My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
LIVING THE TRADITIONAL ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN LIFE (Part VI)
The Holy Fathers of the Church prophesied about the last generation, saying to each other in wonderment: "What have we achieved?" One of them Abba (Father) Ischyrion, a great Geronda (Elder), replied: "We have fulfilled the commandments of God." The others said: "What about those who will come after us, what will they do?" The Geronda (Elder) answered: "They will accomplish half of our work." And again the Holy Fathers asked: "What about those who come after them?" Geronda (Elder) Ischyrion replied: "the; men of that generation will accomplish no works at all; temptations will come upon them. But those who are found worthy in that epoch will be greater than us and our Fathers."
We can be greater than the Fathers! How can this be?
In a book entitled Paths and Means to Holiness by Constantine Cavarnos, he speaks of how people have become saints. The Church lists a number of categories: Apostle, Martyr, Prophet, Monastic, and a Righteous One.
"Those who follow the way of the Righteous remain in the world, may be married, and have property in general, they do not lead as austere a life as the Monastics. Such persons attain sanctity by keeping carefully all of the Divine Commandments, participating regularly in the Liturgical and Sacramental life of the Church, and engaging in other activities dear to God, particularly hospitality and almsgiving."
All of us, married or not, working or not, father, mother, child, teenager, all of us can do this.
Saint Cosmas Aitolos agrees:
"The Martyrs earned Paradise with their blood; the Monastics, with their acetic life. Now we, my brethren, who beget children, how shall we earn Paradise? With hospitality, by relieving the poor, the blind, the lame, as Joachim (the father of the Theotokos) did...Almsgiving, love, and fasting sanctify man, enrich him in both soul and body, and bring him to a good end; the body and the soul become holy."
I heard a story recently where a great desert Father, renowned for his purity and power over demons, was once unable to command a demon that controlled a person who lived in a local village. Then, a man came forward and commanded the demon to leave. Immediately, the demon came out and departed. The Abba (Father) was amazed at the spiritual virtue of this man and asked if he might be a monk or ascetic. The Abba (Father) was even more amazed to learn that the man was a local merchant with a large family. How was it possible for such a man to be able to command demons that even he could not command? Upon inspection, he discovered that he had encountered a Righteous One. Though living in the world with all of its cares and burdens, this man was devoted to prayer, to his family, to attendance of church, acts of mercy, and the giving of alms (charity). By these, he had attained purity of heart in a very impure world. Great is the mercy of God and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Traditional Orthodox Christianity is the pursuit of holiness. A heart aflame with the Holy Spirit is possible for us all, even in this sinful and adulterous generation. To gain it, we must check in to our grace-filled hospital and do our therapies. This requires an Orthodox mindset that challenges the fast and strenuous lifestyle of this generation. May God help us to recover from the vain dream of the pursuit of happiness, a fantasy that grinds us with stress and toil and toil and robs us of our Orthodox birthright - righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Without this striving for holiness, we are traditional in name only - heartsick Pharisees and the most pitiful of people in the world today.
Not only in holiness possible, not only is it the essence of living a traditional Orthodox Christian life, it is an absolute requirement.
Let the Holy Scripture have the last word: "Without holiness, no one will see the Lord!"
In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
[Source: The Delmarva Orthodox Mission)
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God