The following is the text of a talk delivered to the Clergy Pastoral Conference of the Western American Diocese by His Grace Bishop Irenei of London and Western Europe, on 9th / 22nd October 2019. The Clergy gatherIng was held on the grounds of St Paisius Women’s Monastery in Safford, Arizona, accompanying the consecration of the central monastery katholikon.
Your Eminence! Your Grace! Reverend Mother Abbess!
Beloved Fathers, Reverend Mothers and Sisters!
By God’s mercy we gather today in this holy place: the largest monastery of the Western American Diocese — and, indeed, one of the larger of the Church Abroad — on the occasion of the consecration of its central temple, dedicated to the Dormition of the Theotokos. It is a great joy for me to be able to greet you in this place and in this context. That a pastoral conference of the Diocese should be held here for the occasion is the fulfilment of a long-held desire of the Sisterhood and the joy, I know, of many of you, who hereby come to know this holy Monastery and community, which, together with the other monastic centres of the Diocese and our Church Abroad, forms so critical a dimension of the spiritual work and disposition of the Church as a whole.
The theme of consecration has been much in our minds of late, and indeed, continues to be so as we look to the immediate future. Precisely one year and one month ago, the Holy Synod assembled in London to consecrate the upper Altar of our Diocesan Cathedral, bringing to conclusion the preparations of a new temple for the London parish community that has been in existence for over three hundred years. Not so many years before, many of us who are gathered here today took part in the consecration of the temple of St Martin in Oregon, and before that the temple of St George in Salt Lake City; and we are currently in the process of preparations for the consecration, God-willing next year, of our temple dedicated to St John the Wonderworker in Colchester, England (notable as the birthplace of the Empress St Elena).
At the same time, we have witnessed much in the way of consecrating people, as well as temples. In January of this year, in our Cathedral of the Exaltation of the Life-Giving Cross in Geneva, we consecrated to the holy episcopacy His Grace Bishop Alexander of Vevey, now my vicar for Western Europe; and but a few months later His Grace Bishop Luke of Syracuse was consecrated at Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville. And, of course, in but a few weeks’ time, on the Feast of the Mother of God, ‘Joy of All Who Sorrow’ — the anniversary date of my own consecration — our beloved brother the Very Reverend Archimandrite James (Corazza) will be consecrated Bishop of Sonora: a title for which I, for perhaps self-evident reasons, have a deep affection .
Why Do We Do This?
It seems a fitting time, then, to ask ourselves — for the sake of our own edification and deeper understanding of the wisdom of the Church — why it is, precisely, that we do these things.
Surely, by worldly logic, these acts are not ‘necessary’? Perhaps in the matter of consecrating bishops the case is a bit clearer, for we do not have a bishop until one is consecrated; there is a distinct need to accomplish the rite before a man who is not a bishop becomes one. But in the case of churches, the purpose, or necessity, perhaps seems less clear. Surely divine worship, and truly Orthodox worship at that, can take place in a building that has not undergone the formal rite of consecration — and indeed, this is in a great many places the case. It is in fact so in every temple to a degree, since almost always Divine Services are celebrated on an Altar table even before its consecration (as is the case with the katholikon here, which we will consecrate tomorrow but which has been in use as the locus for the Divine Mysteries for this holy Monastery already for some time); but in many parishes this remains true for years, even indefinitely (it is not our custom, for example, to consecrate an Altar unless the church building is fully owned by the Church: thus most communities that use rented or borrowed spaces do not have their Altars consecrated by the full rite ). The prayers offered in such places surely rise to heaven; the Mysteries celebrated therein surely abound with the same Grace as those celebrated in fully consecrated temples. So what, then, is the purpose of this rite that is only eventually performed?
I will come back to this question of ‘need’, or ‘necessity’ in a short time. But I wish to begin by examining the very concept of ‘consecration’ in our Orthodox heritage. In these contemporary days of apostasy, relativism and renovationism, it is more important than ever that we claim a right understanding of the theological realities of our Church life; and undergirding the rites of consecration is a theological revelation that must be understood if we are to lay hold of the spiritual transformation that it can bring.
Consecration at the Heart of Spiritual Life
I say ‘spiritual transformation’, because we are not, in fact, speaking of something that relates solely to given moments of solemnity in our liturgical tradition (such as the rite of the great consecration of a temple), but rather something that is foundational to the very notion of a properly Orthodox life.
‘The Life in Christ is a Mystery’ … Man is created for communion in that which is beyond himself, and that makes of his life a theological mystery of continual transformation’
If I may put this another way: the foundation of Orthodox life is the life of consecration. I am fond of repeating, as many of you know, that ‘the Life in Christ is a Mystery’, reminding always that man is created for communion in that which is beyond himself, and that this makes of his life a theological mystery of continual transformation into the Life of God which sanctifies him. It is this very reality that places the concept of consecration so firmly into the realm of foundational human experience in Christ, for consecration — literally, the act of causing something to be ‘made sacred’ (Lat. consecrare, from com + sacrare) — speaks entirely of the sanctifying transformation that is at the root of Christian identity. Something is ‘made sacred’ by being united to the sacred (hence con/com in Latin); by becoming imbued with it, communing in it, identifiable with it. This might easily be a definition for the essence of the deification of human life: the transformation of the autonomy of the human individual into a true person through the imbuing of the divine grace and unifying communion in the uncreated nature of God Himself.
Indeed, as we look more fully and more broadly, we see that the reality of consecration (as well as the focus upon acts of consecration) imbue every aspect of our Christian lives. It is hard to think of any dimension of our work as ministers of God’s grace, or indeed of any aspect of each Christian’s personal life and asceticism, that is not focussed on imbuing with holiness that which we encounter and experience, transforming the ‘ordinary’ into that which becomes, sacramentally, an encounter with the divine. This aim is at the root of prayer, which is not merely (or even chiefly) the words we say to God but the work of transforming the heart to commune with Him; it is the root of our fasting; it stands at the foundation of our act of marrying in the Church and raising Christian families.
But above all, of course, it is at the heart of our central act as Christian people: the offering of the elements of creation unto God in the Eucharist, which become the precious and life-creating Body and Blood of Christ. This work, which is undertaken for the people by the ministers appointed by Christ (we must remember that the Greek term λειτουργία does not now and never has meant ‘work of the people’, but specifically a work undertaken on their behalf by those of a certain calling) is our paramount example of what consecration means and what it can accomplish — and indeed we even refer to it as such, speaking regularly of the ‘consecration of the Holy Gifts’ that takes place during the anaphora of the Divine Liturgy. It is interesting, though, and revealing, that the liturgical texts themselves do not refer to it as such, and this for good reason: for while the anaphora and epiclesis are critical liturgical moments before which and without which we cannot say that what has been offered as bread and wine are now presented to us as Body and Blood, nevertheless it remains true that the whole liturgical offering (and not just these key moments) is intrinsically part of the rite of consecrating the Holy Gifts.
‘Thine Own of Thine Own…’: Consecration in the Eucharist
I would like to examine this by looking at one critical and central moment, which poignantly takes place before the explicit calling down of the Spirit over the offering: the moment of the elevation of the Holy Gifts following the priest’s recitation of what are often referred to as the Lord’s ‘words of institution’.
There is nothing more priestly that a priest ever says than the words he utters at this moment of the elevation of the Gifts: ‘Thine own of Thine own we offer unto Thee, on behalf of all and for all’. They come as the Deacon lifts up the Gifts (or the Priest does so himself if not Deacon is serving), with the words of Christ at the Mystical Supper still echoing in the ears of the faithful. Take, eat… Drink ye all of it… (Matthew 26.26, 27). The sequence is important. Christ gives; we receive; and then we offer. That which is first offered to us from God is presented back to Him, and in this action it is made an offering anew, and one set forth with intention and purpose. Our offering of the bread and wine on the Holy Table expresses an act of will — we take the decision to act in this way, making the pious determination to use an element of creation in a certain way, setting it forth in a certain manner, and for a certain reason.
This is, as we have said, fundamentally a response to God’s own precedent act of offering — and not simply that which He offers to the Apostles at the Mystical Supper. Long before His presentation there of bread and wine, which by His acts and words became something else, the Son of the Father had first fashioned the very ingredients of those realities with His own divine hands. The elements of the cosmos were created ex nihilo, from nothing, and created even from the initial words of the creation song in Genesis specifically as an offering for man: the sun, the moon, the stars, the earth and all that is thereon — these were fashioned, as the Scriptures disclose and the Fathers make clear, on behalf of the human race to whom they were granted. The first ‘divine offering’ ever made is made by God, who creates that which He gives and grants to His handiwork, the human race.
Then, in this act of Eucharistic consecration, that race takes these same elements and offers them back to Him — though not simply as they are found, and this, too, is of critical importance. Just as God’s offering to man involved an act of creation, so the offering man makes back to God also demands a creative dimension. In the Eucharist, it is not raw grapes and plain wheat that are offered to God, as ‘Thine own of Thine own,’ but grapes that have been transformed — by the willed and deliberate act of human labour — into wine, and wheat that has been transformed into bread . Man has taken what God provided, in gratitude, and applied his own creative power to making of it something new; and there is something essential to this creative dimension of such offering, within the Eucharist and elsewhere. In every act of authentic creation there is an imbuing of ‘self’ into that which is made and offered: it is not simply the transference or translation of external realities, but the imparting of one’s own creative identity into the act. This is why, for example, we call creation divine, because by its nature as God’s handiwork it has received the imprint of His hands and bears the marks of His identity.
‘God receives what is offered and changes it at its most fundamental level. We offer the fruit of our hands, but partake of the life-giving reality of Christ’s human-divine nature.’
This is the same with human creativity, properly exercised, which is itself an integral part of the divine image after which we have been fashioned, and which in the Eucharistic offering is not an accidental dimension of our work but a central one. Creatively engendered and offered — grapes becoming wine and grain becoming bread — united still in their new form to the holiness that originates from their original Giver, the gifts that are consecrated come in this act to take on yet new dimensions that transcend our human limitations. We as co-heirs of God’s creative glory are able to make of grapes, wine, and of grains, bread; but we cannot make of wine, blood; or of bread, body — much less the Body and Blood of God Himself. This can come only from God’s direct and immediate action: God Who receives what is offered and changes it at its most fundamental level. Thus we offer the fruit of our hands, but partake of the life-giving reality of Christ’s human-divine nature.
And, critically, this act of consecration renders that which is transformed by God’s grace into something which may then, in turn, transform others. We partake of the Body and Blood unto the remission of sins and life eternal; they transform us, even as they have been transformed, and in so doing open to man the possibility of becoming that which he otherwise might not become: partakers in the divine nature of the eternal Son. The Holy Gifts change those who commune of them.
But this power of consecration to change goes beyond just the transformation of lives — that is, of human individuals. The key phrase we mentioned before, ‘Thine own of Thine own we offer unto Thee, on behalf of all and for all’, is not quite a correct translation. Though it is less explicit in the Slavonic text, in the original Greek of the Liturgy the ‘for all’ is very explicitly neuter in grammatical gender (Τὰ σὰ ἐκ τῶν σῶν σοὶ προσφέρομεν κατὰ πάντα καὶ διὰ πάντα). It is not speaking of persons, but things — and so a more comprehensive translation into English would be ‘Thine own of Thine own we offer unto Thee, on behalf of all things and for all things’ . It is the whole of creation that is affected (and, in some sense, effected) by the transformation of the Eucharistic offering: by lifting up bread and wine thus to become the Body and Blood of Christ, the entirety of the created realm is touched: every stone, every tree, every creature, every atom. In this sense the Eucharistic consecration is a truly ‘cosmic’ event, since in the offering of creation to the Creator in this sacred way, the whole of the cosmos is drawn into that sanctified and sanctifying movement.
Of course, it is not affected in the same way as the one who approaches these sanctified Gifts and partakes of the precious Body and Blood of the Saviour directly, bodily; this is a special and wholly unique encounter with God through His immediate presence in these transformed realities. Nevertheless, that which has a personal power upon those who directly commune, also touches upon the whole of creation, which in some sense also ‘communes’ in this Mystery, since it is creation itself that is drawn up into it, and forms its heart.
This is precisely why these words of the Priest (and the associated elevation of the offered gifts by the Deacon) are so central to the entire identity of priestly ministry: in this action, the role of man as ‘priest of creation’ is summed up and manifest. In this movement and proclamation, man’s co-creative power as bearer of God’s creative image is put to its fullest and most perfect use, drawing creation back to its Creator and sanctifying it for the fullest measure of divine participation.
Here, too, we see the larger scope of Christian life to which I referred earlier, in which this concept of consecration is central; for it is not only the Eucharist that is consecrated ‘on behalf of all things and for all things,’ but indeed the whole of creation is called thus to be taken up by man in order to become a new means of encounter with the divine.
Thus we consecrate, too, water, and oil, and myrrh, used in the obvious Mysteries of Baptism and Chrismation and Unction, but also in various other ways in the life of the Church. But we must not limit our perception just to these things. Since consecration is, at root, the offering of what we have creatively made of creation, in order that creation be drawn thereby into God’s glory in a new way and become a means of His Grace touching the cosmos, then we must see it in many other places. We consecrate incense with a special prayer every single time it is place upon a coal to become something more than simply an aromatic blends of saps and spices, but a tool fostering purification and the ascension of hearts to prayer. We consecrate vestments before they are donned the first time in liturgical use, and then with a prayer every single time they are put on thereafter for a liturgical function, that they become something more than simply an interweaving of threads and instead become means of imaging divinity and lifting minds towards heavenly things. We consecrate homes before they are moved into, and then again every year, that they become more than simply assemblies of wood and stone into dwellings, and instead become sanctuaries of prayer in which lives are united to God and drawn into holiness.
And thus, we return to our most central theme today: for we also consecrate temples. It is true, as we said at the outset, that such an act is not ‘necessary’ in order for prayer to take place or the Mysteries to be celebrated. Holy prayer and effectual liturgical offering has taken place in barren prison cells, on picnic-bench chapels at youth camps, in catacombs and in homes; and, of course, also in many chapels and churches that exist without the rite of consecration having been performed. But to consider matters from this worldly perspective of ‘necessity’, which is so closely linked in spirit to concepts of ‘legitimacy’ and ‘validity’, which in a majority of (though not all) contexts are foreign to the Orthodox mindset, is in some sense to miss the point. The Life in Christ is not about seeking the lowest common denominator in spiritual things or locating that which is simply ‘ample’ or valid without further consideration. Christ does not command His followers to ‘do just what is necessary’ to escape peril or death, or to be merely ‘adequate’ to pass some spiritual test; He instructs them, and us, be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5.48).
‘Perfection’ then is the byword of spiritual life, nothing less; and perfection in a theological sense is not a moral or valuative concept, but one that bespeaks fulfilment. The Greek of the term is teleiotes, which comes from telos, meaning an ‘end’ (so, for example, in the popular, if often morally horrifying catchphrase, ‘the ends [teloi] justify the means…’), and could be otherwise phrased as destiny , or full purpose and being. That which has reached perfection is that which has attained its telos: the ultimate end for which it exists and for which it was created. Thus St Irenaeus of Lyons famously noted that Adam and Eve were not created perfect and fall short of the perfect (cf. Refutation 4.38.1), not in that he believed they were created with any flaw or error, but that in the flawlessness of their creation, God fashioned them in order to become more than what they were: to become, in terms that divine revelation later made clear, fully alive in the incarnate, crucified, risen and glorified Jesus Christ. Only in Christ do Adam and Eve reach the telos for which each has been created, which is why in traditional Orthodox iconography they are almost always portrayed together with the incarnate Christ, in whom they attained their perfection.
‘God is, while we are becoming; and that act of becoming is intended to lead to the perfection that we witness and experience in God Himself.’
To be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect, then, is not an impossible commandment of striving to obtain a moral or personal equivalence to God, which is obviously impossible and simply a manifestation of human arrogance. Rather, in giving this commandment, Christ is instructing that just as His Father (with Whom He, and the Holy Spirit, are fully glorified as the one God in Trinity — and thus we can say the same of Christ Himself) is always fully and completely that which He ought to be (hence Christ’s ‘name’ in the Scriptures and in our iconography: ‘the One Who Is’ — sometimes liturgically phrased more emphatically as ‘the only One Who truly Is’, that is to say, who is always perfectly and fully the complete reality of His being), so to we are called to be (and to become) the fulness of that which God created us to attain. God is, while we are becoming; but that act of becoming is intended to lead to the perfection —the fulness of being — that we witness and experience in God Himself.
Thus, too, in our liturgical and spiritual lives. We are called and commanded to make of all that we do the fulness of the creative possibilities God puts before us; and to utilise the creation He has fashioned and given to us to the fulness of its potential to be a source of encounter with His grace and the sanctification of the cosmos. Thus while it is self-evidently possible to offer fruitful prayer and sacraments in any space, be it suitably appropriated, we know from experience that this is not the fulness of the potential for creation to be dedicated to prayer. God Himself spoke to King Cyrus in the time of the prophet Ezra, who relayed to the people: He hath charged me to builds Him an house (Ezra 1.2); and though ancient man, as much as modern, questioned how God could dwell in a house made with hands (and God, as ever the good Teacher, encouraged His people to question this so that they might learn; cf. 2 Samual 7.5-7), nevertheless God so blessed, and sanctified, and hallowed; and in the tabernacle and then the Temple, His people began to experience the reality of creation offered up for the space of prayer and divine encounter.
And thus we continue the tradition today, established by none other than God Himself and maintained throughout the generations by our holy forebears. We create a deliberate space — sometimes constrained by building needs or inherited structures, though always ‘repurposed’ to match as closely as possible the ideals of temple orientation — and we fashion it deliberately to be a place of divine encounter and transformation. Like all acts of consecration, this is a process that demands creative labour: we do not simply take a naturally-occurring space, however beautiful, and consecrate it as a ‘natural church’; a church building is always the creative fruit of human hands, whether in fashioning wood, or stone, or concrete; paint and fabric; light and space. The raw materials of creation are changed, given specific purpose, and offered to God (precisely as grains are ‘repurposed’ into bread before being offered in the Eucharist).
The specific contours of the Temple structure and space are not our focus here, though suffice it to say that they have their origin in the revelation God gave to Israel regarding the tabernacle of His glory and the great Temple ultimately to replace it, modified throughout history as God’s actions within history have transformed elements of the nature of liturgical worship in the Incarnation of Christ. What is critical here is that they are all man’s creative handiwork. Temples do not build themselves. Altar tables do not naturally occur. Icons and frescos do not paint themselves. Stone does not naturally become brick, trees do not naturally become planks and sand does not naturally become concrete or glass: all these are the fruits of man’s creative engagement with creation — and in the offering up of a temple, these creative works are deliberately aimed at providing the immediate encounter with God’s grace.
So, in the consecration of such a space, we liturgically bring these elements of creation, already modified to a notable degree by human ingenuity and work, closer to their telos: to the fulness of the potential they hold to be beacons and meeting-points of God’s divine grace. This is not merely an act of ‘dedication’: dedication is a noble thing, but similarly human in scope. It manifests our piously-directed will. But just as in the Eucharistic offering, the sacramental dimension resides precisely in man’s handiwork coming into communion with that which his hands could not accomplish (as before, we can make grain into bread but cannot make bread into Body), so in this liturgical rite of consecrating a church, the elements that we offer are sacramentally bound to the working of God’s grace; and it is precisely by this that they are drawn beyond the limits of what our hands can create, closer to the perfection, the fulfilment, of what created matter can become and can accomplish through God’s own presence.
So the temple becomes, in this act of consecration, an icon of our own ‘becoming’ — our own transformation into that which is sacred. The church building is washed with blessed water, reminiscent of the waters of our baptism. It is chrismated with myrrh, just as the new Christian is sealed with the Spirit via the same myrrh. It is is clothed in white (the white cloth that covers the inner Table), as the Christian is adorned in a baptismal garment, which is also the wedding garment of his meeting with Christ at the Feast. It is bound with a cord, even as we are bound by the Law of God and, in Christ, no longer ‘free’ to live unto sin but genuinely free instead to live unto God, bound to Him alone. The temple is made a permanent dwelling-place of the martyrs and saints, whose relics are placed into the Holy Table and which thereafter is ever defined by being the resting place of their earthly witness — even as we are called to receive the same grace that made relics of the saints’ flesh and bones, being transformed into the identical sanctity of life and eternity.
Let me conclude by saying a word on one final type of consecration, one final form of creatively altering creation and offering it to God ‘on behalf of all things and for all things,’ and one that is especially fitting to address here on the grounds of a Monastery.
We do not only consecrate buildings, but also people. And here I am not speaking of the unique consecration that Father James will undergo in a few weeks’ time to be made a Bishop and Apostle of the Church, but the consecration of every life to God that is at the heart of our identity as Christians, and which finds its purest icon in the lives of our monastics.
Every Christian is consecrated to God at baptism. Every life is thus united to God’s grace and drawn into his sanctity — con sacrare. But so often in our modern world, wind-swept by so much distraction and deviation from the Life in Christ, we do not wholly see what this is meant to accomplish and what it might yield in the life of every child of God. It is precisely here that the monastic witness is so critical for the life of the Church. In monasticism we witness the deliberate continuation of the consecration of baptism: the making new and real of that initiatory act in a deliberate and specific way that, while not intended for or right for all people, is nevertheless of iconic value for everyone.
The monastic is, like grapes and grains or wood and stones, already the handiwork of God. Each human individual is the fruit of God’s unique, creative love. And yet in the approach to monasticism, man’s creative impulse is manifest in deliberately modifying this gift in order to offer it back to God in a profound way. As the grapes are turned to wine and stones are turned to bricks, so the life of the monk or nun is altered: it does not carry on existing in its ‘natural state’. Certain customs and practices, perfectly ordinary and even blessed in every-day lives (such as wearing certain things, or eating certain things, or relating with others in certain ways) are curtailed or eliminated; behaviours are modified; activities are given new and different focus. The blessed impulse towards family and procreation is sacrificed willingly, being replaced with a focus on other things. Freedom is directed through a specific manner of obedience. In all these, and many other ways, the human individual is ‘changed’ in a manner specifically aimed at opening it, deeply and directly, to the working of God’s grace. And then this newly-fashioned life is made into an offering and sacramentally consecrated. The bread that we bake is offered in the Eucharist; the stones we fashion are offered in the consecration of the church; and the life of the monastic is offered in the sacramental tonsure, receiving thereby a grace that enables it to become that which it could not be otherwise. The bread becomes Body; stones become a Temple; and the monastic becomes a participant in the life of the Angels, struggling always in and against the flesh and the passions, but united ever to a grace that provides participation in holiness.
This life, then — the life of our monks and nuns — is an example for every Christian, whether monastic or married. The means of monastic consecration are different and specific, but the reality to which it bears witness is universal. Every life can be united to God’s, not only in intention but in actuality. Every impulse of creative work, if it is piously undertaken, can lead to an offering unto sanctification. And if God can make of bread, His own Flesh, if He can make of stones and paint a house in which His eternal glory resides; if He can make of meagre monks and nuns images of angels and eternity — what, then, can He not make of you? What can He not make of your families, your spiritual children? What can He not do with and through your hands, called and consecrated as they are to the fulfilment of His work in this world He so dearly loves.
I said at the outset that the theme of consecration has relevance beyond solely the key moments of liturgical activity that punctuate our lives. I pray that now it is possible to see, a little more clearly, precisely how and why this is so. Like all else in Orthodoxy, rite and ritual are manifestations of theological reality. What we do bespeaks what we believe, and what we believe comes from God Himself, and leads to Him. It is my fervent prayer that as the temple of this Monastery is consecrated to God’s glory, so too your hearts, and mine, and those of all who shall enter herein until the Lord comes again will be offered to Him anew, consecrated ever more deeply to His glory, until at last we become Christians not in name alone, but wholly transfigured in His glory, drawing even the whole world into the perfection of divine Life.
 The new vicarial See is named for the city in which the men’s Monastery of St Silouan the Athonite, of which I was the first Abbot, is situated.
 This is because in such a situation there remains the risk that the building might have to be abandoned (e.g. if a lease expires or rental arrangements cannot be renewed), and we have no rite in Orthodoxy of ‘de-consecration’, as exists in some heterodox traditions.
 I am grateful to His Eminence Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia for drawing my focus, through a lecture he delivered many years ago (and which he has expanded on in more recent contexts), to this matter of the transformation of the elements prior to their offering. This, together with the linguistic observation on the phrase ‘Thine own of Thine own’ that comes later in the present paper, are points I am happy to have received from him, and which I flesh out in the present talk in a manner slightly different than he.
 As indicated previously, I am indebted to the Metropolitan of Diokleia for first having drawn my attention to this linguistic reality.
 I word that I tend not to favour in casual usage, given its widespread takeover in the social sphere by various ‘New Age’ identities and ideologies. Nevertheless, the root of the term, that for which a thing (or a person) is destined (i.e. intended to become, the point it is intended to reach — suggesting, as this does, an intentional creation) is perfectly valid in proper Orthodox discussion.