The Orthodox Order
The Orthodox Order
"... but if he neglect to hear the Church, let him
be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican"
[St. Matthew 18:17].
"The preaching of the Apostles and the dogmas
of the Fathers confirmed the faith of the Church"
[Kontakion - 7th week after Holy Pascha].
"This is the faith of the Apostles, this is the
faith of the Fathers, this is the Orthodox
faith,å this is the faith ascertained as universal"
[Sunday of Holy Orthodoxy].
"Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven" [St. Matthew 10:32-33]. So spoke Christ-Truth who came into the world, that he "should bear witness unto the truth" [St. John 18:37], and if this knowledge and the full mastering of this truth is lacking, there is no salvation for man [St. John 8:31-51]. This is why in His great prayer as the first Hierarch, before offering Himself in sacrifice for the sins of the people, He prayed to God the Father about His disciples: "Sanctify them through thy truth: they word is truth ... And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth" [St. John 17:17-19]. From this it is to be understood that for the Christian truth is dearer than anything else, and along with this fact that the confessing of this truth through actions, - through all of one's life - is the first and most important duty of the Christian. And this is what the Holy Apostle James, the Lord's brother, says: "Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him: Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins" [St. James 5:19-20], and the beloved disciple of Christ, St. John the Theologian resolutely ascertains: "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth" [III St. John 4], and the great Apostle of the gentiles, St. Paul, wishing to describe the Church to the newly ordained Episcopal of Ephesus, Timothy, whom he has made Bishop taking in consideration Her essential side, defines Her so: "... the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth" [I St. Timothy 3:15]. If we look at the history we see there is an incessant struggle of the Church in the person of the believing Bishops and of the ones who follow after Her for the Truth against error.
a firm stand in the truth by confessing and of a tireless struggle for truth's sake, right up to the readiness to lay down one's soul for truth's sake, remains the important moral duty of each genuine Christian
The first period of the history of Christianity is the struggle against the error of Judaism and paganism. How terrible and bloody was this struggle, marking the occasion of the shedding of much blood of an innumerable number of Christian martyrs! And the blood of these Holy Martyrs, presented itself as witness of the truth [in Greek the word martyr means witness], making itself the foundation of the majestic edifices of the Church. The confessing of the Truth, the struggle for Truth characterizes also very strikingly the second period of Church history, when after the cessation of the persecution of the pagans, sprang up a new, and yet more dangerous persecution against the truth of the Christian teaching from false teachers and heretics. And this period gave the Church a great multitude of strugglers for the Truth, who exposed forever clearly and accurately the truth-teaching of the Church in the resolutions of the Œcumenical Councils and in their writings full of divine wisdom, guarding Her [the Church] against all false teachings.
But it is self-evident that the struggle against truth waged by the enemy of God and the enemy of human salvation, the devil, who according to the Lord Himself is "a liar, and the father of lies" [St. John 8:44], does not cease and will not cease until the end of the world. For this reason a firm stand in the truth by confessing and of a tireless struggle for truth's sake, right up to the readiness to lay down one's soul for truth's sake, remains the important moral duty of each genuine Christian. The last and decisive battle against the Christian truth will take place before the end of the world and in the second coming of Christ, when the devil through his faithful spiritual son, the Antichrist, will endeavor to avert from truth "if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect" [St. Matthew 24:24].
Today we experience once more a terrible time of intensified persecution against the Church and against the truth of the Christian faith that She contains, and because of this it is now an especially blessed to remember the moral duty of confessing which is important to us. The onset of the present persecutions was giving by the west adjuring from the fundamental Christian truths, taking the shape, first of papism, and after of protestantism. [This sentence was apparently poorly translated. -jh] On the soil of these western false teachings revived thereupon paganism in the form of the so-called 'humanism,' which having turned away from God, made of each man an earthly god. And from there the transition came naturally from the worship of God to the worship of God's enemy, Satan, who takes the appearance of "an angel of light" [II Corinthians 11:14], and there where this is not necessary, without this endeavor in all things to indulge the passions and lusts of the man who is stepping back from Christian truth, if in order only to fasten him firmly forever in his power. It is not astonishing therefore that in the present time cells of such secret [and at times obvious ones] organizations which bow to Satan, are largely spread over the whole world, to rule the destinies of this world.
It is not astonishing therefore that in the present time cells of such secret [and at times obvious] organizations which bow to Satan, are largely spread over the whole world, to rule the destinies of this world.
The result everywhere is a strengthening of the persecution against the Church and the Christian faith, which bears only various characters according to the local conditions and circumstances. Sometimes they take the shape of blood persecutions [in Russia], sometimes they take the form of the 'cold war' by way of different kinds of oppressions and contriving of conditions of life such that only exceptional personalities - spiritual heroes - find themselves in a condition to confess their faith, not repudiating Christ and not trampling underfoot the truth of the Christian teaching, if only practically. Precisely there worshippers of Satan installed in Russia revolutionary cells in order to destroy Holy Russia, which for them was hateful, and which was the most important stronghold of the non-damaged Christian faith, confessing Orthodoxy to the whole world. By way of lies and calumnies, the usual weapons of the devil, they endeavored to entice 'if possible,' even the best representatives of our youth, idealistically minded, in order to wrest with their hands the stronghold of Orthodoxy which stood in their way, impeding the realizing of their infernal projects - to wit the subjection of all mankind to the power of Satan. And the Lord betrayed all of them, letting them into their own fall: many paid for their error with their blood, many experienced the torments of Hell before the time of eternal torments in Hell. But woe to those who have shunned here below the judgment of God and did not repent 'while they were at law' in front of the incorruptible and impartial Judge!
It was not enough, however, for the servants of Satan to destroy only the Holy Empire of Orthodox Russia: they needed to destroy the Russian Holy Orthodox Church. In their satanic and blind spite they hoped that it would be easy for them to do away with Holy Orthodoxy in the whole world also. The undermining of the Russian Orthodox Church started with the spreading of all the possible sects, and after, in the taking of root of protestant, liberal and humanistic ideas inside the very Church. Even long before the revolution matured at home [in Russia] a spirit of the 'living church' and of 'renovation,' whose task it was to decompose the Church from the inside. The pernicious spirit took rot under the seemly pretext of leading back the Church to the apostolic times. The Church, as though supposedly necrotized, was called up to become 'living.' This spirit of living church modernism, after the downfall of the Orthodox Russia started quickly to spread also to the other estates of the Orthodox Churches. And when in the middle of the enormous [according to its number] emigration disseminated all the world over, quite naturally the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad rejoiced, at the receiving of the canonical basis of her existence. This was thanks to the significant ukase of His Holiness the Patriarch Tikhon, dated from 7/20 November 1920, No. 362. Then the worshippers of Satan, who had destroyed the Russian Orthodox State and set up a terrible bloody persecution against the Church in Russia were up in arms against the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad with the intent to do away with the Russian Church Abroad.
Then the worshippers of Satan, who had destroyed the Russian Orthodox State and set up a terrible bloody persecution against the Church in Russia were up in arms against the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad with the intent to do away with the Russian Church Abroad.
All kinds of means were employed against the Russian Church Abroad, right up to he use of ecclesiastical canons, with the aim of demonstrating the non-canonicity and illegality of its very existence. By God's permission, the foes of Holy Christian truth made haste to produce a schism inside her and in the broken portions already at full liberty, without shame they all started to instill this pernicious spirit of the living church, protestantism, liberalism and modernism of those who cherished the idea of humanism. The newly fabricated teaching of 'Sophianism,' reviling of genuine Orthodoxy, via the appropriation of the contemptuous name of 'Orthodoxism' which was given it, strove towards the narrow rapprochement with protestantism under the famous 'teaching' called œcumenism,' in the foundation of which lies -for the most part carefully concealed, but sometimes owing to impudence displayed - an idea of the equivalence of all the confessions of faith with various points of view bringing to light allegedly one and the same truth.
It is a very diffused and not at all Orthodox interpretation of the concept of the Church, which, in the end, is unusually pernicious, a repudiation of Christian morals in the Christian life, so clearly expressed in the words of the Savior Himself: "enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" [St. Matthew 7: 13-14]. On the one side we have the repudiation of the podvig of personal asceticism, so clearly ordered by Christ Himself through His Holy Apostles in the whole series of numerous sayings through out all of Holy Scripture, and thereby -- it is dreadful to say - the indirect building of abuses against the great prophets of Christianity, glorifying the Church, as against these holy ones who were pleasing to God and those celebrating Her in the everyday Church singing. On the other side we have the desire and the whole of its attention giving to the concentration on the building of an earthly life here below in spite of the clear teaching of the word of God: "For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come" [Hebrews 13:14]. Of course this is a consequence of too weak a faith in the reality of what is to come.
the concentration on the building of an earthly life here below is a consequence of too weak a faith in the reality of what is to come
There is also the trying to combine the service of 'God with Mammon,' the service of some kind of abstract ideals: 'Truth, Goodness, Beauty' which the humanists substitute for the personal Living God, together with the careful suggestion of thought that sin is not to be feared, like the 'fanatic ascetics' do - those fanatics who are killers of the 'joy of this life,' for Christ has supposedly illuminated and transformed the world in such a way that sin today is no longer sin. Here is with what lines it is possible to describe this really heretical trend, destructive for the Christian life. Alas! It speedily s[routed really deep roots in all provinces of the Orthodox Churches, finding support for itself and protection even among some impressive hierarchs. In it already a considerable portion of the contemporary Orthodox clergy is educated and continues to be brought up. By it the Orthodox faith is truly contaminated: it is this faith that has clear and unquestionable foundations in the Holy Scripture and in the Holy Tradition which confessed and preached the Fathers, 'angels on earth and celestial men,' according to Christ's words: "the ones who shall do and shall teach," for this reason "the same shall be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven" [St. Matthew 5:19]. Let them know all of them, that there is no higher crime than disobedience to the Church, which becomes apparent especially in the case of heretics and schismatics, and this is why let us rise with this Church above all our earthly interactions, this Church which did not acquire for Herself any novelty, but which saintly and without any variation keeps the apostolic teaching of the faith and the one of the Holy Fathers as well as their piety - the great and Holy Truth which she received from the Founder Our Lord Jesus Christ.
If we don't want our eternal perdition we must take upon ourselves the podvig of confessing this truth, being ready to stand up for it even unto death, remembering the remarkable words of the courageous and unshakable servant of Divine Truth, the great Gregory the Theologian: "When a pursuit goes on in an evidently impious way, then one must rather go to be burnt or beheaded, discarding the demand of the time and of the rulers [I dare say not only the worldly ones but the spiritual ones also] and generally speaking discard everything, than join in an evil yeast and kiss what is infected and contagious. The most terrible of everything is to fear somebody more than God and instead of possessing this fear which befits the servant of truth, to become a traitor to the teaching of the faith and truth." [6th Sermon of St. Gregory the Theologian]
- Translated from the Russian by Mother Maria-Nun [Holy Nativity Convent Monastery, Boston, Massachusettes]., from: "The Present Times in the Light of God's Word. Sermons and Speeches"., Vol. I, St. Job of Pochaev Press, Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Monastery., Jordanville, N.Y. 1975, pp. 34-40