Friday, December 4, 2009

Keeping Faith in Christ in an Age of Turmoil - Fr. Maximos McIntyre

*Sorry, I know this post is wordy and a culmination of many posts into one, but think it will show the mentality of what we are trying to start in Millbury, a truly Orthodox mission dedicated to Christ, kind and compassionate but not willing to go with the times. It does not matter if there are 2-3 of us or 200-300. We need to remain faithful to Christ and His Church in these turbulent times. -Fr. Maximos

I write this out of love and concern for my fellow humans seeking Christ in an age of apostasy. We live in spiritually turbulent times. Today, perhaps more than ever, we are continually assaulted by various means from the evil one.

The word “church” often synonymous with faith and spirituality is often inaccurate in our times. Today many “churches” are nothing more than politically influenced organizations run like a business. Instead of ensuring the salvation of souls it ensures the financial security of itself. Churches are often the puppet of political regimes, greedy human beings and demonic pseudo-organizations bent on hellish agendas. They add and subtract from the apostolic message and distort Christ to the point where they indeed preach a doctrine of antichrist and not the fullness of the Christ which is life-saving Truth.

God has been banished from our schools, the public square and ultimately our lives under the guise of atheism. To speak of Christ is weird, unacceptable to society and utterly taboo. When Christ is preached it is often distorted, laced with messages of prosperity, worldly acceptance and comfort instead of humility, repentance and bearing one’s cross. God have mercy on us in these dark days as false preachers run amuck sowing seeds of discord. The fastest growing “faiths” are pagan religions. False faiths, the resurrection of pagan mystery cults are flourishing. People are looking for meaning and seek taboo areas to fulfill their spiritual voids and search for meaning. It is only in the Orthodox teaching on the essential purification of the heart, the true enlightenment of the nous and participation via grace, in the Divine Energy of God is essential to the soul. No other “religion” can claim this except the faith which teaches Christ as Lord and Savior of humankind. All other philosophies, no matter how sincere are still devoid of the power of the life-giving cross.

We are inundated in this age with materialism, nihilism, atheism, Satanism, new age thought, Gnosticism, theosophy, pantheism, religious pluralism, ecumenism, goddess worship, intellectualism, agnosticism, worship of self, luciferianism, humanism, occult experimentation, disease, delusion, selfishness, deception and every other type of spiritual, psychological and physical malady. All these exist for one purpose; to distract us, derail, mislead us from our ultimate destiny; holiness; to partake of the divine nature, totally redeemed and sanctified, cleansed, purified and made whole again. To experience what it is to be truly human and to “live”, to experience fullness and be restored unto life, eternal life. To have the soul healed and to be able to flourish in Truth in light, purged of darkness and stain and clothed in the white wedding garment unto the feast. We are destined to experience deliverance from captivity, true restoration unto true human existence in the image and likeness of God, the first and the last and the Father and Creator of all. God is of course distinct from us, whose essence is unknown to us, but yet whose energy we may experience in grace.

The Church is often referred to as the hospital for souls. It is through this mystical body that we receive the nourishment of Christ through her teachings, sacramental reality, prayer, fasting and ascetic struggle. In searching for restoration of the soul I intend to the best of my ability to exemplify the apostolic tradition laid down by Christ, exemplified by the Church and her saints and martyrs and carried on by Apostolic successors, the bishops, who maintain the faith delivered one and to all unto the saints (Jude 3). It is in the Orthodox Church we are revealed as what it means to be truly human, participating in the reality Christ calls each one of us to participate in, restoring the soul to the pre-fallen state where it may know Christ by turning one’s soul from the earthly to the divine realm.

The Holy Scriptures, the testimony of the fathers of the holy faith, their eye witness to Christ and the wisdom they have received right from the successors of Christ is our focus here. This work is not to demean other belief systems or even other Christians, but in all honestly I believe that the fullness of Truth exists only in the Holy Orthodox faith, others having glimpses and not the entire unblemished faith.

I am not worthy as a worthless sinner to even begin to crack such a topic, especially where I have failed. I realize however, as humans, we are all in this predicament. We all are with sin and possess a fallen nature which needs to be restored unto its Creator. There are many paths on this journey but I am convinced there is only one true path. This is not something new nor is it my mere opinion; it is instead new spin on ancient spiritual data. It only scratches the surface of true healing of the noetic factor in the Orthodox tradition. I have experienced sickness, true organic problems. I have suffered in spirit, desolation, attack, aridity, and all maladies which can ensue. I write this small work to raise awareness. I pray it will point other souls towards true fulfillment in Christ, A Christ eternal and not of this world. I am attempting to pull spiritual wisdom from the Orthodox Church via scripture, the ancient canons, its saints and fathers and confessors to show where true healing and restoration take place. They take place in Christ through His spiritual hospital He left us, the church. It is only in the person of Christ that we see that these mere passions are traps in themselves and He is not just a mere archetype we should exemplify in dealing with these spiritual plagues, but it is in He that we too can be cleansed from these ravenous maladies of the soul.

Christ healed those afflicted by sin, sickness, physical maladies, possession by darkness, lunacy and mental illness and raised the dead because he came to undo the results of sin which are reflective in all of these maladies which humans experience. Christ did not come unto humanity to explain or define the cosmic problem of human suffering, sin or death, but to fill our tangible existence with His Divine healing and restorative presence. Since Christ came to defeat sin and its consequence and final symptom death, we can certainly see that healing was essential since the other byproduct of sin was sickness of body, mind and soul. Remember there is a link between the soul and the body. When our very soul is sick, the body will likewise suffer and be in disharmony. The Church always asks her followers to repent from their sins, their transgressions so that the Holy Spirit will have access to one’s essence. Remember, sickness and death entered the world due to sin, so if we work on eliminating sin, we will be made whole not only in soul, where true spiritual healing is our return to God in humility and obediance.

I wish not to sound polemical by any means, but I am convinced that the fullness of the church resides in the Holy Orthodox Church. If I was to embark on a journey across the country, I would want a means of getting to my destination, the proper vehicle to get me safely and effectively to my destination. The same is true of the salvific reality in Christ. The church is the safest, most efficient and most beneficial way of working towards salvation and most important of all it was initiated by Christ. It has all that we need, we however need to cooperate with God’s abundant grace and willfully participate to get to the Truth.

Personally I have no doubt that I am a weak man, a sinner, a Christian reaching to my Lord for help. I cannot forsake my Lord for comfort. I make mistakes, I am not a theologian and far from being a saint, but I love Christ. I am not here to change what He truly is, I am here to defend Him, carry His cross and assist my brethren so they to may know who He really is. Remember, the true Christian renounces the world for love of Christ, submitting their self to the Blessed Trinity and to the service of fellow man. Saint Theophan the Recluse stated, “Be encouraged! Take up prayer more readily and continue without interruptions—and you will soon achieve your desired goal. Soon a reverent attention to the One God will be established, and with it, inner peace. I say soon, not now, or in a day or two. Months may be required, sometimes, even years. Ask the Lord and He will help.” "Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life." (John 6:27)

The Holy Orthodox Church is relatively unknown in North America yet it is the original Christian Church. Roman Catholicism can claim the same faith for hundreds of years after Pentecost and even historical continuity since the apostles, but the truth has been preserved undefiled in Holy Orthodoxy,undefiled by innovation and subtraction. Protestant Christianity, on the other hand, was a reaction to further innovations and abuses of Roman Catholicism and broke from Rome starting another “church”.

The Orthodox Church of today can trace its history back to the New Testament Church in unbroken continuity. The Apostles, as per our Lord's command, preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ and founded churches in Europe, Asia and Africa. Under the direction of the Apostles and their successors, whom they appointed to carry on their mission, the Orthodox Church began to thrive. At each city and town that the Apostles traveled they would appoint a bishop to continue to minister to the faithful, before leaving on their missionary journeys. As the Church grew, the bishops in turn had to appoint priests and deacons to help them with their flock. The early church maintained truth by the oral testimony, faith and example of the apostles and their appointed successors who maintained the Truth of Christ undefiled. This is what is referred to as apostolic succession. Also early Christian writings, the formulation of canons and of course the holy results of the seven ecumenical councils kept the true faith intact and defined it to contrast the teachings of heretics who sought to preach a different version of Christ. Often based on secret knowledge, Roman paganism, semi-rationalism and Greek philosophy.

It was in the early centuries of the Church's existence, while fighting to safeguard the true doctrines of Christ that the Christian Church officially took on the name "Orthodox." The word Orthodox literally means "straight teaching" or "straight worship," being derived from two Greek words: orthos, "straight," and doxa, "teaching" or "worship." Right, correct, the true saving confession of faith without distortion.

The Bible, western denominations and the confusion we are in:
Today we have many “churches” claiming to be the one, true Church. Only the Holy Orthodox Church can legitimately claim this title. Some possess “mechanical” apostolic succession, but succession in this form, removed from adhering to the faith is deficient and viewed as null and void outside the boundaries of the Holy Orthodox Church. There are various faiths based on Christianity or variants of, but not rooted in the apostolic era. Many have stripped out essential teachings or added erroneous doctrines to the faith.

These include but are not limited to:
· Lutheranism: Martin Luther founded this movement in 1522.
· King Henry VIII was responsible for the birth of the Anglican Church of England in 1534.
· John Knox founded the Presbyterian Church in 1580.
· The Congregational Church was founded by Robert Brown in Holland about 1582.
· John Smith founded the Baptist Church in 1606.
· The Protestant Episcopal Church is a breakaway movement from of the Church of England initiated by Samuel Seabury in the 18th Century.
· The Methodist Church, was erroneously created by John & Charles Wesley in England in about 1774.
· The Unitarian Church was initiated by Theophilus Lindley in England around 1774.
· The Mormon Church was founded by the delusional Joseph Smith in 1829.
· The Salvation Army was founded by William Booth in London England in 1888.

As you can see these faiths are not rooted in the apostolic era but instead were created by men who began their own religion causing further division in the Western world. Other “Christian” groups are often loosely based on the ancient faith, devoid of apostolic succession and the Holy Mysteries; they preach an in-sufficient Christ, only giving glimpses into the mystical theology rooted in the salvation of the soul. Many offshoots claim that the Bible alone is their source of Truth. The Orthodox Church would certainly agree on the Divinely-inspired scriptures as the Word of God but see the Holy Scriptures as part of the Church, not something separate from her. If the Bible is self-sufficient how come not all people can agree on its message? Perhaps one of the phrases you have heard from Bible believing Christians is, “Well, the Bible says so.” Unfortunately this is the sort of phrase used quite often by anyone who wishes to prove their point and fulfill their own agenda. Also we must note most modern Bible translations are corrupted using ambiguous language, the removal of certain canonical books and erroneous commentary.

Many groups claim to be the sole source of Christ as attempt to use the Bible as their justification for existence. We must remember that the Bible came out of the Church; the canon was formed by the Church. The Bible was formulated by the church, for the Church. It is the Church’s sacred book of God inspired texts. What Bible do you use? What version, is it accurate? The Bible even states, “But if he (thy brother) neglect to hear the Church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican" (Matt. 18:17). “Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for any honest work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarrelling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy to all men. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by men and hating one another; but when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, which he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:1-8)What about the fact that the Bible as we know it is fairly new and did not exist in early Christianity. What about those who cannot read? Instead the Church and her rightful successors taught, baptized and healed as Christ taught them. It is from their testimony that the canon was formulated. Sure erroneous man-made traditions are to be ignored, but apostolic traditions of the church are not man-made. The Church has always existed and is traceable by the apostolic succession of a valid bishop who teaches the apostolic truth. This is essential for the spiritual and historic continuity of the true apostolic church. the best of human ability all sacred canons and professions must be upheld, the true and essential unity of the Holy Orthodox Church is fully expressed by the total harmony of her bishops, by a common undivided and apostolic faith and a common, pure and holy spiritual life. Involvement in the Church is to live the Fullness of the Faith, partaking of her grace and communal support with others.

Christ further told His followers, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Matt. 28:20). This promise was made not specifically to the world, but to the Church, the sacrament of His presence. And yet, it is precisely Christ's abiding presence in the Church that is His saving presence in the world. When Christ comes in glory, He will come as a Bridegroom to receive not the kingdoms of this world, but His spotless Bride, the Church (cf. Eph. 5:25-27)…..the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church (cf. Matthew 16:18). The Church, therefore, is a divine-human Mystery. But more than that, She is the Mystery of Trinitarian Life: that they all may be one, as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee . . . that they may be one, even as We are one (John 17:21-22). Jesus promised His abiding presence to His Body, the Church, which is the fullness of Him Who filleth all in all (Eph. 1:23). He promised to send the Holy Spirit Who would guide the Church into all truth (John 16:13). Remember, the church is of the living God, the pillar and the ground of the truth. (1 Tim 3:15) The nature of the Church instated by Christ and ultimately established at Pentecost is one of love, truth and is directly attached to Christ, its head. The Church is the “Bride of Christ” based on this truth. Christ and His Church are one, Christ as the giver of life to each member. All people are called to be the branches, extending from Christ, the head of the universal Church. The Church is one, holy, catholic and apostolic. It is the only spiritual and true body, divinely initiated, universal and timeless and stems from Christ to His apostles and continues through her bishops. The Church is undoubtedly the living Christ.

Rome and the West:
When we evaluate missionary history throughout the known world, the Roman Catholic Church continued to grow and spread through its missionary efforts. The Orthodox Church, due to its subjugation to the Moslem Turks, was unable to do this, remaining in the eastern hemisphere. This perhaps, from a theological standpoint, was a blessing in disguise; for the Orthodox Christians were quite adamant in
retaining the faith, teachings and traditions of their ancestors who in turn had received them unchanged and in complete harmony with the faith and teachings of the Apostles of our Lord and their successors.

This was not so in the West. The Roman Catholic Church had undergone certain theological changes due to the age of Speculation & Enlightenment, the Protestant Reformation and the Counter-Reformation
which eventually led to separations within and from the Roman Catholic Church. These changes in the West as late as the sixteenth century gave birth to the: Lutheran, Methodist, Anglican and other Protestant
churches. These changes in unshakeable church doctrine never affected the Orthodox Church; Orthodoxy maintained its unbroken historical and theological connection to the New Testament Church despite theological and political turmoil in the western world. Where the west often added to, over-defined and adopted philosophical principles from those scholastics such as Augustine, Saint Thomas Aquinas and Cardinal Newman, the Church of the East maintained its faith as defended by early Church Fathers such
as Saint Maximos the Confessor, Gregory of Palamas, Gregory of Nyssa and many other voices of early Christianity. As a result it is safe to say Eastern and Western Christendom took two divergent paths. Medieval scholasticism, humanistic reason and European philosophy certainly permeated the Roman Catholic Church. Papal innovations, cooperation with worldly kingdoms and politics, various forms of tyranny and the establishment of the Vatican as a world power certainly further separated the Roman church from its ancient apostolic heritage rooted in the mystical theology of the early church.

The New Age, Pop-psychology, self-help movements:
The New Age movement has erupted into an acceptable and penetrating force. A look at the overall atmosphere of New Age philosophy appears to be one of tolerance and even peaceful sincerity, but closer investigation reveals otherwise. It is the systematic weeding out, destruction and intolerance of Christ. With no official epicenter or visible leader the new age movement is a concoction of many ideals, an anything goes philosophy ensues, no rules or moral regulations. Anyone can believe anything they want, true or false and accept any moral precept they may wish, despite its uncertainty, delusion or evil nature. It is simply a modern manifestation of age old heresies, deceit, and spiritual destruction. The new age is essentially a spirit of error and destruction which continually re-invents itself in a loose, but powerful, network of satanic entrapments, deceit and false promises leading the soul away from its only source of redemption and healing and restoration to the pre-fallen state, that of Christ. It substitutes truth for error or ambiguity, blending truth with falsehood in order to ensnare the will in a decision between the Almighty God and the fallen one. It seeks to exploit our inherent weaknesses and our human failure. It is in part the cause of sin, or at least the promotion of it, and therefore the reason for sickness and death of the soul. It tries to extinguish the True Light in a world of darkness.

This spirit is what is called the “new age”. It is simply a modern manifestation of age old heresies, deceit, and spiritual destruction. The new age is essentially a spirit of error and destruction which continually re-invents itself in a loose, but powerful, network of satanic entrapments, deceit and false promises leading the soul away from its only source of redemption and healing and restoration to the pre-fallen state, that of Christ. It substitutes truth for error or ambiguity, blending truth with falsehood in order to ensnare the will in a decision between the Almighty God and the fallen one. It seeks to exploit our inherent weaknesses and our human failure. It is in part the cause of sin, or at least the promotion of it, and therefore the reason for sickness and death of the soul. It tries to extinguish the True Light in a world of darkness. "The True Light that enlightens every man" and "that all who believe in His name may become the children of God" (John 1:9-12). It seeks to pit the created against the Uncreated. They seek the destruction of the essence by sowing seeds of discord. It is a mode of thought and action which is detrimental to the soul. Ambiguous, deceitful, cunning, full of lies and has a goal of having all under its hellish jurisdiction. It seeks the ruin of man and his entrapment either willingly or by trickery and deceit. It does not discriminate for it wants to destroy man who is created in the image and likeness of the One, Eternal God. It seeks to lead away even the elect by creating barriers between man and his redemption.

Perhaps one of our biggest largest spiritual problems is that of the neo-paganism that runs rampant and for the most part undetected since there is no official, earthly visible head of this network of harmful, soul-destroying heresies. There is of course an architect behind the movement known as the prince of this world, but this deceitful blanket clause of “new age” seems to cover all of the neo-pagan and Gnostic falsehoods, delusions and blasphemies. Neo-paganism continually grows in worldly stature and acceptance. Today, new age materials are readily available in many print avenues as well as mass market media. The New Age mind-set has touched almost every area of life: education, culture, history, religion, politics, psychology, science and healthcare. A look at the overall atmosphere of New Age philosophy appears to be one of tolerance and even peaceful sincerity, but closer investigation reveals otherwise. It is the systematic weeding out, destruction and intolerance of Christ. Anti-Christ no necessarily obvious by being against Christ but intends to negate the reign of Christ in the hearts of mankind. As the church Fathers indicate this spirit wants to place its self in place of Christ.

Some modern day “fathers” of occult practices and some popular examples of New Age paganism are:

· Aleister Crowley, Edgar Cayce, Gerald Gardner and Sybil Leek
· Popular books such as “The Secret” by Amanda Byrne, books by Sylvia Browne, Uri Gellar and Deepak Chopra
· Any type of spirit communication, popular angelology, tarot readings, visualization techniques
· False faiths and practices such as Santeria, earth-based worship, meditation groups, Jungian self-help pop-psychology and psychotherapy practices

With no official epicenter or visible leader the new age movement is a concoction of many ideals, an anything goes philosophy ensues, no rules or moral regulations. Anyone can believe anything they want, true or false and accept any moral precept they may wish, despite its uncertainty, delusion or evil nature. This syncretism of an “anything goes” philosophy brings about spiritual numbness instead of spiritual liberation in Christ. It is a global advocate of religious syncretism or religious pluralism built upon pride. Man decides his fate and the state of the world, the notion of Divine Providence obsolete.

In regards to moral accountability, truth is absent since it is up to the individual to decide what is truth. It is delusional, deceptive. The “New Age” Promises the so-called Evolution of the human spirit by its own means, devoid of God or with the assistance of pseudo-gods. These “gods” being everything from mere concepts and ideas to actual inhuman deities who relish in mankind’s demise, rather humanity’s separation from the True and Eternal God.

A further aspect of pagan philosophy is the advent of humanism. Humanism is based on the prideful precepts of Luciferianism and further expanded by western rationalism and educational principles which deny the divinity of Christ and the cosmic power of the life giving cross. “We are all gods”, “we create and have control over our destiny”, “we rule the world and have dominion over it”, these are all statements entrenched in the satanic doctrine of humanism. Humanism is nothing else but the sin of the arch-fiend Lucifer, that of pride, repackaged in such a way over and over again in many guises as to recapitulate his fall. Humanism is just modern paganism without the external ritual, but the aim and means are the same. Humanism, new age paganism, outright Satanism and even Americanized pop-Christianity are deceiving many souls in this age of apostasy. Masonic goals are being achieved especially in ecumenical circles and the resurgence of Gnostic teachings are replacing the real spirit of authentic Christianity by a process of syncretistic lies.You have probably heard of such actions and experiences in self-help groups, charismatic circles and the appendages of human potential movement such as being “slain in the spirit”, “speaking in tongues”, “channeling the power of the Holy Spirit”, being “born again once and for all” and other areas of experience such as aspects of inner healing, deliverance, various unconventional forms of exorcism, spirit communication, prophecy, contacting ascended masters, attracting wealth, health and prosperity (the law of attraction). There is a resurgence of interest in new age angelology, the phenomenon of the stigmata, weeping statues, various types of ecstasy and of course prophetic visions, dreams and messages.We are inundated with pastors and so-called clergy who state, “God said to me…” such and such a thing. Many laity claim that they are enlightened or receive messages or commune with those who have passed from this life. Where are we to draw the line? In an age where schism, heresy and misunderstanding appear to reign supreme, we are losing sight of our mission to both live and preserve the authentic faith of Christ personally and communally. The Fullness of the Church is the Assembly of the people, the children of God for the celebration of the Holy Mysteries, the Divine Eucharist, wherein the local Church or Church proper becomes the true Body of Christ. It is in this Theandric organism that we are communally united, in which the Holy Trinity dwells and we participate on earth in the heavenly mysteries entrusted unto the Church of God.The visible center and head of the Eucharistic gathering is the Bishop who rightly imparts the word of truth and maintains unbroken apostolic succession: It is the bishop who leads the Church and preaches the word of God or appoints priests to preside in temples under his lawful jurisdiction; it is the proper bishop who offers the Eucharist and all the priests who commemorate him as the chief as the assembly that we are all united in the true organic unity of the Holy Church; the Eucharistic unity.Being an actual part of the Church, part of Christ Himself is not simply a profession, deed or belief. It is
the absolute and complete participation in the eternal plan established by the Uncreated Trinity, to take full part willingly in the Lord’s blessedness, that of Christ Jesus, to become sons and daughters in His eternal covenant. As Christians we are not to deny the Trinity, for we are created by God, in His image and for Him! “The Lord hath made all things for himself” (Prov16, 4)… We are not our own, independent or self-sufficient. We belong to the Almighty God.

Coming Home to the Church:
Pertaining to the Church, Saint Theophan the Recluse wrote the following: “What is the holy Church? It is a society of believers, united among themselves by a unity of confession of divinely revealed truths, by a unity of sanctification by divinely established Mysteries, and by a unity of government and guidance by God-given shepherds. The oneness of confession, sanctification, and administration constitutes the rule of this society, which is obligatory for anyone who joins it. Membership in this society is contingent upon accepting this rule and agreeing with it; remaining in this society is contingent upon fulfilling it. Let us see how the holy Church grew and how it continues to grow. The preachers preach. Some of the listeners do not accept the preaching and leave; others accept it and as a result of accepting it are sanctified by the holy Mysteries, follow the guidance of the shepherds, and thus are incorporated into the holy Church -- they are churched. That is how all the Church‘s members enter her. In entering her, they are mingled with all her members, they are united with them, and they remain in the Church only as long as they continue to be one with them all.”

24“Therefore everyone who heareth these words of Mine, and doeth them, I will liken him to a prudent man who built his house upon the rock. 25“And the rain came down, and the rivers rose, and the winds blew, and fell upon that house; and yet it fell not, for it had been founded upon the rock. 26“And everyone who heareth these words of Mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened to a foolish man who built his house upon the sand. 27“And the rain came down, and the rivers rose, and the winds blew, and struck against that house; and it fell. And the fall of it was great.” [Mt. 7:24-27]

Orthodoxy is not “another denomination” but the historical Church of Jesus Christ, undefiled, teaching what the apostles and their successors taught. We acknowledge one head, Christ Jesus, and strive to seek Him, imitate Him and carry out His divine commandments to teach, preach and baptize all nations. “And Jesus coming, spoke to them, saying: All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.” (Matt 28:18-20) Holy Orthodoxy is not rational in the eyes of the world as it is not of this world. It is not a philosophy or mere religious system. It is truth rooted in Christ, a lifestyle of perpetual struggle, participating via the will seeking union and restoration in Christ.

The fullness of the catholic church is present unquestionably in the local church if it possesses the apostolic faith undefiled, surrounded by a right confessing bishop who possesses apostolic succession, in which a presbyter and the people gather to partake of the Holy mysteries...period. There is nothing lacking, it is full, essential, perfect and undoubtedly the church. Not a mere part, but the fullness therein. Christ is in their midst in totality with nothing lacking.

Christ said to those around Him: “Whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?” (Luke 14:27-28). Christ also said, “Straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew 7:14). Though the Sacraments, Holy Scripture, and the spiritual discipline and the ascetic struggle of the Orthodox Church you will find what true prayer, sacrifice and living consists of. True evolution is of the soul when man is redeemed from animalistic corruption to holiness, the supreme destiny of the human. This is exemplified in the process of theosis in which we draw closer to God each and every day fully and willfully participating in Him. 23And He was saying to them all, “If anyone is willing to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and keep on following Me. 24“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever will lose His life on account of Me, this same one shall save it. 25“For what is a man profited, if he gaineth the whole world, but destroyeth or loseth himself? 26“For whosoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of this one the Son of Man shall be ashamed, whenever He should come in His glory, and that of the Father, and of the holy angels. 27“But of a truth I say to you, there are some of those standing here who in no wise shall taste of death, until they see the kingdom of God.” [Lk. 9:23-27] 31Then Jesus was saying to the Jews who had believed Him, “If ye abide in My word, truly ye are My disciples; 32“and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” [Jn. 8:32-33]

True evolution is of the soul when it draws near to is through this process that man is redeemed from animalistic corruption to the path of holiness, the supreme destiny of the human. This struggle is exemplified in the process of theosis in which we draw closer to God each and every day despite the rocky path to salvation. Let us not lose the true savor of Orthodoxy which is Truth in Christ and His saving gifts bestowed upon those who are in Him. If so you will find Him who has been calling you all your life: Christ, the lover and restorer of mankind!

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