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Athens, April 1/14, 2020
To be read in Church
Protocol no. 3026
RESURRECTIONAL (PASCHAL) MESSAGE FOR 2020
“By Thy Passion, O Christ, we were freed from the passions,
and by Thy Resurrection we were delivered from corruption. O Lord, glory to Thee”!
Beloved Fathers and Brethren, children in the Risen Lord:
The Holy Resurrection of our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ constitutes the greatest miracle of our Christian Faith. Exultation prevails on account of the freedom from the passions and the deliverance from the corruption of sin, the Devil, and death that it has bestowed upon mankind. The minds of the Faithful shine with the Light of the Resurrection that has filled things in Heaven, things on earth, and things beneath the earth, and the hearts of Christians leap with joy and gladness.
No matter how much progress science makes, it will never grant us as much eternal and victorious light as does the Light of the Resurrection. And no matter how many inventions and discoveries may be devised for the betterment of the life of men on earth, no one will ever offer us as much true joy and felicity as does the joy and felicity of the Resurrection.
Behold why: when death comes, even from an invisible and infinitesimal virus, as is now the case with the coronavirus, the lights of science are extinguished, notwithstanding the assiduous, praiseworthy, and exhaustive efforts of its devotees to confront this evil. In contrast, for anyone who enters into the true life, even through biological death—for the truly faithful Orthodox Christian—the Light of Christ becomes incomparably more radiant and more abundant. As for the joys of the world, whatever they may promise, however desirable they may appear, there comes a point, sooner or later, when they disappear, whereas the joy of Christ’s Resurrection is boundless in eternity and never ceases, but only increases.
Now, in this life, we have only a foretaste of that eternal blessedness. And if, in this life, it is difficult for any Christian soul to describe its inward sense and experience of the Resurrection, what are we to say about that inexpressible infinity of eternal good things which the Risen Lord has prepared for all who believe in Him and love Him and which He ardently desires that they enjoy?
* * *
Yet, dear Brothers and Sisters, how was Christ the God-Man victorious? How did He free and deliver us from the tyranny of the passions and corruption?
By His spotless Passion and His life-giving Cross. “I gave My back to scourges, and My cheeks to blows, and I turned not My face away from the shame of spitting,” He proclaims from of old through the Prophet Esaias (50:6). The Author of our Faith was condemned and underwent dreadful scourging out of love for us, His ungrateful creatures, for the remission of our sins. They mocked the Messiah, put a crown of thorns on Him, smote Him, and spat on Him. By His voluntary sufferings and wounds we were healed of our diseases. And the King of all underwent all of this with majestic silence and forbearance, in order to teach us, too, to endure every tribulation unmurmuringly. In the end He suffered the most fearful and ignominious death on the Cross, “despising the shame” (Hebrews 12:2).
He underwent all this, so that suffering might henceforth be sanctified and might indeed become a cause of joy for all who undergo it for the true Faith. “I rejoice in my sufferings” (Colossians 1:24) declares the Apostle Paul, and he affirms elsewhere that “we glory in tribulations” (Romans 5:3). For this reason, the Saints of our Church, the Martyrs, Ascetics, and Confessors of the Faith, rejoiced when they underwent privations, sacrifice, and every kind of suffering for the sake of our Beloved Savior. And we, in our days, endure confinement and misery, affliction and distress, and especially so on account of what is, for many, an enforced non-physical presence in our Churches, to the end that we may together make clear, liturgically and with thanksgiving, our unshakable conviction that Life is more powerful than death and that the Holy Resurrection of our Savior overcomes all fear of death.
Without being harbingers of doom, we can say that all that is happening is probably the prelude to greater tribulations. Yet we emphasize that nothing should deprive us of the invincible joy of the Resurrection and the sure hope of victory. Let nothing impair our faith and patience, let nothing cause us to be despairing or downcast. If we rejoice in the hope of Divine help and consolation, then we will become like our heroic forebears and the Saints of our Faith. But if we become fainthearted and lose our nerve, then we fall short of them and we urgently need to reinforce our faith and our spiritual struggle for repentance and for the healing of our souls. Let us beseech our Risen Lord and God that He endow us with faith, Grace, and strength, so that we may feel spiritual joy even in the midst of difficulties, so that we may be ready to sacrifice everything for the sake of Christ’s love and may live eternally in the Light of the Resurrection.
* * *
Dear and beloved Children in the Risen Lord:
Who crucified Christ? The evil and envious rulers of Israel (Annas and Caiaphas) and the unjust authorities, in the wake of pressure and fear (Pilate). However, our Risen Lord is the Judge also of the rulers of this earth, and the rulers and authorities of this world will give account before Him of how they handled the authority that He gave them. Let us, the faithful, take comfort in the fact that the Pilates and Caiaphases cannot do anything against us except what the Lord permits, and also in how every evil that occurs by God’s leave eventually proves to be for the good, since we are tested in order that we may become worthy of eternal glory. Dark men, like the wicked Devil, work dark deeds, but no one can lord it over the believer who has “soul and Christ” in him.
Thus, let every honorable member of our Holy Orthodox Church exclaim with the Psalmist: “The Lord is my helper and defender; my heart hoped in Him, and I am helped; and my flesh hath flourished anew, and willingly shall I praise Him” (Psalm 27:7). So let us unceasingly hymn and glorify our Lord and God Who is risen from the dead, and let us cry out triumphantly:
Christ is Risen! Indeed, He is Risen!
THE HOLY SYNOD
† KALLINIKOS of Athens
† ATHANASIOS of Larisa and Platamon
† IOUSTINOS of Euripοs and Euboea
† GERONTIOS of Piraeus and Salamis
† CHRYSOSTOMOS of Attica and Boeotia
† GREGORIOS of Thessalonica
† PHOTIOS of Demetrias
† MOSES of Toronto
† DEMETRIUS of America
† AMBROSIOS of Philippi and Maroneia
† CYPRIAN of Oropos and Phyle
† AMBROSE of Methone
† SILVANO of Luni
† KLEMES of Gardikion
† AUXENTIOS of Etna and Portland
† THEODOSIOS of Bresthena
† CHRISTODOULOS of Theoupolis
† MAXIMUS of Pelagonia
[signed and sealed as a BONA FIDE COPY]
The First Secretary of the Holy Synod
† Photios of Demetrias
At this time, when the Orthodox teachings are easily overlooked, washed down and attacked from all directions,
in order to help you refresh the perception of the correct standings, we would like to introduce you a book:
(the text is copied from www.saintnicodemos.org. Russian version of the book is available upon request)
The Holy Fathers on
LOVE IN TRUTH
We live in a time characterized by Rebellion against the Apostolic and ecclesiastical Orthodox spirituality of the Holy Fathers. Alarming is also the great multitude of the visible and invisible enemies of the Orthodox Church. Enemies from without and within, and the danger exists that we may become confused, misled, scandalized and spiritually hypothermic if we fail to guard ourselves with the fail-safe direction of the Holy Fathers. We are listening today to many different voices about salvation, unconditional love, peace, joy, sharing, christian unity, ecumenism, love with no bounds, branch theories, ecumenical services, interfaith prayers, etc.
What may have been lacking in our spiritual diet are some honest direct answers to some serious questions which our faithful often have such as:
-Shouldn't we forget differences with the other Christians and concentrate on "common ground"?
-Aren't we being somewhat arrogant by maintaining that only Orthodoxy has the truth?
-Is the Holy Spirit in every Christian regardless of Creed?
-Can we visit and pray with the "Non-Orthodox" (we dare not say heretics!) especially with the Roman Catholics since "we are almost like them"?
-Can we have fellowship with other Christians (non-Orthodox) who believe and love Christ?
-Must we worship correctly to be saved?
-Is it better to be a strong and committed Protestant Christian than a marginal sinful Orthodox?
-If the Holy Spirit and its gifts can be possessed outside of the Orthodox Church then why do we need to Chrismate those that convert to Orthodoxy?
-Is it possible that this action of the Church to re-Chrismate the new converts speak loud and clear that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are lacking in the other Christian bodies?
-If salvation can be secured in every Christian creed then where is the crime of keeping Orthodoxy "America's best kept secret"?
If you have been struggling with these questions, you are certainly not alone. The spirit of confusion is widespread, about as widespread as the spirit of the ecumenistic movement which has been romancing the "fronema" (mindset) of the Western Christian for over half a century.
As we have stated in some of our past work, ecumenism in the true sense, is having all of humanity embrace the truth of the gospel, having every person on this planet come to the Truth Himself, The Christ. However, the type of ecumenism that accepts all Christian confessions as equal (Branch Theory), that is equally sharing bits and pieces of the truth and teaches love about truth, ignorance of dogma for the sake of peace, and disregard of differences which tend to divide, this type of ecumenism is the latest child of Free Masonry and the great-grandfather of the Antichrist, a true menace of the Church.
Naturally, the "lovers of all" the "unconditional lovers and peacemakers" and the deluded blind followers of the Branch Theory will stereotype our message as one of narrow-mindedness, conservativism, judgmentalism, egotism, fanaticism, and criticism to say the least. Initially you may even agree with them, after all who wants friction, strife, unrest and controversy, when love and peace is such a wonderful alternative.
But did you ever consider that Orthodoxy is not limited to a few isolated individuals or a few decades or certain topographies? Orthodoxy is the universal (Catholic) Church of Christ and the Militant Church is in complete communion with the Triumphant Church that cloud of witnesses, martyrs, confessors, teachers, saints and the Apostles who "tested the spirits" over the centuries to preserve for us the secure and proven path that leads to theosis? Our "fronema" (way of thinking) must be an extension or at least be in complete harmony with their beliefs and thoughts. Their lifestyle, "The lives of the Saints" constitutes the true interpretation of the gospel, they did not simply study the gospel, but they lived it by their very action. Not necessarily scholars, they were the true theologians. Today's children of scholasticism and rationalism, a new breed of modern theologians are slowly eroding the authority of our Church Fathers in order to justify their positions.
Dear Reader, let's "test the spirits", fully understanding that if "our spirit" contradicts and flatly opposes the genuine spirit of our Holy Fathers we run the great risk of self-excommunication. Let's not be deceived, no one understood the Love of Christ more than our Saints. Often they sold themselves as slaves to give the proceeds to the poor yet always ready to spill their blood for the truth.
In an attempt to help our brothers and sisters who love the truth, we will present some articles, statements, confessions, and short verses from a number of various Church Fathers from throughout the centuries. Let's be careful however, because according to our modern Christian thought and criteria we may find their message full of conservativism, judgmentalism, egotism, fanaticism, and criticism to say the least. My friend be aware that no one deceives you. Their messages are full of love for the Truth, fully understanding that in the absence of Truth there can be no Love in the Christian sense.
The Holy Scriptures On Non Orthodox Teaching
"Whosoever shall break one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same he shall be called least in the kingdom of God". Matthew 5:19
The bad teacher, according to Zigavinos, has no place in the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus said to them, "watch out that no one deceives you".Matthew 24:4
"For many will come in My name claiming, I am the Christ, and will deceive many".Matthew 24:5
"and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people".Matthew 24:11
"for false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect, if that were possible. See I have told you ahead of time." Matthew 24:25
The apostles have also warned us about the danger of heretics (non-Orthodox Christians). They instructed the early Christians to be on guard against false teachers and their heretical and destructive teachings. Savage wolves dressed in sheep's clothing does not necessarily refer to New Agers or Buddhists or atheists, but to Christians who went astray!!!
"I know that after I leave savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own numbers men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them."Acts 20:29-30
"If anyone preaches to you a gospel other than what you received, let him be anathema (eternally lost)!"Galatians 1:9
"Don't let anyone deceive you in any way."2 Thessalonians 2:3
"Some have these (concerning the faith) so they have shipwrecked their faith. Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme. 1 Timothy 1:20
Is St. Paul being judgemental here about these two Christians who decided in their minds that they could formulate their own beliefs? Let's be very careful because it is the Holy Spirit that is speaking through St. Paul!!!
"The Spirit clearly says that in later times "some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons."1 Timothy 4:1
All false teachings (heresies) small or large are teachings inspired by demons!!!
"If you point these things out to the brothers you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus brought up in the truth of the faith."1 Timothy 4:6
"If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching he is conceited and understands nothing."1 Timothy 6:3
Do the Protestants, Roman Catholics and non-denominationalists teach any false doctrines? Hundreds of them!!! According to St. Paul, they understand nothing about the Mystery of Godliness!!! (They are full of intellectual scholasticism.)
"For the time will come when men (Christians) will not put up with sound doctrine...they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear."2 Timothy 4:3
"Alexander the metal worker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done...at my first defense no one came to my support but everyone deserted me."2 Timothy 4:14-16
St. Paul does not hesitate to name the enemies of the Church in order to protect the faithful.
"Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings."Hebrews 13:9
"...just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies."2Peter 2:1
The apostle Peter is plainly teaching us that false teachings (heresies, teachings of the demons, un-Orthodox beliefs and doctrines) cause loss of salvation!!!
"Dear friends, do not believe every spirit but test the spirits."1 John 4:1
"Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God."2 John 1:9
No Christ, No God!!!
"If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching do not take him into your home or welcome him."2 John 1:10
"I wrote to the Church but Diotrephes who loves to be first will have nothing to do with us...gossiping maliciously about us."3 John 1:9
St. John, much like St. Paul, does not hesitate to expose the heretical Diotrephes because his egotism was a stumbling block to the Church.
Generally, heretical teachers and enemies of the Truth were exposed and named in the Holy Scriptures. However the names of great sinners, such as the Thief on the Cross, the harlots and the incestuous person in Corinth, were silenced. This is a clear indication that a man "possessed by false teaching" is far more dangerous than a man of immorality and bodily passions. According to St. Paul such a man is self-judged. It is nearly impossible for such a man to return to the fold.
The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of the Americas was truly blessed by the stature of the ever-memorable Archbishop Michael, a great spiritual leader of our times. The following article was found in the personal library of Father Nicholas Elias in Bethlehem Pennsylvania who fell asleep in the Lord several years ago.
...Continued under the tab Books...