Thursday, February 28, 2008

Love Not The World Or Things In The World, But Do Love One Another

Each of us bear the image of God outwardly and inwardly. God has given each of us a portion of Himself. He desires to give of Himself to those around us. God is love; pure, holy, humble love. Love isn't love unless it can be expressed. The more love gives, the brighter it burns and makes an impression on all those in it's presence. God's love transforms, heals, renews, washes away the residue of sin, the scum of sin, the heavy crust of sin. God's love energizes that which was dead. It transforms and makes beautiful that which has been marred and scarred by sin. Even our words, written and thought myriads of different ways by an untold number of Christians throughout the ages can still have significance, can inspire and give hope. Why?, because God is that broad, that expansive and completely uncontainable, to ever comprehend or know fully, and each of us are yet another unique expression of His love.

"If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also."
John 4:21-21

"Just as in the world there are rich and poor people, so are there in the spiritual world. We are spiritually poor and they are spiritually rich and it is for them, therefore, that we beggars must appeal." John of Krondstadt

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Path To Hell Is Paved With The Teachings Of Well Intentioned Men

who in ignorance have been deceived by a fallen angel, whose calculations and strategies are cunning and manipulative beyond the understanding or comprehension of any man whose has ever walked this earth. This fallen angel, is a master swordsman, able to disarm any foe; a superb sorcerer, able to imitate any act of creation; an accomplished artist, able to portray with imagery and delusions the most beautiful masterpieces of persuasion. This fallen super angel, Satan, can operate only in collusion with the willing, albeit ignorant ascensions of man. He takes advantage of the weak and strong alike, the misinformed and knowledgeable, the confident and secure, the humble and trusting and always, unfailingly, time and time again, it is with the willful and full cooperation of men. Just as in the garden, the woman took and ate, so mankind today, takes and eats to our own demise and destruction. 

His dwellings are in the deepest darkness, yet to man, he appears in glorious light and behind a veil of stunning beauty and breathtaking glory, lurks the most beastly, grotesque and hideous creature to have ever dwelt in the universe of God's order. Yet, man, in his utterly stupid, carnal and fallen nature is drawn to, drawn in and drawn by, this angel's hypnotic and ecstatic offerings of heady power, fame and riches. With innumerable and incalculable deceptions, distortions and distractions, he bestows upon men curses, yet,in confusion, we embrace these curses of prosperity, knowledge and acclaimed accomplishments as good and godly blessings. To insure our perpetual imprisonment, this master schemer, builds these curses into institutions of great learning, cathedrals of great religions and organizations of immense wealth. All the while, man in his pitiful and wretched condition, grows increasingly addicted and afflicted, falling deeper into a treacherous pit of delusion, lies and denial. 

Reserved for this most pitiful of creatures to be damned is an eternally fiery furnace and this incorrigible, having considered his destiny and in keeping with his incessantly blasphemous condition, will entice away from God, the hearts of many, into a state of ignorant and willful estrangement from God's blessed and eternal love, which reaches to all men, at all times and in all places upon the earth. For just as God the Father, dwells in a perpetual and eternal union of sweet fellowship with the Son and the Holy Spirit and also those blessed creatures who in repentance have sought after Him; so Satan seeks to imitate the Godhead, yet in his perversion, the fruit of his labor will be to dwell in a perpetual loneliness of solitary confinement and in his chosen state of anguish, he will be accompanied by all those who accepted and embraced his demonic gifts. In an indescribably grievous condition, a portion of mankind will join the demons in their torturous solitude of isolation and estrangement from the holy, good and blessed love of our most merciful God; and His love will be for the godly, an eternal warmth but for the condemned, a fiery furnace of torment. 

No "Christian", is immune from the dangers described herein, and there will come a time in the not so distant future, when each of us will experience God in perfect union of clarity, truth and reality and for some, with a depth of sorrow that as of yet has ever been comprehended by mankind, will fall these words of utter disbelief: 

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ Matthew 7:21-22

Friday, February 22, 2008

"A Deep Knowledge Of The Scriptures Will Prepare Us For The Antichrist" St. John Chrysostom

From the Spiritual Counsels of the Blessed Elder Anthony of Russia this system of preparing people for the coming of antichrist, the television has been given not just the role of consuming free time, its destructive role is far greater. A person watches the news, any news, and it seems to him to be something necessary and useful, at any rate, not harmful. But the actual news occupies only a small portion of the time. The rest is an analysis of what happened, that is, a view of what happened which must be formed by those watching. And the view of the customers is that which is given by those who control the given information...From this, from the hypnotic effect of the television program, a person loses his ability of thinking for himself, of thoughtfully perceiving the events that are happening, and finally, of forming his own world-view.

...'For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths.' What kind of normal gathering is possible under these conditions?! People love to talk, but not listen, to teach, but not to learn. What unites all of these people around one table? Intoxicants—spirits, and plenty of food, that is, what is on the table, not who is at the table. Nothing soul-profiting can come out of such an environment, for as the saints taught, you do not speak about God with a full stomach—and even more so, with a drunken head!

There is one more terrible evil from the television, but unfortunately, it's far from the last. This evil is the undermining of the authority of the Church. It is planned and diabolically cunning. It is in everything—in mocking the clergy, the Orthodox rituals, in placing the occult, paganism, in opposition to Christianity, in everything. Everything is saturated with hatred for the Truth. Not much time will pass before they will openly mock Christianity and holy things on television. Broadcasts concerning the Theotokos will be especially permeated with hatred; from everything will flow the poison of diabolic evil. Only it will be under the veil of humor, comedy. 'Laughing hell' will take the work of ridiculing everything Divine, and spiritual, all the way to the end. And the end will be in the one who appears and tries to take the place of God. And he will enter immediately into every home. How can a person enter every home at the same time?! We say that that is one of the qualities of God—being everywhere present—even the angels move about and exist in time. But the Church teaches that antichrist will enter immediately into every home; this seems to be a contradiction.

But no, the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church is the vessel of truth, of Divine truth. In imitation of being everywhere present, antichrist will enter into every home simultaneously with the help of the television. Everyone will receive him into his house, and he'll receive him voluntarily!...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Great Martyr Theodore Stratelates

There are martyrdoms that are more than costly. The costliness of a martyrdom depends on the greatness of the good things of this world that a Christian gives up, receiving suffering in its place; and it depends also on the greatness of the suffering which he endures for the sake of Christ. St Theodore, a Roman commander in the army of the Emperor Licinius and governor of the city of Heraclea, scorned his youth, his good looks, his military status and the good-will of the Emperor, and in place of all this received terrible tortures for the sake of Christ. Firstly Theodore was flogged, receiving 600 lashes on the back and 500 on the stomach; then he was crucified and pierced through with arrows. Finally he was slain with the sword. Why all this? Because St Theodore loved Christ more than anything else in the world. He scorned the foolish idol-worship of the superstitious Emperor, shattered the silver and gold idols, giving the pieces to the poor, brought many to the Christian faith and urged the Emperor himself to reject idolatry and believe in the one God. During the whole of his torture, Theodore repeated unceasingly: `Glory to Thee, my God, glory to Thee!' He suffered on February 8th, 319, at three o'clock in the afternoon, and entered into the Kingdom of Christ. He is regarded as the protector of soldiers, who turn to him for help. His wonderworking relics were taken from Euchaita to Constantinople and buried in the Church at Blachernae.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

St. George The Trophy Bearer and The Dragon Slayer

World War III - One Billion Christian Heretics Fighting One Billion Muslims, Instigated And Incited By Isreal

Ignatius Bishop of Antioch (98-117A.D.) – Epistle to the Magnesians

For if we are still practicing Judaism, we admit that we have not received God's favor…it is wrong to talk about Jesus Christ and live like Jews. For Christianity did not believe in Judaism, but Judaism in Christianity.

"Epistle of Barnabas" Chapter 4vs 6-7 (between 130A.D. and 138 A.D.)

Take heed to yourselves and be not like some piling up you sins and saying that the covenant is theirs as well as ours. It is ours, but they lost it completely just after Moses received it.

Justin Martyr - Dialogue with Trypho (Between 138A.D. and 161 A.D.)

We too, would observe your circumcision of the flesh, your Sabbath days, and in a word, all you festivals, if we were not aware of the reason why they were imposed upon you, namely, because of your sins and the hardness of heart.

The custom of circumcising the flesh, handed down from Abraham, was given to you as a distinguishing mark, to set you off from other nations and from us Christians. The purpose of this was that you and only you might suffer the afflictions that are now justly yours; that only your land be desolated, and you cities ruined by fire, that the fruits of you land be eaten by strangers before your very eyes; that not one of you be permitted to enter your city of Jerusalem. Your circumcision of the flesh is the only mark by which you can certainly be distinguished from other men…as I stated before it was by reason of your sins and the sins of your fathers that, among other precepts, God imposed upon you the observance of the sabbath as a mark.

Origen of Alexandria (185-254 A.D.) – A ecclesiastical writer and teacher who contributed to the early formation of Christian doctrines.

We may thus assert in utter confidence that the Jews will not return to their earlier situation, for they have committed the most abominable of crimes, in forming this conspiracy against the Savior of the human race…hence the city where Jesus suffered was necessarily destroyed, the Jewish nation was driven from its country, and another people was called by God to the blessed election.

John Chrysostom (344-407 A.D.) – One of the "greatest" of church fathers; known as "The Golden Mouthed."

The synagogue is worse than a brothel…it is the den of scoundrels and the repair of wild beasts…the temple of demons devoted to idolatrous cults…the refuge of brigands and dabauchees, and the cavern of devils. It is a criminal assembly of Jews…a place of meeting for the assassins of Christ… a house worse than a drinking shop…a den of thieves, a house of ill fame, a dwelling of iniquity, the refuge of devils, a gulf and a abyss of perdition."…"I would say the same things about their souls… As for me, I hate the synagogue…I hate the Jews for the same reason.

St. Augustine (c. 354-430 A.D.), Confessions, 12.14

How hateful to me are the enemies of your Scripture! How I wish that you would slay them (the Jews) with your two-edged sword, so that there should be none to oppose your word! Gladly would I have them die to themselves and live to you!

Questions To Consider:

"Given the climate of our society today, how would we be received making such statements about the Jews as our venerable Church Fathers have made?

I suppose the threats against our bodies would be such as to even possibly bring us to ruination.

"Why do you suppose such actions would be taken against us for making such statements in public?"

Could it be that the spirit of the Antichrist has saturated our culture to such an extent that his spirit is indeed reigning in our society?

"Ask yourself this question." As you read these statements by our venerable Church Fathers; Were you taken back? Did you writhe and squirm? Did you think to yourself, "Well that was then and we live in different times?" If indeed you entertained these thoughts, I would dare to say, that the spirit of the Antichrist is at work in you at this very moment! 

"Now consider what your attitude would have been before having considered this last question. Would you think to your self, "I would never accept the Antichrist!"?

If, what I am presenting here has merit, the implications for the true Church are absolutely daunting, for I have only made a slight prick upon the body. 

My fear is that the body is wrought with cancer and as of yet, we have not even begun to be aware of it!

Monday, February 11, 2008

St Basil the Great: On the Holy Tradition (4th Century)

Comment: What is fascinating to me, is that every detail of church tradition that St. Basil refers to in his treatise continues to be practiced until this very day and has been faithfully taught and practiced by the church of the East since the time of Apostles.

Concerning the teachings of the Church, whether publicly proclaimed (kerygma) or reserved to members of the household of faith (dogmata), we have received some from written sources, while others have been given to us secretly, through apostolic tradition. Both sources have equal force in true religion. No one would deny either sourceno one at any rate, who is even slightly familiar with the ordinances of the Church. If we attacked unwritten customs, claiming them to be of little importance, we would fatally mutilate the Gospel, no matter what our intentionsor rather, we would reduce the Gospel teaching to bare words. For instance (to take the first and most common example), where is the written teaching that we should sign with the sing of the Cross those who, trusting in the Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, are to be enrolled as catechumens? Which book teaches us to pray facing the East? Have any saints left for us in writing the words to be used in the invocation of the Eucharistic bread and the cup of blessing? As everyone knows, we are not content in the liturgy simply to recite the words recorded by St. Paul or the Gospels, but we add other words both before and after, words of great importance for this mystery. We have received these words from unwritten teaching. We bless baptismal water and the oil for chrismation as well as the candidate approaching the font. By what written authority do we do this, if not from secret and mystical tradition? Even beyond blessing the oil, what written command do we have to anoint with it? What about baptizing a man with three immersions, or other baptismal rites, such as the renunciation of Satan and his angels? Are not all these things found in unpublished and unwritten teachings, which our fathers guarded in silence, safe from meddling and petty curiosity? They had learned their lesson well; reverence for the mysteries is best encouraged by silence. The uninitiated were not even allowed to be present at the mysteries; how could you expect these teachings to be paraded about in public documents? . . . We have unwritten tradition so that the knowledge of dogma might not become neglected and scorned through familiarity. Dogma is one thing, kerygma another; the first is observed in silence, while the latter is proclaimed to the world. One form of silence is the obscurity found in certain passages of Scripture, which makes the meaning of some dogmas difficult to perceive for the reader’s own advantage. For instance, we all pray facing East, but few realize that we do this because we are seeking Paradise, our old fatherland, which God planted in the East in Eden. We all stand for prayer on Sunday, but not everyone knows why. We stand for prayer on the day of the Resurrection to remind ourselves of the graces we have been given: not only because we have been raised with Christ and are obliged to seek the things that are above, but also because Sunday seems to be an image of the age to come. Notice that although Sunday is the beginning of days, Moses does not call it the first day, but one day: And there was evening and there was morning, one day, since this day would recur many times. Therefore one and eight are the same, and the one day really refers both to itself and to the eighth day. Even the Psalmist follows this usage in certain titles of the psalms [e.g., in Pss 6 and 11, LXX]. This day foreshadows the state which is to follow the present age: a day without sunset, nightfall, or successor, an age which does not grow old or come to an end. It is therefore necessary for the Church to teach her newborn children to stand for prayer on this day, so that they will always be reminded of eternal life, and not neglect preparations for their journey. The entire season of Pentecost is likewise a reminder of the resurrection we expect in the age to come. If we count that one day, the first of days, and then multiply it seven times seven, we will have completed the seven weeks of the holy Pentecost, and the season ends on the same day it began (Sunday) with fifty days having elapsed. Therefore this season is an image of eternity, since it begins and ends at the same point, like a circle. During this time the ordinances of the Church instruct us to pray standing, and by this reminder our minds are made to focus on the future instead of on the present. Also, every time we bend our knees for prayer and then rise again, we show by this action that through sin we fell down to earth, but our Creator, the Lover of Mankind, has called us back to heaven.

–St. Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit ch. 27(66) (SVS 1980)

Holy Icons Defended From Scripture & Tradition

The standard charge of Protestants is that the Orthodox are idolatrous because they will reverence icons, images, relics and shrines. If we thought that these things were gods, that would be a valid charge. Indeed, there are badly instructed Orthodox who may have superstitious ideas about such things. However, the biblical case for holy images is, I believe, overwhelming when one takes everything into account. Furthermore, it’s been settled by the Seventh Ecumenical Council (Nicea II in 787), which many Protestants claim to adhere to! 

Nicea II based its argumentation upon the writings and argumentation of Ss. Theodore of Studium, Germanus of Constantinople, and John of Damascus. St. John of Damascus’ famous treatise in defense of holy icons is that basis for the arguments I am going to make below. I will also include some quotes from various Fathers defending images, showing that this is part of the Holy Orthodox Faith.

1. Really the only apparent biblical argument against images from the Protestant view is the Second Commandment. Protestants argue that there are to be no images made of God, or anything in heaven or earth. In response to this charge, it is important to note that the Protestant view is actually inconsistent and impossible. First, the literal wording of the Command forbids all making of any images of anything in heaven, earth, sea, etc. Reformed theologian Charles Hodge mentions a reformed colleague of his at Princeton who actually refused to use maps that pictured things like mountains, lakes, etc. This is a consistent outworking of the Protestants position. Such a position is totally ridiculous, but he was attempting to be as consistent with his heretical reading of the Second Command.

Two points refute this: the Commandment specifically mentions heaven, earth, sea, etc. God seems to be pointing out the type of worship the Israelites encountered in their pagan neighbors like Egypt, Babylonia, Philistia, Canaan, etc. In other words, “heavens,” meaning astrology, “earth,” meaning animism and nature worship, and “sea” meaning various forms of aquatic idolatry, such as Nile worship. So, God is not railing against the inherent evil of an image, but against the practices of the Israelite neighbors, which included any or all of the above. We can further prove this with the second point: God himself commands many holy images to be placed inside the Holy of Holies! 1 Kings 6 describes how ornate the inside of the Holy of Holies was, replete with images of Cherubim and Seraphim, and of course the Ark itself had two huge, golden Cherubim over its lid. If images were inherently evil, God wouldn't command His own tabernacle/temple to be full of them. Therefore, the Second Command cannot mean absolutely no religious images. It forbids pagan idolatry, and clearly the temple worship which had images was not idolatry.

Calvin's Fallacious Attack on Holy Icons

John Calvin is one of the single most influential figures of Reformation theology. His theological attitudes are reflected even today in the heart and soul of modern Protestantism. While even Eastern Orthodox Christians revere St. Augustine and his countless theological contributions to the Church; it remains true that Western Christianity inherited not only his genius, but his flaws and innovations as well (namely, the filioque). Likewise, Eastern Christians recognize merit in Calvin’s critical objections to the abuses of the Roman Church, as the Eastern Church posed many of these same objections over 500 years earlier. The shame is in the absence of dialogue between Calvin and the Eastern Church which, in facing the Roman Church in solitude without the compass of theological direction, led to a host of Calvin’s own innovations. One seemingly trivial, but philosophically crucial, point of departure from patristic wisdom is Calvin’s rejection of Holy Icons. While Calvin realized the error in Rome’s evolved state of superstition, his flee from such errors led him quickly past truth and into a state of iconoclasm much worse than the amendable condition of Rome. For reasons partially pragmatic, Calvin chose the road of innovation rather than counsel. And while you might expect this sort of decision to cause a humble man to leave some issues unaddressed, Calvin acted on his implicit iconoclasm and formed an explicit criticism of the Eastern use of icons. But his critique shed ample light on his ignorance, and further emphasized his need of Eastern counsel.

Friday, February 1, 2008

The Monk Makarios the Great of Egypt (4th Century)

Once during prayer Blessed Makarios heard a voice: "Makarios, thou hast reached such attainment as have two women living in the city". The humble ascetic, taking up his staff, went to the city, found the house where the women lived, and knocked. The women received him with joy, and the monk said: "Because of you I have come from a far wilderness, and I want to know about your good deeds; tell about them, keeping nothing secret". The women answered with surprise: "We live with our own husbands, and we have not such virtues". But the saint continued to insist, and the women then told him: "We entered into marriage with two brothers by birth. After all this time of life in common we have told each other not one evil thing nor insulting word, and never do we quarrel between ourselves. We asked our husbands to release us into a women's monastery, but they were not agreeable, and we gave a vow not to utter one worldly word until death". The holy ascetic glorified God and said: "In truth the Lord does not seek virgins nor married women, and neither monks nor worldly persons, but doth value the free intent of the person within the arbitrariness of his free will to offer thanks to the Holy Spirit, which acts and which rules the life of each person, yearning to be saved".