Monday, June 30, 2014


"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God," the Holy Apostle assures us, and again..."If God is for us, who can be against us?"  Therefore, our Lord counsels us to "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness," and all things whatsoever needful in this earthly life shall be added unto us. 

It is a sure and certain truth that all who strive to live godly lives, bearing bold witness to our faith in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution and tribulation, and it is only through our patient endurance unto the end that we shall be saved--because it is only by means of suffering that we can acquire the abundant grace of God to strengthen and confirm us in the Faith. 

But his means that if we truly desire salvation, we cannot serve two masters.  Unfortunately, many who consider themselves faithful Orthodox Christians--while professing to love Christ and His commandments--seek at the same time to pursue a worldly life, striving to avoid at any cost the pain and discomfort that is natural for those who are committed  to a God fearing life.  Thus, they allow themselves to become enslaved to the demands of a consumer society according to which the acquisition of material goods and the false sense of security they bring becomes the main goal of our earthly sojourn.

We must, however, avoid casting aspersions on others--especially the rich and powerful of this world.  The truth is, we have all to some extent become entrapped in this delusion.  When Constantinople finally fell to the Turks in 1453, many Christians succumbed to the temptation of apostasy, embracing Islam for the sake of receiving material and social benefits.  Others--while remaining outwardly faithful--nevertheless feared the consequences of bearing bold witness to the truth of Orthodoxy.  Finally, there were those who went underground--remaining faithful inwardly while outwardly pretending to accept Islam.  (May God alone judge them according to the secret contents of their hearts).

The New Martyrs, on the other hand, not only refused to renounce Christ, but they were willing (strengthened by the grace of God) to suffer torture, imprisonment and death for His sake.  Thus, they were "more than conquerors" through Him Who loved them, "and nothing was able to separate them from the love of God."

If the radical Muslims of our own day and age have their way, history could repeat itself in Europe and America.  Or if the Muslims fail in their attempt to enslave the world, it seems likely that oppression and persecution will eventually come at the hands of a secular, humanistic, authoritarian New World Order.  So the question remains for all of us: are we prepared to remain firm and faithful in our profession of Orthodoxy no matter the consequences, or shall we in the end capitulate to the Powers that Be and risk eternal damnation in the fires of hell?   

Thursday, June 19, 2014


The Greek word for saint--hagia--means "holy."  And so, by definition, a saint is not merely an exceptionally good person, but rather someone who possesses the fullness of the Holy Spirit.  Such a person will--naturally--love God above all created things, and likewise he will love his neighbor as his very own self.  Having taken up his cross and followed Christ, the saint has ceased to exist as an ego-centered entity, and so he can say with St. Paul, "It is no longer I who live, but Christ in me."

A saint is, therefore, the proof and confirmation of our Faith.  The most logical and persuasive argument concerning the existence of God will not convince the skeptic, but a saint--by his or her very life and example--bears living witness to those truths revealed by Christ and preserved in the Holy Tradition of the Church.

That is why--for us ordinary Christians--the Lives of the Saints are so inspiring and edifying, and the reason why the veneration of the saints holds such a central place in the ongoing life of the Church.  The truth is, we are all called to be saints, to become gods by grace, transformed and deified by the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit.  This is the whole purpose of the Incarnation of Christ and the founding of the Church on the day of Pentecost.

Od course, striving for the ideal of sanctity involves a life-long struggle against the sinful passions, and the willingness to endure sacrificial suffering on Christ's behalf.  There is, therefore, no place for the Protestant idea that "Christ has already done it all."  Of course, in the ultimate sense, He has, but we are, nevertheless, called to become co-workers with God in the great work of sanctification--not of our own souls only, but of the entire created universe.  Let us pray ceaselessly that we may prove worthy of such a high calling.

Monday, June 9, 2014


We read in the Acts of the Apostles, "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place."  Thus it came to pass that there was the sound as of rushing wind and a tongue of fire rested on the head of each disciple.  Thereby was the Church established through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and the Apostles--who had aforetime cowered behind a closed door "for fear of the Jews"--were emboldened to go forth into all the world to preach the Good News of salvation.

The important thing to note here is that the Holy Spirit was given to the ecclesia ('gathering' or 'assembly'), not to individual believers scattered here and there.  It is first and foremost to the Church that God reveals Himself, contrary to the Protestant concept so prevalent nowadays that God inspires the individual believer with knowledge of the Truth.  Thus, each Christian is considered competent to interpret Scripture according to his personal inspiration, while Holy Tradition (which is God's continuing revelation to the Church through the Holy Spirit) is generally cast aside as irrelevant.

It is, of course, true that we all received the Gift of the Holy Spirit at our Baptism and Chrismation, and that our goal in life (as St. Seraphim of Sarov affirms) is to acquire ever more of the Holy Spirit of God.  It is, however, only within the Church, as members of Christ's Body, that we receive this Gift. Certainly no private revelation can ever contradict those truths taught by the Fathers and preserved in the Holy Tradition of the Church.  Truly, the Church is the pillar and foundation of the Truth, and our only Ark of Salvation upon the billowing waves of this storm-tossed life.

There truly is but "one Church, one Faith, one Baptism, and one God and Father of us all."  Though it may be that we are damned alone, we can only be saved within the communion of the Faith.  It is true that a separate tongue of fire rested upon each one present on the day of Pentecost, which testifies that we have all been granted unique gifts and a unique place within the Church.  Nevertheless, it is only within the context of the Church that we are enabled to fulfill our true potential as sons and daughters of God.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


Jesus said, "And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent."  Take note: He doesn't say we must merely believe in God, or know things about Him ( such as we might learn from a theology textbook).  He says, rather, that we must know Him.

Biblically, when it is said that a man "knows" a woman, what is meant is that the two have intimate relations together.  It is the union of two souls and bodies, wherein "the two become one flesh."  Likewise, to know God requires an actual union/communion with Him.  And because God is at the same time eternal and the Source of Life, to know Him is life eternal.

Of course, it is impossible to enter into communion with God unless we struggle against the sinful passions while striving to fulfill His commandments, and this is possible only when we are strengthened by the grace of God--and the fullness of grace is only available within the one true Church that our Lord established on the day of Pentecost.

Christ prays further for His disciples "that they may be one, as We are," and herein lies the foundation for the unity and ultimate authority of the Church and the refutation of the Latin heresy of papism.  The Church is conciliar.  The bishops at an ecumenical council are empowered to proclaim the truth unanimously  according to what seemed good to us and the Holy Spirit, as the Apostles did at the Apostolic Council in Jerusalem.  Thus, the Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council justly condemned the heresy of Arius and cast him from the Church.

This is precisely because Arius taught that Christ is a creature, and thus He could not truly be one with the Father.  Nor could we the faithful enter  into eternal life through union with a creature who did not possess the fullness of Divinity.  Christ ascended that He might--on the day of Pentecost--send down upon us the life-giving Spirit, through Whom we are all truly united to Christ.  May we all strive to purify our hearts of every egotistical thought and desire, that we may be proved worthy of this Gift.