We live in an Orthodox country, a land which is covered with the blood of martyrs, the saints who formed Holy Rus, the saints whom we glorify, and those who are known only to the Lord. To have such a name, the people must be holy, blessed by the grace of God. These people lived on this earth as pagans, who bowed down to idols and did not know the light, but when they saw and found God, they loved Him to the very end.
Christ founded our Church on this earth. It is the place where a person leaves the temporal world and enters eternity. The Church is the Last Supper, which the Lord prepared before His sufferings on the cross and which He performs every day, calling the faithful to His bridegroom feast.
People come to Church crippled and damaged by sin. Yet, the Lord cleanses, sanctifies and purifies their souls, and they begin to see, hear and love God within themselves. Holiness which is given by God, gives a person strength to stand against the whole world, against the devil, against sin which is a terrible disease of humanity that has caused us to distance ourselves from God. We are all sick, but we have a great Doctor, and He has the power to heal us. His treatment is holiness, which He gives us in abundance. He trusts us with His Body and Blood, with Himself. He helps us to come to Him in this life while trying to lead us away from sin, from everything that is temporary, in an attempt to lead us to Heaven. For the sake of our salvation, the Lord humbles himself before our sinful, proud and ungrateful nature. He does not argue with us, does not condemn us, but patiently waits for us to see. When a person finally responds to God’s love and patience with his own love, a person comes closer to God.
What is Orthodoxy? “Come and see” (John 1: 46) – we read in the New Testament. In Orthodoxy, God is so close that He connects with people. The main goals of an Orthodox person include theosis, holiness and the sanctification of one’s life; not certain temporary conveniences and worldly pleasures, but eternity. In eternity there will be only love because “whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away” (1 Corinthians 13: 8). Therefore Orthodoxy is the knowledge of love, it is love itself, which inhabits mankind. As Apostle John the Theologian says: “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13: 35). It is impossible to love in this world without God. A person hiding in heaven from God must come to Him and sanctify himself with the light of love which Christ brought to earth. The Lord gives love abundantly in the Orthodox Church. Everything that we see in church is a revelation about our future life but it difficult for us to comprehend because we are deafened by the world, our minds are clouded and our hearts are not calm.
The Lord carries us on His shoulders, brings us to church, cleanses and feeds from a spoon with His Body and Blood as if we are unreasonable and disobedient children. Accepting the Holy Mysteries, we begin to see (even if for a short time) our neighbor, ourselves, our life and begin to understand God’s Holy Divine Providence in everything.
It’s hard to maintain such love. Many sinful diseases are within us, but we believe that God defeats sin. If we are part of a Church that is constantly waging war against sin in this world and against the the devil and we come out victorious then we’ll move on to the triumphant Church.
Sometimes it is very difficult for us to talk to a person about Orthodoxy. Protestants may find thousands of words of persuasion, but we do not have such eloquence. Why is it so? Because Orthodoxy needs to be seen. We understand that if God lives within us, if we have the Grace of the Holy Spirit within us, then words are no longer necessary. Life itself, the very image of man who has gained the love of Christ, will bear witness to the victory of God and His triumph. We do not yet know our future path in this world, but, having entered the church, we must preserve the Grace that we received from God in His Holy Church.
We must thank God for His love and ask for Him to reveal the simple truths to us which we must remember: God is always near, He loves us, He forgives and He waits for us.
July 19, 2018
St. Elisabeth Convent
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