Preserve Orthodox Faith of Prince Vladimir

Typsetter notes:
See third to the last paragraph:
I have not verified this cite, but it appears the quote is from 3:3-4:1 and not 1:9.
Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Philadelphians 
“Be not deceived, my brethren: If anyone follows a maker of schism, he does not inherit the kingdom of God; if anyone walks in strange doctrine [heresy], he has no part in the passion [of Christ].  Take care, then, to use one Eucharist, so that whatever you do, you do according to God: For there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup in the union of his blood; one altar, as there is one bishop, with the presbytery and my fellow servants, the deacons" (Letter to the Philadelphians 3:3-4:1 – 110 AD).
Also in the third to last paragraph the sentence quoted of St. John Chrysostom is constructed and punctuated so that the word "sin" mistakenly becomes the subject.
St. John Chrysostom, "A sin, such as division of the Church, cannot be absolved even by the blood of martyrdom."
This quote is well-enough known:
“Not even the blood of martyrdom avails to wipe out this sin [of schism].
St. John Chrysostomos, Patrologia Græca, Vol. lxii, col. 85 (On Ephesians, Homily 11, §4).

Preserve the Orthodox Faith Handed Down to us by the Holy Prince Vladimir

Russian Orthodox people!  Now is the time to speak everywhere, for all to hear, of those things which, because of false feelings of shame, many do not desire to speak of, which they fear to say to our evil age – an age of all kinds of concessions and compromises of our conscience.

Man has but two paths on earth: the path of truth or the path of falsehood, the path of life or the path of death, the path of salvation or the path of damnation.  There is no middle path, no compromise between these two paths, nor can there be.  Christ the Savior came to earth specifically according to His own words, to bear witness unto the truth (John 18:37), to show the people the way of truth, the way of life, the way of salvation.  And the Church founded by Him, in the words of the holy Apostle, is "the pillar and ground of truth" (I Tim. 3:15).  Therefore, in order to proceed along the path of truth, the path of life, the path of salvation faithfully, it is absolutely essential to belong to the Church founded by Christ the Savior – not to those innumerable organizations of the present day that unlawfully and without any foundation have appropriated the name "church" for themselves, but to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church which, by keeping within itself that truth which was given it by Christ the Savior Himself, preserves a firm, continuous bond with the holy Apostles and their lawful successors – the apostolic men and the holy Fathers.

As humans, we are all weak and infirm; we are all inclined toward sin; we all have the capacity to fall and to err.  However, this in itself is not frightening, for the saving path of repentance to the path of salvation is through reunion with the Church from which we had fallen away by committing sin.

It is awful when we knowingly fall away from the truth, when we knowingly stand on the path of falsehood and build our entire life, all of our activity, on the foundation of a lie, flouting the truth of Christ which is preserved only by the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

That is how Papal Rome embarked upon the path of falsehood, by starting to build its life and activities upon false premises, by proclaiming the lie that the holy Apostle Peter was the prince over the apostles, and that the pope of Rome, as his successor, was not merely a patriarch, equal in grace with all the rest of the bishops, but was the infallible vicar of Jesus Christ on earth.  This lie was based on forged documents which have won for themselves in history the appellation "the False Decretals of Isidore."  Equally false are all attempts to base this lie on Sacred Scripture, which so clearly testifies that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself severed at the root any aspiration towards supremacy among the apostles, imbuing them with the idea that they were all equal and brethren amongst themselves (Matt. 20:20-27; 23:8-12).  Accurately foreseeing the immeasurable self-exaltation of the Roman high priest,the holy Apostle wrote to the Romans, "to very man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think" (Rom 12:3).

Thus Protestantism, too, with all innumerable sects to which it has embarked upon the path of falsehood, proclaiming the lie that faith alone, without good works, is sufficient for salvation, and that each individual person, and not the Church, is the criterion of truth.  Equally false are its attempts to found this falsehood on Sacred Scripture, despite the fact that, once and for all, the Lord Jesus Christ clearly stated, "Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven (Matt. 7:21), and it was to the Church in its all-embracing unity, and not to each individual believer, that He has given the promise: "The gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matt. !6:18), and that, "If he neglect to hear the Church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican" (Matt. 18:17), for "the Church of the living God is the pillar and ground of the truth" (I Tim. 3:15).

Thus also the proponents of the "Living Church," the renovators, and all the self-reasoning modernists that have appeared within the Orthodox Church of late in great numbers, have embarked upon the path of falsehood, proclaiming the lie of the reconciling of the truth of Christ with the deceit of this world which lies in evil, completely forgetting the words of Christ, that Christians were to be people "not of this world (John 15:19), and that the admonition of the Apostle – "And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God" (Rom. 12:2) – is the sole renovation permitted and commanded us.

This also has the soviet "patriarchate," which has been set up in the Soviet Union by the godless communists, embarked upon the path of falsehood, proclaiming the lie that the God-hating bolshevik authority "is from God," even though the holy Apostle Paul (whose words they deceitfully cite) clearly states that the bearer of lawful authority "is a minister of God" who encourages good and punishes evil (Rom. 13:3-4), and not an atheist who acts to the contrary, as we see with the bolsheviks, whole authority this "patriarchate" deceitfully praises and propagandizes throughout the world, attempting by these means to lead all mankind astray.

Thus also have all the "neo-Christians and neo-renovators" embarked upon the path of falsehood – they who, at the instigation of the godless ones and the servants of the powers of darkness, have placed themselves outside the one Russian Church Abroad, who have rejected a thousand years of patristic tradition and replaced it with their own sophistries, forgetting the exhortation of the holy Apostle: "Brethren beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ" (Col. 2:8), and his warning: "O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane babblings and oppositions of knowledge falsely so called: which some professing have erred concerning the faith" (I Tim 6:20-21).n  And truly, in these preachers of the "vain babblings of knowledge falsely so called" the prophesy of the great Apostle has been fulfilled: "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears, and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables" (II Tim. 4:3-4).

For many the most terrible and seductive deception of out times is the toleration of compromise or conciliation between truth and falsehood, the pursuit of the "golden mean" between them, the attempt to reconcile and unite the irreconcilable and incompatible, the serving of God and Mammon, Christ and Belial, light and darkness...  Hence the "western rite," so insistently thrust upon us by the papists; hence "ecumenism," so urgently propagandized by the Protestants and the renegades from Orthodoxy that have sold themselves out to them; hence the contempt for the ascetic institutions of the Church, for the teachings and traditions of the Fathers; hence the theatricals, drinking parties and all sorts of entertainments within the church compounds, the organizing of amusements "for charitable purposes" on the eves of Church feast days and Sundays; hence more and more other things in the life of contemporary Christians which it would take years to recount.  And all the falsehood, with shameless insolence, dares to pose as the truth, calling white black and black white.  Raging unrestrained and with malice against the genuine truth, by this very action it unmasks itself; this is not evident only to those who are completely blinded by it.

Nevertheless, there is but one path of truth, and it does not acknowledge, nor does it countenance any compromise, any concessions with falsehood, for every such compromise, by whatever specious pretext it was achieved, is a betrayal of the truth.  Let those who have rejected the truth and given themselves over to falsehood call us arrogant who value the truth and sincerely desire to walk the path of truth.  We should neither fear nor be shamed by this.  We do not pride ourselves on our personal righteousness, our own personal virtue, our own personal merits and good works of any sort.  We realize that in out own personal lives we are weak, infirm and sinful people.  And if here is anything of which we can boast, we boast not of ourselves, but of the Orthodox Faith, "the pure and undefiled Bride of Christ," the Church of Christ, "not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing" (Eph. 5:27), to which we belong, and membership in which we cherish more than anything else on earth.  We do not praise ourselves, but boast because the Word of God teaches us to boast; "He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord" (I Cor. 1:31), "God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Gal. 6:4).  All the Christian martyrs boasted of their membership in the right Faith and the Church of Christ before the pagan persecutors; the holy Fathers of the Church and all the champions and followers of the true Faith boasted before the apostate heretics.  Contending for the holy Truth even to the shedding of their blood, they did not in the least consider their steadfastness and devotion to the true Faith and Church to be pride.  They did not see this as their reprehensible pride or lack of humility, but on the contrary they saw it as their sacred duty before God and their personal conscience.  Generally speaking, what manner of "humility" can there be in the face of falsehood?  In this thought alone is there not a most terrible lie which cries out to Heaven?

This is why, following the instruction of the Word of God and the example of the confessors of our holy Faith of all times and nationalities, we boast of our Russian Church Abroad and of our membership in it, for until the present time it still preserves the truth of Holy Orthodoxy inviolate, and has neither entered into any agreement, compromise or negotiation with the enemies of our Faith, the godless atheists, the open and secret servants of the powers of darkness and their lackeys.

But taking this into account, of course, we must not, we dare not forget to what this binds us.  Woe!  Woe unto those of us who, falling into the various kinds of sin and vice which are characteristic of human frailty, stagnate in them, not bringing quick and sincere repentance for them and not correcting their life!  Such people are preparing all the more condemnation for themselves, who, belonging to the True Church, have not taken care in their own personal lives to walk by the path of Christ's truth.  Their sin is redoubled because they cause others to stumble, alienating both those who belong to the Church from it as well as those who have fallen away from it.

Thus, not troubled by any slanders or false rumors, let us manfully stand in the truth.  Decisively rejecting all compromises with falsehood, all modernism and libertine rationalism on questions of faith, all innovations contrary to the spirit of our Holy Faith, let us believe and confess as did the apostles' successors, the holy martyrs, the holy universal teachers and hierarchs, the venerable ascetics who glorified themselves by their great struggles of prayer and fasting, the entire assembly of the saints who have shone forth in the Russian land, our ever-memorable and righteous Father John of Kronstadt [This sermon by Archbishop Averky was written before the cannonization of St. John of Kronstadt].  and great pillars, teachers and instructors of our Russian Church closest to us in time, who still await official glorification – the Optina starsi, Bishop Ignatius (Brianchaninov) and Bishop Theophanes the Recluse, who have expounded their teachings to us in a manner identical to the ancient pillars of our Church in spirit, holiness of life and the inspiration of their teaching.

Let us remember that, according tot he words of the apostolic Father, the Hieromartyr Ignatius the God-bearer, "If anyone follows after him that makes a schism in the Church, he shall not inherit the Kingdom of God" (Philadelphians 1:9), and according to the words of the great universal teacher St. John Chrysostom, "A sin, such as division of the Church, cannot be absolved even by the blood of martyrdom."

So let us endeavor "to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph. 4:3) with the entire Heavenly Church and with all who keep faith in it on earth, and "the peace of God shall be with you" (Phil. 4:9).

May the Lord confirm and strengthen us in this truth, the Faith of St. Vladimir, and may He lead back those who are estranged from it.

Translated by:
Subdeacon Alexander Bohush and Brother Isaac Lambertson

Published in Works Vol. I

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