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.
OUR HOLY FATHER SAINT NEKTARIOS OF AEGINA, BISHOP OF PENTOPOLIS AND MIRACLE WORKER (Part III)
Saint Nektartios writes: Christian religion is not a certain philosophic system, about which learned men, trained in metaphysical studies, argue and then either espouse or reject, according to the opinion each one has formed. It is faith, established in the souls of men, which ought to be spread to the many and be maintained in their consciousness.
There are truths in Christianity that are above our intellectual comprehension, incapable of being grasped by the finite mind of man. Our intellect takes cognizance of them, becomes convinced of their reality, and testifies about their supernatural existence.
Christianity is a religion of revelation. The Divine reveals its glory only to those who have been perfected through virtue. Christianity teaches perfection through virtue and demands that its followers become holy and perfect. It disapproves of and opposes those who are under the influence of the imagination. He who is truly perfect becomes through Divine help outside the flesh and the world, and truly enters another, spiritual world; not, however, through the imagination, but through the effulgence of Divine grace. Without grace, without revelation, no man, even the most virtuous, can transcend the flesh and the world.
God reveals Himself to the humble who live in accordance with virtue. Those who take up wings of the imagination attempt the flight of Ikaros and have the same end. Those who harbor fantasies do not pray; for he that prays lifts his mind and heart towards God, whereas he that turns to fantasies diverts himself. Those who are addicted to the imagination have withdrawn from God's grace and from the realm of Divine Revelation. They have abandoned the heart in which grace is revealed and have surrendered themselves to the imagination, which is devoid of all grace. It is only the heart that receives knowledge about things that are not apprehended by the senses, because God, Who dwells and moves within it, speaks within it and reveals to it the substance of things hoped for.
Seek God daily. But seek Him in your heart, not outside it. And when you find Him, stand with fear and trembling, like the Cherubim and the Seraphim, for your heart has become a Throne of God. But in order to find God, become humble as dust before the Lord, for the Lord abhors the proud, whereas He visits those that are humble in heart, wherefore He says: "To whom will I look, but to him that is meek and humble in heart?"
The divine light illumines the pure heart and the pure intellect because these are susceptible to receiving Light; whereas impure hearts and intellects, not being susceptible to receiving illumination, have an aversion to the Light of knowledge, the Light of Truth; they like darkness...God loves those who have a pure heart, listens to their prayers, grants them their requests that lead to salvation, reveals Himself to them and teaches the mysteries of the Divine Nature.
The term church (ecclesia), according to the strict Orthodox Christian view, has two meanings, one of them expressing its doctrinal and religious character, that is, its inner, peculiarly spiritual essence, and the other expressing its external character. Thus, according to the Orthodox confession, the Church is defined in a twofold manner: as a religious institution, and as a religious community (koinonia).
The definition of the church as a religious institution may be formulated thus: The Church is a Divine religious institution of the New Testament, built by our Savior Jesus Christ through His Incarnate Dispensation, established upon faith on the day of Holy Pentecost by the descent of the All-Holy Spirit upon the Holy Disciples and Apostles of the Savior Christ, Whom He rendered instruments of Divine grace for the perpetuation of His work of redemption. In this institution is entrusted the totality of revealed truths; in it operates Divine grace through the Mysteries; in it are regenerated those, who with faith, approach Christ the Savior; in it has been preserved both the written and the unwritten Apostolic teaching and Holy Tradition.
The definition of the church as a religious community may be formulated thus: The church is a society of men united in the unity of the Spirit, in the bond of peace.
The right view of the church is that the church is distinguished into the Militant and the Triumphant; and that it is Militant so long as it struggles wickedness (evil) for the prevalence of the good, the Triumphant in the heavens, where there dwells the Choir of the Righteous, who struggled and were made perfect in the faith in God and in virtue.
Sacred (Holy) Tradition is the very church; without the Sacred (Holy) Tradition the Church does not exist. Those who deny the Sacred Tradition deny the Church and the preaching of the Apostles.
Before the writing of the Holy Scripture, that is, of the Sacred Texts of the Gospels, the Acts and the Epistles of the Holy Apostles, and before they were spread to the churches of the world, the Church was based on Sacred Tradition...The holy texts are in relation to Sacred Tradition what the part is to the whole.
The Church Holy Fathers regard Holy Tradition as the safe guide in the interpretation of Holy Scripture and absolutely necessary for understanding the Truths contained in the Holy Scripture. The Church receives many traditions from the Holy Apostles...The constitution of the Church services, especially of the Divine Liturgy, the Holy Mysteria (Sacraments) themselves and the manner of performing them, certain prayers and other institutions of the Church go back to the Sacred Tradition of the Apostles.
In their conferences, the Holy Synods (Councils) draw not only from Holy Scripture but also from Sacred Tradition as from a pure fount. Thus, the Seventh Ecumenical Synod says in the 8th Decree: If one violates any part of the Church Tradition, either written or unwritten, let him be anathema."
(To be continued)
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!" -- Saint John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God