Saturday, November 27, 2010

Atheism: The Boast of Our Time

By Photios Kontoglou

Atheism! The great title and boast of contemporary man. Whoever receives it (to receive it you only need to be tonsured a monk of the faithless) appears to others as wise even if he is illiterate, serious even if he is ridiculous, official even if he is insignificant, important even if he is unimportant, a scientist even if he is incompetent.

I do not refer to the person who truly wishes to believe but cannot, even if the deep rooted reason of unbelief is always pride, this viper that hides so cunningly in man that he cannot understand. Whatever it may be, the people who struggle and fight against their faithless self, they have our sympathy. For them we, who believe, beg God to help them believe as He did to the father with his sick child, by begging Christ to heal him. And He replied “If you believe, everything is possible to the believer”. And the father cried loudly and with tears replied, “I believe Lord. Help me in my little faith”.

The unbelievers we refer to here are not so. They not only never cried before to open the closed door with pain and contrition, the door of repentance, as that tormented father did, as written in the Bible, but were not even moved neither felt any bitterness from their unbelief, nor assumed any responsibility or blame. All the blame is God’s who does not appear to them to tell them, “Come, poke me, touch me, talk to me as you talk between yourselves, analyze me with your chemistry, dissect me with your anatomy blades, weigh me, measure me, satisfy your faithless feelings, and satiate your insatiable logic”.

These self appointed unbelievers, when they show off their smartness, pumped up by airs of pride and the cunning agility of their brains, are not in a position to understand how silly and narrow minded they appear to those who believe. Because to believe, they demand certain proofs that make the believer pity them for their limited view they have on spiritual matters. The believer is well aware how far the pondering of the unbeliever can get, for he too as a person has the same logic, the logic of the flesh, worldly logic. While the unbeliever is unaware of what is within the believer, and what is beyond practical knowledge, namely the mysteries that are hidden from the eyes, and because of this he believes they do not exist. With his foolishness he feels smug, and talks with disdain for those that are in a position to feel the deeper meaning of the world, while the unfortunate one is blind and deaf and believes he can hear everything. The believer has spiritual sight and spiritual hearing as well as some type of “super feeling”. The unbeliever, how could he comprehend that mystical world with the coarse means at his disposal, namely his bodily feelings? How could he touch the fine and odd messages of the world, when the poor one does not have the aerials that are needed to receive them?

The Apostle Paul in his First Epistle to the Corinthians, in his own way, writes about what is possible for a believer to sense and what can an unbeliever sense. We preach, he says, the wisdom of God that is embedded in mystery and is hidden, the wisdom that God destined before time, for our glory and none of the rulers of this world came to know (namely, the wise men of worldly wisdom), and He uncovers it, that which according to the Scriptures no eye has seen, nor ear has heard, nor has ascended to the heart of any man, the things that God prepared for those that love Him. For us God revealed them through His Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit probes everything, even the depth of God. What man knows the essence of man but only the spirit of man that is within him? Likewise the mysteries of God no one knows but only the Spirit of God. We did not receive the spirit of the world (namely that of philosophy and worldly knowledge) but the Spirit of God to understand all the things that He gave us. And these (the gifts) are not expressed with words that human wisdom uses, but words that the Holy Spirit teaches, speaking spiritually with spiritual people. Unfortunately men of worldly knowledge (the rational) do not accept what is spoken by the Spirit of God, because they believe them to be nonsense and are thus not in a position to understand how to examine it spiritually. The spiritual man examines every person while he cannot be examined by anyone.

Unbelief has always existed. However, today with the atrocious vanity that consumes us, we display it as if it accords us great value. Whoever believes in God and revealed truth is ignored as narrow minded and foolish and is the brunt of all jokes. He is looked at as “defective” by most people, especially the people that know how to achieve in this life “success”, by making money and having a good time, giving not a cent to anyone, according to the saying, “Let’s eat and drink for tomorrow we die”. For this, he who believes in God needs to be courageous and ignore worldly honors and material interests. The one that boasts that he believes in nothing, 1) The world has him in high regard and respect, even so the more non-believer he claims to be, that much more regard and respect is shown to him by the clever and serious world. Such a man frowns upon others, is of few and heavy words, is short tempered and gruff, and is seen as a “positive man”, a “strong man”. 2) Everything happens to him conveniently and is neither bothered nor is he worried for anything. He has no responsibilities or is pestered by anything. “Down here", he says, "is both hell and paradise. Life is to be enjoyed, for us clever ones. Those sleeping or drugged let them die."

Besides there is no easier thing than be an unbeliever! Just press one switch and everything comes conveniently. The devil said to Christ, “Kneel and worship me and the stones will become bread”.

So says the smart one: “For man to sit with four hundred brains, waste time with stupidity like the old women, with gods, with hell and paradise, with lampadas (oil lamps), with censing, with chalices, with priests and nuns! And in what age? In our age where science sends men to planets! Listen my friend can you believe how stupid is the world?"

That’s what they say about believers, the smart ones and the honorable of this world, who are applauded by many, who regard them as sensible in everything because they do not chase shadows but are strong minded and succeed in everything they try.
Yes, they succeed for a short time, for unbelief is “a wide gate and a broad road”, which unbelievers do not believe “leads to perdition” as Christ said, but “to worldly prosperity”. Belief however is “a narrow gate and a grief stricken road” which the unbelievers do not believe “leads to life” but “to worldly unhappiness and disdain”. “Many are they that enter through the wide gate” according to our Lord, and “few are those who find the narrow gate”.

All the unbelievers say that if they witness a miracle they would believe. However, belief does not happen by force, but with the involvement of the soul. For this, to all who ask for a miracle to believe it is not granted, according to our Lord’s address to the Pharisees, “This evil and adulterous generation demands for a sign to be given it”.

However, even if an unbeliever witnesses a miracle, his pride would not allow him to believe, for he fears that he may be seen as gullible and become disdained.

Sometime ago I wrote five or six brief articles on the miracles that were happening in a village on the island of Mytilene, with the title “Amazing Mysteries”. Many readers were moved a lot, especially the humble and illiterate people, “the babes of the world and the weak ones”. The clever ones however paid no attention to it and a few of them mocked me and wrote me that I write nonsense. But “God is not mocked”. From then to now the miracles have not ceased and progressively became more numerous and terrifying. People that see them, write me about them in detail and I compile them in a book that will be like a hot iron for unbelieving mouths [it concerns the book “Great Sign” that was published by “Astir” regarding the miracles of Sts. Raphael, Nicholas and Irene]. During this age, discoveries are made of ancient churches with relics of those who appear living to simple people, in their sleep or while they are awake or in icons and other heirlooms. Everything could have been found and could have quickly and completely uncovered this terrible crater, that would have swept the unbelievers with its sacred lava, if there were greater means at the disposal of the poor ones who dig with fire like faith.

However, whatever it may be, with God’s grace “the Healer of the sick and the Replenisher of those lacking”, it will come to a good end, this blessed task, and will triumph our indestructible faith, and it will be heard to the ends of the world with a thundering voice saying: “Who is so great a god as our God? You are the God who alone works wonders”.

Source: From the magazine, “Orthodox Philotheos Martyrdom" by Orthodox Kypseli Publication.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Marks of a True Christian

What Is the Mark of the True Christian?

by St. Anastasius the Sinaite

St. Anastasius was a priest and abbot of Mt. Sinai. His zeal for true faith led him to travel through Egypt, Arabia, and Syria to combat the errors of the Acephalites and Eutychians. His writings show not only a thorough command of Holy Scripture and a wide knowledge of the writing of the Church Fathers and other Christian writers, but also classical erudition and a solid grounding in Aristotelian philosophy. Of his prolific output the most important works are Guide Against the Acephalites and Answers to Questions. It is from the latter that the present passage is translated. St. Anastasius died in great old age in 686.[1]

QUESTION: What is the mark of the true Christian?

ANSWER: Some say correct faith and pious works. Jesus, however does not define the true Christian in these terms. It is possible for one to have faith and good works, and to be conceited over these and not to be a perfect Christian. A Christian is a veritable dwelling place of Christ, held together by good works and pious beliefs. True faith, without works is dead, as are works without faith. We must, therefore, use every effort to keep ourselves clean from foul deeds so that it may not be said of us They profess that they know God, but in works they deny Him (Titus 1:16), wherefore the Lord says If a man loves Me, he will keep My words, and My Father will love Him, and We will come unto him and make Our home with him (John 14:23).

Do we not learn from this that the house of the soul is built through correct belief and good works, and thus God dwells within us. I will dwell in them, He says, and walk in them (II Cor. 6:16). The Apostle also points this out when he says Know you not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates (II Cor. 13:5)? Will not the devil then know whether or not the Master of the house, Christ, is inside your mind? When he sees you angry, or shouting, or using oaths, or foul language, or blaming someone, or abusing him, or finding fault, or reproaching someone, or condemning, or hating, or treating someone unjustly, or being conceited, or boasting, or being elated, or not praying habitually and remembering death, then he knows that God, your protector and provider is not inside your soul. And so, the evil one enters like a thief, not finding the divine light in your heart, and he loots the house of your soul, and your last state becomes worse than your first.

From Deuteronomy: And now, Israel, what does the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all His ways, and to love Him, and to serve the Lord thy God (Deut. 10:12).

From David: Ye that love the Lord, see to it that ye hate evil (Ps. 96:10); The Lord preserveth all that love Him, but all the sinners shall He utterly destroy (Ps. 144:20). And: for not a God that willest iniquity art Thou. He that worketh evil shall not dwell near Thee, nor shall transgressors abide before Thine eyes (Ps. 5:2, 3).

From Isaiah: And the Lord has said, This people draw nigh to Me with their mouth, and they honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me: but in vain do they worship Me (Is. 29:12). They seek Me day by day, and desire to know My ways, as a people that had done righteousness, and had not forsaken the judgment of their God (Is. 58:2), says the Lord, and: When ye stretch forth your hands, I will turn away Mine eyes from you, for your hands are full of blood. Wash you, be clean; remove your iniquities from your souls before Mine eyes; cease from your iniquities; learn to do well; diligently seek judgment, deliver him that is suffering wrong, plead for the orphan, and obtain justice for the widow(Is. 1:15-18).

From Solomon: The ways of an ungodly man are an abomination to the Lord; but He loves those that follow after righteousness (Prov. 15:9). And: By alms and by faithful dealings sins are purged away; but by the fear of the Lord every one departs from evil (Prov. 15:27).

From Sirach: Say not, I have sinned, and what harm hath happened unto me? for the Lord is longsuffering, He will in no wise let thee go… and say not, His mercy is great; He will be pacified for the multitude of my sins: for mercy and wrath come from Him, and his indignation resteth upon sinners (Sir. 5:46). As His mercy is great, so is His correction also: He judgeth a man according to His works… for every man shall find according to his works (Sir. 16:12-14).

From the Apostolic Constitutions: “Therefore let him who is to be baptized be a stranger to wickedness, abstaining from sin, a friend of God, an enemy of the devil, an heir of God, a co-heir of Christ, renouncing Satan and his demons and his works, chaste, pure, holy, a lover of God, a son of God, praying as a son to the Father and saying thus as is the custom of the faithful: Our Father, Who art in heaven,… [2] So that he may not call God Father unworthily, and be reproached by Him, as Israel, the first born son who once heard that A son honors his father, and a servant his master: if then I am a father, where is mine honor (Mal. 1:6)? For the glory of fathers is the holiness of their children, and the honor of a master is the fear of his servants. [3]

From St. Gregory of Nyssa, On the Lord’s Prayer: “He Who is good does not have the nature to become the father of an evil will, nor the Holy One of one polluted in his life; nor He Who is changeless of one constantly changing; nor He Who is Life of one dead through sin; nor He Who is pure and untainted of one disfigured by disgraceful passions; nor the bountiful one of a miser; nor He Who is found in every good, in any way of those who are involved in evil. If anyone looking at himself sees that he still needs cleansing and he recognizes his conscience as being full of defilement and evil crimes, and, before cleansing himself of these and similar evils, he insinuates himself into God’s family by calling Him Father, being unrighteous, he calls on the Righteous One, being impure he calls the Pure One Father, his words would be insult and mockery, as if he were naming God as the Father of his own vileness. For the word father indicates the cause of the one who comes to exist through him.

“Therefore a man who with a bad conscience calls God his father does nothing other than blame God as the author and cause of his own wickedness. But light has not fellowship with darkness, says the Apostle. Light rather associates itself with light, the just with the just, the incorrupt with the incorrupt. Their opposites, however, relate to their own kind. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit (Matt. 7:18).

“If then someone who is slow of heart and seeks after lying, as Scripture says, dares to use the words of the prayer, let him know that the father he calls is not the heavenly one, but rather, the infernal one, for he is a liar and become the father of lies, within whomever they be. He is sin and the father of sin. For this reason those who are subject to passions are called children of wrath, and the apostate from Life is called the son of perdition.

“Would you like to know the properties of the evil character? They are envy, hate, slander, conceit, avarice, passionate lust, and the sickness of megalomania. These and suchlike characterize the form of the adversary. If someone whose soul is infected with such stains were to call on the Father, what sort of father would hear him? Clearly the one who has kinship with the one who calls on him, and this is not the heavenly one, but the infernal one. The one whose family features he bears will recognize the family relationship. Thus the prayer of an evil man, as long as he persists in his wickedness, becomes an invocation of the devil. When he has abandoned his wickedness and lives innocently, his voice will call on the good Father.”

The same Gregory, To the Monk Lybbius: “If someone puts on the name of Christ, but does not show a life corresponding to that name, he makes a lie of the name. For neither is it possible for the Lord not to be justice, purity and truth, and estrangement for every evil, nor is it possible for a Christian not to show that he partakes of those qualities.”

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechism: “It is of no benefit to us to be called Christians if we do not correspond in our deeds. For it is written: If ye were Abraham’s children ye would do the works of Abraham (John 8:39).”

St. John Chrysostom, On St. Matthew: “Whoever calls God Father, with this small word, confessed the remission of sins, the redemption from punishment, justification, sanctification, liberation, adoption as son, kinship with the Only-Begotten, and the bestowal of the Spirit. Nor is it possible for someone to call God Father, if he is not a partaker of all those good things, and has not become a son of God. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God (Rom. 8:14). Thus whoever calls God Father should demonstrate appropriate behavior so as not to appear unworthy of the kinship. No man can serve two masters… God and mammon (Matt. 6:24).”

“Do not philosophize too much, for God has declared it once and for all and said that it is impossible for service of one to be compatible with service of the other. So do not say it is possible. For, when one tells you to seize (others’ property) and the other tells you to free yourself of what you have; one says to be chaste, the other to fornicate; one says to eat and drink, the other to fast and exercise self-control; the one to despise things of this world, the other to cleave to them; the one to marvel at marble walls and buildings, the other not to value these things but rather to pursue philosophy, how is it possible for these to be compatible with each other?

“He here calls mammon a master, not because of its own nature, but because of the wretchedness of those who bow and submit to it. Thus the Apostle calls the belly a god, not because of any worthiness of such a mistress, but from the wretchedness of those who serve her.”

St. Basil the Great, from The Ascetics: “If we believe the Lord when He says, Whoseover committeth sin is the servant of sin (John 8:34), and again, Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do (John 8:44), we see that he (the sinner) is not only in fellowship, but a slave (of the devil), and his father and his master he calls the one whose work he does. The Apostle also bears witness to this, saying, Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness (Rom. 6:16)? Nor should faith be dead, as the body without the spirit is dead. And again: Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble (James 2:19). The Lord asks, why do you call Me Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say? We, who are ruled by the Lord, must confess Him also by our actions, not having sin reigning or ruling within us, so that it may not be said of us that they loved Him with their mouth… their heart was not right with Him (Ps. 77:39).

“Let us listen to the Apostle saying, Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor the effeminate,… nor drunkards, … nor extortioners shall inherit the kingdom of God (I Cor. 6:9,10). And again, no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words; for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be ye not partakers with them (Eph. 5:5-7). If we were to be among these, we who claim to believe, who await the kingdom, we would not be partners of the King, but associates of the King’s enemies.

“If we have come to know Christ, we have come to know the Truth. If we know the Truth, we will live in truth, in our deeds. Otherwise, when He comes again, He will put our lot with the unbelievers, saying: Verily I say unto you, I know you not (Matt. 25:12). It will not help us to cry, Lord, Lord. Even the demons believe with an empty faith.

Chrysostom, On Fasting: “Let my prayer be set forth as incense before Thee, the lifting up of my hands… (Ps. 140:2). Look at your hands and examine them. And if they hold nothing stolen or defiling, say this with boldness: Let my prayer be set forth as incense. If you have stolen something or committed something forbidden, do not call, do not lift your hands until you cease your wickedness. Even if, by God’s permission, you are able to lift your hands, your prayer, being defiled, can in no way ascend to heaven, but you will hear When ye stretch forth your hands, I will turn away mine eyes from you: and though ye make many supplications, I will not hearken to you (Is. 1:15).”

Chrysostom, On St. Matthew: “Let us now learn what things defile a man. Let us learn, and shun them. Even in the Church we see among many that they try to keep such a custom, to make an effort to come in clean clothing, and to wash their hands and feet, but not even giving a thought to presenting God with a clean soul. Saying this, I do not forbid anyone to wash his hands and his mouth, but I would that he wash them as is proper. Not only with water, but, instead of water, with virtues. Defilement of the hands is theft, evil actions, attacks on one’s neighbor. (Defilement) of the mouth is blasphemy, abuse, foul language, ribaldry, mockery, insult.

“If, then, you are conscious of committing or uttering none of these things, nor being defiled by any of these defilements, come with confidence. Or have you received these defilements a myriad times? Do you rinse your hands and tongue, but carry in them deadly and noxious filth? Tell me, if you had dung and mire in your hands, would you dare to pray? Not at all. There is, however, no harm in these, in the other there is death and destruction. How is it that you show piety in the irrelevant but indifference to what is forbidden? What then, says one, should one not pray? One should, but not in a defiled state and in such filth. What then, he says, if I have been taken by it? Cleanse yourself. How and by what means? Weep, groan, give alms, confess, apologize to those offended by you, be reconciled. With these wipe clean your tongue, so as not to anger God more greatly.

“If someone were to embrace your feet with hands full of dung, you would not only not hear him, but even repel him with your foot. How do you then thus dare to approach God? The tongue of one who prays is the hand with which we embrace God’s knees. Do not therefore defile it, so that He may not say to you: Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear you. Death and life are in the power of the tongue (Prov. 18:21). By your words you will be either justified or condemned. You do not dare to pray fresh after the company of your wife, but after abusive and insulting speech and other wickedness you stretch forth your hands before being properly cleansed. How do you not tremble, tell me, calling on that terrible and awesome name? Have you not heard St. Paul say: I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hand without wrath and doubting (I Tim. 2:8).

Chrysostom, On St. John: “The Lord tells us that faith is of no benefit to us if our life remains corrupt: Not every one that saith to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; Many will say unto Me on that day Lord, Lord have we not prophesied in Thy name?… And then I will profess unto them, I never knew you (Matt. 7:21-23). What use is faith when the Lord does not acknowledge us? When we do not do God’s will, we are in the snare of the devil. And, just as the sparrow, even if it is not completely entangled, but caught only by one foot, is in the trapper’s power, so it is also with us. Even if we are not completely entangled, but only in respect to either our faith or our life, we are in the devil’s power, for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage (II Peter 2:19).”

St. John of the Ladder: “He who claims to have true faith, but commits sins, is like a face with no eyes. Conversely, he who does not have faith, but is good in his actions is like one drawing water and pouring it into a vessel with holes.”

Mark the Monk: “Some, without doing the commandments, think they have right faith. Others, doing (the commandments), expect the kingdom as their just desert. Both miss out on the kingdom.”

Maximus the Monk, from The Ascetic Chapters: “A Christian pursues wisdom in the following three things: the commandments, dogma, and faith. The commandments free the mind from the passions, dogma leads to a knowledge of the truth, and faith to contemplation of the Holy Trinity, to Whom be all glory, honor, and worship, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and ever and to the ages of ages.”


1. Archbishop Filaret of Chernigov: Historical Study of the Church Fathers (in Russian), vol. 3, p. 178.

2. Apostolic Constitutions, 3:18.

3. Apostolic Constitutions, 7:24.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

2010 New Testament Challenge

Have you read the entire New Testament? Perhaps you've always wanted to, but never started? The Preacher's Institute is starting the New Testament challenge to everyone interested. No entry necessary! Just pick up your Bible and start reading!

The Anglican Rosary

THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: Anglican's availing themselves of the pope's new ordinariates will likely bring with them not only elements of their Anglo-Catholic liturgy, but some will bring with them their own personal devotions as well. While most Anglo-Catholics are partial to the traditional Dominican rosary, some have developed their own prayer bead devotion which mimics the Orthodox Jesus prayer rope. This is called the "Anglican Prayer Beads" or the "Anglican Chaplet." This Anglo-Catholic devotion uses a small chaplet containing four strands of seven beads (called "weeks") connected by larger cruciform beads. These connecting cruciform beads derive their name from the shape of the cross they make when the chaplet is spread out into a circle. The devotion is as follows...

On The Cross
In the Name the Father, and the Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.

On The Invitatory Bead
O God make speed to save me (us),
O Lord make haste to help me (us),
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost: As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

On The Cruciform Beads
Holy God,
Holy and Mighty,
Holy Immortal One,
Have mercy upon me (us).

On The Weeks Beads
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,
Have mercy on me, a sinner.

On The Invitatory Bead
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy Name,
thy kingdom come, thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.

On The Cross
I bless the Lord. (Let us bless the Lord)
Thanks be to God.

This Anglican rosary, was developed by Anglo-Catholic religious (monks and nuns) back during the 1980s. In typical Anglican fashion, they borrowed elements from both the Eastern Catholic/Orthodox tradition and the Western Roman Catholic tradition to come up with something new that is both eastern and western.

The prayers are said on beads, as opposed to knots, which comes from the Roman Catholic tradition. However the number of beads, and prayers themselves, come primarily from the Eastern Catholic and Orthodox tradition.

To top it off the beads are arranged into Biblical symbolism. There are a total of 33 beads on the chaplet, one for each year of Christ's life. Three is also the number of the Trinity and it's double representation is symbolic of the incarnation, Christ's two natures, fully God and fully man. The beads are split into four strands of seven (called weeks) with seven being the Biblical number of God's perfection. These "weeks" are connected by four "cruciform" beads so that when the chaplet is stretched into a circle they form an imaginary cross between them, with each bead being an end point of the cross.

Eastern Catholic/Orthodox prayer ropes come in sets of 33 knots, 50 knots and 100 knots. The Anglican chaplet mimics the 33 knot version, however when you pray three times around it you get 99 prayers. Pray once on the cross and you get to 100 prayers just like the 100 knot prayer rope.