My beloved brothers and sisters in Our Risen Lord JESUS CHRIST,
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN! ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! ΑΛΗΘΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!
Virginity and the Value of Virginity
Saint Ambrose elaborates on virginity: "The days shall come when they shall say: "Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare" (Luke 23:29). For the daughters of this age are conceived, and conceive, but the daughter of the Kingdom refrain from wedded pleasure, and the pleasure of the flesh, that she may be holy in body and in spirit. I do not then discourage marriage, but recapitulate the advantages of holy virginity. This is the gift of few only, that is of all… I am comparing good things with good things, so that it may be clear which is the more excellent. Nor do I allege any opinion of m own, but I repeat that which the Holy Spirit spake by the Prophet: "Blessed is the barren that is undefiled" (Wisdom 3:13). First of all, in that which those who purpose to marry desire above all things, that they may boast of the beauty of their husband, they must of necessity confess that they are inferior to virgins, to Whom alone it is suitable to say: "Thou art fairer than the children of men, grace is poured on thy lips" (Psalm 44:2). Who is that Spouse? One not given to common indulgences, not proud of possessing riches, but He Whose Throne is forever and ever."
Contemporary Orthodox authors have observed: "Marriage is an image of the union of Christ with the Church," whereas, "monastic life does not constitute an image, but it itself is the mystical marriage of the soul with the Heavenly Bridegroom."
Saint Methodios said that virginity walks on earth but "here head touches the heavens," and is the "most brilliant and glorious star of all Christ’s charisms." He also said that nothing is superior to chastity in its power to return mankind to Paradise.." Virginity is the most precious offering and gift and the greatest vow that a man may make To God. The embrace of virginity is the key way one moves from being God’s image to being God’s likeness, and quickly causes violent passions to wither away."
Saint John of Sinai compares the virginal life with the Angelic life: "Purity means that we put on the Angelic nature. Purity is the longed-for house of Christ and the earthly heaven of the heart. Purity is a supernatural denial of nature, which means that a mortal and corruptible body is rivaling the celestial spirits in a truly marvelous way. He is pure who expels fleshly love with divine love, and who has extinguished the fire of passion by the fire of Heaven."
Saint John Chrysostom states: "Is virginity a good [thing]? Yes, I fully agree. But is it better than marriage? I agree with this, too… Virginity is as much superior to marriage as heaven is to earth, as the Angels are to men, and, to use far stronger language, it is more superior still. For the Angels, though they do not marry and are not given in marriage, are not a mixture of flesh and blood. They do not pass time on earth and endure trouble from passions… But mankind, inferior in its nature to blessed spirits, forces its own nature and, in so far as it can, vices eagerly to equal the Angels… Do you grasp the value of virginity? That it makes those who spend time on earth live like the Angels dwelling in heaven? It does not allow those endowed with bodies to be inferior to the incorporeal powers and spurs all men to rival the Angels… What, then does Saint Paul say under the inspiration of the Lord? ‘Now for the matters you wrote about, A man is better off having no relations with woman’ (1 Corinthians 7:1).
Saint Jerome wrote: "I praise wedlock, I praise marriage, but it is because they give me virgins. I gather the rose from the thorns, the gold from the earth, the pearl from the shell… ‘Concerning virgins’, says the Apostle [Paul], ‘I have no commandment of the Lord’ [1 Corinthians 7:25]. Why was this? Because his own virginity was due, not to a command, but TO HIS FREE CHOICE… What is freely offered IS WORTH MORE THAN WHAT IS EXTORTED BY FORCE… When he is discussing continence and commending perpetual chastity, he uses words, ‘I would that all men were even as I myself.’
Saint Symeon the New Theologian said: "Many regard the monastic way as the most blessed way. For my part, however, I would not set my way above the others; nor would I praise one and depreciate another. BUT IN EVERY SITUATION, IT IS THE LIFE LIVED FOR GOD AND ACCORDING TO GOD THAT IS ENTIRELY BLESSED."
Another point worth pondering is that since married life is more difficult, perhaps it would not be unreasonable to deduce that it also has a greater reward when successfully lived in a God-pleasing manner. Metropolitan Kallistos Ware of blessed memory wrote in his introduction to the Ladder: "It is a great thing, says Saint John, to achieve stillness in the isolation of a hermit’s cell; ‘but it is incomparably greater to have no fear of turmoil, and to remain steadfast under its assault with a fearless heart, living outwardly with men but inwardly with God."
Christ taught that true chastity is not just external but INTERNAL. "Whosoever looketh a woman to lust after hath committed adultery with her already in his heart" (Matthew 5:28). Elaborating on this precept, the Holy Fathers taught THAT VIRGINITY THAT IS MERELY EXTERNAL IS INSUFFICIENT. Saint Basil the Great taught, "Virginity is a help to such devotion, for those who pursue this gift [of being in the likeness of God] in a spiritual manner. Merely abstaining from the procreation of children does not constitute the gift of virginity. On the contrary, the whole of one’s life and character must be virginal, illustrating in every action the integrity required of the virgin. For it is possible to commit fornication in speech and adultery with the eye, to be polluted through the hearing, to receive defilement in the heart, and to transgress the bounds of temperance by lacking control in partaking of food and drink. …Anger, jealousy, bearing a grudge, falsehood, arrogance, unseasonable talking, sickness in prayer, desire for goods one does not possess, negligence in observing the Commandments, ostentation in dress, vain regard for one’s appearance, meetings and conversations beyond what is necessary and fitting–all these must be most carefully avoided by one who has dedicated himself to God by virginity because yielding to one of them is almost as committing an expressly forbidden sin."
Saint Isaac the Syrian taught that reading and prayer are what assist chastity: "If you love chastity, banish shameful thoughts by exercising yourself in reading and prolonged prayer; then you will be inwardly armed against their natural causes. But without reading and prayer, purity cannot be present in the soul."
The Christian is engaged constantly in spiritual warfare. Our enemy the devil and his angels explore us individually, looking for our weaknesses. tempts us unceasingly and seeks our destruction. He uses all our senses, passions, desires, ambitions, greed, vanity, vain glory, pride, ego, thoughts, imagination, slothfulness, acedia, possessions, sexuality, curiosity, and all the vices against us. The enemy the devil offers appealing visions to our eyes, music to our ears, to each of our senses setting forth whatever might tempt us to sin. He arouses the tongues to speak evil about others and urges our hands to injure them. When he is unable to tempt us, he brings forth a threat of persecution so that fear may cause us to betray the faith. Thus we must always be alert and vigilant for his many-faceted attacks ready to resist him at every turn.
We all need to realize that this is an all-out war. The enemy is cunning and dangerous. "Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shot your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked (evil) one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Ephesians 6:13-17).
The secular world in which we live uses every evil vice to undermine all Christian values, virtues, chastity, purity, innocence, decency, dignity, goodness, and wholesomeness. Our secular society hates everything that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has taught us and desires to destroy Christianity altogether. However, this has been taking place throughout the two thousand history of Christianity throughout the world. The enemies of Christ have attempted again and again to declare war from without and when it has not been successful to infiltrate the Church and attempt to subvert her from within through heresy, schisms, and division but have always failed. The Christian Church is Christ Himself, the God-Man Who is God and the Head of His Church both in Heaven and on Earth.
The genuine and practicing Christian will never apostatize or fall into heresy. The Holy Church has a powerful army with unlimited resources and with God on her side she will never be defeated by either the evil one, his angels, or his minions. The faithful Christians will always remain stand fest and will never cower to the numerous threats. The myriads of holy Martyrs men, women, and children adorn the Church and are a living testament of great faith and love for our Savior Jesus Christ. Open persecution against Christians will occur now and in the near future but Christians are always ready to suffer and sacrifice their lives for the only Savior and God Who shed His Precious Blood on the Cross to save us from evil and death. (Source: The Angelic Life. A Vision of Orthodox Monasticism)
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Divine and Most Glorious Resurrection,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God