Orthodox Study Journal~~Youth Issue 2/July 2018

MYSTERYapostasy bn w

On entering into the uncreated Church we come to Christ;
We enter into the realm of the uncreated

The Church is without beginning, without end and eternal, just as the Triune God, her founder, is without beginning, without end and eternal. She is uncreated just as God is uncreated. She existed before the ages, before the angels, before the creation of the world—before the foundation of the world as the Apostle Paul says. She is a divine institution refer Eph 1:4and in her dwells the whole fullness of divinity refer Col 2:9 . She is an expression of the richly varied wisdom of God. She is the mystery of mysteries. She was concealed and was revealed in the last of times. The Church refer 1 Pet 1:20 remains unshaken because she is rooted in the love and wise providence of God.
The three persons of the Holy Trinity constitute the eternal Church. The angels and human beings existed in the thought and love of the Triune God from the beginning. We human beings were not born now, we existed before the ages in God’s omniscience.
The love of God created us in the image and likeness. He embraced us within the Church in spite of the fact that He knew our apostasy. He gave us everything to make us gods too through the free gift of grace. For all that, we made poor use of our freedom and lost our original beauty, our original righteousness and cut ourselves off from the Church. Outside the Church, far from the Holy Trinity, we lost Paradise, everything. But outside the Church there is no salvation, there is no life. And so the compassionate heart of God the Father did not leave us exiled from His love. He opened again for us the gates of Paradise in the last times and appeared in flesh.
With the divine incarnation of the only-begotten Son of God, God’s pre-eternal plan for the salvation of mankind was revealed again to men. In his epistle to Timothy the Apostle Paul says:

Incontrovertibly, the mystery of faith is great. God was revealed in flesh, justified in Spirit, seen by angels, preached among gentiles, believed in throughout the world, taken up in glory. The words of the Apostle Paul are dense in meaning: divine, heavenly words!

God in his infinite love united us again with His Church in the person of Christ. On entering into the uncreated Church, we come to Christ, we enter into the realm of the uncreated. We the faithful are called to become uncreated by grace Cf. Col 3:9; Rom 6:6; Eph 4:22 , to become participants in the divine energies of God, to enter into the mystery of divinity, to surpass our worldly frame of mind, to die to the ‘old man’ and to become immersed in God. When we live in the Church we live in Christ. This is a very fine-drawn matter, we cannot understand it. Only the Holy Spirit can teach us.

The head of the Church is Christ and we humans, we Christians, are the body. The Apostle Paul says:

He refer Col 1:18 is the head of the body, of the Church.

The Church and Christ are one. The body cannot exist without its head. Without Christ the Church does not exist. Christ is the bridegroom; each individual soul is the Bride.
Christ united the body of the Church with heaven and with earth: with angels, men and all created things, with all of God’s creation….The Church thus became the fullness refer Eph 1:23 of Him who fills all in all, that is, of Christ. Everything is in Christ and with Christ. This is the mystery of the Church.
Christ is revealed in that unity between His love and ourselves: the Church. On my own I am not the Church, but together with you. All together we are the Church. All are incorporated in the Church. We are all one and Christ is the head. One body, one body of Christ:

You are the body of Christ refer 1 Cor 12:27 and individually members of it.

We are all one because God is our Father and is everywhere. When we experience this we are in the Church. This is our Lord’s wish for all the members of the Church as expressed in His great high-priestly prayer: that they may be one refer John 17:11,22. But that’s something you can only understand through grace. We experience the joy of unity, of love, and we become one with everyone. There is nothing more magnificent!

The important thing is for us to enter into Church— to unite ourselves with our fellow men, with the joys and sorrows of each and everyone, to feel they our own, to pray for everyone, to have care for their salvation, to forget about ourselves, to do everything for them just as Christ did for us.

In the Church we become one with each unfortunate, suffering and sinful soul. It is just like how we love our family where each one is born into. We always feel a special bond with our parents, siblings and close relatives and friends in their respective order. Our parents are very dear to us. Our siblings mean a lot to us. Irrespective of this biological bond also we always take care that we do not harm a person whom we love or who is very important in our lives. We take care to keep the other happy in whatever way we can.
This holds well in our spiritual lives. We should develop the same kind of bond with everyone in the Church. The Church is our family with Christ as the head of the family. And it is for fulfilling His purpose that we are born and that we are members of this Family called Church.

This is the choice God gives us. The freedom to choose: to live in the good by keeping the commandments of Christ. This is the essential aspect of Man’sꟷ being in the image of God. As God is Creator, Man has also to become a creator, a creator of the good. This is the real purpose which we have to fulfill. This is our goal when we live in this world. This is how we get our salvation.

No one should wish to be saved alone without all others being saved. It is a mistake for someone to pray for himself, that he himself may be saved. We must love others and pray that no soul be lost, that all may enter into the Church. That is what counts. And it is with this desire one should leave the world to retire to a monastery or to the desert.

When we set ourselves from others, we are not Christians. We are true Christians when we have profound sense that we are the members of the mystical body of Christ, of the Church, in an unbroken relationship of loveꟷ when we live united with Christ, that is, when we experience unity in His Church with a sense of oneness.

That is why Christ prays to His Father saying, that they may be one. He repeats the prayer again and again and the apostles emphasize it everywhere. This is the most profound aspect, the most exalted meaning, of the Church. This is where the secret is to be found: for all to be united as one person in God. There is no other religion like this; no other religion says anything of this sort. They have something to say, but not this mystery, this exquisite point of mystery which Christ demands and tells us that this is how we must become, that he wants us to be His.
The Church is the new life in Christ. In the Church there is no death and no hell. Saint John the Evangelist says: Whoever keeps my word refer John 8:52 will never taste death. Christ does away with death. Whoever enters into the Church is saved; he becomes eternal. Life is one, an unbroken continuity: there is no end, no death. Whoever follows Christ’s commandments never dies. He dies according to the flesh, according to the passions, and starting from the present life, is accorded to live in Paradise, in our Church and thereafter in eternity.

With Christ, death becomes the bridge which we will cross in an instant in order to continue to live unsetting light.

In Church which possesses the saving sacraments there is no despair. We may be deeply sinful. But we make confession, the priest reads the prayers, we are forgiven and we progress towards immortality, without any anxiety and without any fear.
When we love Christ, we live the life of Christ. If, by the grace of God, we succeed in doing this, we find ourselves in a different state, we live in another enviable state. For us there is no fear; neither of death, nor of the devil nor of hell. All these things exist for people who are far from Christ. For us Christians, who do His will, as the Gospel says these things do not exist. That is, they exist, but when one kills old self along with passions and desires refer Gal 5:24 , one gives no importance to the devil or to evil. It doesn’t concern us.
What concerns us is love, service to Christ and to our fellow man. If we reach the point of feeling joy, love, worship of God without any fear, we reach the point of saying, It refer Gal 2:20 is no longer I who live; Christ lives in me. No one can prevent us from entering into this mystery.

In order for us to preserve our unity we must be obedient to the Church, to her bishops. When we are obedient to the Church we are obedient to Christ Himself. Christ wishes for us to become one flock with one shepherd.
Let us feel for the Church. Let us love her fervently. We should not accept to hear her representatives being criticized and accused. We should not give credence to those who make accusations against the clergy. Even if with our own eyes we see a priest doing something we judge negatively, we should not believe it, nor think about it, nor talk about it to others. The same is true for the lay members of the Church and for every person. We are all the Church.
Those who censure the Church for the errors of her representatives with the alleged aim of helping to correct her make a great mistake. They do not love the Church. Neither, needless to say, do they love Christ. We love the Church when we embrace with our prayer each of her members and do what Christ didꟷ when we sacrifice ourselves, remain ever vigilant, and do everything in the manner of Him who when He refer 1 Peter 2:23 was abused did not return abuse, and when He suffered did not threaten.
We need to take care also to observe the formal aspects: to participate in the sacraments, especially the sacrament of Holy Communion. It is in these things that Orthodoxy/true Christian religion or right faith is to be found. Christ offers Himself to the Church in the sacraments and above all in Holy Communion.

At Pentecost the grace of God was poured out not only on the apostles, but on all the people who were around them. It affected believers and unbelievers. Listen what the Acts of Apostles says in Acts 2:1-6:

And when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together and in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind…and all were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, according as the Spirit gave them utterance…the crowd gathered and were confused because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each.

Whereas Peter the apostle was speaking his own tongue, the language was instantaneously transformed in the mind of the hearers. In an ineffable way the Holy Spirit made them understand his words in their language, mystically, imperceptibly. These miraculous things happen through the action of the Holy Spirit. For example, the word ‘house’ would be heard by the person who spoke French as ‘maison’. It was a kind of gift of clear sight; they heard their own language. The sound struck their ears, but in their minds, through divine illumination, the words were heard in their own tongue. At Pentecost the people suddenly found themselves in such a state of assimilation to God. The divine grace enthused them, filled them with God.

And breaking bread in their homes, they shared food in great joy and simplicity of heart, praising God and having goodwill towards all the people. And every day the Lord added to the Church those who were being saved.

The ‘breaking of bread’ was Holy Communion. And the number of those who were being saved increased continually, since people saw all the Christians in a state of—

‘great joy and simplicity of heart’ and ‘praising God’. The ‘great joy and simplicity of heart’ is like ‘fear refer Acts 2:23 came upon every soul’. This is the divine grace. This is also love towards Christ.

What the apostles experienced amongst themselves when they felt this great joy happened then to all those who were beneath the upper room. That is, they loved each other, they took joy in one another: the one had become united with the other. This experience radiates outwards and others experience it.

And refer Acts 4:32 the heart and soul of the multitude of those who had believed were one; and not one of them said that any of his possessions were his own, but they had everything in common. Here is the mystery of Christ. This is the Church. The best words about the first Church are here.

……Click the link(Issue 2 – July’18) below to continue reading other articles……

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Orthodox Study Journal~~Youth Issue 1/May 2018

Seeingdownload (3)

the Unseen

The Maze Runner

A teenage boy wakes up in an ascending elevator with no recollection of his name, where he comes from, or where he is. When the elevator reaches the top, a door above him opens and he finds himself in a community of boys.
Once a month the elevator (or the box as they call it), comes to the surface with supplies as well as a new boy. They all live in the glade and call themselves Gladers. None of them can remember anything about their past or why they were sent there, but after a few days they will remember their names. A door opens in the giant wall every day and closes every night. The door leads to a maze that surrounds the glade. Runners go through looking for a way out. “If you’re trapped in the maze overnight, the Grievers get you and you die”. The maze changes every night. Alby was the first boy to arrive in the Glade. No one knows why they are there.
The teenage boy later remembers his name as ‘Thomas’. Alby takes Thomas around to show him more of the sites. The boys carve their names on the wall when they arrive. When one dies, they cross off the name. Thomas tries to fit in and he’s given the task to dig up the fertilizer out in the woods. While he’s still there, he’s attacked by Ben, one of the Runners who was stung by a Griever. A sting will apparently cause tremendous pain and make the victim prone to violence. There’s no cure for it, so the other teens force Ben into the maze at night just as the doors are closing. Everyone is concerned that there was a Griever attack during the day.
The next day, Alby goes into the maze to retrace Ben’s path and to find out what happens. It rains during the day. Now it’s getting late and Alby still hasn’t returned. All the boys gather around the entrance to the maze. Just as the doors are about to close, the lead Runner named Minho appears with a very injured Alby. Thomas rushes into the maze to help them, but the door closes behind him.
Minho and Thomas use vines to suspend Alby’s body and try to keep it safe from the Grievers. Alby was stung while inside the maze. One of the Grievers appears and chase after Thomas. The Grievers look like gigantic bedbugs with robot legs and scorpion tails. Thomas and the Griever run around a bit as the walls in the maze change. Finally Thomas is able to lure the Griever between two walls that are colliding and SQUISH! Dead Griever.
Their world begins to change, with the challenge becoming fiercer. The boys have disagreements and got divided into two factions. To further shake things up, Teresa becomes the first girl to arrive in the Glade with a note that says she will be “the last one ever,” which means the steady flow of supplies will also cease.
Eventually Thomas gets to become “the runner”. Along with another group of runners, Thomas and Minho recover a device from within the Griever’s body and they theorize that the Maze may have a hidden code that could set them all free.
Inside the Maze, Thomas and Minho get farther than anyone has ever gotten before. But that night, the Maze entrance remains open and the Gladers are attacked by the Grievers. Overcoming all the hurdles, Thomas finally regains his memory and realizes that the entire scenario has been an experiment.
Thomas and his group fight their way through the Maze and discover a laboratory at the end of it. Inside are dozens of dead scientists. In a recording, one of the scientists explains that the planet was devastated by a solar flare and by an incurable virus which was also called “The Flare.” The whole point of the Gladers experiment was to see how their brains resisted the virus, since they were basically immune to it.
Finally masked men with weapons then appear and whisk Thomas and the other survivors away into a waiting helicopter. From high above the Maze, they see that it was located in a vast desert wasteland as they fly towards the ruins of a city.
This is exactly what happens in our real and spiritual life. We all live in a glade, “the daily routine life” doing all sorts of stuff required for our daily survival, relying on our human wisdom unaware of the actual reality, “the spiritual reality”. We are given a door (Christ) to enter the maze of the spiritual reality. As we enter the maze, we are often tempted by grievers; Satan and his demons. This is called the Unseen Warfare. Our test in this world is to finally survive the grievers and find our way out in the truth; victorious only to say as in 2 Timothy 4:7 “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”. Finally when we are dead and gone, our guardian angel, the angels of the Lord can be compared to the masked men in the above story who whisk us away to the mansions that Christ promised in John 14:2 “In my Father’s house are many mansions, If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you”.
As the teenager in the story wakes up inside an underground elevator with no memory of his own identity, is what every teenager or a young person feels, in the days of his youth. The biggest challenge that hangs on for every youth out there is to establish our own identity.
Who am I? Why am I here? I just know my name and do things everyday as everyone does. What is it that I should achieve in this life?
We enter the maze each day with these questions. We encounter different situations; the different people, their culture and values. Each situation puts us into a learning experience. We get to see something unhappy, unjust, and cruel either in our lives or in the lives of others. We are unhappy and unsatisfied at times due to many reasons even though we pretend to be happy. The injustice in the world is growing each day. We can imagine ourselves to be fighters inside this maze just as the teenager in the story who wants to fight out in the maze to find the right way out. As teenagers or youth we often see ourselves fighting between good and the bad.
Like the runners in the story, who get stung by the griever inside the maze, we often get stung by Satan and his demons, with thoughts that divert us from the way of Christ. These thoughts deceive us as Eve was deceived.
But how is it that we can get out of these everyday traps of our life so that we grow in God and discover the real purpose and find answers to the questions we ask in our everyday living?
Just like how Thomas and Minho recover a device from within the Griever’s body and they theorize that the Maze may have a hidden code that could set them all free, in the similar way we have the writings of the Church Fathers which will give us those hidden codes to set ourselves free in the maze; the real purpose in our life, the real freedom and the real joy of living. Church Fathers are the real heroes to follow who through their practical way of living (orthopraxis) have defeated Satan just like the way Thomas the teenage boy fought the Griever and crushed it. We should always remember Satan can only deceive us through thoughts but God has given us the power to overcome and defeat Satan and his army. And the Church is the hospital where we get healed through the sacraments…….Click the link(Issue 1 – May’18) below to continue reading message from the metropolitan(president, OCYM&MGOCSM-Chennai diocese, Vice president’s message and other articles……Click the link(Issue 1 – May’18) below to continue reading message from the metropolitan(president, OCYM&MGOCSM-Chennai diocese, Vice president’s message and other articles……

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