For what purpose are you coming to Church?

To whom will I have respect,
but (save?) to the humble and meek
and the man that trembles at my words.
For all those things My hand has made
and all those things have been’,
said the Lord:
‘but to this man will I look,
even to him that is poor,
of a contrite spirit,
and trembles at My Word’“.
Isaiah 66: 2

“Awake, O sleeper
and Christ shall shine upon You”.
Eph.5: 14

We know from the life of Saint Arsenius the Great
that after entering upon a life of solitude and prayer
he constantly asked himself,
Arsenios, to what purpose have You gone out?

We as Orthodox Christians, similarly
must ask ourselves each and every time
we approach our Parish church,
for what purpose am I coming to church?

Surely, we attend church for our own spiritual profit.
One might say, yes.       But what is our goal?
We know from many sources
– one of which is the Conversation of Saint Seraphim of Sarov with Moltivilov –
that the reason that we labour at any of the virtues and the ultimate purpose of Christian life is for us to become partakers of the Grace of the Holy Spirit.
But as we know from this same discourse,
one can labour at the virtues to no purpose as the foolish virgins did,
receiving no oil for their lamps, that is,
receiving no Grace for their labours.
It follows that,
yes, we can labour to attend church
and gain nothing.

As Saint Seraphim explains in the same Conversation
and the Lord says:
Not every one that said unto Me: Lord, Lord shall be saved,
but he that does the will of My Father
“.
Matth.7: 21
– that is,
he who does the work of God
and, moreover,
does it with reverence,
‘for cursed be he that does the work of God negligently’
Jer.31: 10, LXX

For this reason the Saints sought to cultivate a reverent fear of God.
Saint David of Thessalonica prayed and fasted for three years while enduring the ascetical feat of dwelling in an almond tree,
in his wisdom he all the while entreated God for this Gift of reverent fear.
As it is recorded in the Life of the Saint,
“When the three years had passed,
a holy angel appeared unto him saying,
‘David,
the Lord has heard your supplication
and grants unto you this favour for which you have asked many times,
that is, that you be humble-minded and modest,
and that you fear Him and worship Him with proper reverence’.
We know from his life that this “Mother Virtue”

[to borrow a term from Saint John Climacus]
gave birth to many spiritual “daughter virtues”
and Saint David was manifested
to all as a clairvoyant wonderworker
“.
from Orthodox Word 1970 May/June, vol. 6 No. 3, pg.123

If one reads the church Service books, one can see
that this reverence and fear of God
is an intrinsic part of the Church’s understanding.
As it is proclaimed in the Great Ektenia:
For this Holy House, and for them that with faith,
reverence, and fear of God enter herein,
let us pray to the Lord
“.

After the Our Father when the deacon commands,
bow your heads unto the Lord“!

[why nobody in Church is bowing?
– indeed, when you only come to Church to hear nice old Greek or Russian words on a nice sound,
you will never understand the background; you even don’t know
you have to bow!!!
]

the priests secret prayer reads as follows:
We give thanks unto You, O invisible King,
Who by Your measureless power hast created all things,
and in the multitude of Your Mercy has out of nothing
brought all things into being.
Do You Yourself, O Master,
look from Heaven upon them
that have bowed down their heads to You:
for they have bowed them not to flesh and blood,
but to You, the dread God . . . . .

In the holy Liturgy we encounter our awesome and terrible God,
Who created all things by His measureless Power
and Who came in Meekness and Humility
in order to gather us
as a hen does her chicks.
A strange and unheard of paradox
which is beyond the mind of man.
[so next Sunday you bow all your heads ???]

Saint Pachomius the Great explains the awesomeness of the New Covenant
and the fearful world – transcending Divine Liturgy.
As a monk describes the words of Saint Pachomius in his life,
“. . . . . He explained the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies,
applying the explanation to the two peoples,
‘For the first people’, he said is the outer Tabernacle,
whose service consisted in animal sacrifices, visible loaves,
the lamp stand and the lamps, and some other things.
But the calling of the Nations is the Holy of Holies,
that is, the fulfilment of the Law.
And everything in the Holy of Holies
is more glorious than the outer Tabernacle.
For instead of animal sacrifices it has a censer of incense;
instead of a table, the Ark of the Covenant with the spiritual loaves,
the book of the Law and all that is to be found there,
and instead of the light of the lamp stand,
the Mercy Seat where God appears as a consuming fire,
that is, God the Incarnate Word
Who was made propitiation for us by appearing in the flesh
“.

In every Divine and Sacred Liturgy
fearful and awesome things are accomplished,
God appears as a consuming fire
to sanctify the gifts and overshadows all of the faithful.
Let us not draw nigh carelessly.
It is our Father’s house and
He calls us all to the banquet,
but let us with fear of God, faith,
and love draw nigh.

Treasures of Orthodoxy:
The fear of the Lord is
the beginning of Wisdom;
and there is good understanding
to all that practice it:
and piety toward God
is the beginning of discernment;
but the ungodly will set
at nought wisdom and instruction
“.
Prov.1: 7

Fear is the paternal rod which guides our way until we reach the spiritual Paradise of good things.
When we have attained there to,
it leaves us and turns back.
Saint Isaac the Syrian, ascetical Homily Forty-Six

What children should be given to read
Father Ambrose:
“It is my opinion that a young mind should first of all
be occupied with sacred history and readings of the Lives of Saints
of your choice,
which will unnoticeably sow the seeds of the fear of God
and Christian life.
You especially need to make them understand, with God’s help,
how important it is to keep God’s commandments
and what disastrous consequences follow breaking them.
All of this will lead them away from the example set by our first parents,
who ate the forbidden fruit and were therefore exiled from Paradise.
You can put Krylov’s fables away until later
[Иван Андреевич Крылов 1769 – 1844, Russian translator and imitator of existing fables],
for now teaching your child some prayers by heart,
like the Symbol of Faith and certain Psalms, for example:
He that dwells in the help of the Most High” [Psalm 90];
The Lord is my Light” [Psalm 26], and the like.
The main thing is that the child himself
be occupied according to his strength
and directed toward fear of God.
Everything good and kind comes from this.
while, to the contrary, idleness and not being instilled with the fear of God
are often the cause of all evil and misfortune.
When the fear of God is not instilled,
children will not bring forth the desired fruits of good morals
and a well-ordered life, no matter what you occupy them with.
When the fear of God is instilled,
all occupations are good and profitable”.
Elder Ambrose of Optina – Амвросий Оптинский [1812-1891]

And they put the ark of the Lord on a new wagon,
and took it out of the house of Aminadab who lived on the hill:
and Oza and his brethren the sons of Aminadab drove the wagon with the ark,
and his brethren went before the ark.
And David and the children of Israel were playing before the Lord
on well-tuned instruments mightily,
with songs, with harps, with lutes, with drums,
with cymbals, and with pipes.
And they come as far as the threshing floor of Nachor;
and Oza reached forth his hand to the ark of God to keep it steady,
and took hold of it; for the ox shook it out of its place.
And the Lord was very angry with Oza;
and God smote him there:
and he died there by the ark of the Lord
before God
“.

Certainly, the idea of conforming one’s actions,
one’s approach to living and thinking,
and even the eye of one’s noetic heart
to live chiefly to glorify God
runs completely contrary to what “the World” values today,
especially in its prevailing secular outlooks of modernism and relativism,
which challenge and question the very concept and existence of objective Truth.
This is why the True heart of the Christian Gospel appears
“as foolishness to those who live
and think and have their being in and of the world,
outside of a yearning for God”.
cf. 1Cor.1: 18-25
Indeed, Saint John the Theologian, beloved apostle of the Lord,
reminds us that our love, if truly selfless,
is something the world not only often fails to understand,
but indeed, because it is selfless, is something the world often despises:
“Wonder not, brethren,
if the world hates you.
We know that we have passed from death to life,
because we love the brethren.
He that loveth not, abideth in death”.

1John 3: 13-14

 

Orthodoxy & the CROSS in the OLD TESTAMENT

In this day and age,
where one is “infatuated” by everything that is “fashionable“,
new schools of biblical thought tend
to separate the Old Testament from the New.
To these doctors who wish to be “in fashion” and “in the stream of things“,
our response is that the Old Testament is like the New;
both are the Book of Jesus Christ and His redeeming work.
From the beginning to the end of the Old Testament,
the main subject is the coming of the Messiah,
the Liberator of Israel and the Nations.
“. . . He has chosen us
before the foundation of the world . . .”
Eph.1: 4

The whole of the Old Testament
was a vague image of the New.
It was destined to disappear.
It is again Paul the divine, the mouth of Christ,
who says in his Epistle to the Hebrews that God,
by declaring that He was going to build a New Covenant,
“. . . hath made the first old.
Now that which decayed and waxed old is ready to vanish away“.
Hebr.8: 13
Those therefore that think that the Old Testament
has an independent existence are much mistaken.
They should put themselves
in the guidance of the School of the Holy Spirit
and the Fathers and sing with us:
The shadow of the Law passed away
With the coming of Grace, O Virgin.
As the Bush was burning but not consumed,
A Virgin, thou gavest birth
A Virgin, thou remained.
Instead of the pillar of fire,
The Sun of justice shone forth,
And instead of Moses
Christ, the Saviour of our souls
“.
Theotokion of Saturday Vespers             Tn 2

He who possesses spiritual eyes
can easily see in the Old Testament
the Light of the New
which begins to break through.
Behind all the events in the History of the Hebrew people,
one can see the unfolding of Divine economy
and hear the footsteps of the approaching Messiah.

The Patriarchs, the Prophets, the Sacrifices,
the religious figures of Worship,
announce the coming of the God-Man and yet,
Christ was not the only One
about Whom Prophesies were made.
The People who would take part in the Divine-Human tragedy are equally prophesied:
the Mother of God, John the Forerunner,
the Apostles, the enemies of Jesus
and the sign of the Son of Man
– the Cross.

The ecclesiastic year begins in September,
the month in which we celebrate the universal exaltation of the Cross [Sept.14th].
The Cross is prophesied about not only in the Old Testament but also, if one could say, by the New.
It must appear, preceding the Saviour,
the day of His Second and Glorious Coming.
And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man, in Heaven:
and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn,
and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of Heaven, with Power and great Glory
“.
Matth.24: 30
The Prophet Isaiah says that
“. . . and the Government [Kingdom]
shall be upon His shoulders . . .”
Isaiah 9: 5
The Kingdom is the Cross
that the Saviour carried on His shoulders.
The Kingdom is His Power
“. . All power is given unto Me in Heaven and in earth“.
Matth.28: 18

The first Mystical and Mysterious sign of the Cross
is hidden in the Paradise of Eden.
In the celebrated Heavenly valley
where there was no sin, corruption, or death,
man lived in the blessing and familiarity of God.
Marvellous trees of all types were planted there.
And out of the ground made the Lord God
to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight,
and good for food . . .
“.
Gen.2: 9
Among them stood two mysterious trees,
two trees which were not strangers to
the adversity, trials, and tribulations of our ancestors:
the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil [Gen.2: 9].

This Tree of Life, from which man did not taste,
is the first and oldest sign of the venerable Cross.
There were many symbols regarding
the Cross in the Old Testament,
but none of them was as clear as that of the Tree of Life.
You only have to glance at the theology of the Fathers
and at the Hymnology of the Church
to discover the close relationship between
the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Cross.
The Cross is characterized as “venerable”, as “sacred”
and overall as “Tree of Life”, “Life Giving Tree”,
“Tree Holder of Life”, etc.
These names proclaim that for the Church,
the Cross is the new Tree of Life.

If one were to ask me
what was the most admirable thing that Christ did,”
says St. John Chrysostom,
I would put aside the Heaven, the earth, the sea,
the Resurrection of the multitude of dead and all the other miracles
and I would display only the Cross which is the most glorious of all . . . “.

If in the image of the Tree of Life
and in that of the Tree of the Cross, we see only the obvious,
that is to say, a tree and a collection of wood;
even if we see a sacred symbol, the relationship between the image
and that which is represented will be trivial.
However,
– if we are to quench our thirst at the source of Church dogmas,
– if we examine the teachings of this authentic exegete of Scripture,
which is the Church, and what She says
about the purpose of the Tree of Life,
and afterwards,
– if we turn our spiritual eyes to the Cross,
we will then see it as
the Sacrifice of the New Adam,
of Jesus the God-Man,
the only One without sin,
expiatory victim for the deliverance of all humanity from sin and from eternal death.
By sacred mediation our eyes will open
and we will understand that
which was the Tree of Life
before our fall from the height of our original beauty and also that which is the Cross after the Redemption.

God, says the Apostle Paul,
loved us in Christ before the foundation of the world.
Understand!
– before the foundation of the world,
God had in mind the deification of man.
But man, seduced by the counsel of the serpent-devil, believed he could become God
by his own initiative, by his own power, without the Grace and blessing of his Creator.
It is this Divine plan, of the deification of man,
which served as the argument
for the Devil to fool our ancestors.
For God does know that in the day you eat thereof,
then your eyes shall be opened,
and you shall see as gods. . .
“.
Gen.3: 5

In this way,
man hastened to taste from that Tree of Knowledge
which would make him equal to God
even though he was not worthy to digest such nutrition.
The result was the opposite.
His eyes opened, says Scripture,
He knew good and evil,
he saw that he was naked,
and he was afraid.
“. . . And the eyes of both of them were opened
and they knew that they were naked . . .
and Adam and his wife hid themselves
from the presence of the Lord God
amongst the trees of the Garden”.
Gen.3: 7-8

So that man would
not live eternally in spiritual death
– and this is another aspect of the mystery –
God chased him from Paradise.
And the Lord God said,
Behold, the man is become as one of us,
to know good and evil:
and now, let he put forth his hand,
and take also of the tree of life,
and eat, and live for ever
“.
Gen.3: 22

It is from compassion, forgiveness, and love
that God allowed death and bodily dissolution
in order that spiritual death,
the result of the rupture in the link with the Source of Life,
would not be eternal, as is the misfortune of nakedness,
which is the absence of the Grace of God.

Saint Basilios the Great raises this mystery
in the anaphora of his Liturgy during Sunday’s of Lent
“. . . in Your just judgment, O God,
You hast exiled him [Adam] from Paradise
and placed him in this world;
You has returned him to
the earth from where he was taken,

all the while preparing him for Salvation
by rebirth in Your Anointed One.

For You did not reject forever
the creature which You had fashioned, 
O Good One,
nor didst Thou forget the work of Your hands
. . .”.

Saint Cosmas the Melodius,
the composer of the canon of the Exaltation of the Cross,
sums up brilliantly this theology and in the Troparion of the 5th ode,
he also identifies the Tree of Life with the Cross:

It was on thee, O Tree memorable,
That Christ was suspended.
It is thee, O Cross, that the turning sword
Which guarded Eden protected.
Even the dread Cherubim fell back
Before Christ Who was suspended on thee,
Granting peace to our souls“.

Man, unworthy of the Divine honour,
was chased far from the Tree of Life,
whose safekeeping was now placed in the hands of the Cherubim
and the turning sword.
So He drove out the man;
and He placed at the east of the Garden of Eden, Cherubims,
and a flaming sword which turned every way,
to keep the way of the Tree of Life“.
Gen.3: 24

The question, then, that is raised is this:
if Adam, still without sin, could not eat from the Tree of Life,
how would he be able to participate after the fall?

The Fathers divinely resolve the difficulty:
God Who so loved His creation before it existed, Who wished freely to give man incorruptible Life,
would send His only Son to open anew
the door to the Tree of Life.

The Lord, having become Man,
taught the eternal Truths.
But He was not content with only this
because where would be the significance?
What would man have gained
by knowing eternal Truths
if he did not have in him Life Eternal,
which is given only by the Tree of Life?

Bodily and spiritual death would have rendered the heavenly truths empty.
However, the Bible, which has the Saviour come down from the heavens to earth,
tells us that the Lord is not only the Truth, but He is also the Life.
“. . I am the Way, the Truth and the Life . . ”
John 14: 6

The death on the Cross and the Resurrection
gave the Divine teaching all of its value.
All the Economy of our redemption finds
its climax in the mystery of the Cross.
It is by the Cross that the Apostle Paul finds
the breadth, the length, the height
and the depth of the mystery of God [Eph.3: 18].

The Cross and the Resurrection
have purified man from sin
and from the ancestral curse.
From them we have become participants in Eternal Life.
The Blood of Christ the God-Man,
the fruit of the death on the Cross,
nourishes us and grafts onto our aged trunk the new man,
the son of immortality.

The new life,
the beginning of future immortality,
the new  spiritual Paradise, is the Church,
the very Body of Christ.
That which we should have received from the Tree of Life, from which we were originally deprived because of the transgression,
we now receive freely from the Cross
by the Grace of God in the Church
and nowhere else
because outside the Church there is no Eucharist.

The Tree of Life, the Cross, are not ordinary symbols,
but a  substantial and fundamental reality.
Clement of Alexandria sees in the Cross,
the Tree on which Christ, our Life, was hung,
from which  we eat the fruits of eternal Divine knowledge.
The holy Fathers  Cyril of Jerusalem and Photios of Constantinople see
the whole earth as Paradise, in the centre of which is planted the Cross,
the new Tree of Life, just as the old one was planted
in the beginning in the centre of Paradise.
By the new Tree, the earth, in the past cursed,
is now full of blessings and has become Paradise.

For the Apostle Paul, who has risen to the third heaven,
the new reality is the Church, which appeared in this world by the Incarnation.
She is the new Creation, the New Man.
And He that sat upon the Throne said,
Behold I make all things New. . .”.
Rev.21: 5

New Creation, Christ the second Adam, new Tree of Life: the Cross.
This is why the Incarnation of Christ is a Mystery
more profound and greater than that of the creation of the world.

All the events in the Bible, especially those of the Divine Passion,
are linked to events and things in Paradise.
They are a repetition, a recapitulation, a clearing up,
one could say, of the ancient acts of those
who caused our fall from our first beauty
into misery and death.
There is a certain parallel.

Christ does not find fruit on the fig tree.
This is because the first earthly Adam ate the fruit
and used its leaves to hide his nudity.
“. . . and they sewed fig leaves together
and made themselves aprons
“.
Gen.3: 7
It is also in this context that one should put
the mysterious episode of the withered fig tree
of which the Evangelist Mark speaks [Marc.11: 12-14]
and which confounds the exegetes and makes those who mock smile.
Isidore of Peluse speaks of a tradition received from the Fathers,
according to whom the tree of transgression is the fig tree,
whose leaves served the transgressors to cover their nudity.

At the time of the sin of the ancestors, the forbidden tree was not cursed.
Christ cursed it later in His love for us so that it would no longer
produce harmful and mortal fruit for His creation.
Truly the Mysteries of God are unfathomable!

Adam tasted of the forbidden tree and we were chased from Paradise;
Christ fasted and we entered into spiritual Eden.
By sinning, Adam lost the vestment of incorruptible glory woven by God;
he remains nude and covered with shame.
The Lord again covered the nakedness of our ancestor
when He ascended the Cross.
All of you who have been baptized in Christ have put on Christ“,
writes Saint Paul.

Our ancestors did not eat of the Fruit of the Tree of Life,
but we, we eat and drink the Body and Blood of Christ,
fruits of His sacrifice, Eternal Life.

Adam, created on the sixth day,
holds out his hand to receive the forbidden fruit.
On the sixth day and at the sixth hour [Friday],
Christ holds our His hands on the Cross to save us.

In the middle of the new spiritual Paradise rises the Cross, the Tree of Life.
The first flower is the self-acknowledged thief.
He is the first to enter there.
This theme is repeated every Sunday in the Beatitudes
which we sing with their Stichera in the Liturgy.

By the Tree Adam was deceived,
by the Tree of the Cross,
You saved him once more
,”.
2nd Beatitude, Tn 6

The fruit, beautiful to behold and good to eat,
brought me death.
But by tasting of Christ,
the Tree of Life,
I no longer die and with the thief I cry out:
Remember me, O Lord, in Your Kingdom
“.
1st Beatitude, Tn 7

“By food the enemy led Adam out of Paradise.
By the Cross, Christ brought the thief in again, crying:
Remember me when You comes in Your Kingdom”.
1st Beatitude, Tn 1

In the person of Christ, human nature, immaculate and without guilt,
enters into the perfect Beatitude at the right hand of God.
In the person of the self-acknowledged thief, sinful human nature,
but whose heart is well-disposed,
enters liberated into the beatitude of Eden
and eats from the Tree of Life.

In the person of the unrepentant thief,
sinful and un-repenting nature,
whose heart is ill-disposed,
– refuses to eat from the Tree of Life,
– refuses to participate in the Cross,
– in the fruit of the Cross,
– and falls to death.
It is this teaching that is represented
by the lower and diagonal branch
of the Cross,
which rises on the right towards Heaven
and descends on the left towards the abyss.

In Christ, we are given more than we received from Adam.
The Economy of the  Redemption in Christ
is not  merely a return to the paradisiacal state.
It is something greater, more grandiose.

The Church is a New world, a New Paradise.
In his commentary on Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Romans,
Saint John Chrysostom says,
Christ does not make us well in the same proportion
that Adam made us ill, . .  .  but much more . . .
for the Apostle does not simply say ‘Grace’,
but ‘a superabundance of Grace’ . . .
Where sin abounded, Grace did much more abound“.

The Cross, says Saint Simeon the New Theologian,
is the altar on which was offered the fearsome sacrifice.
It is on the Cross that the Son of God died
because of the fall of mankind.
Also, the Cross is venerated and symbolized
as the sign of the universal redemption of man.
All those who worship the wood of the Cross
are delivered from the curse of Adam
and receive the benediction
and Grace of God to achieve all virtue.

For Christians, the Cross is a pride, a glory, a strength.
All our strength comes from that of Christ crucified;
our sin is put to death by the death of Christ on the Cross.
Our elevation, our glory, are owed to the extreme humiliation of God
Who is humiliated even unto dying with thieves and brigands.

What is there greater for a Christian than to become god through Grace?
This is why Christians who believe in Christ sign themselves with the sign of the Cross
–  not carelessly, out of habit, or without thought,
but with attention, intelligence, fear, trembling,
reverence and piety.

The sign of the Cross shows the transformation of each man
and his friendship with God.
The demons fear the sign of the Cross
and cannot stand to even see it traced in the air
because they know that the Cross is
the sign of friendship between mankind and God.
Demons are apostates, the enemies of God.
They are far removed from the Divine Face.
They cannot approach those who have made peace with God,
who have united with Him.
The demons can no longer injure them.

If at times they tempt certain Christians
– as everyone knows they do –
it is those who do not understand
as they should the  sublime Mystery of the Cross.
For, those who know it,
know from experience the strength
and the power of the Cross against demons.
The Cross gives the soul strength, power, intelligence, inspired wisdom
and those who know the Mystery of the Cross cry out in joy,
But God forbid that I should glory,
save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,
by Whom the world is crucified unto me,
and I unto the world
“.
Gal.6: 14

Therefore, the sign of the Cross being great and fearsome,
it is every Christian’s duty
to make the sign of the Cross with fear and trembling,
with piety and attention,
and not carelessly and foolishly,
only out of habit or with distraction.
Everyone receives strength and help from God
according to the measure of piety he has for the Cross.
Father Ambroise Fontrier
La Lumiere du Thabor” no.20.

March 25th – Annunciation, Christ’s Birth announced to the Theotokos

Christ expounded unto the Disciples,
walking to Emmaus
in all the Historical Scriptures
the things concerning Himself“.
cf. Luc.24: 26-28

Man would never come to know the True God unless God Himself first became man,
thus the Coming of Christ has been foretold.

The promise that Christ would come can be read in:
Gen. 3: 15, 22: 18, 26: 4, 49: 10;
Num. 21: 6-9, 24: 17, Deut. 18:15;
Psalm 15: 8-10, 21: all, specifically: 21: 14-16-18, 131: 11;
Isaiah 7: 14, 9: 6-7, 40: 10-11, 50: 6, 52: 13-15, 53: all, 60: 21;
Jer 23: 5, Jer 33: 14-15, Ezek 34: 23, Ezek 37: 25;
Dan. 9: 25, Mic.5: 2 & 7: 20;
Zach.6: 12, 9: 9, 9: 10, 12: 8-10, 13: 7;
Mal.3: 1-4 & 4: 2-6.
This list is not complete by any means and if one were to take into account
the more complicated Scriptures, the compound Scriptures,
one would be able to enlarge this list geometrically, for the Old Testament
was a promise of that which was to come.
Jesus was that Promise Which did in fact come,
and the New Testament is the record of the Promise fulfilled
and the future Promises yet to come,
but they all revolve around Almighty God’s plan, purpose
and consummation of the eternal Union
between His children and Himself
through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Today’s Feast is indeed the Feast of
the True knowledge of God,
as foreseen by the Fore-fathers.
This is the Feast of the Formation of Christ in the flesh, announced by the Archangel Gabriel
and accepted by the Virgin,
and it occurs therefore nine months
before the Birth of Christ at Christmas.
It is, as the hymns of the Church tell us,
the Crown of our Salvation,
the beginning of everything.
This is why its Greek name is ‘Ευαγγελισμος’ [Evangelismos],
which comes from the word ‘Ευαγγελίων’ meaning ‘Good News’.
This is the feast of the Good News, the Feast of the Gospel.
Without this Feast, there would have been
no Good News, no Gospel.

Its usual English name is the Annunciation.
For it is the Feast not of an announcement,
but of the Announcement.
It is the ultimate Announcement, for it is the Announcement that God has become man,
the Announcement of the Presence of
the Wisdom of God amongst us,
not of the wisdom of man as before Christ,
but of the Wisdom of God.
It changes everything in World’s History,
overshadowing and surpassing all
that old human wisdom
of Ancient Greece, Egypt, India and China.

But however Divine this Highfeast is, it is also human.
The humanity of this Feast is not only in that today God becomes an embryo,
it is also in that today the Virgin becomes a Mother.
This is why today the Church is in blue,
the colour of the Virgin-Mother
and why this Feast is also known as ‘Lady Day’ in England.
Today, in accepting the announcement of the Archangel Gabriel, in accepting the Will of God, the Virgin becomes the most high of all mankind,
‘More honourable than the Cherubim
and more glorious beyond compare than the Seraphim’
.
Mp3: Megalynarion of Orthros [Greek & English]
She exceeds in her sacrifice all other men and women in human History,
past, present and future.
She becomes linked with all eternity
and surpasses humanity while remaining human.
In a word,
this earthly being becomes through her sacrifice the Mother of God,
which is why we, though still on earth,
commemorate her in Heavenly blue.

In accepting this cross of sacrifice,
the Mother of God also accepts
the approaching Cross of Victory of Her Son.
This is a very significant fact
and indeed this is a spiritual law.
For every sacrifice, for every cross
that we take on ourselves according to God’s Will,
we receive a spiritual reward.
It may not come at once, but it will inevitably come.
This is a spiritual law, just as, in the same way,
if we fail to make a sacrifice and take up our cross
when God calls us to do that,
there is also a price to pay,
the price of spiritual defeat.
Mp4: Anaphora – Divine Liturgy [English]

For example, at this moment,
and in more than one part of the world,
men are fighting, men are slaughtering one another.
This is because they are blind to Christ.
For when we are blind to Christ,
then we are also blind
to the meaning of Christ’s Cross.
Thus people make war, instead of making Peace.
For people cannot make Peace because
that involves a sacrifice,
the sacrifice of sharing.
If there is no Cross of Sacrifice,
then there is
– no Cross of Victory,
– no Cross of Resurrection,
just the constant cycle of wars.

The sacrifice of the Mother of God
in accepting to bear and nourish God,
giving Him her blood, bones and flesh,
and raise Him as a man is such
that she alone among all mankind
can take us outside the cycle of wars
and can lead us,
if we wish to follow her,
into Eternity,
to the Resurrection of Christ.

“Most Holy Mother of God, save us!”

And the Scripture is fulfilled which said,
Abraham [man] believed God,
and it was imputed unto him [us] for righteousness:
and he [we] is [are] called the friend[s] of God“.
cf. James 2: 23

3rd Sunday of Lent – Veneration of our own Cross

And when He had called the people unto Him with His disciples also,
He said unto them, ’Whosoever will come after Me,
let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it;
but whosoever shall lose his life for My sake and the Gospel’s,
the same shall save it.
For what shall it profit a man,
if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of Me
and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation;
of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed,
when He comes in the Glory of His Father
with the holy angels’
.
And He said unto them,
’Verily I say unto you,
that there be some of them that stand here,
which shall not taste of death,
till they have seen the Kingdom of God
come with power’
“.
Marc.8: 34- 9: 1

For what will it profit a man
if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?
Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
For the Son of Man is going
to come in the Glory of His Father with His angels
and will then repay every man
according to his deeds
“.
Matth.16: 27

Jesus answered,
’If I want him to remain alive
until I return, what is that to you?
You must follow me’
Because of this,
the rumour spread among the believers
that this disciple would not die.
But Jesus did not say that he would not die;
he only said,
’If I want him to remain alive until I return,
what is that to you’?
“.
John 21: 22,23

’Men of Galilee’ they said,
’why do you stand here looking into the sky?
This same Jesus,
Who has been taken from you into Heaven,
will come back in the same way
you have seen Him go into Heaven’
Acts 1: 11

For the son of man, the True Disciple of Christ
shall come in the Glory of his Father . . . . .

A True Disciple of Christ is one
that does follow Him in duty,
and shall follow Him to Glory.
He is one that walks in the same way Christ walked in,
is led by His Spirit, and treads in His steps, where ever he goes.
Let him deny himself.
If ’self-denial’ be a hard lesson,
it is no more than what our Master learned and practised,
to redeem us, and to teach us.
Let him take up his cross.
The cross is here put
for every trouble that befalls us.
We are apposite to think
we could bear another’s cross
better than our own;
but that is best which is appointed us
and we ought to make the best of it.
We must not by our rashness and folly pull
crosses down upon our own heads,
but must take them up
when they are in our way.
If any man will have the name and credit of a Disciple,
let him follow Christ in the work and duty of a Disciple.
If all worldly things are worthless
when compared with the life of the body,
how forcible the same argument with respect
to the soul and its state of
never-ending happiness or misery!
Thousands lose their souls for the most trifling gain,
or the most worthless indulgence,
nay, often from mere sloth and negligence.
Whatever is the object for which men forsake Christ,
that is the price at which Satan buys their souls.
Yet one soul is worth more than all the world.
This is Christ’s Judgment upon the matter;
He knew the Price of souls, for He redeemed them;
nor would He underrate the world, for He made it.
The dying transgressor cannot purchase one hour’s respite
to seek Mercy for his perishing soul.
Let us then learn rightly to value our souls,
and Christ as the only Saviour of them.

And He said to me,
’Do not seal up
the words of the Prophecy of this Book,
for the time is near.
Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong;
and the one who is filthy [
dirty], still be filthy;
and let the one who is righteous,
still practice righteousness;
and the one who is holy,
still keep himself holy.
Behold, I am coming quickly
and My reward is with Me,
to render to every man
according to what he has done.
I am the Alpha and the Omega,
the first and the last,
the beginning and the end . . . . . ’
“.
Apocalypse 22: 11-13

Self-denial
Leonard Bernstein,
the celebrated orchestra conductor,
was asked,
what is the hardest instrument to play.
He replied without hesitation:
Second fiddle.
I can always get plenty of first violinists,
but to find one who plays second violin
with as much enthusiasm
or second French horn or second flute,
now that’s a problem.
And yet if no one plays second,
we have no harmony
“.

Self-denial is a summons to submit
to the authority of God as Father
and of Jesus as Lord
and to declare lifelong war
on one’s instinctive egoism.
What is to be negated is not personal self
or one’s existence as a rational and responsible human being.
Jesus does not plan to turn us into zombies,
nor does he ask us to volunteer for a robot role.
The required denial is of carnal self,
the egocentric, self-deifying urge with which we were born
and which dominates us
so ruinously in our natural state.
Jesus links self-denial with cross-bearing.
Cross-bearing is far more than enduring this or that hardship.
Carrying one’s cross in Jesus’ day,
as we learn from the story of Jesus’ own Crucifixion,
was required of those whom society had condemned,
whose rights were forfeit,
and who were now being
led out to their execution.
The cross they carried was the instrument of death.
Jesus represents discipleship as a matter of following Him,
and following Him as based on taking up one’s cross in self-negation.
Carnal self would never consent to cast us in such a role.
When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.
The cross is laid on every Christian.
It begins with the call to abandon
the attachments of this world.
It is that dying of the old man
which is the result of his encounter with Christ
“,
wrote Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
Bonhoeffer was right:
Accepting death to everything
that carnal self wants to possess
is what Christ’s summons
to self-denial was all about.

And the Word was made flesh,
and dwelt among us,
[and we beheld His Glory, the Glory as
of the only begotten of the Father],

full of Grace and Truth . . . . .
And of His Fulness have all we received,
and Grace for grace.
For the law was given by Moses,
but Grace and Truth
came by Jesus Christ“.
John 1: 14, 16-17

3rd Sunday – Veneration of the Cross – We have a Great High Priest

Seeing then that we have
a Great High Priest,
that is passed into the Heavens,
Jesus the Son of God,
let us hold fast our profession.
For we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched
with the feeling of our infirmities;
but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
Let us therefore come boldly unto the Throne of Grace,
that we may obtain Mercy, and find Grace to help in time of need.
For every high priest taken from among men
is ordained for men in things pertaining to God,
that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins:
Who can have compassion on the ignorant,
and on them that are out of the way;
for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity.
And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people,
so also for himself, to offer for sins.
And no man takes this honour unto himself,
but he that is called of God, as was Aäron.
So also Christ glorified not Himself to be made an High Priest;
but He that said unto Him,
You are My Son,
today have I begotten You.
As He said also in another place,
You are a Priest for ever
after the order of Melchisedec“.
Hebr.4: 14-5: 6

I will declare the decree:
The Lord has said to Me,
‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You
“.
Psalm 2: 7

The Lord has sworn
and will not relent,
’You are a priest forever
according to
the order of Melchizedek’
”.
Psalm 109: 4

The work and ministry of Jesus Christ in our behalf
The book of Hebrews was written
in order to help keep faithful
those who were tempted to fall away
from the faith.
What Christian, in what era,
hasn’t faced the same temptation?
Therefore the relevance of what Paul wrote to the Hebrews is for us, even today.
Hebrews points weary New Testament believers
– to Jesus,
– to His work on earth below and
– to His work in Heaven above.
The book reveals Jesus in various roles, each one helping us
understand the great Salvation that has been offered to the world through Him.
The Letter shows us a very heavy emphasis on the Old Testament,
on its history and on its sanctuary, and the book is written in a manner implying
that the Apostle knew the readers were known something about that history and sanctuary.

In looking at the richness and deepness
of Jesus in Hebrews, we must consider
the witness of both
the Old and the New Testaments,
which together form an indivisible unity
of the revelation from God,  a unity suggested by its main focus on one Saviour.
This letter is written by Paul because it seemed to be that these people were
in danger of falling away from Christianity and returning to Judaism.
They were losing faith in the Second Coming
[they thought Christ should have been back already];
and, as time progressed,
they were in danger of drifting away from the great Truths of the Gospel.
Thus, not only does Hebrews begin with Jesus as Creator,
it quickly moves to His role as our Saviour.
Instantly linked with His role as our Saviour is His role as our High Priest in Heaven,
a key element of the book of Hebrews.
This is seen in the final clause of
Hebrews 1: 3,  where, after talking about His purging our sins, it says:
that He sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high“.
The apostle faces that the new system is better than [superior to] the old,
because its Mediator is the Divine Son of God [Hebr.8: 6; 9: 15].
Jesus, who is human [Hebr.2: 5-18] and Divine [Hebr.1: 1-4],
is able to bring God and humans into a special Covenant association.

Jesus’ Human Nature
The letter to the Hebrews also sets forth the full Divinity and the full humanity of Jesus
in a special contrast:
But we see Jesus, Who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death,
crowned with Glory and Honour; that He by the Grace of God should taste
death for every man
“[Hebr.2: 9].
Jesus’ status as lower than the angels was in a limited manner.
A contrast is drawn between the nature of angels and that of the Son.
According to the laws of Hebrew parallelism,
the angels and the ministers must be related terms.
Angels are ministers, servants of God. Jesus, however, is Deity:
Your Throne, O God, is forever and ever;
a Sceptre of Righteousness is the Sceptre of Your Kingdom
“.
Psalm 44: 6
Jesus Christ took this position, because it was necessary for the plan of Salvation.
By becoming a human being, Jesus won for us the Victory
that could not have been possible had Jesus chosen
to remain eternally separated from humanity.
“Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the Heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession” and then “Let us therefore come boldly unto the Throne of Grace, that we may obtain Mercy, and find Grace to help in time of need.” (Hebr.4: 14,16).
In short here is said: Hang on to your Faith in Christ.
These words, of course, are so important for us today, as well.
Jesus died for us.
The Cross is the turning point of history and of our fate.
Jesus serves as our High Priest; He is intervening in Heaven in our behalf.
He is our great High Priest.
Therefore, we have confidence and assurance,
because Someone now stands in Heaven in our stead, Someone Who, in fact,
knows what it is to be tempted by sin [see Hebr. 4:15].
He knows how it feels to be human, to be tempted, to be hungry,
to be tired, to be assaulted, abandoned, and to face death,
because, as a human, He went through it all.

Therefore, we are called to draw close to God
and receive Mercy, Grace, and Help from Someone Who can relate to us.
The way to the Heavenly Sanctuary, the way to the Throne of God, the Kingdom is now open!
God is our Father, we are His children, and He treats us as such [Hebr.12: 7- 9].
Jesus’ Sacrifice is once-for-all and is sufficient for all.
We just have to accept it.
The book Hebrews may present the aim of the epistle:
Do not give up on Jesus! The best has come.
Jesus is the fulfilment of the Old Testament types
and the guarantee of Salvation.

The Incarnation [becoming man] of Christ has ever been,
and will ever remain a Mystery.
That which is revealed, is for us and for our children,
but let every human being be warned from the ground
of making Christ altogether human,
such an one as ourselves;
for it cannot be.

3rd Sunday in Lent – Veneration of the Cross

Christ is the only sacrifice worthy to praise God
Our life sacrificed
is with our neighbour.
If we gain our brother,
we have gained God,
but if we scandalise our brother,
we have sinned against Christ“.
Saint Antony the Great

If any man will come after Me,
let him deny himself and
take up his cross and follow Me
“.
Matth. 16: 24

Here lies the great difference between the world’s Gospel and the Lord’s Gospel.
The world says, when it bids you goodbye,
Take care of yourself“.
The Lord says,
Let yourself go, and live for others and the Glory of God“.
The world says,
Have a good time. Look out for number one“.
Church says,
When something is bothering you,
say it with confidence, we are used to this
and this has do not be responded anyway
After all, we have the power and
require the letters that are sent to us
as not to be answered
“.

Man that lets go gets all and
man who holds fast
loses what he has and
the Lord’s words will come True:
Whosoever shall save his life shall lose it and
whosoever shall lose his life for My sake
shall find it“.
Matth. 16: 25

The law of Sacrifice is the greatest law in church
on earth and in Heaven.
It is written in every department of nature.
We tread on the skeletons of thousands of generations
that have lived and died that we might live.
The very heart of the earth itself is the wreck of ages and
the buried life of former generations.
All nature dies and lives again, and
each new development is a higher and larger life
built on the ruins [the death of the ‘wealthy’ church] of the former.
A grain of wheat must fall into the ground and die, or else be a shrivelled seed,
but as it dies it lives and multiplies and grows into the beautiful spring,
the golden future autumn
and the multiplied sheaves.
And so it is in the higher world as
you rise from the natural to the spiritual.

Everything that is selfish
is limited by its selfishness.
The river that ceases to run becomes a stagnant pool,
but as it flows it grows fresher, richer, fuller.

If you turn your natural eye upon yourself,
you cannot see anything.             It is as you look
out that the vision of the world bursts upon you.
The very law of life is Love,
caring for others by giving away and letting go.
It is self-destruction to be selfish.
The law of Sacrifice is the law of God and
so the church [by their clergy] is allowed to punish her people.
God, who lived in supreme self-sufficiency
as the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, gave Himself
and the clergy take the honours.
God’s glory was giving Himself, and
so He gave Himself in creation,
in the beauty of the universe,
so formed that every possible sort of happiness
could come according to a natural law.
An the clergy, they destroyed it,
because they are white stucco tombs.
so, be attentive,
when you enter a community
you will suffer!!!

God gave Himself in Jesus Christ;
God so loved the world that He gave“.
He gave His best, gave His all,
gave His only begotten Son.
The law of God is Sacrifice.
He so loved that He gave.
It is the law of Christ Himself.
He came through God’s sacrifice,
and He came to sacrifice.
He laid His honours down,
left the society of heaven for a generation,
and lived with creatures farther beneath Him
than the grovelling worm is beneath man.
He made Himself one of us, and
became a brother of this fallen race.
Christ was always yielding and letting go,
always holding back His power and not using it.
When people mistakenly treat Him, then He walks between them,
He goes up the mountain and prays to His father.
He was always being subject to the will of the men beneath Him,
until at last they nailed Him to the Cross.
His whole life was a continual refusing of Himself,
carrying our burdens and sharing our sorrows.
And so Sacrifice is the law of Christ,
Bear ye one another’s burdens and
so fulfil the Law of Christ, our Lord“.
The law of Christ is the bearing of others’ burdens,
the sharing of others’ griefs,
sacrificing yourself for another.

It is the law of Christianity.
It is the law of the saints of the Church.
It is the only way for the Church to be saved.
And the clergy?; they do it their own way.
From the beginning it has always been so.
It was so on Mount Moriah, where Abraham, the father of the faithful, gave up
his only child, the child of Promise.
All along the way was marked
by Blood and Sacrifice.

Not only did Abraham give up Isaac,
but Isaac gave up his life,
andall through his life he laid himself down for others.
We know how Jacob served for his wife,
and then did not get the one of his choice.
His was a suffering life, a passive life,
a patient life,
only in his solitude he could flourish.

And so Joseph died to his circumstances.
Because he was to rise so high he must go down as low;
down not only into banishment,
but into shameful imprisonment and almost into death.
When Joseph was out of sight,
and all God’s promises concerning him seemed lost,
and his prospects seemed hopeless,
then God picked him up and set him on the world’s throne.

Moses had to be a fugitive.
Moses had to try and then fail, and for forty years
God had to teach him and train him;
and when at last Moses was out of sight,
God gave him his desire.
At the very last moment, Moses had to let go
the prospect of entering the Promised Land,
but he didn’t lose communion with God.

The Master’s last message to Peter was,
When you was young you girded yourself, and
walked whither thou would; but when you shall be old, you shall stretch forth your hands and another shall gird you, and carry whither you would not.
This He spoke, signifying by what death
He should Glorify God
“.
And Jesus sent him to a life of crucifixion, to be yielded, submissive, surrendered and led about by others against his natural choice,
till at last he should be crucified with downward head upon his Master’s Cross.

It is so easy to talk about this, even in church
but a few are able to practise this.
The longer I live, the longer I know myself and
who are my friends, the more thoroughly I am satisfied
that this is the great secret of failure in our Christian life.
We go a little way with Jesus, but we stop at Gethsemane and Calvary.
They followed Him in His ministry in Galilee.
The Sermon on the Mount was a splendid morality.
They loved the feeding of the five thousand, and said:
“What a blessed King He would be!”
They would not have to work as they used to do.
But when He talked about Calvary and the Cross, for them as well as for Him,
and how they must go with Him all the way,
they said:
This is a hard saying; who can bear it?
And a few days after you could count them on your fingers, because most authorities do not do what they preach themselves.
They have nice words and wear nice clothes,
but when it comes firm down to, they let it fail.
They are not willing to go to the Cross;
they are silent.

I am sure this is where multitudes have stopped short.
They say “yes” to self and “no” to God and neighbours,
instead of “no” to self and “yes” to God.
Oh, it is so much easier to talk than to live!
A writer has said that there are three baptisms to be baptized with.
► First, the baptism of Repentance,
when we turn from sin to God.
► Second, the baptism of the Holy Spirit,
when we receive the Holy Spirit to live in us.
► Third, the baptism into death,
after the Holy Spirit comes in.
The Holy Spirit makes your heart His home,
and then you have to go with Christ into His own dying.
If any man will come after Me,
let him deny himself and take up
his Cross daily and follow Me
“.
And so He said about Himself,
I have a Baptism to be baptized with,
and how am I straitened until it be accomplished“.
He was going out into deeper death, and
His heart was all pent up with it,
until He went down into Gethsemane,
down to Joseph’s tomb, down into Hades
and passed through the regions of the dead
and opened first the gates of Heaven.
That is what Jesus saw before Him
after He was baptized
on the banks of the Jordan.

Who have received
the Baptism of the Holy Spirit,
it is you who have to go down into His death.
I know that in a sense we take all that by Faith
when we consecrate ourselves to Christ,
and we count it all real and God counts it all real too;
but now we have to go through it
step by step.
I know God treats us as though it was accomplished
and we were sitting yonder on the throne.
But we must go through the narrow passage
and the secret place of the stairs;
silent, in the back of the church and
let every man take its own course.
There must be no trifling here.
You may count it all done by Faith,
but step by step it must be written
on the records of your heart
and you will feel it.

Now, what does all this mean in our practical life?
First, it is dying to self-will.
After you consecrate yourself to God,
then will come the tug of war,
and tomorrow morning you will have the battle of your life.
Just because you have given up your will
the devil will want you to take it back.
He will try to show you how unreasonable it is,
how right it is that you should have your Christian way.
It will be a life-or-death struggle,
perhaps, for days, for years until physical death do us depart.
Jesus went into the wilderness for forty days.
The devil tried to have Him choose His own way,
but He stood the test. He let His own will go.
I came not to do Mine own will,
but the will of Him that sent Me“.

God could make Him a leader because He had been led.
No man can govern until he has been governed.
If God is going to make anything of you,
you must let your will go into His hands.
You will find a good many tests after the first surrender,
but these are just opportunities for allowing the work to be done.

Then comes self-indulgence [pleasure-seeking], doing a thing because you like to do it.
No man has a right to do a thing because he enjoys it.
I have no right to take my dinner merely because I like it.
This makes me a beast. I take it because it nourishes me.
Doing things because they please you,
seeking your own interest, is wrong.
Seek all first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness
Matth.6: 33
We have no divine warrant to seek ourselves in anything.
Seek God, and God will seek your good.
Take care of the things of God and He will take care of you.
Look not any man on his own things, but every
man also on the things of others
“.
Again, there is self-complacency [self-satisfaction],
dwelling on the work that you have done.
How easy, after performing some service or gaining some victory,
to think, “How good!”
How quickly this runs into vainglory!
How many are more interested in what people think and
say of them than of what they are themselves!

In the work of God there is nothing we need so much to guard against as vanity.
The Seraphim covered their faces with their wings;
they covered their feet with their wings.
They covered their faces
because they did not want to see their beauty, and
their feet because they did not want to see their service,
nor did they wish that any one else should see them.
They used only two to fly.
Take care how you put temptation in another’s way.
It is all right to encourage the people with a “God bless you and go all in peace”.
But don’t praise. God does not say, How beautiful! how eloquent! how lovely! how splendid!
That is putting on a human head the Crown that belongs to Jesus.
We have no more right to take Christ’s honours here
than we have to sit on His throne and let angels worship us.
We have to be careful when God uses us to bless human souls.
Philip, as soon as he led the eunuch to Jesus, got out of the eunuch’s way.
There are subtle spells that come between man and man,
and between woman and woman, and between man and woman.
They seem sweet and right,
but you need much of the Holy Spirit to keep your spirit pure.
I am not talking here of sinful love.
Surely, it is not needful to speak of that.
I am thinking of a far more subtle and refined spell,
which is at once dishonouring to God and dangerous to you.
God keep us from every service, and every friendship, and
every thought that is not in the Holy Spirit
and not to the honour of Jesus alone.

Then there is self-confidence [self-assurance], that which feels its strength,
spiritual or mental self-righteousness, power to be good or do good.
We must lay all that aside and realize our utter nothingness.
There is the self-life of sensitiveness, susceptibility to be wounded.
There is selfish affection, wanting people to love you
because you like to be loved.
Divine Love loves that it may bless and do good.
You ought to love others, not because it pleases you
but because it blesses them.

Paul could say,
I am glad to spend and be spent for your sakes;
notwithstanding the more earnestly I love you,
the less I be loved“.
2Cor.12: 15
He does not say
I will help you as long as you love your tears.
You are weeping because you say
I will help you as long as you love me.
No, I gladly spend my last drop of blood to bless you at any cost,
even when I know you do not appreciate me the least bit.
That is what is the matter with you.
People and the clergy will hurt you;
they do not appreciate you.
Well, spend and be spent all the more
when you are the less loved.

Time would fail to tell of selfish desires, covetousness,
selfish motives, selfish possessions,
our property, our children, our friends and
they give us loads of trouble, and care, and worry,
just because we insist on owning them.
There are selfish sorrows.
There is nothing more selfish than the tears we often shed.
When God saw Israel weeping, He was angry, and said,
You have polluted My altar with your tears.
You are weeping because you have not better bread.
You are weeping because something else is dearer to you than God.
You are weeping because you are not pleased or gratified
“.
John 16: 16-33
Even our sacrifices and self-denials may be selfish.
Yes, our sanctifications may be selfish.
A sarcastic friend of mine used to say
when he heard people testifying about their sinlessness:
Poor old soul, she committed the greatest sin of her life,
she foretold the biggest lie
“.
Self can get up and pray, and sit down and say,
What a lovely prayer!
Self can go to church and say,
What an Angelic service!, what a beautiful sound of the Choir“.
Self can preach a sermon and save souls and go home,
pat itself on the back and say, or let the devil say through him,
You did it splendidly; what a useful man you are!
Self can be burned to death and be proud of its fortitude.
Yes, we can have religious selfishness as well as carnal selfishness.

How can we get rid of this?
Well, above everything else,
we must see the reality of the thing,
we must see its danger, we must see that it is sin.
We must look at it frankly and choose that it shall go.
The worst is that it deceives us. It says,
“How that fits somebody else, not me”. God means you.
Pass sentence of death upon it, or else it will pass sentence on you.
You may keep it as long as you like.
It is like the lovely little serpent with little spots on it like jewels.
Ah, at the last, how it stings!

May God show us everything in us that will not stand the searching flames.
Above everything, do not let us have a larger Gospel than we have a life.
Having passed sentence of death upon ourselves,
then let us take Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit to do the work.
Don’t try to fight it yourself.
And then, when the test time comes, and
God leads you out to meet it, be True.
The test will come, but when the battle comes
do not defend yourself, but say,
Lord let me die, let me suffer“.
Perhaps some one will try to provoke you.
Perhaps someone will try to praise you.
Just say again, “ Lord let me die, let me suffer
The Holy Spirit is able to take everything we dare to give,
and give everything we dare to take.
Shall we dare to take Him for the death of our subtlest foe,
and truly pray:
Jesus, slay the self in me
By Your consuming breath;
Show me Your Heart, Your Wounds,
Your Shame and love my soul to death.
When the Shekinah flame came down,
[When the tabernacle was ready, Moses consecrated it, together with all its fittings, with holy myrrh. While this was taking place, the glory of the Lord covered the tabernacle in the form of a cloud
which accompanied the Hebrews on their journey through the desert]
and Moses could not stay;
so let Your Glory fill my heart,
and self for ever slay
“.

Or like we are used to pray in our silent chamber:
Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy upon me, simple sinner“.

Orthodoxy & the Mystery of Knowledge

Man has always been fascinated by ultimate things
— life, death, the origin of the world —
and his discoveries in other fields of knowledge
have given him confidence to assume
that someday these mysteries
will also yield to the power of his intellect.
Such pride of mind, however,
can only lead away from the truth,
which, according to Orthodox teaching,
is the aim and foundation of all true knowledge.
How is such knowledge acquired?
Here we have part of a longer essay
by the renowned Serbian theologlan of blessed memory, Archimandrite Justin Popovich [†1979],
in which he distils the writings of Saint Isaac the Syrian
on the Orthodox theology of knowledge.

Briefly, he explains that because
man’s understanding became darkened through sin,
through consorting with evil,
he became incapable of True knowledge.
Man can come to this knowledge only
when his soul [the seat of understanding] is healed.
This is made possible by means of the virtues,
and the primary virtue in this remedial process is Faith.
Through faith, the mind,
which was previously dispersed among the passions,
is concentrated, freed from sensuality,
and endowed with peace and humility of thought ….
It is by the ascesis of faith that a man conquers egotism,
steps beyond the bounds of self, and enters into a new,
transcendent reality which also transcends subjectivity
“.

In separate sections, Father Justin discusses Prayer, Humility, Love and Grace, all requisite
companions of Faith,
before leading the reader into
“The Mystery of Knowledge”,
which we have reprinted below with slight abbreviations.

According to the teaching of Saint Isaac the Syrian,
there are two sorts of knowledge:
that which precedes Faith
and that which is born of faith.
The former is natural knowledge
and involves the discernment of good and evil.
The latter is spiritual knowledge and is
– “the perception of the mysteries“,
– “the perception of what is hidden“,
– “the contemplation of the invisible“.

There are also two sorts of faith:
the first comes through hearing and is confirmed
and proven by the second,
– “the faith of contemplation“,
– “the faith that is based on what has been seen“.
In order to acquire spiritual knowledge,
a man must first be freed from natural knowledge.
This is the work of Faith.
It is by the Ascesis of Faith that there comes to man
that “unknown power
that makes him capable of spiritual knowledge.
If a man allows himself to be caught in the web of natural knowledge,
it is more difficult for him to free himself from it
than to cast off iron bonds,
and his life is lived “against the edge of a sword“.

When a man begins to follow the path of Faith,
he must lay aside once and for all
his old methods of knowing,
for faith has its own methods.
Then natural knowledge ceases and spiritual knowledge takes its place.
Natural knowledge is contrary to faith,
for Faith, and all that comes from Faith, is
the destruction of the laws of knowledge
–> though not of spiritual,
but of natural knowledge.

The chief characteristic of natural knowledge
is its approach by examination and experimentation.
This is in itself “a sign of uncertainty about the truth“.
Faith, on the contrary, follows a pure and simple way of thought that is far removed
from all guile and methodical examination.
These two paths lead in opposite directions.
The house of faith is “childlike thoughts and simplicity of heart”, for it is said,
Glorify God in simplicity of heart” [cf. Col.3: 22],
and:
Except ye be converted and become as little children,
ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven
“. Matth.18: 3
Natural knowledge stands opposed
both to simplicity of heart and simplicity of thought.
This knowledge only works within the limits of nature,
but Faith has its own path beyond nature“.

The more a man devotes himself to the ways of natural knowledge,
the more he is seized on by fear
and the less can he free himself from it.
But if he follows Faith, he is immediately freed
and “as a son of God, has the power to make free use of all things“.
The man who loves this Faith acts like God in the use of all created things“,
for to faith is given the Power
to be like God in making a new creation“.
Thus it is written:
You desires, and all things are presented before you” [cf. Job 23: 13].

Faith can often
bring forth all things out of nothing“,
while knowledge can do nothing
without the help of matter“.
Knowledge has no Power over nature,
but Faith has such Power.
Armed with Faith, men have entered into the fire and quenched the flames, being untouched by them.
Others have walked on the waters as on dry land.
All these things are “beyond nature“;
they go against the modes of natural knowledge
and reveal the vanity of such modes.
Faith “moves about above nature“.
The ways of natural knowledge ruled
the world for more than 5,000 years, and man was unable to
lift his gaze from the earth and understand the might of his Creator
until
our faith arose and delivered us from the shadows of the works of this World
and from a fragmented mind.
He who has Faith “will lack nothing
and, when he has nothing,
“he possesses all things by faith,”
as it is written: “All things whatsoever you shall ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive [Matth.21: 22];
and also;
The Lord is near; be anxious for nothing” [Phil.4: 6].

Natural laws do not exist for Faith.
Saint Isaac emphasizes this very strongly:
All things are possible to him that believes [Marc. 9: 23],
for with God nothing is impossible …. “.
To step beyond the limits of nature
and to enter into the realm of the supernatural
is considered to be against nature,
as something irrational and impossible ….
Nevertheless, this natural knowledge, according to Saint Isaac, is not at fault.
It is not to be rejected.
It is just that Faith is higher than it is.
This knowledge is only to be condemned in so far as,
by the different means it uses, it turns against faith.
But when this knowledge
“is joined with Faith, becoming one with her,
clothing itself in her burning thoughts”,
when it “acquires wings of passionlessness” then,
using other means than natural ones,
it rises up from the earth
“into the realm of its Creator”,
into the supernatural.
This knowledge is then fulfilled by faith
and receives the power to “rise to the heights” to perceive him
who is beyond all perception
and to “see the brightness that is incomprehensible
to the mind and knowledge of created beings
.”
Knowledge is the level from which
a man rises up to the heights of Faith.
When he reaches these heights, he has no more need of it – for it is written:
We know in part, but when that which is perfect is come,
then that which is in part shall be done away
” [1Cor.13: 9-10].
Faith reveals to us now the truth of perfection,
as if it were before our eyes.
It is by faith that we learn that which is beyond our grasp
– by faith and not by enquiry and the power of knowledge.
/… /

There are three spiritual modes in which knowledge rises and falls,
and by which it moves and changes.
These are the body, the soul, and the spirit ….
At its lowest level, knowledge “follows the desires of the flesh”,
concerning itself with riches, vainglory, dress, repose of body,
and the search for rational wisdom.
This knowledge invents the arts and sciences
and all that adorns the body in this visible world.
But in all this, such knowledge is contrary to Faith.
It is known as
“Mere knowledge, for it is deprived of all thought of the Divine
and, by its fleshly character, brings to the mind an irrational weakness,
because in it the mind is overcome by the body
and its entire concern is for the things of this world
“.
It is puffed up and filled with pride,
for it refers every good work to itself and not to God.
That which the Apostle said, “knowledge puffs up” [1Cor.8: 1].

Faith presents a new way of thinking,
through which is effected all the work of knowing in the believing man.
This new way of thinking is Humility ….
It is by Humility
that the intellect is healed
and made whole…
The humble man is the fount of
the Mysteries of the new stage of development.

Obviously said of this knowledge,
which is not linked with faith and hope in God,
and not of true knowledge.
True, spiritual knowledge, linked with humility,
brings to perfection the soul of those who have acquired it,
as is seen in Moses, David, Isaiah, Peter, Paul,
and all those who, within the limits of human nature,
were counted worthy of this perfect knowledge.
Saint [Archimandrite] Justin Popovich

Pdf: Prayer of the Three Holy Children

Wishful to be a saint, by Saint Silouan, the Athonite

Saints were just people like all of us.
Many of them started with grievous sins
but through repentance they attained to the Kingdom of Heaven.
And everyone who reaches the Kingdom of Heaven does so through repentance,
which the Merciful Lord granted us by His sufferings.

In the Kingdom of Heaven where dwell the Lord
and His most pure Mother, abide all the Saints.
There live our Forefathers and Patriarchs
who valiantly carried their faith before them.
There dwell the Prophets who received the Holy Spirit,
and by their exhortations called the people to God.
There dwell the Apostles who died
that the Gospel might be preached.
There dwell the Martyrs
who gladly gave their lives for love of Christ.
There dwell the holy Prelates
who followed the Lord’s example
and took upon themselves the burden of their spiritual flock.
There dwell the holy Fathers
who lived lives of prayer and fasting,
and those who assumed folly for Christ’s sake,
all of whom fought the good fight
and thereby overcame the world.
There dwell all the Righteous
who kept God’s commandments
and vanquished their passions.

That place aspires my soul
– to that wondrous holy assembly
which the Holy Spirit has gathered together.
But woe is me!
Inasmuch as I lack humility,
the Lord does not grant me the strength to fight,
and my feeble spirit flickers out like a tiny candle,
whereas the spirit of the Saints burned with a bright flame,
which the wind of temptation not only failed to extinguish
but set burning more fiercely than ever.
They trod the earth and worked with their hands
but their spirits continued with God,
of Whom they were ever mindful.
For the love of Christ they endured
every affliction on earth and feared no suffering,
and thus glorified the Lord.
Wherefore the Lord loved them and glorified them,
and granted them the eternal Kingdom with Him.
Saint Silouan, the Athonite‘,
published by Archimandrite Sofronios

2nd Sunday of Lent – Sunday Saint Gregory Palamas – the Son of man has Power on earth to forgive sins

And again he entered into Capernaum after some days;
and it was noised that he was in the house.
And straightway many were gathered together,
insomuch that there was no room to receive them,
no, not so much as about the door:
and he preached the word unto them.

And they come unto him,
bringing one sick of the palsy,
which was borne of four.
And when they could not come nigh
unto Him for the press,
they uncovered the roof where He was:
and when they had broken it up,
they let down the bed wherein
the sick of the palsy lay.

When Jesus saw their faith,
he said unto the sick of the palsy,
Son, your sins be forgiven to you.
But there was certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts,
Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies?
who can forgive sins but God only?
And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves,
He said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts?
Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy,
your sins be forgiven to you; or to say,
Arise, and take up your bed, and walk?
But that ye may know that the Son of man
has power on earth to forgive sins,
[he sad to the sick of the palsy],
I say unto you,
Arise, and take up your bed,
and go your way into your house.
And immediately he arose, took up the bed,
and went forth before them all;
insomuch that they were all amazed,
and glorified God, saying,
We never saw it on this fashion
“.
Marc.2: 1-12

The Gospel according to Saint Marc is the shortest
and the earliest of the four Gospels we have received.
The way Marc opens his Gospel is with a simple sentence,
which is, sum total of the entire Gospel;
– “The beginning of the Gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God” -.
The acts of apostles and further entire history of the Church
including the contemporary Church experiences
are mere continuation of this glorious beginning
specified by Saint Marc in his opening sentence.
This ensures a direct link between all periods of ages
with the beginning of Gospel.
The word of God is Faithful and True
and is given to us not for merely reading and understanding
but to make it our life experience
and it is worthy of all acceptation
in all fields of action of our life
and the World.

We have just been reading in the Gospel reading about how they brought Jesus
one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four
and He healed him.

one sick of the palsy
It was this man’s misery
that he needed to be so carried
and shows the suffering state of human’s life.
It was kind of those who so carried him
and teaches the compassion
that should be in men
toward their fellow-creatures in distress.
True faith and strong faith
may work in various ways;
but it shall be accepted and approved by Jesus Christ.
Sin is the cause of all our pains and sicknesses.
The way to remove the effect, is to take away the cause.
Pardon of sin strikes at the root of all diseases.
Christ proved His Power to forgive sin,
by showing His Power to cure the man sick of the palsy.
And his curing diseases was a figure of his pardoning sin,
for sin is the disease of the soul;
when it is pardoned, it is healed.
When we see what Christ does in healing souls,
we must own that we never saw the like.
Most men think themselves whole;
they feel no need of a physician,
therefore despise or neglect Christ and His Gospel.
But the convinced, humbled sinner,
who despairs of all help, excepting from the Saviour,
will show his faith
by applying to him without delay.
Marc.2: 13-17

I would like to draw your attention to two ideas in this story.
The first is prayer for others, distant and close.
The second is forgiveness of sins.
These two ideas are tied closely together.
1.]. Because prayer about those close to us intercedes,
as we have seen, for the forgiveness of sin.
2.]. In the plan of our human existence,
forgiveness is also prayer.
Of course, forgiveness from God and human forgiveness are two different things.
Christ speaks and acts as God.
Seeing the Faith of those who brought the paralytic,
He says to the sick man,
Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you“. Marc.2: 5
– That is, He speaks with Divine authority.
And then, when the Scribes thought to themselves that he was committing blasphemy,
Christ saw this right away since nothing can be hidden
from God all-seeing, not even the depths of the human heart.
He exposed them, saying,
Why do you think evil in your hearts?
For which is easier, to say,
‘Your sins are forgiven you’
or to say,
‘Arise and walk’? “.
Marc 2: 9

Let’s pause here for a moment and think about what The Lord is saying.
“For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’
or to say, ‘Arise and walk’? ” [Marc.2: 9].
What is this about?
He seems to be saying,
You think I am an ordinary person
and accuse me of blasphemy for speaking words of forgiveness,
but can it really be that hard to forgive sins?“.
Isn’t it much harder to heal a paralytic,
telling him to ‘arise and walk?
After all, forgiveness is available to all
but healing is available to God alone.
Just as ‘the Son of Man has Power on earth to forgive sins’ [Marc.2: 10],
you also have the same power, being likewise sons of men.
When the God-man Jesus Christ speaks of Himself
as The Son of Man, He is speaking of our human nature
which He took upon Himself.
And when He is called the Son of God,
this is witness to his Divine nature:
two natures united in Him without confusion and indivisible.
Therefore, we all have this power to forgive the sins of those close to us.
This is not the same forgiveness
as that offered by God since He forgives and heals,
but it is forgiveness. Speaking as the Son of God,
Christ says to the paralytic,
’Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.’
And he arose and departed to his house
” [Marc.2: 11].
The people who were there marveled at the miracle
that took place right in front of their eyes
and glorified God.

What is the use of our human forgiveness
if it does not have the power to heal?
Why then should we forgive?

The root of any disease, be it of the soul or
of the body, is sin.
Before there can be healing,
there needs to be deliverance from sin,
that is, before healing can be complete,
there must be forgiveness.
This way,
when we forgive someone close to us,
who sinned against us, we are petitioning God to heal him from sin.
Forgiveness of one close to us becomes our prayer to God for him.
God, seeing in this our faith and love, heals.
Examples of this are plenteous and everyone who has ever forgiven knows about it.
Whoever does not know needs to begin forgiving and find out
– find out how miraculously strife is resolved through forgiveness,
as the soul is healed from offenses, envy and anger,
and most importantly, the soul of the one doing the forgiving is healed.
And then,
the one being forgiven is healed by God Almighty
through the intercession of our forgiveness for him.

Truly, having seen this,
seeing it together with the people
in the Gospel, we Glorify God
Who had given such power to men“.
Marc.2: 12

We see a miniaturized Church in
these five people.
One among them is a needy man.
The other able four put their Trust in God
and co-operate together to give a helping hand to the needy among them
and bringing him to the proximity of Jesus.
They promptly responded to the needy man among them.
They understood that the Grace of God is not restricted to them alone,
but it should be extended to all in Church.
In modern Society [even in Church] we see people are alienated from the society
and live their life aloof [approachable] and not ready to respond to the needs of the co-beings.
In a coöperated society everybody should have – the initiative to educate the uneducated,
– give [medical] help for the needy,
– give shelter for those who do not have a good housing,
– give food for the hungry.
These all are responses needed for the Church in Parish-level,
diocese-level and eventually Church-level.
In this situation only our life and Church can become the Gospel of Christ.

Scripture gives us many examples
for this Transfiguration of the World in history.
When Israel went to the bondage of Egypt,
God has sent Moses. Moses knew his responsibility
to uplift his people as a Mission of God.
To strengthen the helpless in a society is
a commissioned mission of the Church.
Church should be able to hear the cry of people [who are visiting the parish] and stretch the hand of care.
Jesus was not at reach of the man with palsy.
Of his own there was no means for him to approach.
So it was possible for him to come to Jesus only with the help of his friends.
Jesus is Immanuel, which means ‘God with us‘,
not ‘God with me‘.
Jesus was not always in the Temple or Synagogue.
He was always with the mass of the people
who were needy and marginalized.
The mission of the Church is to make the God in the Altar reachable to the mass.
Parish or congregation should not be dearer than Jesus.
The roof should be broken, walls should be demolished
or any hindrance [even foreign languages] should be removed
to make God available to the people.
This type of a Church and society only can Glorify God by heart.
We may need to conquer sometimes the objections of reason,
sometimes those of sense.

When Lord comes down to our midst, He absolves our sin,
He heals our sickness, He gives Wisdom to our mind
and He strengthens our weakness.
Lord opens enormous possibilities and makes our World and Church
a part in the history as a continuation of the Gospel.

2nd Sunday of Lent – Sunday Saint Gregory Palamas – who shall be heir of Salvation?

And, You, Lord, in the beginning
has laid the foundation of the earth;
and the Heavens are the works of Your hands:
They shall perish; but You remain;
and they all shall wax old as does a garment;
And as a vesture shall You fold them up,
and they shall be changed: but You are the same,
and Your years shall not fail.
But to which of the angels
said He at any time,
Sit on My right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool?
Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them
who shall be heirs of Salvation?
Therefore we ought to give
the more earnest heed
to the things which we have heard,
lest at any time we should let them slip.
For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast
and every transgression and disobedience
received a just recompense of reward;
How shall we escape,
if we neglect so great Salvation;
which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord
and was confirmed unto us
by them that heard Him“.
Hebr.1: 10-2: 3

It would be foolish indeed
to prefer reading a cookbook
to eating a good meal
when one is hungry for God.
Not that there is anything wrong
with reading a cookbook during Lent
– it can be very enlightening –
special when you aren’t an expired cooker,
but it is not very nourishing!
Yet like some of the original readers of Hebrews
we’re doing something very much like that.
We are preferred
to content ourselves with the externals of Faith
– such as the law, the [Aaronic] priesthood and [animal] offerings, [working hard to have a lot of money]
and to ignore the fulfilment of these things
in the Death, Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus.
We want the cookbook rather than the meal!

As we have seen, the Tabernacle in the desert, with its regulations and sacrifices,
was an accurate and Divinely drawn picture
of the Sacrifice of Jesus
and the new arrangement for living
which would be available
to believers in Christ.
But it could only describe these realities up to a point.
It was both a comparison and a contrast.

I carry a picture of my wife in my wallet and,
when I am away from home,
I find it comforting to look at it.
But it is quite inadequate,
for it is not my wife,
only a picture of her.
I can look at it,
but I cannot have a conversation with it.
I cannot laugh together with it,
and I cannot persuade it to cook any meals!
It is an accurate representation of the real thing,
but also a far cry from it.
So the law and the tabernacle
could never do for believers of any age
what the living Christ can do.

“And it had been revealed to him [Simeon]
by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death
before he had seen the Lord’s Christ …
He took Christ up in his arms and blessed God and said:
Lord, [Gr. Despota] now You are letting
Your servant depart in peace,
according to Your word;
For my eyes have seen Your Salvation”.
Luc.2: 26-30

The fact the Simeon would not have seen death
before he saw Christ was a revelation of
the Holy Spirit“.
Therefore the Holy Spirit is “God” and “Master” [Despotis] whom Simeon glorified
because his Prophetic words
were realised.

The Holy Spirit speaks as Giahve (Γιάχβε)
Giahve is the name of the true God in the Old Testament in Hebrew.
I will cite two versus from the Old Testament,
in which the Holy Spirit speaks as Giahve,
as the true God:
Today, if you will hear His voice:
Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion,
as in the day of trial in the wilderness,
when your fathers tested Me;
They tried Me though they saw My work.
For forty years I was grieved with that generation,
and said,
‘It is a people who go astray in their hearts,
and they do not know My ways.
So I swore in My wrath,
They shall not enter My rest“.
Psalm 94 [95]: 8-11

This verse is strange and astonishing.
One divine person speaks in the beginning about another Divine person,
and further on speaks about Himself.
On the one hand, the other divine person,
speaks about a third person and uses pronoun “His”,
and on the other hand for Himself
He speaks to the first Person of the Trinity and says
tested Me“, “tried Me“, “My work“, “was grieved“,
said“, “My ways“, “My wrath“, “My rest“.
But Which Person speaks in these versus?
According to the word of the Apostle in Hebrews 3:7,
it is the Holy Spirit speaking.
It is clear from these words that the Holy Spirit is Giahve, that is True God.
With the pronoun “His“, in the beginning of the verse
the Holy Spirit distinguishes Himself from God the Father.
Briefly, the meaning of the verse is:
Today, during the Messianic times,
when you hear His voice, of God the Father,
speaking through the Son, do not do all the bad things that your fore-fathers did to Me,
the Holy Spirit, and as a result I became wrathful and I punished them.

It is worthy to note
that according to this verse
the Hebrews “tested” the Holy Spirit,
according to “They tempted Christ” [1Cor.10: 9]
and according to other versus,
such as Psalm 77 [78]: 41, 56 “Tempted God“.
The Hebrews tempted all Three,
because the Three are one in essence or Divinity.

Then the Spirit entered into me,
and set me upon my feet
and spoke with me
and said unto me,
Go shut yourself within your house.
But you, O son of man, behold, they shall put bands upon you with them,
and you shall not go out among them:
And I will make your tongue cleave to the roof of your mouth,
that you shall be dumb, and shall not be to them a criticizer:
for they are a rebellious house.
But I will speak with you,
I will open your mouth,
and you shall say unto them,
Thus said the Lord …
“.
Ezekiel 3: 24-27

The Holy Spirit speaks by His Prophets
saying that they [the people] will bind him,
that He will make them [the prophets] dumb
and that He will speak to them again
and then open their mouth to preach saying:
Thus said the Lord …“.
The Spirit will speak
and the Prophet communicating the words of the Spirit
will preach:
Thus said the Lord …“.
Therefore the Spirit is the Lord,
the True God.

Christ our God will reveal Himself in the Incarnation for our Salvation and establish His Vineyard, the Church.
This vineyard would consist of those
who are changed through conversion to Him and who are saved from the Assyrian,
who is a wild swine and a solitary beast.
That is the devil.
O God of hosts, convert us now;
look down from Heaven and behold,
and visit Your Vineyard
Which Your right hand planted
and perfect it
“.                                                                                                                                      cf. Psalm 79 [80]: 10-16