if the Christian approaches the Holy Chalice with the Fear of God, Faith and Love he or she are welcome to partake.
What's your understanding to Marriage?
Marriage is a solemn and public covenant between a male and a female, establishing between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, and is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses. The union of spouses, in heart, body, and mind, is intended by God for their mutual joy; for the help and comfort given one another in prosperity and adversity. The spouses must engage themselves, to make their utmost effort to establish this relationship and to seek God's help thereto.
On gender issues, many in the Orthodox Christian countries have conservative views, where do you stand on LGBTQ matters?
Everyone is welcome to our mission regardless of their; background, age, disability, gender, race and sexual orientation.
Our stand is on issue is that Christ came to save everyone, as we read, He “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). Our mission welcomes all with open arms because we are all as humans are made in the image of God.
Do you consider yourself a liberal Orthodox Mission?
We consider ourselves neither liberal nor conservative (two modern terms that are irrelevant to the Church mission). Our mission is to bring the good news to all mankind and preach the Gospel of our Lord. We believe the mission of the Church is to embrace and invite all individual to know Christ.
What do you stand on Ordination of Women to the Priesthood and Episcopacy?
We precludes the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopacy. It is a matter of Holy Tradition.
While Orthodoxy has not accepted the ordination of women, it does laud a woman, the Theotokos, as the one who is “more honourable than the cherubim and more glorious beyond compare than the seraphim” and holds her up as a model for all of God’s People, male and female alike. In this light, salvation, not ordination, is the goal of Christian life.
What is the Mission General Governance?
We are headed by an Archbishop Metropolitan and governed by the Synod of Bishops.
The Archbishop Metropolitan is the ultimate authority within the Mission, and bears the ultimate responsibility for all the members. His position is for life unless he resigns in favour of another who shall be elected by the Synod of Bishops. He shall always remember that although he is first he should also be servant of the servants of God and truly a Father to all.
What is your understanding to Tradition?
We are clear in our believes on Traditions; they are the oral Traditions that were handed to us through the Holy Apostles and the Early Church Fathers on matters regarding the Faith. However, we are clear to acknowledge that there are also traditions (“t") that we ought to evaluate at all times since in most cases, these traditions ("t") are based on ethnic and cultural practises and are not based on Theological and Dogma matters. We confirm that we are serious on Traditions with regards to matters of the Faith and we are sceptic about traditions (“t”) that divides communities and confuse the faithful, traditions (“t”) that relate to ethnic social culture.
Do you only help Christians?
Absolutely not, we help all those who are in need regardless of: background, age, disability, gender, race, religion and belief.
How do you support yourself and your missionary work?
As Saint Paul supported himself by making tents, in order to support his ministry of witnessing to Christ (Acts 18:1-4), so do we as members of the CCOM, we support ourselves and the Society by working secular jobs. We do not ask for any donations or any financial support.
What is your understanding on the Virgin Mary?
The Virgin Mary, the Theotokos (in Greek word that means “God-bearer or Birth-giver to God”, the mother of Jesus Christ, the Son and Word of God. She conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is our belief and tradition that the holy Virgin was a virgin before, during and after the birth of Christ.
Our devotion to the Virgin Mary the Theotokos is not merely a matter of popular piety. It is also an expression of the central teaching of the Catholic Church, the doctrine of the Incarnation of Christ.
Mary to us represents the submission of humanity to the will of God.
What about Advent?
The Orthodox Eastern - Right Liturgical year does not use the Roman Catholic structure and terminology for cretin seasons; we do not have Advent or Ordinary time. In out Orthodox Tradition, the season prior to Christmas, known in the Latin Church as Advent, is called in the Eastern Orthodox tradition the Nativity Fast.
You talk about the Church as unity in the truth and love of God. What do you mean by this?
We believe that the life of the Church is life in communion with God Himself, in the Truth and Love of Christ, by the Holy Spirit. We believe that Christ is the Son of God. We believe that He reveals the truth about God and man. We believe that we can know this truth by the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit that He gives to us. The greatest truth shown to us by Christ is that God is Love, and that the only true way of living is by following Christ who called Himself, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Christ gave the great commandment and the great example of perfect love. Thus the greatest truth is love. This is our conclusion. And life in this truth which is love is the life of faith, the life of the Holy Church. Of course there are deviations and betrayals and sins all around. Clergy and laymen alike are guilty. But the Church itself, despite the sins of its members, is still the union with the Truth and Love of God given to men in Jesus Christ, made present and accessible in the Holy Spirit, who lives in those who believe.
What is your religious habits and your liturgical vestments?
+ Our formal religious habit are with accordance to the tradition of either the Greek Orthodox or Russian Orthodox Church habits.
+ Our Liturgical vestment is Byzantine vestment.