My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
Christ is in our midst! He was, is, and ever shall be.
THE CROSS OF CHRIST
THE PATH, THE POWER, AND THE
BANNER OF THE CHURCH
The dogmatic teaching of the Church has the most intimate connection with the whole moral order of Christian life; it gives it a true direction. Any kind of departure from the dogmatic Truths leads TO AN INCORRECT UNDERSTANDING OF THE MORAL DUTY OF THE Christian. Faith DEMANDS A LIFE THAT CORRESPONDS TO FAITH.
The Savior has defined the MORAL DUTY of man briefly in the two Commandments of the Law: the Commandment TO LOVE GOD with one’s whole heart, soul, and mind, and understanding; and the Commandment TO LOVE ONE’S NEIGHBOR AS ONESELF. But at the same time, the Savior taught that THE AUTHENTIC FULFILLMENT of these Commandments is impossible without some degree of SELF-RENUNCIATION, SELF-SACRIFICE: IT DEMANDS STRUGGLE (ASCETICISM).
And where does the believer find strength for this struggle? He receives it THROUGH COMMUNION WITH Christ, through LOVE FOR CHRIST which inspires him to FOLLOW AFTER HIM. This struggle (ascesis) of following Him Christ called His "yoke" : "Take My yoke upon you… For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light" (Matthew 11:29-30). He called it also A CROSS. Long before the day of His Crucifixion, the Lord taught: "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself; and TAKE UP HIS CROSS, AND FOLLOW ME" (Matthew 16:24). "He that taketh NOT his cross, and followeth after Me, IS NOT WORTHY OF Me" (Matthew 10:38).
The Orthodox Christian path of the Christian is "THE PATH OF THE CROSS AND OF STRUGGLE." In other words, IT IS THE PATH OF PATIENCE OF THE BEARING OF SORROW, PERSECUTION FOR THE NAME OF CHRIST, AND DANGERS FROM THE ENEMIES OF CHRIST, OF DESPISING THE GOODS OF THE WORLD FOR THE SAKE OF CHRIST, OF BATTLING AGAINST ONE’S PASSIONS AND LUSTS.
Such a path of following Christ was taken by His Holy Apostles. "I AM CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST," writes the Holy Apostle Paul (Galatians 2:20). "God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world" (Galatians 6:14). Following THE PATH OF CHRIST, the Holy Apostles finished the struggle of their life with a martyr’s death.
All believers are called to struggle according to their strength: "They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the passion and lusts" (Galatians 5:24). The moral life CANNOT EXIST WITHOUT INWARD BATTLE, WITHOUT SELF-RESTRAINT. The Holy Apostle Paul writes: "For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping that they are the enemies of the Cross of Christ; whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things" (Philippians 3:18-19).
The whole history of the Christian Church has been built on struggles at first the sufferings of the martyrs in the earliest Christian age; then the self-sacrificing labors of the pillars of the Church, the hierarchs; and then the personal ascetic struggles, spiritual attainments in the battle with the flesh, on the part of the desert dwellers and other strugglers— "earthly Angels and heavenly men," the righteous ones who have lived in the world WITHOUT BEING DEFILED BY THE WORLD. And thus up to now, Christianity IS ADORNED WITH CONFESSORS AND MARTYRS FOR FAITH IN CHRIST. And the Holy Church supports in believers this duty of SELF-RESTRAINT AND SPIRITUAL CLEANSING BY MEANS OF INSTRUCTIONS AND EXAMPLES OF THE SAINTS, by the rules of the Church typicon, by vigils, fasts, and appeals to REPENTANCE.
Such is the lot not only of each separate Christian but of the Church herself as a whole to be persecuted for the Cross of Christ, as was shown in the visions to the Holy Apostle John the Theologian in the Apocalypse (Revelation). The Church in many periods of her history has ENDURED TOTALLY OPEN SORROWS AND PERSECUTIONS AND THE MARTYR’S DEATH OF HER BEST SERVANTS–WHAT ONE CONTEMPORARY PRIEST AND Church writers has called the "HARVEST OF GOD" — while in other periods, even in periods of outward prosperity, she has endured sorrows FROM INWARD ENEMIES, FROM THE UNWORTHY MANNER OF LIFE OF HER MEMBERS, AND IN PARTICULAR OF THE PEOPLE WHO ARE ASSIGNED TO SERVE HER.
Thus is defined, the dogma of the Cross. THE CROSS IS THE PATH OF THE CHRISTIAN AND THE CHURCH. (Source: Orthodox Dogmatic Theology by Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky)
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostom
+ + +
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry)
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George