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|Print out the following by New Calendar priest, Theodoros Zissis, professor at the Theological School of the University of Thessaloniki and study it well.|
1.To associate is not anachronistic.
Similar inter-faith and inter-Christian
In our last article titled "The meeting of
Bartholomew and the Pope is far from the path of the Holy
Fathers", we announced that we would continue the
presentation of our assessments based on the timeless
conscience of the Church, as expressed in the lives of the
Saints and the writings of the Holy Fathers and Teachers.
Especially when Saint Spyridon the wonderworker patron of
Kerkyra (Corfu), expelled the pope from his church with an
impressive miracle, while today's hierarchs, invite him
into their Orthodox churches, embrace him, cense him and
wish him a long life, we planned to present this miracle
that was preserved and commented on by Saint Athanasius of
Paros, a great scholar and teacher of the Greek Nation and
member of the 18th century triad of Holy
Fathers of Kollyvades. This plan and precedence still
applies with minor deviation due to the holiday
The remembrance of Great Anthony in whose temple we serve
already for the last 13 full years in Thessaloniki with
the grace of God and the blessing of the Saint, has given
us the opportunity to again rejoice in his wonderful
"Life", a model of the literature of the lives
of all the later Saints which was written by the disciple
of Archbishop of Alexandria, the pillar of Orthodoxy, the
same Great Athanasius.
The greatest part of the "Life" deals with the
ascetic achievements of Saint Anthony, on his struggles
against the demons and his particular teaching, such as
his great feat of becoming the founder of settlements in
the desert, by filling the desert with monasteries, thus
becoming the founder and leader of ascetic life. "He
convinced many to choose the solitary life and so happened
therefore that monasteries on the mountains and in the
desert were populated by monks coming out on their own and
enlisting in the heavenly city".
He interrupted twice his lengthy absence from the world,
in order to struggle for and contribute in the rescue of
Orthodoxy, which as now, so was then, in peril from both
external and more so from internal enemies. Christianity
was never present in conversations and negotiations
"on equal terms" with the other religions, a
blasphemy asserted by today's so called Christian leaders
at the inter-religious meetings of the Anti-Christ, but as
the sole truth, the only way to salvation, the true light
which replaced not the weaker lights but the darkness of
fallacy and ignorance of God. "The people which sat
in darkness saw a great light; and to them which sat in a
region of the shadow of death, light sprung up" (Matt
4:16).Christ did not say "I am one way, one truth,
one light among other ways, other truths, other lights,
but I am the only way, the only truth, the only light.
"I am the way and the truth and the life; no one
comes to the Father but by Me" (John 14:6). I am the
light of the world, he that follows Me shall not walk in
the darkness but shall have the light of life (John 8:12).
This exclusivity of the Bible which some to-day
characterize as marginal and fundamentalist, while
slandering and dismissing anyone who consistently and with
faithfulness proclaim it as the Gospel and life, for which
the Holy Apostles and the Holy Martyrs paid dearly,
preferring to be tortured and shed their blood rather than
compromise with the so called "truths" to
co-exist in the multicultural model of the inter-religious
relations and meetings, supposedly for their love for
2. Teachers of inaction and hypocrisy. The
all-knowing and the humble
Before Constantine the Great, during the persecution of
the Christians of Alexandria by Maximianus in 311,
Anthony the Great at 61 years of age, left for a while the
desert, his asceticism and prayer, and came to Alexandria,
fearless and undaunted intending with longing to bear
witness and encourage those being led to martyrdom. He
defiantly ignored the judge's orders for the monks to
depart from the city and not be present at the
courthouses. He appeared in front of the leader who was in
a prominent seat at the courthouse, demonstrating the
willingness of the Christians to fight and bear witness
for their faith. "He stood fearless, showing us the
Christian zeal; for he too wished for martyrdom as earlier
told". Of course God preserved him and he was not
martyred, that he be more beneficial in life, he however
did not confine himself to his cell in the desert but
"would usually serve the confessors as one with them
in the labour of their services". When the Orthodox
Faith is in danger, the first spiritual priority is for
her defense, the struggle, the support of all those who
battle, the willingness to shed blood and even die; all
other spiritual duties are secondary. All others who act
or advise against, simply cover up their excuses for their
unwillingness and cowardice and become teachers and
professors of inaction and hypocrisy.
Of course we are not going to present here how the Great
Anthony confronted the great and educated literary men and
philosophers of idolatry with indisputable argumentation,
himself being illiterate, leaving them speechless and
astounded. Perhaps we shall do so another time, for
idolatry and paganism again appeared, backed by powerful
supporters. The Saint did not know everything the way they
did, he did not possess worldly knowledge, but he knew the
Bible and the teachings of the Saints and above all he was
God learnt and God inspired.
Faith is not an issue of great knowledge and learning but
humble submission not to the prevailing knowledge but to
the truth of the Church, timeless and eternal. If one does
not strip oneself of self wisdom and display of
self-knowledge and humbly become embodied in the spirit of
Christ, of the Church, of the Saints and Church Fathers
which opens the spiritual horizons, then one will always
wonder and second guess the certainty of Faith and self
knowledge of even the simple faithful and he will accuse
them as all knowing and selfish, lacking humility.
However, humility does not mean one has to accept the
prevailing opinion but the knowledge of God and of the
Saints because frequently many align with the lie and
empower the lie with their majority. If the acceptance of
the majority opinion when it disagrees with the truth
constituted the acceptance criterion, then not only the
Bible would have been acceptable, being supported by the
few Apostles nor would the Church had survived in a flood
of unfaithful and heretics.
3. The position of Saint Anthony against the
heretics. A prototype for imitation for all
What we wish to do now is to present the way Saint Anthony
confronted the Arian heresy, which threatened the Church
internally, being supported by the Emperor, leaders,
patriarchs and bishops as happens in this day with the
pan-heresies of Papism and Ecumenism, which are far more
dangerous because they undermine almost all the dogmas of
the faith and transform the divine teaching of the Bible
to a common human teaching, they withdraw the God-Man
Christ, the Saints and the Fathers and replace them with
the infallible pope of Rome and the spread of heresies of
the World Council of the so-called Churches. This
presentation is very instructive even for those who
pretend not to see the danger, for "serious"
spiritual fathers who lead astray or put in very difficult
position, their spiritual children, who see better through
the eyes of the Saints and end up doubting the worthiness
of their spiritual guidance. Of course the Saints are more
trustworthy than any elder and spiritual guide, who does
not become angry at heresy and does not fight to expose or
So, Great Anthony, left the desert for the second time and
came down to Alexandria. The Orthodox bishop and patriarch
was the Great Athanasius, who was under constant
persecution and a string of exiles and the orthodox flock
were under the heretical Arians as at the present time
under the tutelage of ecumenist and pro-ecumenist
patriarchs and bishops. Great Anthony as we are taught by
his "Life" and the topic of faith "he was
most wonderful and reverent". He had dealings with
the schismatic Meletians because from the beginning he was
aware of their cunningness and apostasy. But also with the
Manicheans and other heretics he was never friendly but
only to advise and turn them back to be faithful Orthodox.
He believed and taught that friendship and keeping company
with them was damaging and could end in loss of soul. He
detested the Arian heresy and admonished everybody not to
draw near them nor accept their false faith. Once when
some fanatical Arians paid him a visit. Having talked with
them and understanding that they were unfaithful, he sent
them away from the mountain where he led his asceticism,
telling them their words were worse than the venom of
snakes. This document we could say sets the rule which
shows us with clarity, truthfully and without deception,
how to conduct dialogues with the heretics and we must
regulate our human and social interactions with them. At
the same time it shows us that today all the boundaries
that were set by the Holy Fathers are being demolished by
the Ecumenists, who embrace and kiss the heretics as if
they were pious and of the same faith and never consider
not to send them away and keep their distance but also not
even to admonish them so that they return to Orthodoxy.
The dialogues are conducted on an "equal level".
Leveling of lies, heresies and deceptions with truth. When
conversing on "equal level", it means that you
provide the possibility for lies to prevail over the
truth, that you doubt the truth and you seek to find it.
However the dialogue of the Saints and of the Fathers, is
a dialogue of Christ with the Samaritan woman, of the
Apostles with the Jews and Gentiles, of the Fathers with
the heretics, an invitation and admonishment for their
return to the truth, to be re-included in the One, Holy,
Catholic and Apostolic Church; this is the true union and
peace. All the rest are false unions, false peace and
Because therefore this article demonstrates the way to the
true union from the mouth of the great Saint and achieves
the "all must be one" for which the Ecumenists
labour and attempt to accomplish it "ad
verbatim". In faith he is very admirable and devout.
For he never communicated with the schismatic Melitians
seeing from the start their cunningness and apostasy; nor
did he speak in a friendly way with the Manicheans and
other similar heretics, but only to admonish them to turn
back to piety, leading and commissioning their friendship
and dialogue is harmful and risking loss of one's soul. He
similarly despised the Arian heresy and ordered everyone
not to approach them nor their evil faith. Finally, when
some of the Arians and Manicheans came to question him and
realizing their impiety, he sent them away from the
mountain, saying that their speech is worse than the
poison of the snakes.
4. The dreadful vision of Saint Anthony on
the heretics: Dumb beasts around the Holy Altar.
It is truly dreadful the vision that Saint Anthony had
regarding the presence of the heretics inside Orthodox
churches. This vision illustrates and explains graphically
the reasons why the Holy Fathers forbid with Synodal
canons the entry of the heretics into consecrated places,
their participation in services and liturgies, with common
prayers and common worshipping.
The heretics not accepting the teachings of the Church,
Apostles and Saints, are influenced by the demons and
their father, the Devil, in the promotion of deluded
viewpoints. That is why their teaching is "rather
fruitless and absurd and their thinking is not correct,
like that of dumb mules
Saint Anthony was therefore shaken and frightened, when
God allowed him to see in his vision the Arians
surrounding the Holy Altar as mules, kicking and defiling
it. Such was his sadness and distress, that he began to
cry, as saddened and tearful as also many faithful, in
seeing the heretic pope entering and defiling the church
of Saint George, at Fanar, the very Saint the Vatican
abolished. We are certain that if the patriarchs,
archbishops and bishops read and learnt of Saint Anthony's
vision, of course assuming as Orthodox they continue to
honour and follow the life and teaching of the Saints,
they will cease the mutual liturgical hospitalities and
visits, the weekly co-prayers and the sending of
representatives to the anniversary celebrations. For
otherwise they too will be included as conspirators in the
frightful vision of Saint Anthony.
According to the Great Athanasius narration of the
"Life", while Great Anthony was sitting,
occupied with his handy work, he went into a trance and
was breathing heavily while seeing his vision. After some
time he turned to the monks present; he continued
breathing heavily and to shake. He fell to his knees to
pray and remained kneeling for a considerable time. When
the Elder got up he was crying. Those present became very
frightened and shocked; they then asked him to explain to
them. As they insisted greatly and compelled him, he
sighed again and said "My children it would be best
for me to die before I see the things that will happen
which I saw in my vision. The wrath of God will fall on
the Church and she will be handed to people who are
mindless beasts. I saw the Holy Altar of the church, at
the main skete surrounded on all sides by mules which were
kicking and jumping up and down as is natural for such
dumb animals. You saw and perceived that I was earlier
sighing; I did so because I heard a voice saying, "My
altar will be defiled". That is what the Elder saw.
Exactly two years later the Arians attacked and robbed the
churches, taking the sacred vessels by force and handed
them over to idolaters to hold. They forced them to attend
meetings and in their presence they did whatever they
wished on the Holy Altar. Then we all understood, said the
Great Athanasius that the kicking of the mules foretold to
Saint Anthony was what the Arians do now as animals. After
the vision, the Elder felt the need to encourage and
console those around him by saying: "Don't be sad my
children; for just as our Lord was outraged, so would He
again heal all evil. Soon the Church will recover her
beauty and will shine. You will witness those who were
exiled return, the pious faith will re-appear and rule
everywhere. Suffice that you do not let yourselves be
defiled by the Arian heresy, as it is not the teaching of
the Apostles but of the demons and their father, the
Devil, irrational and fruitless just like the dumb
The wrath of God has taken over the Church since many
decades. Papism and Ecumenism triumph. At that time Great
Athanasius and the other Holy Fathers understood the
danger described in the vision of Great Anthony. We now
witness the contamination of the churches and the Holy
Altars by joint prayers and liturgies with the
"irrational" heretics and we assist the
contamination and praise it, by joining them ourselves in
the kicking of the Holy of Holies". If one notes the
ecumenical joint liturgies and prayers, like the one in
Canberra during 7th General Council of the
so-called Churches, with the frequent participation of
homosexual priests who dare hold the Holy Chalice, as well
as women bishops and priestesses, the view surpasses even
the vision of the Great Anthony: "The only hope for
our church to regain her beauty is given in the
recommendation and advice of the Great Anthony :
" beware you do not contaminate yourselves with the
Arians" We must beware we do not contaminate
ourselves by communing with Papism and Ecumenism , and the
pro-papist and pro-ecumenist Orthodox. Because so far we
have not done so dynamically and resolutely, God for years
now, prolongs His wrath, and captivity of the Orthodox by
the pan-heresy Of Ecumenism. How much longer will bishops,
monks and the laity allow the mindless beasts, the
heretics, to kick and contaminate the Sacred and Holies of
Orthodoxy? As long as we remain inactive and come up with
different pseudo-spiritual excuses, the abomination of
desolation will stand on Holy ground.
|The audio file of the first lesson of this year's Adult Church School course, The Word of God in Holy Scripture, is now on line at:|
This Saturday we will continue with the 2nd lesson, The Creation of the World and the Covenant with Adam. Don't forget to bring your Bibles.
It was announced On November 14th by leaders of the Common Cause Partnership, a
federation of more than 100,000 Anglican/Episcopalian Christians in North America,
that they will release to the public on the evening of Dec. 3, the draft
constitution of an emerging Anglican Church in North America
This conservative new branch of the Anglican/Episcopalian Church was
formed in opposition to the liberal Theology of the mother church that in recent times has allowed the marriage of same sex couples as well as the ordination women priestesses and of homosexuals and lesbians.
The Anglican Church has condemned the formation of this new break away church. A representative of the Anglican Church has stated that this action was contrary to the canons and theology of the Church. This statement is quite odd in light of the formation of the Anglican/Episcopalian Church itself and the church's belief that there is no one visible Church of Christ.
The Anglican Church maintains that the Church is made up
of many different branches
. Following this theory, the Anglicans consider themselves and the Papacy as branches of the Church. Evidently this does not hold true to members of their own church who try to form a new branch. The question may be asked, who has introduced new and strnage doctrines? The official Episcopalian/Anglican Church or those who flee from their new and anti-christian teachings? So much for Ecumenism!
FUNDAMENTALISM AND TOLERANCEThis past October, a noteworthy event took place at the Vatican. According to
By Metropolitan Ephraim of Boston
sources in Rome, Pope Benedict and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of
Constantinople issued a joint statement on "Fundamentalism" and intolerance. Our
readers will notice that we placed Fundamentalism in quotation marks. The reason for
this is obvious: what could these two eminent men of the cloth possibly mean by this
word? (They did not offer a definition anywhere.)
The New Oxford American Dictionary says the following:
A form of Protestant Christianity that upholds belief in the strict
and literal interpretation of the Bible, including its narratives,
doctrines, prophecies, and moral laws.
Christian fundamentalism arose from American
millenarian sects of the 19th century, and has become associated with
reaction against social and political liberalism and rejection of the
theory of evolution. Islamic fundamentalism appeared in the 18th
and 19th centuries as a reaction to the disintegration of Islamic
political and economic power, asserting that Islam is central to both
state and society and advocating strict adherence to the Koran
(Qur'an) and to Islamic law (sharia), supported if need be by jihad
or holy war.
We see that, for a variety of reasons, the Oxford American Dictionary did not name
Orthodox Christianity in its definition of "fundamentalism."
The matter of intolerance is another issue that we need to examine briefly. As we
know, Roman Catholicism has quite a few skeletons in its closet as regards this subject.
However, what caught our attention in this recent meeting at the
Vatican was Ecumenical
Patriarch Bartholomew's participation, and his condemnation of intolerance.
Patriarch Bartholomew is known also as "The Green Patriarch" (and, in some church
circles, because of his persecution of Orthodox Christians who disagree with his church
policies, he is referred to as "The Venomous Green Patriarch"). His harassment and
persecution of those who do not agree with him Į for example, the monastic
brotherhood of Esphigmenou Monastery on Mt. Athos Į has earned him the opprobrium
of believing and practicing Christians throughout the world. That such a man should issue
a statement condemning "intolerance" constitutes the height of irony. It is as though the
Sisterhood of New Orleans Prostitutes were to lecture us on chastity, or the Brotherhood
of Taliban Assassins were to condemn bloodshed!
Speaking of "fundamentalism," one of the most fundamental Christian teachings is:
willeth to come after Me, let him take up his cross, and follow Me" (Matt.
16:24). The operative word is "willeth." Christianity is a purely voluntary faith. Coercion,
pressure, bribes, force, threats are forbidden when one wishes to convert another to the
Christian faith. You come to Christianity of your own will, moved to do so because of the
desire of your heart and the understanding of your mind.
So when Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Į and the other leaders and bishops of
the State Churches of "World Orthodoxy" Į attempt to silence and crush any faithful
Orthodox Christians who object to their policies, and with the armed force of their
respective "Orthodox" (there are those quotation marks again) nations threaten all
"dissidents," and, at the same time, speak to us about love, brotherhood, and tolerance,
while condemning "fundamentalism," then another fundamental teaching of the Christian
faith comes to
Physician, heal thyself!"
--- On Fri, 12/5/08, Metropolitan Ephraim <metephraim@...> wrote:
From: Metropolitan Ephraim <metephraim@...>
Subject: Protocol 2719-Nativity Fast 2008
Received: Friday, December 5, 2008, 8:04 PM
|The St. Katherine of Sinai Mission Parish, St. Louis Missouri, web site is up and running, although there are parts which are still under construction. To view go to: http://www.saintkatherineofsinai.org/|
|THOUGHTS FROM A NON-ORTHODOX CANADIAN PARENT|
Don't let them fool you -- the war against Christmas only appears to be in remission.
Attending my child's elementary school alleged Christmas concert was a dead tip-off to this subversive con. It's worse than the thin edge of the wedge, given our kids represent the future of all that's good, right and undeniably truthful.
But there they were, blissfully filing into the gym as if they'd been brainwashed into the subversive secular kinder-hood of season's greetings.
But my Yuledar was really aroused when I saw what they'd been forced to wear. There they were, adorned in the trappings of forest animals. Not a manger creature among them, not a sheep, donkey, goat nor cow.
Aside from the obvious snub to the immaculate delivery, everyone but their teachers know it's scientifically
impossible for elk and moose to be loitering around Bethlehem.
Furthermore, those kids had tree-hugger Godlessness draped all over them. Now I don't want you to think I'm just some nattering nabob of nativity, but a sense of victimhood can only expect to be pushed so far before the tinsel flies.
I don't care if these anti-Christian antics were being perpetrated in a public school.
Give them that and they'll soon take the Catholics with them. Sure enough, as the proceedings regressed, familiar catchphrases known to rally the jihad against Christmas were heard.
"Gather around the holiday tree" and "celebrate the season," were uttered as their teachers, so treacherously, looked on in approval. That was almost enough to end peace on earth for me.
As it was, I'd already noticed in the school foyer books promoting Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism.
My child's educators didn't have the decency to remove the offending
articles ahead of the Christmas concert, but I suppose if it's not really a "Christmas" show, it's par for the course.
Then it was time for the big hustle, to pull that fake snow over our eyes. Those kids on the stage began peppering their dialogue with the word "Christmas."
They even blasphemously intoned "merry Christmas everyone."
For me, it was too late and I wasn't about to be appeased by this shoddy bit of Potemkin piety.
But one thing was strange: There were plenty of clearly non-Christian types in the audience -- Muslim and Sikh parents who wouldn't wince or recoil at the sound of the blessed C-word.
They kept smiling and rolling the videocams as if they were getting down with Ramadan or Vaisakhi.
And a Muslim mom didn't bat an eye when I asked her what her family's doing for "Christmas."
Another one shot me a bewildered look when I wondered aloud how many non-Christians were in the
audience and how an unholy snit hadn't ensued.
It was as if Christmas transcends religion, and it allowed me to feel victimized anew.
In a way, it was a relief. The sensation the virgin birth was being co-opted, reduced in that big melting pot of pseudo-Christmas pudding suddenly burned self-righteously.
We didn't have to worry about this kind of subterfuge when I attended elementary school 35 years ago, when every face was snow white.
I spoke to U of C religious studies guru Dr. Irving Hexham, who fears if Christmas is quashed, publicly celebrating things like Ramadan are just as doomed.
So far, I haven't heard of a Ramadan concert at my kid's school, just the alleged Christmas one.
But I wasn't born in a manger. Like the one against drugs, the war on Christmas'll never be over.
|THE HOLY ORTHODOX METROPOLIS OF BOSTON |
ENCYCLICAL FOR THE NATIVITY OF OUR SAVIOUR
by His Eminence Ephraim, Metropolitan of Boston
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
My Beloved Orthodox Christians:
Perhaps because of my sickness and my occasional inability to express my
thoughts clearly - especially after my stroke - one of my favorite sermons is the one
given by Saint Gregory Palamas on the feast day of the Entry of the Theotokos into the
Temple, celebrated on November 21. In this sermon, the Saint explains that when one is
dealing with things divine, it makes no difference whether one is a good speaker or a
poor speaker when trying to explain the acts of God. In either case, the speaker will fall
far short of his goal.
As the Saint says, "If one were to attempt
to touch the stars, it would not make
any difference whether you were tall or short - you would still fail. And if one were to
attempt to describe things that pass understanding, it would not make any difference
whether you were well-educated and eloquent, or if you were unlettered and a simpleton - you would fail nonetheless."
The same is true when one seeks to explain the mystery of the Nativity of our
Saviour. All explanations fail.
Yet, there is one aspect concerning our Saviour's birth in the flesh concerning
which we can speak with assurance, and that is regarding the many Old Testament
prophecies of our Saviour's birth, His sojourn on earth, His passion, and His resurrection.
When Saint Athanasius the Great, one of the Church's most prominent Fathers,
was a young man of around twenty-two years of age, he wrote about this very subject in
his work, On
the Incarnation of the Word.
In this remarkable work, which to this day is one of the great monuments of the
Christian faith, the Saint demonstrates clearly that our Saviour Jesus Christ is both God
and man, and that He is truly the awaited Messiah of the people of Israel.
The following excerpt from this exceptional work exemplifies the power of the
The Scripture says: 'Fear not, our God will come and save us
(Esaias 35:4).Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened, and the
ears of the deaf shall hear; then shall the lame man leap as a hart,
and the tongue of the dumb be eloquent!
Now what can the Jewish people say to this, or how can they
dare to face
this at all? For the prophecy not only indicates that
God is to sojourn here among us, but it also announces the signs
and the time of His coming.
For the Scriptures connect the blind recovering their sight, and
the lame walking, and the deaf hearing, and the tongue of the
stammerers being made eloquent, with the Divine Coming which
is to take place. Let the Jewish people tell us, then, when such
signs had come to pass in Israel, or where in Judea anything of
the sort had occurred. Neeman the leper was cleansed, but no
deaf man heard, nor did any lame man walk. Elias raised a dead
man; so did Eliseus; but no one who was blind from birth
regained his sight.
When, then, have these signs taken place, save when the Word
of God Himself came in the
body? For this was the very thing the
Jews said who were witnesses to these miracles at that time:
'Since time began, it was never heard that anyone opened the eyes
of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, He could do
Truly, this which has come to pass with our Saviour's Nativity in the flesh is that
which was prophesied by the Holy Prophet David in the Book of Psalms, when he
"The Lord hath sent redemption unto His people."
These are the very words that we chant in the Holy Liturgy while the faithful are
receiving the Holy Mysteries on the feast of our Lord's coming in the flesh.
My beloved, I have no money to leave you as an inheritance, neither do I have
any material possessions worth mentioning, nor any properties, nor expensive clothing, or
jewelry, or vehicles, or stocks, or bank accounts,
or shares in large corporations. Nor do I
have any virtues worth imitating. The only priceless possession and treasure that I have is
our incomparable Orthodox Christian Faith and the writings of the Saints of God, such as
Saint Athanasius the Great and the other Church Fathers. If you can espouse and cherish
this boundless wealth that we have all inherited, then both you and I, and many others as
well, will have become heirs of a magnificent and wealthy Kingdom that is everlasting
and knows no end. And, since, as the final Doxasticon of the Matins of Christ's Nativity
tells us, this "timeless and everlasting Kingdom of our Saviour has been inaugurated," let
us, "in the stead of tribute money," offer Him the wealth of our Orthodox Faith, love, and
Truly, Christ is born! Let us glorify Him.!
Your fervent suppliant unto God,
Nativity of Our Saviour, 2008
Protocol Number 2801
MAY THE BIRTH OF OUR
AND SAVIOUR BRING YOU THE TRUE LIGHT THAT GUIDES TO THE KINGDOM OF
Feast of the Nativity at Holy Nativity of the Theotokos Cathedral|
PORTLAND Ė The Holy Nativity of the Theotokos Cathedral, in the beautiful
Rose City, was blessed with yet another glorious Nativity this
year. We were again, especially blessed to have our ruling hierarch
Metropolitan Moses returning home with us for the entire festive
liturgical cycle. Eis polla eti Despota.
The church was gloriously decorated with ribbons, cedar and fir boughs
and flowers. This year the church was near capacity, with parishioners
traveling from a distance to participate. They included the our Eastern
Washington parishioners, the Lain family from Sunnyside, Wash., and
Daniel Lain of Wenatchee. Sadly abscent from this years celebration
were the parishioners of the St. Ignatios mission in Lake Tapps and our
own Fr. Dcn George Psaromatis due to family emergencies.
On Monday evening, the Great (Royal) Hours were served, and the following
day, the Vesperal Liturgy of St. Basil was served. That
evening, a full hierarchical Vigil was served for the feast celebrated by
His Eminence and the Cathedral Clergy -Frs. Constantine Parr, and
Photios Cooper, and assisted by the Cathedral Chanters and Choir
directed by the Protopsaltis of the Metropolis John Presson, followed
immediately by the festal hierarchical Liturgy. Metropolitan MOSES
was greeted at the beginning of Grand Compline,by the Cathedral clergy
and served the Litya and Blessing of Artoklasia. At the
Praises, the hierarch was brought out to the Throne for his Kairon
prayers and Vesting in the Temple. The Hierarchical Divine Liturgy
followed forthwith at midnight. Our beloved hierarch delivered his
festal address and homily.
The Right Choir chanted the Communion Hymn ďThe Lord Hath Sent
RedemptionĒ of Daniel Protopsaltis.
The following day, we celebrated Vespers for the Synaxis, In addition to
the customary caroling, the children performed a Christmas pageant
to the delight of all.
This year's feast has been a great source of joy and solace to our
Cathedral parish. We hope all had a truly blessed Nativity and a joyous
Feast of Lights.
Many years to the Cathedral Parish of Holy Nativity of the Theotokos and
the Holy Orthodox Metropolis of Portland.
John Peter Presson
Protopsaltis -Orthodox Metropolis of Portland and the West
"Musicorum et cantorum magna est distantia; isti dicunt, illi sciunt
quae componit Musica"
Guido d' Arrezzo
Report from the Bahamas, 2009
Once again, my daughter Alexandra and her friend Leo Ahlin and I arrived
on Long Island, Bahamas the week before Holy Nativity. This is becoming an annual tradition! We were happy to find St. Paul's Fellowship of Labor (SPFL) in full swing, having arrived the week before. Fr. Peter Farnsworth had been chaplain the first week, and I now attempted to replace him for the second.
Twenty-two volunteers from the U.S. and Canada comprised the group. Our guest speaker was Maria Khoury of Israel who spoke to us about the plight of the few remaining Christians in the Holy Land.
We enjoyed two weeks of work, prayer, religious discussion and fellowship. The hard work and efforts of the volunteers resulted in the clearing
of 1.25 acres of land
for a church building, the
pouring of a 20' x 30'
footer for the chapel, planting of 8 coconut trees, and assistance to the Maillis family our hosts and natives of the island. Liturgies were celebrated for five Sundays as well as for Holy Nativity and Holy Theophany, the feasts of Sts. Nicholas and Spyridon along with paraclesis services, vespers, and the blessing of the home site of Anthony Maillis and the newly baptized Mataniah Pinder who plan to marry in the spring.They announced their engagement at Christmas dinner.
It is no coincidence that St. Spyridon was chosen as patron saint of the chapel to be erected. I have been able to be on the island for that feast for the past several years, and hope I may be so in future, ensuring a Liturgy on that day.
SPFL in league with many participants, their hosts, family and friends have initiated a fund raising campaign to raise $25,000. dollars toward the building of St. Spyridon's Chapel, Long Island, Bahamas. The donated work and labor of the
participants significantly reduces the amount of money necessary to complete such a worthy project. Support has been provided thus far from a charitable foundation in Greece, the Leon and Aspasia Lemos Foundation, and also from private individuals in the amount of $6,600. SPFL hopes to raise the additional $18,400. by May, 2009, in order to return in the summer and complete the project in full.
The hope of the SPFL is that St. Spyridon's will attract and serve as a religious retreat for Orthodox Christians and those seeking Holy Orthodoxy. Your support, prayers and time are appreciated.
The proceeds of the sale of The Bahamian Calendar each year has funded my trip to serve the Maillis family for the past 13 years. Please continue to support the wonderful work of SPFL and help in maintaining the Orthodox ministry on Long Island by the purchase of the calendar. This ministry is not just to one family, but to the members of the SPFL as well
as the Long Islanders themselves. The field is ripe to harvest here in the last Anglican Diocese in the world to ordain women priests. Few Anglicans here attend church anymore with the arrival of one. Many are looking toward Orthodoxy.
Fr. David Belden
Now with a new friend-happy design! Try the new Yahoo! Canada Messenger
Ask a question on any topic and get answers from real people. Go to Yahoo! Answers.
--- On Wed, 2/4/09, Metropolitan Ephraim <metephraim@...> wrote:
From: Metropolitan Ephraim <metephraim@...>
Subject: attached article
Received: Wednesday, February 4, 2009, 3:08 PM
A Sermon of Metropolitan Moses
On the Publican & Pharisee
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy
Every Sunday we celebrate our Saviorís victory over sin and
death through the Cross and the Resurrection. Additionally, throughout the year
there are various additional themes from Sunday to Sunday that instructs us in
some facet of the spiritual life. This Sunday begins the Triodion period of the
year, that is, from this Sunday we begin to prepare for Great Lent and the
lesson for today is the Gospel reading concerning the Parable of the Publican
and the Pharisee.
Our Savior has done all things for us. The true Physician
has come to renew mankind. God the Word put on flesh for us, that He the
God-Man might refashion the race of Adam through Baptism and the Holy Eucharist,
but the struggle is not over yet. We all have many and various passions and
sins that we must cleans ourselves of through the grace of God. God has done
all things for us and it is for us to rejoice in Godís benefactions, but it is
also for us to be wise and work out the details of our own salvation.
In todayís parable we see two men that our Savior sets forth
as examples, the one a Pharisee, a man who, according to superficial reckoning,
fulfilled all of the Law and was seen as one righteous and the other, a
Publican, who was considered by the Jewish people of that day as a traitor,
because he collaborated with the hated Roman authority and extorted more than
was his due. For the Jews of that
day a Publican was the very image of injustice and decadence.
These two men entered the Temple, and in a certain sense
they both did well. How many today in our society war against even the idea of
God the Creator let alone seek to be reconciled with Him or prepare for the
future life? These men at least entered the Temple to stand before God their
Creator. Who, then, is to be justified?
The Pharisee, who seemed to be adorned with many virtues,
began well and said ďI thank Thee, O God.Ē This is precisely how all God
pleasing prayer begins. An angel revealed to one of the ascetics of Egypt how
we should order our prayer, that is, we should thank God and then offer
repentance for our sins and only after that, offer our petitions and requests
The Pharisee started out well, but alas, in reality he did
not thank God for His gifts, but rather pridefully asserted that he was not as
other men. This was not authentic thanksgiving to God, but rather spiritual
delusion. Instead of standing before God and practicing self-examination, he
mentally compared himself with others and said something equivalent to ĎI do
all things well and am better than all sinful men.í But of course he did not do
all things well, as it says in Scripture ďa heart that is broken and humble God
will not despise.Ē (Psalm 50) A humble heart is the sacrifice that is well
pleasing to God.
The Pharisee listed his supposed virtues not understanding
that the virtues are a means to an end, therapy given to us by God to free us
from the law of sin, and not something to boast of. Through his false reasoning
the Pharisee took the spiritual weapons of the virtues and proceeded to wound
himself and estrange himself from God through pride.
The external virtues are simply a means to an end, the end
is a humble heart, as the Holy Spirit spoke by the Prophet Esaias, ďÖto whom will I have respect, but to the humble and meek,
and the man that trembles at my words?Ē (Esaias 66:2)
And thus we see the Publican, a man who had no virtue
whatsoever, but he trembled before God and he did not even lift up his eyes and
said ďO God be gracious to me a sinner.Ē
The Holy Fathers teach that, no matter how much progress a
person makes in prayer, and I am speaking about men who attained to
extraordinary degrees of prayer, where they would pray for days and nights, in
a life of asceticism, one should always pray the prayer of the Publican, ďO
God, be gracious to me a sinner.Ē The saints always saw themselves as unworthy
and unclean before God. If the saints perceived within even the beginning of
the proud thoughts of the Pharisee, they would humble themselves all the more
because ď proud heart is unclean before God.Ē (Proverbs 16:5)
This Pharisee was intoxicated with unclean pride and forgot
anything he formerly knew about spiritual wrestling or spiritual purity. Even
though he had an exalted position and the esteem of Jewish society, it was as
if he forgot the elementary lessons of the spiritual life, that is, humble
repentance through self-examination. The first step in approaching God is
humbly taking ownership of our failings. Anything less is self-deception. Our
Savior Himself taught by this parable that even if a man is burdened by many
sins, He will not reject him if that man approaches Him in a proper manner.
Unflinching self-examination and taking ownership of our sins is the only path
to cleansing grace and healing. If we flatter ourselves or allow others to
flatter us, we choose eternal separation from God. If we confront our sins and
humble ourselves before our Merciful Savior, He will raise us up and save us.
Even if one sins greatly one must exercise what the Holy Fathers call ďpraise
worthy audacityĒ and not fail to turn to God. Praise worthy audacity is in
reality an unfailing hope in Godís mercy that is drained of all
self-justification and pride.
The words of the Pharisee, ďI am not as other menĒ are
terrible words that have been shown to be the beginning of ruin for many men. Many
have found some form success in their careers, either in government, business,
or even the Church and then pridefully began to think ďI am not like other menĒ
and this false reasoning lead to every form of presumption which begat erratic
behavior and ruin. Our forefather was named Adam, which signifies clay.
We are all made of earth and most assuredly no one can say, ďI am not as other
men.Ē We all war against the law of sin (Rom 7:23) and no man overcomes, except
by the grace of the God-Man Christ. Many that have exalted themselves have
fallen. As soon as thoughts of pride enter into our hearts we should
immediately assume the prayerful attitude of the Publican because, most
assuredly, our hearts are unclean.
Yet even after pride that resulted in a fall, many, through
humility found reconciliation to God. Read Church history and see that there
were some that fell into humiliation because of pride and then repented and
became saints. Yet, alas, Church history also contains many other stories of
men that continued in their delusion of pride and inherited eternal separation
from God. For this reason it is an act of love to admonish one who exalts
himself overmuch and it is an act of hatred to simply flatter such a one out of
God does not
desire with desire the death of a sinner. Our God is the God of them that
repent. He forgave the Publican, the Prodigal, the harlot and the thief on the
Cross. Our God forgave Saul the blaspheming persecutor and made him into Paul
the Apostle of the nations. He forgave Peter who thrice denied Him. No man
should ever despair.
Let us make good beginning to our return unto God through
repentance during the Great Lent and stand before God daily with a humble and
contrite heart, that so doing we may be cleansed and justified and united to
the God-Man Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
|The ability of the Evangelical Christian Movement to distort Holy Scripture has reached that of the ancient Gnostic religions. Their belief that the modern Zionist state of Israel is the fulfillment of the Will of God, as revealed by the Holy Prophets, is one more example of the bizarre manner with which they twist and deform the Holy Scriptures.|
Modern Judaism is the outcome of the attempts by the Pharisees to replace the Revelation of God, as given to the Holy Prophets, with their own, man made law. Modern Judaism is the religion of the Talmud, not of the Holy Prophets. The Evangelicals have chosen to deceive themselves and those who listen to them.
The rabbinical hatred for the Christian Faith has never been hidden.
Recent attacks against our Saviour echo those of the Talmud. Take a look at the following: http://www.reuters.com/news/video/popup?videoId=99182&videoChannel=1&pos=0&refresh=true
Google this news item and you can learn more details.
|For those who are having difficulty viewing the Reuters video, Israel apologises for Jesus spoof, just go to http://www.reuters.com/news/video and search for Israel apologises for Jesus spoof|
HOLY ORTHODOX METROPOLIS OF BOSTON
Eminence, Metropolitan Ephraim of Boston
Eminence, Metropolitan Ephraim of Boston
the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
It was the summer of 1963, and our small
and newly-founded brotherhood had travelled to Athens,
Greece, with the intention
of visiting our spiritual fathers on the Holy Mountain,
Athos. We wanted to purchase some items for our new monastery back in Boston, and so we went to Metropolis Square in Athens where all the shops that sell
ecclesiastical items are clustered.
At one point, while all four or five of
us were walking toward one shop, we approached a street vendor who was selling
roasted chestnuts. With a loud voice, he was shouting, "Chestnuts! Fresh
chestnuts! Hot chestnuts!"
As we were about to pass him by on the
sidewalk, he suddenly cried out: "Chestnuts! FASTING chestnuts!"
We stopped in our tracks. We looked at each
other with a smile, and asked, "Did he really say fasting chestnuts? Well, in that case, perhaps we should buy
Clever Greek merchant. He saw a group of
monks approaching; he sized us up as potential customers and made a quick sale.
I don't know if there is any such thing
as non-fasting chestnuts, but it was
obvious that our street vendor, perhaps unwittingly, was following the counsel
of the saints: "He who wishes to be saved, contrives means."
inventive in getting ahead ‚Äē this time, in the spiritual realm ‚Äē was St. John the Faster, Patriarch of Constantinople.
As we learn from his life, the Saint used to sleep prostrate on his knees, and
just to make sure that he wouldn't oversleep, he would place a beeswax candle
nearby and then press a heavy iron nail into the side of the candle. When he was about to rest, he lit the candle,
and as he took his brief nap, the candle burned down slowly until it reached
the nail. When the heat of the flame had warmed and loosened the wax, the nail
fell with a loud clatter onto a metal pot the Saint had placed directly below
the candle, thereby awakening him. Thus, in all likelihood, the Saint was the
inventor of the alarm clock.
The lesson that we learn from these two ‚Äē
the street vendor and the Ecumenical Patriarch ‚Äē is the same, my beloved.
Unless we use our wits, we will not be able to get ahead, either in this life
or in the next. We will not be able to get anywhere by dozing and by being
lazy. In order to progress, either materially or spiritually, one must apply intelligence
In our times, God has provided most of us
with an abundance of food ‚Äē and, if we are willing to use our wits ‚Äē He has even
given us an abundance of fasting
foods. Today, we have foods available that our ancestors could not imagine in
their dreams. Canned foods, frozen foods, fresh foods from all parts of the
earth, available at every season of the year, ersatz "meat" and
"dairy" products made from vegetables. By using our wits, all of us,
young and old, will find that there are many means available to us to help us
observe the holy fasts of the Church, as strictly as each one is willing and
able. This, in turn, is but a training tool for us to instruct our body in the
art of true fasting: the fasting of our senses.
Truly, he who wishes to be saved,
With God's help, we intend, in the next
issue of The True Vine, to publish a
series of articles dedicated to fasting. One of the central features of this
issue will be a study by St. Nectarius of Pentapolis. Another article will be
the Life of a young martyr, who preferred to surrender his life rather than
break the sacred fast observed by the Church.
By following faithfully in the footsteps
of our many wise and resourceful saints, my beloved, we too shall be counted
worthy to attain to the Holy Resurrection, in Christ Jesus our Lord and
fervent suppliant unto God,
|Meatfare Sunday 200|
A Sermon of Metropolitan Moses
On the Last Judgment
salvation in Christ Jesus, the God-Man Who came to renew our nature. Our Christ
became incarnate in order to free us from sin and death through our union with
Him. Our Savior proclaimed ‚Äúhe that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.‚ÄĚ
He came as the ultimate Physician to grant us the ultimate healing, that is,
eternal life that is sanctified in Him. He alone can accomplish this.
initiated this union through Holy Baptism and our participation in the
Eucharist, but we still struggle against sin. Our Savior said, ‚Äúwhosoever
sins is a slave of sin.‚ÄĚ Through error and
the resulting bad choices any one of us can become once again captive to sin.
In the themes of
the last two Sunday‚Äôs God‚Äôs mercy was made manifest in the Publican who humbly
asked for forgiveness and the repentant Prodigal who took ownership for his sin
and came to his father‚Äôs house in total abasement, deeming himself unworthy of
any rank or status and was restored with all of the symbols of baptism being
given unto him. In order to prevent us from becoming lazy or complacent upon
hearing of the mercy of God, the Holy Fathers in their wisdom set forth this
Sunday to commemorate the Second Coming of Christ and the Last Judgment. Our
God desires to show us mercy, but we can make wrong choices that ultimately
cause us to fail.
It is important
to note that our Savior will send off those that are rejected to the ‚Äúfire
prepared for the devil and his angels,‚ÄĚ
that is, the fire was not prepared for men. Christ came to call all of mankind
to Himself. Satan, the father of lies and sin is also the father of separation
from God. This fire is prepared for those that choose to reject the counsel of
God and follow the counsel of Satan.
The service of
Vespers and Matins for this Sunday are replete with words to bring us all to an
awareness of how sinful we really are and that the Final judgment is real. Yet,
in this Gospel reading, our Savior does not list the sins that most people
would think of that would separate one from God. There is no mention made of
murderers, adulterers, thieves, liars, slanderers, and or those that rebel
against God and spread false doctrine. This is an indication that those that
are not members of the Church and have not repented will not even be in this
company of those that are to be divided up. In addition, our Savior does not
speak in a parable, but simply says that at His Second Coming it shall be thus.
To put the
message of today‚Äôs Gospel as simply as possible, our Savior teaches us that if
we are to be united to the God of love, we must show love to our neighbor on a
practical level. In that day He will say, ‚ÄėWhen I was naked hungry, thirsty,
sick, or in prison ye ministered unto Me‚Äô or ‚ÄėWhen I was naked hungry, thirsty,
sick, or in prison ye ministered not unto Me.‚Äô In the Gospel account, both
parties are surprised when they hear this and say ‚Äėwhen did I minister unto you
Lord‚Äô or ‚Äėwhen did I not minister unto you, Lord?‚Äô And our Savior will answer,
‚Äėwhen you did so unto the least of your brethren.‚Äô This is an amazing concept,
our Christ counts what we do to our neighbor as done to Himself. Again, when
you give to your neighbor or show kindness to him or her, you give to Christ.
If someone were
to tell you that they had an investment plan for you that would repay you for
as long as you live, even unto eternity and you knew that his words were true,
wouldn‚Äôt you invest in this plan? Our Investment planner is the God-Man Himself
and His words are true. Give unto Christ and get the ultimate return. If only
we understood this, we would show mercy and love and give our help. Satan is
the ultimate scam artist that seeks to defraud us of our salvation. The evil
one confuses us and leads us to trivialize how we interact with our spouse, our
children and our neighbor to our own loss.
is not something extravagant. There is a saying, ‚Äėif you don‚Äôt have a hundred
dollars, give ten, if you don‚Äôt have ten, give one, if you don‚Äôt have one, give
a kind word and sympathy.‚Äô There is always a way to show mercy and give comfort
to those in distress or support for those who are down.
God desires that
all men be freed from sin and death. If there is a man chained in sins and he
is powerless to free himself, almsgiving is an effective therapy for the cure. If
such a man gives alms praying that some how, some day he will be set free, and
if that man does not trivialize or justify himself and has pain in his heart
over his sin, that man has a hope for salvation. It is through mercy that we
attract the grace of God and this is testified by examples found the lives of
was enslaved by sins of dissipation, living in drunkenness and an unlawful
union with an aristocratic woman named Aglais, yet he was merciful and hospitable
and generously gave alms. He did not justify or trivialize his sin, but he
hoped in God‚Äôs mercy. He prayed that somehow God would give him the opportunity
to be freed from his sin. After some time, he and Aglais decided to obtain the
relics of a martyr from the east where the persecution was still raging, and
build a shrine to that saint for the forgiveness of their sins. Saint Boniface
himself went on this expedition and fasted and prayed during the journey. When
he arrived at their destination he went directly to the local arena and
immediately began to encourage the Christian confessors to be steadfast. He was
noticed by the pagan authority and was arrested and confessed Christ and
endured many torments and was beheaded. The love Saint Boniface showed in his
acts of mercy strengthened his heart, and readied him for his ultimate contest.
According to the marvelous providence of God, instead of finding a saint, he
became a saint. Saint Boniface‚Äôs friends took his remains back to Italy and the
Lady Aglais built a shrine in his honor, gave away her riches to the poor and
lived as an ascetic at the shrine, being greatly consoled by the martyr‚Äôs
We see how alms
can be effective, yet we must understand that we don‚Äôt buy God‚Äôs mercy with
alms, rather alms are an offering. For our offering to be accepted, we must
present it properly, that is, with a ‚Äúbroken and humble heart.‚ÄĚ (Psalm 50) In
other words, we cannot expect alms to do away with our sin if we justify or
trivialize our sin.
In many of his
homilies Saint John Chrysostom makes the point that God does not need anyone‚Äôs
alms. He can provide for the poor without us. What is marvelous is that He
gives the faithful the opportunity to minister to Himself through the poor and
the oppressed. To be able to give alms is a great gift from God. It was the
practical application in day-to-day life of this concept in the Church that
converted many people.
For example, it
is mentioned in the life of Saint Pachomius that while he was still a young man
and a pagan he was forcibly conscripted into the Roman army. In those days the
new conscripts were no different than prisoners. They were brought to what
amounted to a barracks jail and that evening Christians came to offer them food
and water and comfort. He asked what kind of people these were, and the reply
was that these were Christians and that is what Christians do.
This was the era
when Christians in Alexandria of Egypt were persecuted in various ways from
time to time. On occasion a contagious illness or plague would sweep through
those parts and there were Christian ‚Äúzealots‚ÄĚ around the parts of Alexandria
that would minister to those that were abandoned by their families because of
these illnesses. On some occasions, a former persecutor would be abandoned by
his family, only to be ministered to by one of the Christians he had formerly
persecuted. It was such behavior that converted the Mediterranean world. Such
is Christian philosophy.
We have to
understand that all of the virtues are really a therapy to cleanse us from sin
and sanctify us through greater union with God. The virtues are nothing to
boast of, but rather to be thankful for. Without God we would not even be able
to begin to even think about the virtues, let alone practice them. All of our
efforts are done by the grace of God,
To reiterate the
list from today‚Äôs Gospel reading our Savior basically said, ‚ÄėWhen I was naked,
hungry, thirsty, sick, or in prison ye ministered unto Me, or, ye ministered
not unto Me.‚Äô
The list is not
just about alms. If one treats those around him terribly and then sends
donations to far away places, then that person does not understand what our
Savior is teaching. There is nothing wrong with helping to support the poor in
far away places, but it is not enough. If a father harms a son and then
ministers to strangers and then does little or nothing to remedy the damage at
home, he is deceived. Love begins at home, love begins with our neighbor and
not simply with causes that are so far away that there is little to no human
interaction where we can come face to face with our weaknesses. That is why it
is so important for laity to settle in a parish community. Lay folk can make
pilgrimages to monastic communities, but they are not monastics, and therefore
are not members of a monastic community. If a layperson runs from the local
parish, that layperson runs from spiritual growth. It is in giving of oneself
on a regular basis that we show our love to our Christ. We struggle with the
shortcomings of our neighbor and minister to him or her because that is Christ.
To give alms
with knowledge is to commune with Christ. One of the most moving images from
the lives of the saints is found in the life of Saint Martin of Tours when he
had nothing to give a beggar and he cut his military cape in half and gave it
to him. That night Saint Martin saw a vision of our Savior and our Savior
Himself was wearing that same portion of the cape and He blessed Saint Martin.
I remember another
story that concerned a pious Russian village during wartime. There were foreign
soldiers that were being taken through the village and of course these were the
enemy. Yet, all of the villagers rushed to give food and water and some form of
comfort to the prisoners of war in order to receive a blessing. Look to the
right and to the left and find that there is Christ in your brother and sister.
There are other
Scripture references to the final judgment. In the 7th chapter of
Saint Matthew our Savior says, ‚ÄúNot
every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the Kingdom of the
Heavens; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in the Heavens. Many
will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Thy name? and in
Thy name cast out demons? and in Thy name do many mighty works? And then will I
profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.‚ÄĚ (Matt7:21-23)
This refers to
those that think that they are serving God and, because they do not examine
their own conscience, they do not understand that they are only serving their
own passions and lusts. There are many different types of lust, the lust to
rule, the lust to power, the lust to be in the first place, lust for money,
lust for fame or notoriety, etc.
Men that are
afflicted with these passions put their own interests above the interests of
the Church. All of this is rooted in pride, which is the source of all problems
in the Church, including heresy. In the above passage our Savior pointed out
that miracles will not be enough to indicate if a person is on the right path. Miracles
indeed are found in the Church of God. Yet, relics and wonderworking icons work
miracles even when they are found in the hands of heretics. We do not rely
exclusively on phenomena, but first we rely on Apostolic Tradition. Apostolic
Tradition and the Holy Canons are our frame of reference for objective truth. We
the Orthodox have indeed been consoled by miracles, but we have Apostolic
Tradition as our Guide. Satan can appear as an angel of light and it has been predicted
that the Anti-Christ will come with false wonders. This is the age when the
spirit of the Anti-Christ is very powerful and there are many false spiritual
leaders that put themselves before Christ and the Traditions that He gave us
through the Apostles. Especially during these last times, all are required to
practice spiritual vigilance.
There is another
gospel reading concerning the Second Coming and Final Judgment, that is, the five
wise and five foolish virgins. Five virgins sought oil, that is the grace of
God, and five virgins practiced the virtues, yet did not receive the grace of
God. We need to think about this. Sometimes, without perceiving it, men make a
choice to set a higher priority on power, money, notoriety, the desire for the
first place, etc. and little by little forget about the goal of acquiring the
grace of the Holy Spirit, assuming it will take care of itself somehow. In
other words, our Savior wants us to be saved, but even one who makes a good
beginning at the virtues can lose sight of why we live Christian life in the
Church and can lose the grace of God. Are we here to serve Christ or to serve
ourselves? Do we practice self-sacrificing love towards our neighbor or do we
seek to avoid our local community? Do we desire to find illumination through
maintaining Apostolic Tradition or do we indulge in attempting to establish our
own traditions? We have the clear teachings of our Savior that have been
preserved by the two thousand year witness of the Church, yet we live in the
spiritually wild west of the United States of America that is a sea of
modernism which encourages us to follow the latest trend in ethics, morality
and in doctrine. So, let us be wise. Let us respond to our Savior and let us
show love and mercy in our day-to-day life, so that our hearts will be filled
with grace in this life and in that dread day we can find mercy from God. Amen.
|May our loving Saviour grant you a fruitful Great Lent that will open your heart to our Lord's Presence. Please forgive me for all my offenses and keep me in your prayers.|
To view the March Calendar with links' to the Saint of the day's life and icon, click on:
|--- On Wed, 3/4/09, anneguida <anneguida@...> wrote:|
From: anneguida <anneguida@...>
Subject: Islam's Attacks on Christianity
Date: Wednesday, March 4, 2009, 9:46 PM
Dear Father Panayioti,
I would like to share two articles that would be of benefit to the OrthodoxInfo
readers to illustrate the hostility that Islam harbors against Christianity.
Even though these are from Christmastime, they still provide readers a glimpse
of Islam's contempt and the West's (in this case, Europe's)
As Christmas Approaches, Muslims Erect `Allah Has No Son' Banner
Priest puts mosque in Nativity scene
|--- On Mon, 3/9/09, Met. Moses <metmoses@...> wrote:|
From: Met. Moses <metmoses@...>
Subject: Sunday of Orthodoxy 2009
To: "Panagiotes Fr." <petercarras@...>, "Fr. Carras Panagiotes" <frpanagiotes@...>
Date: Monday, March 9, 2009, 2:55 AM
Sunday of Orthodoxy 2009
A Sermon of Metropolitan Moses
On the Sunday of Orthodoxy we celebrate the triumph of the Holy Icons and all true doctrine of the Church over
false teaching. In this feast we celebrate the great mystery piety, the worship of God and the mystery of the Church and its priesthood. As our Savior said to St. Photini, the Samaritan woman, ‚ÄúGod is Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.‚ÄĚ (John 4:24)
The grace of the New Testament Priesthood was given unto the Holy Apostles at Pentecost and from that time forward they preached the word of God and offered the Holy Eucharist to the faithful. As they preached they ‚Äėcommitted the doctrine unto faithful men who were able to teach others also,‚Äô (2 Tim 2:2), that is, the first generation of bishops who became the guardians of the Eucharist and Apostolic Tradition in their local Church. The Church grew and expanded and the God given gift of Eucharist and the authentic Apostolic Tradition has been preserved from one generation to the next by the faithful
bishops in their local Churches down to our own day.
Beloved Christians, let us reflect upon the great miracle that we the unworthy ones of this last and sinful generation have been granted, that greatest of all gifts, the Orthodox Faith. We have been blessed by the holy confessors that have gone before us who refused to compromise with any falsehood that undermined the true teachings of the Church. In living memory we had the example of that contemporary Holy Father and Confessor Saint Philaret of New York who was a tower of strength in proclaiming Orthodoxy in the face of the heresy of our day Ecumenism. Another contemporary Holy Father, Saint Justin Popovich, has succinctly explained the nature of this heresy for all times:
Ecumenism is the common name for the pseudo-Christianity of the pseudo-Churches of Western Europe.
Within it is the heart of European humanism, with Papism as its head. All of pseudo-Christianity, all of those pseudo-Churches, are nothing more than one heresy after another. Their common evangelical name is: Pan-heresy. Why? This is because through the course of history various heresies denied or deformed certain aspects of the God-Man and Lord Jesus Christ; these European heresies remove Him altogether and put European man in His place. In this there is no essential difference between Papism, Protestantism, Ecumenism, and other heresies, whose name is ‚ÄúLegion.‚ÄĚ
The formula is simple, man exalts himself over God and His divinely ordered Church and the result is spiritual disaster. This can happen in different times and places, but the result is always a sad tragedy. Thus we see that pride inspired the Pope to attack the
conciliar nature of the truth-preserving episcopate-priesthood and to seek to replace God on earth by declaring himself ‚Äúvicar of Christ‚ÄĚ on earth. This spiritual illness developed further when Luther and his followers abandoned any pretense of the Apostolic succession of the episcopate-priesthood and every man became an interpreter of the Bible without regard to Apostolic Tradition. Time has passed and now faith has been replaced by naked humanism masked as ‚Äúthe faith of indifference to truth‚ÄĚ in the congregations of Ecumenism.
In the Gospel reading appointed for the Sunday of Orthodoxy our Savior chose to praise the Apostle Nathaniel not for his love, or almsgiving or any other virtue, but said, ‚ÄúBehold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!‚ÄĚ (John 1:47) The foundation of Faith is guileless honesty. Without guilelessness, one cannot even begin the spiritual life. If one is
to genuinely seek the truth, one must pursue it without preconditions, without ulterior motives. One must be ready to sell all that they have, that is, one must be ready to offer obedience to God and submit without reservation to Apostolic Tradition in order to acquire the Pearl of Great Price. (Matt 13:46) Conversion is not done in half measures. Confession of the Faith cannot be a compromise with falsehood.
Guile is the precursor of the cancerous disease of Ecumenism. Ecumenistic bishops are either total unbelievers who are masquerading as Christians or they are deceived believers who think that they can silently disagree with the heresy of Ecumenism and, for the sake of expediency, remain in communion with that heresy. Recent history testifies to the sad reality that guile and expediency have estranged many local Churches from the grace of Christ. The spirit of guile and expediency will
eventually unite many to the Anti-Christ.
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, though our Church may be only a small remnant, we have a great responsibility to guard well the treasure of our Faith, the Light of Christ found in Holy Tradition for the sake of those seeking the Truth. To allow anything to obscure this by our way of life would be like putting the Light of Christ under a bushel. The only way to prevent such a disaster is to cast out all guile and be true to Christ by our self-sacrificing love. How can one attain to this? In an amazing treatise titled ‚ÄúThe Inward Mission of our Church,‚ÄĚ Saint Justin Popovich describes the high calling of each Christian and enumerates the five ascetical virtues that overcome the sin that permeates the world and unite a person to Christ. This short excerpt [below] from the above mentioned treatise is, in my estimation, one of the most important
expressions of Orthodoxy written in the last 100 years and should be read again and again. It is strong medicine for the soul and I offer it as a conclusion to this sermon:
‚Ä¶The mission of the Church, given by Christ and put into practice by the Holy Fathers, is this: that in the soul of our people be planted and cultivated a sense and awareness that every member of the Orthodox Church is a Catholic Person, a person who is for ever and ever, and is God-human; that each person is Christ's, and is therefore a brother to every human being, a ministering servant to all men and all created things. This is the Christ-given objective of the Church. Any other is not an objective of Christ but of the Antichrist. For our local Church to be the Church of Christ, the Church Catholic, this objective
must be brought about continuously among our people. And yet what are the means of accomplishing this God-human objective? Once again, the means are themselves God-human because a God-human objective can only be brought about exclusively by God-human means, never by human ones or by any others. It is on this point that the Church differs radically from anything which is human or of this earth.
These means are none other than the God-human ascetic exertions and virtues. And these can be successfully practiced only by God-human, Christ-bearing ascetics. God-human virtues exist in an organic kinship. Each has its source in the other and they bring one another to completion.
First among the ascetic virtues is the effort of faith: The souls of our people must pass through, and constantly be passing through, this exertion;
meaning that these souls may then be given up to Christ as having no reservations and being without compromises; having extended down to the God-human depths and ascended to the God-human heights. It is essential to create in our people the sense that the faith of Christ is a virtue beyond nationhood, being Ňďcumenical and catholic, Trinitarian; and that for someone to believe in Christ entails their waiting on Christ, and only on Christ, with every event of their lives.
The second ascetic virtue is the God-human virtue of prayer and fasting: This being a virtue which must become the way of life of our Orthodox people, becoming the souls of their souls, because prayer and fasting are the all-powerful, Christ-given means of purging not only the human personhood but also society, the people, and the human race at large, of every defilement. It is prayer and fasting which are able to
cleanse our people's souls from our defilements and sinning (Mt. 17:19-21; Lk. 9:17-29). The souls of our people must fall in step with the orthodox life of prayer. Prayer and fasting are not to be performed merely for the individual, or for one people, but for everyone and everything ("in all and for all"), for friends and enemies, for those who persecute us and those who put us to death, because that is how Christians are to be distinguished from the Gentiles (Mt. 5: 44-45).
The third God-human virtue is that of love: That love which knows no bounds, which does not question who is worthy and who is not, but loves them all; loving friends and enemies, loving sinners and evildoers, without however loving their sins and their crimes. It blesses the accursed, as the sun does, it shines both on the evil and the good (Matt. 5: 44-46). This God-human love must be cultivated in our people
because its catholic character is what sets it apart from other self-proclaimed and relative loves: from that of the pharisaic sort, the humanist, the altruistic, the nationalist, and likewise from animal love. The love of Christ is all-embracing love, always. By prayer it is acquired because it is a gift of Christ. Now the Orthodox heart prays with intensity: Lord of love, this love of Thine for everyone and for all things‚ÄĒgive it to me!
The fourth ascetic virtue is the God-human virtue of meekness and humility. Only he who is meek at heart can appease fierce hearts that are in uproar: only he who is lowly in heart can humble proud and haughty souls. To be "showing all meekness unto all men" (Tit. 3:2). But a person becomes truly meek and humble when he turns his heart of hearts into the Lord Jesus, humble and meek, He being the only true "meek and lowly in heart" (Matt. 11:29). The
soul of the person must be rendered meek by Christ's meekness. Every person must learn to pray: Meek, gentle Lord, assuage my fierce soul! The Lord humbled himself with the greatest humility‚ÄĒhe was incarnate and became a man. Should you be of Christ, then humble yourself as a worm: embed your flesh in the pain of all who are in pain, of everyone sorrowing and in grief; in the trial of everyone who, impassioned, is thus tormented; and in the trauma of every animal and bird. Humble yourself lower than them all: be all things to all men, but be of Christ and according to Christ. When you are by yourself, then pray: O humble Lord, by your humility, humble me!
The fifth ascetic virtue is the God-human virtue of patience and humility: Which is to say, to endure ill-use, not to render evil for evil, to forgive in total compassion all assault, slander and hurt. This is what it is to be of
Christ: to feel yourself perpetually crucified to the world, persecuted by it, violated and spat upon. The world will not tolerate Christ-bearing men just as it would not tolerate Christ. Martyrdom is the state in which a Christian brings forth fruit. This must be imparted to our people. For the Orthodox, martyrdom is purification. Being Christian does not simply mean to bear suffering cheerfully, but to pardon in compassion those who cause it, to pray to God for them as did Christ and the archdeacon Stephen. And so, pray: Long-suffering Lord, give me forbearance, make me magnanimous and meek!
Our Church's mission is to infuse these God-human virtues and ascetic exertions into the people's way of living; to have their life and soul knit firm with the Christ-like God-human virtues. For therein lies salvation from the world and from all those soul-destroying, death-dealing, and Godless
organizations of the world. In response to the "erudite" atheism and refined cannibalism of contemporary civilization we must give place to those Christ-bearing personalities, who with the meekness of sheep will put down the roused lust of wolves, and with the harmlessness of doves will save the soul of the people from cultural and political putrefaction. We must execute ascetic effort in Christ's name in response to the cultural exercising which is performed in the name of the decayed and disfigured European being, in the name of atheism, civilization, or the Antichrist. Which is why the major task of our Church is the creation of such Christ-bearing ascetics. The watchword which should be heard within our Church today is: Let us return to the Christ-bearing ascetics and to the Holy Fathers! To resume the virtues of Saint Anthony, Saint Athanasios, Saint Basil, and Saint Gregory, of Saints Sergios and Seraphim of the Russians, of Saints Savva,
Prochios, and Gabriel of the Serbs, and others like them because it was these God-human virtues which brought about Saint Anthony, Saint Gregory and Saint Savva. And today only Orthodox ascetic efforts and virtues can bring about sanctity in every soul, in the soul of all our people‚ÄĒseeing that the God-human objective of the Church is unalterable and its means are likewise so, since Christ is the same yesterday, today and unto all ages (Heb. 13:8). Herein lies the difference between the world of men and the one in Christ: the human world is transient and time-bound, whilst that of Christ is ever whole, for evermore. Orthodoxy, as the single vessel and guardian of the perfect and radiant Person of God-human Christ, is brought about exclusively by this extension of virtues by grace, through entirely God-human Orthodox means, not through borrowings from Roman Catholicism or Protestantism, because the latter are forms of Christianity after the pattern of
the proud European being, and not of the humble God-human being.
This mission of the Church is facilitated by God Himself because among our people there exists an ascetic spirit as created by Orthodoxy through the centuries. The Orthodox soul of our people leans towards the Holy Fathers and the Orthodox ascetics. Ascetic exertion, at the personal, family, and parish level, particularly of prayer and fasting, is the characteristic of Orthodoxy. Our people is a people of Christ, an Orthodox people, because‚ÄĒas Christ did‚ÄĒit sums up the Gospel in these two virtues: prayer and fasting. And it is a people convinced that all defilement, all foul thoughts, can be driven out of man by these alone (Matt. 17:21). In its heart of hearts our people know Christ and Orthodoxy, they know just what it is that makes an Orthodox person Orthodox. Orthodoxy will always generate ascetic rebirth. She
recognizes no other.
The ascetics are Orthodoxy's only missionaries. Asceticism is her only missionary school. Orthodoxy is ascetic effort and it is life, and it is thus by effort and by life that her mission is broadcast and brought about. The development of asceticism...this ought to be the inward mission of our Church amongst our people. The parish must become an ascetic focal point. But this can only be achieved by an ascetic priest. Prayer and fasting, the Church-oriented life of the parish, a life of liturgy: Orthodoxy holds these as the primary ways of effecting rebirth in its people. The parish, the parish community, must be regenerated and in Christ-like and brotherly love must minister humbly to Him and to all people, meek and lowly and in a spirit of sacrifice and self-denial. And such service must be imbued and nourished by prayers and the liturgical life. This much is
groundwork and indispensable. But to this end there exists one prerequisite: that our bishops, priests, and our monks become ascetics themselves. That this might be, then: Let us beseech the Lord.
[From: ‚ÄúOrthodox Faith and Life in Christ‚ÄĚ a compilation of some of the writings of Saint Justin Popovich, translated by Asterios Gerostergios, Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies pub., Belmont Massachusetts, third printing 2005, p. 21-31]
Holy Father Saint Justin pray that we preserve the Faith in our evil days by our God inspired ascetical self-sacrificing love! Amen.
(We hope this posting will
encourage you to subscribe to The True
publication is a treasure trove of information on the
Christian faith ‚Äē both for you and your family.)
the Introduction of the next issue of The True Vine
Metropolitan Ephraim of Boston
His Grace, Bishop
Demetrius wrote the following about one of his recent trips to Guatemala:
In February of 2008, the St.
Paul's Fellowship of Labor travelled to Guatemala for a week's visit. This
trip coincided with the feast day of St. Xenia of Petersburg, the patron saint of our mission
there. During the week, children from a nearby school passed by the church
daily and stared at the Fellowship workers and the work being done. On the
Sunday that followed, three of the children came to church for Liturgy. Ever
since that Sunday, they have refused to go to the Roman Catholic church that
their mother attends, and they are presently attending our church faithfully.
Last October, I went as well and found these
same three children in church all dressed in white and waiting to be baptized
(we had another baptism that day). I told them that I could not baptize them
until I met at least one of their parents and had the consent of both parents.
The mother came to the church and said that the children really wanted to be
baptized in our church, and that both she and her husband had no problem with
that. I felt that we should still wait a while before going ahead with this, so
I told the mother that, for now, the children should try to fast from meat on
Wednesdays and Fridays. She laughed and said, "Meat?" At that point
it was explained to me that, because of their poverty, these people hardly ever
eat any meat at all. The same occurred with another family that wanted to become
Orthodox and were told that they should refrain from meat on fast days.
Such is the state of billions of people on our planet. While most of us who live in
North America and Europe will find this simply
incomprehensible, hunger and want are the bitter reality for the vast majority
of the Earth's inhabitants.
One may ask: "What can I do about it? I'm just one
The answer: "Fast!"
As this issue of The True Vine will demonstrate, the Church's traditional
understanding of fasting and abstinence is the solution for many of the world's
problems in both the material and the spiritual realms. Since all of us,
without exception, are a combination of body and soul, we know from experience
that these two components of our human nature interact and influence one
another in marvelous and mysterious ways. Self-restraint can work wonders, both
for each of us individually and for society in general. It is the mother of
self-respect, the basis of civilization, the firm foundation of happy marriages,
the begetter of grateful and respectful children, and the establishment of safe
neighborhoods where everyone can live in peace and security with their windows
and doors unlocked.
Such are but a few of the boons of self-restraint.
Alas, however, we know that this is not
the current state of affairs, chiefly because few of us have learned to
practice the virtue of restraining our harmful passions, nor have we tapped
into the secret source of that godly and invincible strength that was given to
the Saints as a reward for their being good stewards of their senses: divine
Again, fasting and abstinence are the first steps toward this blessed goal.
This is why we have dedicated this issue
to this vital subject. This is why St. Seraphim of Sarov, one of the greatest
men of God to arise in the recent centuries, can say: "Before all else,
ensure that the one whom you choose as your companion for life keeps the fasts.
If they do not keep the fasts, then they are not Christians, whatever, they may
consider themselves to be."
Profound words with profound
People who observe the holy fasts will
also be more likely to be better and more responsible individuals in other
matters as well: people aware of their shortcomings, but willing to struggle to
To state our case in words that every
Orthodox Christian can understand: people that struggle against their passions
will draw God's grace to themselves.
This issue of The True Vine will help us understand fasting's varied history in
the Church, and its true purpose.
We will learn also of the many variant
forms of fasting. In this particular instance, St. John Chrysostom's words are
Fasting is a
medicine; but a medicine, though it be never so profitable, becomes frequently
useless owing to the unskillfulness of him who employs it. For it is necessary
to know, moreover, the time when it should be applied, and the requisite
quantity of it; and the nature of the country, and the season of the year; and
the corresponding diet; as well as various other particulars; any of which, if
one overlooks, he will mar all the rest that have been named. Now if, when the
body needs healing, such exactness is required on our part, much more ought we,
when our care is about the soul, and we seek to heal the distempers of the
mind, to look, and to search into every particular with the utmost accuracy.
(On the Statues 3:8)
this important advice in mind, let us proceed with discernment.
Don't forget: The True Vine!
|Don't forget we will be showing the movie, The Island (Ostrov), this Sunday, March 22nd, at 7:00pm.|
A Sermon of Metropolitan Moses for the Sunday
of St John Climacus 2009
today‚Äôs gospel we hear of a man publicly entreating our Savior to deliver his
son from demonic possession, adding that His disciples failed to help him. Our
Savior replied to him with a rebuke, ‚ÄúO faithless generation, how long shall I
be with you? how long shall I endure you?‚ÄĚ --Thus pointing out the importance
of faith on our part in receiving healing or the grace of God.
the man brought his son forward and once again asked for help, our Savior told
him that ‚Äúall things are possible to him that believes.‚ÄĚ Then the desperate
father responded from the depths of his heart with the words, ‚ÄúI believe Lord,
help Thou mine unbelief.‚ÄĚ The urgency of his predicament forced this man to
confront his own weak faith and he corrected himself and his petition unto the
Lord, asking first that his faith might be increased. Our Merciful Savior
responded with mercy and healed the man‚Äôs son.
that all of mankind would learn from this man! --I believe Lord, help Thou mine
unbelief! Temptations beset me, daily life overwhelms me, it seems that Satan
himself crowds in upon my life. I believe Lord, but I also recognize that I
falter, help Thou mine unbelief.
are in the midst of Great Lent and we see the works of God. There is only one
answer for healing in our lives. There is only one Person that can deliver us
from sin and death, that is the God-Man Christ and we attract the grace of God
through honest self-examination and prayer. If we seek God with honest
sincerity and entreat Him, He will add unto us the gift of faith, and all
things become possible. I believe Lord, help Thou mine unbelief, my lack of
love, my lack of patience, my lack of humility. It is only through prayer that
we make a beginning and progress in the spiritual life. Deep faith is the fruit
of prayer and experience and time.
we are given a lesson in spiritual wrestling on this Fourth Sunday of Great
Lent. Yet, we are given another lesson in today‚Äôs gospel, that is, ‚ÄúThis kind
can come forth by nothing, save by prayer and fasting.‚ÄĚ Prayer and fasting are
therapies to help us loose the bonds of Satan. Prayer and fasting have always
been an essential part of the Christian way of life, even from the very
Our Christ came as a Physician
of souls and He has given us a prescription of a certain type of diet and
exercise so that we might have spiritual health and freedom from sin. The
Christian Church has always had its spiritual athletes that have shone forth as
radiant examples. These spiritual athletes formed a systematic way of life that
we know as monasticism. Saint John Climacus, who we celebrate today, was one of
the most important monks of the first thousand years of the Church. He was
purified from pride by 19 years in obedience and then spent 40 years in
spiritual ascents in solitude before he was made abbot of the Holy Mount Sinai,
when he reached his 75th year. He wrote what is known as ‚ÄúThe Ladder of Divine
Ascent‚ÄĚ as a response to an abbot friend of his who was having problems with an
insurrection in his monastery. This venerable tome praises the virtues of
obedience and offers advice on the virtues and many insights regarding the
workings of the passions. Monasteries throughout the
world read his, ‚ÄúLadder of Divine Ascent‚ÄĚ during the days of Great Lent.
has always been held in high esteem in the Orthodox Church. Saint John
Angels are a light
for monks, and the monastic life is a light for all men. Therefore let monks
strive to become a good example in everything, giving no occasion for stumbling
in anything (2Cor. 6:3) in all their works and words. For if the light becomes
darkness, how much darker will be that darkness, that is, those living in the
Thus, a layperson who
seeks to find inspiration for their own endeavors in spiritual exercises from
monastics needs to use spiritual discretion. Monastics can be examples for all
in fasting and prayer, but, since they are men, they are subject to falling
into spiritual error from time to time. Thus, the Christian faith is not
personality based, but rather we base our faith on Apostolic tradition. The
only personality in the Church is the Person of the God-Man Christ. Any
fixation on a personality in the Church to the confusion of authentic
ecclesiology or that overturns Church order is a distortion of the Body of the
Person of the God-Man Christ. I write this because, there is universal desire
to find a holy person in our lives. In his
book, ‚ÄúThe Brothers Karamazov,‚ÄĚ Fyodore Dostoeysky expressed how strong this
desire is for the members of the Church through the sentiments of one of his
for the humble soul of the simple Russian, worn out by toil and grief, and,
above all, by everlasting injustice and everlasting sin, his own and the
world‚Äôs, there is no stronger need and consolation than to find some holy thing
or person, to fall down before him and venerate him: ‚ÄúThough with us there is
sin, unrighteousness, and temptation, still, all the same, there is on earth,
in such and such a place, somewhere, someone holy and exalted; he has the
truth; he knows the truth; so the truth does not die on earth, and therefore
some day it will come to us and will reign over all the earth, as has been
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodore Dostoevsky, North Point Press 1990, San
Francisco, Translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, page 30.
is a thirst among believers to find a spiritual man who one can trust to be a
haven of holiness and truth. Yet, even in seeking such a man, especially during
these last times, we must be vigilant. Our Savior admonished us to be wise as
serpents and harmless as doves, that is to be vigilant enough to recognize
error and evil while still maintaining innocence in one‚Äôs heart. As Christians
we need to find a way to have love and genuine compassion towards all men, but
also to discern error and reject it. There is no man that is without sin, save
our Christ Himself and in this age of error and confusion many seemingly
spiritual men have been tripped up.
example, as recently as back in 1991, there was an incident where a certain
archimandrite, purported to be a God inspired elder, declared that he had a
dream wherein the Theotokos and his reposed elder appeared to him and told him
to break communion with the Patriarchate of Constantinople and join a Russian
Church. This move to a different Church was significant because the
Patriarchate of Constantinople has been the source and fountainhead of the
heresy of Ecumenism and, at that time, the Russian Church that he joined was
not officially in communion with any of the Ecumenist New Calendar Churches.
Unfortunately, in a strange turn of events, just a few months later this same elder
claimed that he had another dream wherein the Theotokos and his elder told him
to return to communion with the Patriarchate of Constantinople. This elder now
says that he rejects Ecumenism, but it is not time yet to break communion with
the bishops that espouse this heresy and if and when things are bad enough, he will
break communion with them.
question any reasonable person must ask is, if he could not remain steadfast in
his first decision to brake communion with the heresy, how can one trust that
he will break with it in the future?
point that must be made is that, as the rational flock of the Church of Christ
we are called upon to use our common sense. Our guide is Holy Tradition and the
Holy Canons. If an elder or angel from heaven come to teach us something
contrary to Holy Tradition regarding doctrine or morality we are to separate
ourselves from him. (Gal 1:3-10)
Furthermore, the Holy Fathers have taught us that we should not put our trust
is an account of an elder who spent many years in ascetism on Mount Sinai who
was deceived by the evil one through dreams,
Sabaite Antiochus‚Ä¶ tells as a warning against trust in dreams the story of a
solitary on Sinai of many years‚Äô standing, who had a series of dreams that came
true, and then one that showed him the people of the martyrs and apostles and
all the Christians dark and filled with shame, while Moses, the prophets, and
the Jews were enveloped in light, living in joy and gladness. He left the Holy
Mountain, came to the Jewish settlements at Noara and Livias, on the two sides
of the Jordan Valley (Noara was only three or four miles from Choziba), was
circumcised, married a wife, and conducted open propaganda on behalf of the
Jews against the Christians‚Ä¶‚ÄĚ
Desert A City‚ÄĚ by Derwas J. Chitty, St Vladimir‚Äôs Seminary Press, Crestwood,
N.Y., 1999, P 154, Footnote 92: Antiochus, Pandect 84 (P.G. 89, 1689D-1692B).
John Climacus wrote concerning dreams, ‚ÄúThe demons of vainglory prophesy in
dreams. Being unscrupulous, they guess the future and foretell it to us. When
these visions come true, we are amazed; and we re elated with the thought that
we are already near to the gift of foreknowledge. A demon is often a prophet to
those who believe him, gut he is always a liar to those who despise him. Being
a spirit, he sees what is happening in this lower air, and noticing that someone
is dying, he foretells it through dreams to the more light-minded. But demons
know nothing about the future from foreknowledge. For if they did, then the
fortunetellers would also be able to foretell our death‚Ä¶He who believes in
dreams is completely inexperienced. But he who distrusts all dreams is a wise
man‚Ä¶‚ÄĚ (Ladder of Divine Ascent
live in an age of spiritual error and falsehood wherein the spirit of the
Anti-Christ has entered into society in general and seeks to enter into local
Churches of the Orthodox Christians. The spirit of anti-Christ is anything that
would exalt itself above Christ or seek to replace Christ. Our Savior warned us
that in the last days there would be false christs, that is, personality cults.
Personality cults that form within the Church are recognized by their
abandonment of the Traditional teaching of the Church regarding doctrine,
ecclesiology, Christian ethics and morality. Unfortunately, a phony rarified
‚Äúspirituality‚ÄĚ coupled with prideful ambition is enough to deceive trusting
individuals. A basic understanding of authentic Church order rooted in common
sense is enough to deliver a believer from such deception.
We are in the last days. The
wise Christian will pay heed to the words of our Savior, ‚ÄúBut of that day
and that hour knoweth no man, not even the Angels which are in Heaven, neither
the Son, but the Father. Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the
time is. For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his
house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and
commanded the gate-keeper to watch. Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when
the master of the house cometh, at evening, or at midnight, or at the
cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping And
what I say unto you I say unto all, Be ye watchful. (Luke 13:32-37)
of the spiritual exercises of monastics is called nipsis or watchfulness. This
is a state wherein one guards the heart through repeating the Jesus Prayer
while keeping a sober watch with the mind for any thought that would be a cause
of distraction or sin. The basic principle is that one does not readily accept
all of the thoughts that one encounters. During this era of confusion anyone
who desires to keep his Christian faith must exercise careful watchfulness in
order to recognize the many forms of spiritual error
and evil that exist in our day.
is not a cult of personality. Christians are required to be the rational flock.
Our safeguard is the two thousand year deposit of Faith that has been preserved
unbroken from Apostolic times and made manifest through the writings of the
Holy Fathers and the Canons of the Church. May this be your guide and may our
Christ deliver you from all the various forms of spiritual deception and
preserve your hearts in purity.
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