All expressions of Christianity have their own particular styles of living, and ours is no different.
What Is Distinctive about our Tradition?
All expressions of Christianity have their own particular styles of living, and ours is no different. The Melkite Church specifically stresses that we are called to be divinized, be united to God through His Mysteries, live a public life of worship (as well as fellowship and service), a “secret” life of prayer (as well as fasting and almsgiving), and the need for spiritual warfare.
The first of this is the most important. We are not merely called to be “saved” from our sin, but rather “to become partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). God desires for us to live His very life, a relationallife, to be physically united to Jesus Christ and to have the Holy Spirit dwell within us. A common phrase from the Church Fathers reveals to us that “God became man so that man might become God.” This doesn’t mean that we become identical to God Himself, but rather that we are transformed by Him. St John of Damascus describes this mystery as being like a metal rod placed into a fire. The metal becomes hot like the fire, it glows like the fire, but it doesn’t become the fire itself.
This relationship is made a reality when we faithfully receive the Holy Mysteries (familiar to Western Christians as “sacraments”). In Baptism, we are made one with Christ and participate in His burial and Resurrection. We then immediately receive the Holy Spirit through Chrismation, which prepares us to receive the Eucharist.
In the reception of the Eucharist, we recognize that our bodies are united to the Body and Blood of Christ, ultimately a reflection of that day when we shall be united to Him in glory forever. It is important therefore for the Eastern Christian to recognize that these Holy Mysteries are not merely devotions, but as literal encounters with God, visible symbols of the invisible reality of union with God.
In our daily lives, this unity among the faithful through Christ can help us rediscover the dignity of those around us. So often in our routines we can forget about the humanity that surrounds us, a humanity which actually allows us to be human, for all of these different individuals we take for granted are the very same people who allow us to be able to function in our own lives. It has been said before “no one is an island,” but St Paul goes on to tell us each of us is part of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27).