Holy Things For those struggling to become Holy
Edited By: +Joseph Thaddeus, OSB, SSJt., Ph.D.
Why doesn’t Holy Scripture clearly explicate certain issues around those things which there is much contention today so as to avoid the numerous conflicts, disagreements and schisms that we suffer from? For example:
The Holy Virgin Mary who is referred to as the Holy Theotokos.
Another example would be “Tradition” of men.
Even the example of the so-called "Brethren" of Jesus Christ.
If God had allowed there to be more information in the scriptures there would be lessened disputes. The "brethren of Christ" statements would be more understandable and discernable instead of some (Primarily Protestants) saying that Christ had other brethren, errantly concluding among many Protestants that Christ had biological brothers and sisters which they falsely believed were other offspring of the Virgin Mary (Theotokos).
Our Faith is based on Holy Tradition and Holy Scripture. Holy Tradition, while being Oral and Written (both, by themselves and in tandem each with other) is also the experience of the Church throughout Her life on earth which has been passed down from one generation to the next.
In the literal sense, the very word “Tradition” means that which is ‘passed on’. Therefore “Holy Tradition” is passed on and given over within the true Church itself as it is inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit” (Hopko, Father Thomas, 1971. The Orthodox Faith: An elementary Handbook on the Orthodox Church. Volume 1 Doctrine, New York: The Department of Religious Education The Orthodox Church of America. P.12). Holy Tradition is put into practice in our daily lives and in worship. It is an understanding of those revealed truths that exists in our walk and talk on a day to day basis. It is a faith daily lived as though one breathes air. It is a Tradition that is both unwritten and written.
The Church, according to some Protestants, came about as a result of Holy Scripture. This is false. The Holy Scriptures, the Bible, came about as a result of the true Church established by Jesus Christ Himself. The Holy Apostles and some of their successors wrote and put together the Holy Bible. The true Church has lived and breathed with both the oral and written traditions. Yes, the Bible is a part of “Tradition”. Therefore any Protestant or anyone else who claims that the “traditions of men” are not to be followed, is a blasphemer of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit and the true Church, even though they may not know it.
The true Church has normally lived in a manner in which She speaks little about Holy matters. Holy matters are to be lived instead of, as has become the common thing, spoken about as something that can be dissected, analyzed and studied as though its teachings are something for a scientific journal.
The very word “Holy” can not be subjected to quarrelsome argumentation or debate as has been done by the various Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches (Churches of Christ, Pentecostalism, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormonism, etc.) under Protestant and Pagan domination and control.
Many do not understand the very word “Holy” because they, themselves, have found the very idea to be something beyond their reach as a result of their inability to grasp, understand, live and breathe the air of “holiness” which, in itself, is a spiritual struggle that is not easily attainable for some. It is not an exercise of mental agility nor is it a matter of theoretical discussions and exercises.
Unless we have acquired new senses, unless our souls and bodies are sanctified by the mystery of repentance, of baptism, and unless cleansing and nourishment through the Word has come first, the Church does not give the incarnate Word and the Truth as sanctified Bread and Wine. For only after all this preparation, in the unity of the living faith which is a free gift of the Spirit, is man accounted worthy without danger or guilt to take into himself the new nourishment, the fire of the Godhead, "for fellowship of the Holy Spirit, for an inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, not unto judgment nor unto condemnation." Here indeed "divine action summarizes theology." (St. Dionysius the Areopagite, On the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy 3:5: P.G. 3:432B.) It is this that most of the protestant cultists cannot and do not understand, and for that matter, neither do some of the faithful of the Orthodox jurisdictions of the Catholic Church just like the Roman Jurisdiction of the Catholic Church who have failed and refused to abide by those spiritual things mentioned in the past and present as they have shown by their continual embarking upon a quest of expanionism.
The word “Holy” signifies that all such matters must be approached with utmost awe, reverence and sobriety. The same would apply if someone were to ask me about my personal life, my family (be they blood relations or the spiritual extended families). I would have to reply by saying, “This is not a subject I care to speak about in passing because it is not a topic for empty conversational speculation. My personal life is much deeper and more multifarious, significantly more so than meager or mere chatter will ever encompass.”
It is in this same spirit that the true Church, the Orthodox Church, has lived up until these present times where such intimate and deep holy matters have become widespread with a proliferation of printed materials, the radio, the television and now the internet. As a result, they have intersected with other foreign ideas and the results have been like water coming down from the mountain top where, as it passes by or through towns, villages, cities… it has become sullied with and even dirtied, being attacked, altered and modified to suit the errant needs of others who may sometimes call themselves Independent, etc.
The description is such that while sullied with impurities in water, they may superficially resemble the faith of the One, Holy, Orthodox, Catholic and Apostolic Church. This is something that cannot be romanticized as some do in these present times. For over time they have actually become diminished, and that which was once pure has become less than what it once was, tainted to where the past is almost, but not quit yet lost as a result of the alterations and modifications made. The early Church, which was and is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church has now had to incorporate and embrace the word “Orthodox” as a means to show that She does continues to preserve that which is the true Church in both spirit and truth (on earth). Therefore there are some, like our unworthy selves, who say "One, Holy, Orthodox, Catholic and Apostolic" Church.
The Roman Jurisdiction of the Catholic Church has been in error for some time now, of that we can assure you. History is replete with the numerous errors of their own making. Yet, because of the material growth of that organization (we say "organization" because that is what it has become) under disguise of being a "Church" with a political axis in world affairs. Now, as we have seen, there are a few Orthodox Patriarchs who have joined in and bedded down with that Whore of Babylon. It is not the faithful who are members who are to be turned away from for they are the sheep following their errant shepherds without understanding all that has been and is happening around the world.
If the Roman Jurisdiction of the Catholic Church were sincere, they would proclaim with frankness in ecumenical circles that which they emphasize to their own faithful sheep - their non-negotiable attachment to the primacy of the Pope (Bishop of Rome) over all other bishops (as their actions prove to be doing subtly) and his infallibility. This of course would reveal clearly how they envision the unity of Christians: not as a unity faith, but rather as a SUBJECTION of all under papal supremacy. In addition to this, the finding would be confirmed that the institution of the papacy on the one hand comprises the most tragic distortion of the Gospel and, on the other hand, uses dialogues purely for the sake of its own expansionist policies, as previously said.
The chief expression of this insincerity of the Roman Jurisdiction of the Catholic Church is found in their maintaining and strengthening of the Unia. The "Unia" is a religious-political scheme invented by the Roman Jurisdiction in order to bring the Orthodox Christians of Eastern Europe (along with those of the West) under papal authority while allowing them to retain their ecclesiastical customs (clerical dress, liturgical typicon, Slavonic services, etc.) Established at the Union of Brest in 1596, the Unia took advantage of the difficult hisotircla circumstances faced by Orthodox Christians under Polish rule, and now by those under the rule of Muslim (Islam) controlled areas.
If the many Protestant groups were honest, they would state outright that they are not willing to compromise their fundamental Protestant principles and that (in fact) there are other reasons that force them into dialogue. This is, in any case, what is revealed by the deterioration of their "churches" (ordination of women, same-sex marriages, etc.)
Because dishonesty and self-serving motives poisoned the various dialogues; reducing them to endless and fruitless theological debates, a turn of events was attempted. The dialogues were now called "dialogues of love," both for effect and to sidestep the hurdle of dogmatic contentions. "Love comes first," they emphasize. "Love compels us to unite, even if there are dogmatic differences."
For this reason, the method in the dialogues of today is because there is not to be any discussion of things that divide, but only of those things that unite, so as to facilitate a false sense of unity and shared faith. In the Ecumenical Councils of the past
However, the ancient Fathers always discussed precisely that which divided. The same happens today in any dialogue between two parties with differences: They discuss the issues which separate them - that, indeed the whole point of the dialogue - and not those issues that unite.
Within the pathology of the dialogues there also belongs the deadening of Orthodox theological criteria. This has arisen due to the cultivation of an "ecumenical courtesy" much like the Roman Jurisdiction toward those of the Orthodox Catholic Jurisdictions which has caused for some Orthodox Patriarchs to bed down with the Roman Whore. The faith is no longer considered the truth which saves, but the whole series of theoretical truths which allow for compromises. This is not a true "Orthodox" approach and never will be for those who are true to the faith in spirit and truth.
The Orthodox ecumenists claim: "We are merely discussing, we are not changing our faith!" Of course dialogue, as a "loving approach" to the other, is pleasing to God. The ecumenist dialogue, however, as it is carried out today, is not a meeting in truth, but rather a "mutual recognition." This means that we recognize the heterodox communities as Churches; that we concede that their dogmatic differences compromise "legitimate expressions" of the same faith. But, by doing this, we fall into the trap of dogmatic syncretism: we place the truth on an equal footing with delusion; we equate light with darkness.
With the deadening of their theological criteria, it is quite natural that Orthodox ecumenists would participate, without reticence, in common shows of worship with the heterodox and in joint prayer which take place regularly at inter-Christian meetings. they know that within this common ecumenical spirituality the right psychological climate is created for the promotion of union efforts in the eyes of the people, the public, society as a whole.
The Holy and ancient Canons of the Seven Ecumenical Councils strictly forbid us to pray with the heterodox, for the heterodox do not share the Orthodox faith, and actually that is true of the present day Roman Jurisdiction of the Catholic Church, even though there has been maintained a similarity of things from their past. Their actions and statements of today speak volumes of the underlying causative reasons and beliefs. What they believe now-a-days is a different, distorted Christ.
On this account St. John Damascene calls them unbelievers. The heterodox Protestants of Pentecostalism, Mormonism, Jehovah's Witnesses - Church of Christ and many others, are operating their so-called "churches" as though they worship Jesus Christ, but without believing in the Holy Trinity and other areas of the Orthodox Catholic faith; they are worshippers (unbeknownst to most of them) the Antichrist, the Evil One who has done to them the same as the Evil One did to Eve who succumbed and brought down Adam. And by those dialogues we have already discussed, the Roman Jurisdiction of the Catholic Church, along with some of the Orthodox Patriarchs alignment with the Roman whore... have actually and factually bedded down with them also. The faithful of the Roman and some Orthodox Catholic Jurisdictions, are not wholly aware of these things for they are the 'sheep' of those shepherds they follow.
The faith of the true Church established by Jesus Christ, the Holy Apostles and Martyrs would be diminished in time as prophesied by Holy Writ and numerous Patristic Fathers. We see it happening now, in these present times. That which was good and a belief by those of the past has become diluted and distilled by the politics of men who are supposed to be successors of the Apostles.
Praying with the heterodox, is forbidden because it professes belief and participation in the faith of the other person praying and it gives the other the false impression and hope that he is not in error or delusion and therefore has no need of turning to the truth. This is what is also happening among many of those who call themselves "Independent".
If the Holy Canons forbid praying together with the heterodox, they even more strongly forbid our participation in the heterodox "Sacraments." Even on this point, however, we Orthodox have not been consistent.
The Second Vatican Council (V2), within the framework of the ecumenistic "overtures" which it made, proposed intercommunion with the Orthodox: the Roman faithful would be able to commune at Orthodox churches and the Orthodox at Roman churches. In this way, both the Roman and the Orthodox ecumenists believe that the union of Romanism and Orthodoxy will gradually happen de facto, despite all of their dogmatic differences.
For Roman Catholics, this position is justified from their perception of the Church and the Sacraments - but for us who are true Orthodox, it is illogical and unacceptable.
Our Church, the true Orthodox Catholic Church, has never regarded the Holy Eucharist as the means to accomplish unification but always as its seal and crown.
The common Chalice presupposes a common faith. This means, in other words, that if an Orthodox Christian communes in a Roman church, s/he accepts the Roman faith.
These things were bound to happen. Holy Scripture indirectly prophesied these things would happen as they are now taking place.
The Evil One, through the various Protestant cultic churches who have been more and more the 'back bone' of the World Council of Churches; who have infected the Roman Jurisdiction of the Catholic Church, now infecting the Orthodox Catholic Patriarchates, and it is become a norm where politics is the sharpened axe for greed. The axe is that which they use to close down and tear apart those who belong to the true Church, that is... those who have maintained their faith.
Pragmatically, the early Church lived through those holy matters, but did not speak about them. For it is that there is a difference between praxis and mere knowledge or theory is important. Praxis is the important element of practical application and practice which is favored by the Orthodox Church. Such praxis affords a necessary silence which in turn allows grace and mystery to partake in the experience of the Church.
If one who is not an Orthodox Catholic Christian or not even Christian at all, were to come to a parish (of some Orthodox parishes today) during the celebration of Divine Liturgy (Mass), during the Celebration of the Eucharist, they would face a problem under normal circumstances. We should invite one who visits who is not One with us in spirit and truth into our service, at the beginning. We might offer him or her a liturgy book so they might be able to follow along as we would be happy that we might have another member to the congregation. What would this person hear though?
A visitor would definitely hear about bread and wine becoming the Body and Blood and most visitors would become a bit bewildered and leave in a state of confusion.
Such a visitor comes from a different place of understanding and belief. Such a visitor is really not ready to either hear or see such things for to them they would have not only a different understanding, but would, in order not to be embarrassed, either join in the Eucharistic celebration by partaking of that which they should not. Therefore, in many parishes such a visitor they might hear from the Deacon, “All catechumens depart. Catechumens, Depart. All catechumens, depart. Let no catechumen remain” (from the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom).
This is why the early Church did not allow this to happen. When a visitor came to the Church, s/he was not allowed entrance. “It is not your place, you may not enter for it is our private house of prayer.” If someone were to come to you and says: ‘I have come to your house, with all my baggage and I will life with you’ wouldn’t you respond by saying, “No! I am sorry, my home is a private space and requires certain adherences that I must preserve in my intimate home life” or something similar. Of course, in these present times, there are many who would welcome them openly without forethought which often can lead to problems.
That is why the Holy Tradition of the early Church disallowed for catechumens to stay after the didactic segment of the liturgy – this is the first part of the Liturgy of the Eucharist which we call the Liturgy of the Catechumens. And, before the start of the Liturgy of the Believers (this is the segment of the Liturgy of the Eucharist which directly follows the Liturgy of the Catechumens – beginning with the recitation of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan creed and ending with distribution of the Holy Mysteries) wherein the Mysteries are sanctified and distributed, the Catechumens would be dismissed from the Church as shown in the previous paragraph.
It is not just the catechumens who are dismissed from the church. But also those who were baptized but had not prepared themselves to receive the Holy Mysteries were also directed to leave the church at such time.
The Liturgy of the Believers was attended only by the faithful who had prepared to receive the Holy Mysteries. The doors of the Church were shut and that was all.
And this Divine Liturgy was never broadcast on the radio or television, and those who attended were only that group of faithful who had prepared for the reception of the Holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Where is this practice today?
Those who are true bishops are true Apostles! This means that those who keep both the oral and written traditions, according to their nature and degree of ability to do so, are true Apostles in a long line of successive apostles as ordained and consecrated by Jesus Christ (ordaining the First Apostles, who in turn ordained their successors). Yet, lest we forget, there are many today who claim to be Bishops (that is: Apostles) in a long line of succession. It is not enough to hold the paperwork to show their factually being legitimate bishops. One must be able to hold, according to their nature and degree of ability, that which was handed down through time and history that which was believed and taught. It must be both spiritual, not just material or earthy. Anyone who does not maintain the spiritual path but is in the 'earthy' sense, legitimate... is not truly a bishop or Apostle. If one is truly ignorant, that can be forgiven. But when apprised of their errors and fail to understand or accept the reality (spiritual and material) implications involved; they have blasphemed the Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ, the Holy Apostles and their successors, more especially have they blasphemed the Holy Spirit who leads all towards Holiness.
Today, in our age, we seem to see that holy matters are open to public display and even permit them to become distorted… and God only knows to what extent and damage such distortion is causing.
It is for these reasons that speech about holy matters is very little.
These awful and holy matters are topics for leisurely conversation and diversion, nor is it even a subject for analysis as many of the so-called “Independent” Catholics do. It is why many of them no longer believe in or practice that which has been required through time and history from the ancient epitome of the Seven Ecumenical Councils, but also the failure to honor and respect the Seals of the Confessional.
Many of those who are “Independent” today have little preparation or experience with holy things, failing to be more thoroughly imbued with spiritual and material understanding accordingly, while relying upon their own analytical experiences as though in attendance at a university of some sort; becoming more ‘Cafeteria’ Catholic, if “Catholic” at all! They have little understanding of spiritual matters, thus rely upon only that which is contained in Holy Scripture without even understanding much of that, except by their own interpretations. They allow for the ordination of females, the acceptance of things flatly in violation of the Seven Ecumenical Councils.
No matter what we may write or say, there are and will be those who flatly refuse to be true believers in that which came down through time and history to us through the Holy Apostles and their legitimate Successors.
Those legitimate successors are those who adhere and practice on a daily basis the living faith. Those who came by their material succession but fail or refuse to abide by such living faith are themselves no longer legitimate spiritual successors, but material (earthy) successors without form in their spirit! This is become more and more the norm in these present times, otherwise many of our brothers in the vineyard would be more adhering to the faith and belief. We only have to look to the present day Roman Jurisdiction of the Catholic Church and some Orthodox Patriarchs to see what is happening who have become political bastions of Synchrestic Ecumenism. But more importantly, we have only to look at many in the “Independent” movement and see worse things prevail as they join in and with those of the various “Council of Churches,” “National Council of Churches” and the “World Council of Churches” which allow for and include many a pagan and atheist.
An Apostle (Bishop) in a long line of successive Apostles
Metropolitan Archbishop, Archabbot, Primate
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