My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ our Lord, God, and Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST!! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
THE “PEDALION” (The “RUDDER”) OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCH
The Holy Orthodox Eastern Church of Christ RESEMBLES A LARGE SHIP. Just as a ship has its captain, crew, and helm by which IT IS DIRECTED AND GUIDED SAFELY TO ITS DESTINATION, SO IN LIKE MANNER THE Holy Church of Christ has her Captain, crew, and helm BY WHICH SHE IS GUIDED TO THE DESIRED SPIRITUAL HARBOR OF ETERNAL SALVATION. The Church can no more do WITHOUT THESE THAN A SHIP AT SEA. She is likely to meet HER ETERNAL DESTRUCTION WITHOUT THEM IN THE SAME WAY THAT A SHIP RUNS THE DANGER OF DISASTER WHEN DEPRIVED OF THEM.
Her Captain is JESUS CHRIST and her CREW is the Clergy and the LAITY; but what is her HELM or RUDDER? IT IS this Sacred Book that embodies the Holy Tradition of the Church, namely the Sacred Canons of the Holy Glorious Apostles, of the Seven Ecumenical and Local Synods,l and of the God-bearing Fathers, as well as the invaluable INTERPRETATION AND COMMENTARY OF THE most Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain, “This book,” he states, “COMES AFTER THE SACRED SCRIPTURES, the Old and New Testaments.” It is a book of INSPIRED LIMITS set by our Holy Fathers and of the laws existing unto eternity and above all laws.”
This Sacred Book is truly the “Pedalion” or HELM of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of Christ which throughout the ages GUIDES HER FAITHFUL CHILDREN TO THE HAVEN OF GOD’S HEAVENLY KINGDOM AND TO THE INHERITANCE AND ENJOYMENT OF ETERNAL BLESSINGS. All members of the Holy Orthodox Church MUST (in the words of the Seventh (7th) Ecumenical Synod) “EMBRACE THESE DIVINE CANONS AND ADHERE TO THEM TENACIOUSLY, AS EXPOUNDED BY THE TRUMPETS OF THE SPIRIT OF THE LAUDABLE APOSTLES, OF THE HOLY ECUMENICAL AND LOCAL SYNODS, WHICH HAVE ASSEMBLED FOR THE PROMULGATION OF SUCH PRECEPTS, AND OF THOSE OF OUR HOLY FATHERS. ILLUMINED BY THE SAME SPIRIT, THEY HAVE ALL ENACTED WHAT IS PROFITABLE TO US.”
Since Holy Tradition IS EQUALLY AUTHORITATIVE IN ORTHODOXY AS Holy Scripture, then truly acquaintance with the “Pedalion” is of utmost importance FOR THE PRACTICING ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN. Indeed, want of knowledge of the Church Canons has been a source of not few irregularities in the life of the Orthodox Church in the Western world. Orthodox polity and administration in this country have suffered much because of insufficient regard for Canon Law and the lack of determination IN ENFORCING IT. Some would have us believe that the Canons ARE NOT BINDING AS THE DOGMAS OF THE CHURCH AND ARE MERELY OF RELATIVE AUTHORITY. But such serious MISCONCEPTIONS HAVE BECOME PRODUCTIVE OF SEVERAL EVILS, SUCH AS ARBITRARINESS IN ADMINISTRATION AND DEPARTURE FROM TRADITIONAL PRACTICES AND USAGES.
The time has come when the Orthodox Catholic Church, particularly in America where she is exposed to a host of dangers, must RE-AFFIRM THE AUTHORITY OF Holy Tradition as articulated in the Sacred Canons. She can make good her claims, as the True Church of History and Antiquity, only by MAINTAINING HER HERITAGE AS FORMULATED IN THE COLLECTION OF ECCLESIASTICAL ENACTMENTS CONTAINED in this volume.
Man’s FREE WILL resembles a motive force, the locomotive of a railway train; the law, on the other hand, resembles, a road, the steel rails over which the iron horse moves, and it routes the train to its destination or end. If the locomotive and the wheels of the train keep on the track, it will soon arrive at the end of the line without difficulty. Otherwise, if it runs off the track, the train is derailed and wrecked. A ship arrives at the harbor of its destination if it keeps moving in accordance with the law of its motion and goes WHERE THE RUDDER GUIDES IT; but if it moves otherwise, it bumps into reefs or rocks, and is wrecked or foundered. A wayfarer arrives at his destination if he keeps moving along the way that leads thereto; but if he moves out of the way or off the way, he goes astray and faces danger. And in general, every motion and every action is done well if it is done in a straight line. Otherwise, it is done wrong and leads to a wrong end, a bad end.
Mas’s FREE WILL IS A POWER WHICH MOVES, ACTS, AND RESISTS IN ACCORDANCE WITH ITS OWN FREEDOM. But in order that it may act right in accordance with some law, it must act in accordance with certain rules and principles which the supreme and perfect will of God, has laid down…Therefore, our will ought to accustom itself TO THINKING, DESIRING, WISHING, and ACTING IN ACCORDANCE with the DIVINE LAW, in the conviction that therein it will find life, OUTSIDE OF THE DIVINE LAW IT WILL FIND DEATH.
I am free to decide LIFE or DEATH, what is good or what is bad. But it is in my interest TO CHOOSE LIFE, and NOT DEATH; what is good, and not what is bad. I ought, therefore, to resolve to act in accordance with my true interest, my real interest, as A PRUDENT, and NOT as a FOOLISH PERSON! If I choose life, what is good, I am siding with God and have His PROTECTION. I am safe! I am in the party of the elect! If I choose death, what is bad, I become an enemy of God, and justice will hound me unceasingly: I have no security! I am in the part of the wicked! I am foolish. If I choose what is good, I become good. If I choose what is bad, I become bad. If I become good, I can hope to be enrolled in the Party of the Elect. If I become wicked and a criminal, I shall inevitably be condemned and punished, for there is a justice that punishes wicked persons and rewards good ones…” For in God’s will there is LIFE.” says the Prophet; and IN SIN AND TRANSGRESSION THERE IS MORAL DEATH, EVERLASTING DAMNATION. (Source: The Rudder)
“Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God