“THE FALLING AWAY…” (Apostasy) (2 Thessalonians 2:3)

My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,

CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

"Let no one deceive you by any means;
for that Day will not come unless THE
FALLING AWAY COMES FIRST, and the
man of sin is revealed, the son of
perdition" (2 Thessalonias 2:3).

The Thessalonian Christians had been speculating about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ our Savior. Saint Paul informs them "For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night" (1 Thessalonians 5:2). Furthermore, "Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition" (2 Thessalonians 2:3).

Christians have for centuries speculated and some went as far as to predict the Second Coming of Christ but of course to no avail. The holy Apostle informs these early Christians that they will be certain signs which will take place before that day comes. Such signs: a general " falling away" (apostasy) of the believers and the "revealing "the man of sin, "son of perdition" who is the Antichrist of 1 and 2 John; Revelation 13). This "man of sin" is also referred to as "the lawless one" described in the Old Testament (Daniel 7:25; 8:25; 11:36). Mentioned by Jesus Christ Matthew 24:15). In his first visit to Thessaloniki, Saint Paul discusses this issue with the Christian community. The devil incites divisions among the people so they WILL READILY RECEIVE THE ANTICHRIST WHEN HE COMES. "The man of sin" is a counterfeit messiah with a counterfeit kingdom. He (1) exalts himself above God (v, 4) and (2) performs deceptive miracles and wonders through satanic power (v.9), and (3) will deceive the righteous into following him (vv. 10-12); (4) WILL BE REMOVED FROM POWER FROM CHRIST HIMSELF AT HIS SECOND COMING (v. 8).

We, of course, will not speculate when the Second Coming of Christ will come. What is important is to be spiritually and morally prepared for the arrival of that dreadful day. Each one of us will be held responsible before God for all of our actions during our lifetime here on earth, to truly repent and by the grace of God to be ready to give a "good account" to our Great and Just Judge, the Pantokrator.

Since none of us knows when he will die we must be prepared spiritually for that fearfrul day of judgment. As you know there is NO repentance after death and therefore we need to repent of our sins here and now. Our Lord says, "Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the Angels of God, over one sinner who repents" (St. Luke 15:10). Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica says, "We need repentance. You see, repentance is not only going to a priest and confessing. We fall many times during our life, and it is absolutely necessary to reveal everything [in Confession] before a priest who is a witness to our repentance."

"Repentance is the RENEWAL OF LIFE. This means we must free ourselves of all our nagative traits and turn toward absolute good. No sin is unforgivable except the sin of UNREPENTANCE."

An apostate is he who renounces his Christian faith and who defects, revolts, rebells against God. It is also he who refuses to repent for his many transgressions. When one willingly severs communion with God he brings condemnation unto himself. That is apostasy! The only remaining cure is his genuine repentance.

Most of the European countries were Christian countries for centuries, however, soon after World War II attitudes, priorities and individual goals changed dramatically. Whatever was the reason, whether it was the devastation of the continent, the shock of the great loss of life, the 62 million people who were killed. There is no doubt that the European people were traumatized psychologically, spiritually, and morally, due to that horific war. Is it possible that this was one of the causes that brought about the apostasy in Europe? In the Old Testament Book of Exodus 32:7-8 we find the Hebrew people who while Moses was on the mountain in the presence of God to receive the Ten Commmandmends, Aaron and the people rebelled against God and made "a malten calf." "Then Aaron said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel…" (v. 4). God told Moses "They turned aside quickly from the way I commanded them. They made themselves a calf and are worshipping and sacrificing to it,,," (v. 8). In some similar way the people of Europe abandoned the commandments of God and chose instead to turn toward a secular and a more permissive and depraved new world. A world that now offered a life of luxury, of unrestricted, vile pleasures, and materialism. Many Christian churches were no longer used for worship but instead some were turned into distilleries, office space, for training how play golf, museums, and even restorants. People of faith were, and still are, constantly ridiculed by former Christians and atheists for believing in God and attending Sunday services. It has been reported in recent years that only a small percentage of Europeans practice the Christiant faith. Furthermore, the secular governments in Europe today have set strict conditions on what a Christian priest or minister can preach from the pulpit, Under the existing laws there is a continued threat of imprisonment for those priests or ministers that do not adhere to them.

Are these not symptoms or signs of apoastasy? There is no need for anyone to speculate on the Second Coming of Christ. However, can we not at least agree, that these are indeed symptoms "of the falling away?" But how are we to respond to this apostasy? Elder Ephraim of Arizona, of blessed memory, would say to us, ‘THERE IS ONLY ONE WAY LEFT, PRAYER!’ So, Let us pray to the Lord. Kyrie eleison.

A PRAYER IN TIME OF TROUBLE

O God, our help and assistance, Who are just and merciful, Who hears the supplications of Your people; look down upon me, a miserable sinner, have mercy upon me and deliver me from this trouble that besets me, for which I know, I am deservently suffering. I acknowledge and believe, O Lord, that all trials of this life are given by You for our chastisement, when we drift away from You and disobey Your Commandments; deal not with me after my sins, but according to Your bountiful mercies, for I am the work of Your hands, and You know my weakness. Grant me, I beseech You, Your Divine helping grace, and endow me with patience and strength to endure my tribulations with complete submission to Your will. You know my misery and suffering and to You, my only hope and refuge, I flee for relief and comfort; trusting to Your infinite love and compassion, that in due time, when You know best, You will deliver from this trouble, and turn my distress into comfort, when I shall rejoice in Your mercy, and exalt and praise Your Holy Name, Father, Son and Holy Spirit: now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

____________________

"Glory To GOD
For
All Things!"

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