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Topic: Has the End of Time Drawn Near?

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DunkingDan

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Re: Has the End of Time Drawn Near?
« Reply #70 on: December 13, 2020, 10:57:22 AM »
President Harry S. Truman said: “The fundamental basis of this nation’s laws was given to Moses on the Mount.  The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings…  If we don't have the proper fundamental moral background, we will finally wind up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the state.”

DunkingDan

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WHY WE SHOULD NOT FEAR THE END OF THE WORLD, OR WHAT IN ACTUAL FACT
« Reply #71 on: December 26, 2020, 01:50:41 PM »
 BRINGS US CLOSER TO DESTRUCTION


Our Lord’s discourse on the outward circumstances of the end of the world and on the glory of His second coming is set forth in Chapter 24 of the Gospel of Saint Matthew. Apart from the commonly conceived apocalyptic picture of wars and strife, this discourse contains certain details which are usually overlooked; and this is perhaps not by chance.
Let us consider the Gospel text. While answering His disciples’ question on the signs of the end of the world, our Savior warns them of the danger of false prophets and of social and environmental cataclysms: Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: ... For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places (Matthew 24:4-7). These particular Gospel passages often underlie common views of the ultimate fate of the world. However, these views quite distort their meaning. When speculating on the theme of the end of the world, the Hollywood film industry, as well as various sectarian organizations and adherents of the ideology of consumerist society, actively cultivate, first of all, a fear of the future in our collective consciousness. And this speculation is by no means just a harmless play on people’s nerves. The goal is more subtle – to distract us from the main point.

If we pay close attention to the Gospel text, we see that their emphasis is on something different. Christ by no means wishes to sow fear in his disciples. On the contrary, He says, see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet (Matthew 24:6). In explaining these words of our Saviour, Saint John Chrysostom says that the true disciples of the Lord “will be above all misfortune”: no external discord will be able to shake their zeal for faith and for the virtuous life. In the opinion of the Saint, Christ, while testifying to this fact, points out that in the face of troubled conditions worldwide, this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations (Matthew 24:14). In other words, lest the disciples fall into despondency and say, “How shall we live?” it is as if the Lord would say, “You shall live, and teach everywhere.”[1]

This first important point is the opposite of the popular version of the end of the world. And Orthodox Christians should be well aware of this: for it is unacceptable for a man who trusts God, who seeks to live with God, to yield himself to any terror of the future, any panic or fear – this is a sign of proud self-reliance, and not of virtuous concern for our own salvation.

The second point of the Gospel understanding of the ultimate fate of the world is no less important. Unfortunately, it is also often understood in a distorted form, namely about “love growing cold.” The Lord says that because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold (Matthew 24:12). Usually this point is presented as some sort of social collapse through the spread of mass intolerance in society: People, they say, will turn into beasts and begin to destroy each other. One consequence of such a conviction, which is rarely expressed clearly, is the search for a plan of social welfare that prevents social conflict at any cost. That is, at a subconscious level, people fear “sharp edges,” they are afraid to insist on traditional values insofar as this might lead to social pressure and conflicts, and so on. Thus, contemporary western models of tolerance for sin have, evidently, their deep mental basis in a fear of the end of the world, in a myth based on an incorrect understanding of the Gospel, which today continues to be actively supported, but now through more subtle techniques.

How should we understand the words of Christ on “love waxed cold?” One of the ancient commentators says that this primarily has to do with the cooling of love for the Truth: “The words of this multitude of teachers of doctrines opposed to the truth (i.e. false prophets – Fr. R.S) bring about such harm that they cause even a fervent love for truth, which formerly consisted in simplicity of faith, to cool due to their conception of the Divine mysteries.”[2] And, actually, the Savior directly links this “cooling of love” to the “abounding of iniquity,” namely to the distortion of Truth, in consequence of which, as Saint John Chrysostom writes, “the disciples will not be able to find consolation even in love!”[3]

The apocalyptic “cooling of love” is not an increase of hatred,
but a perversion of the true understanding of love.

Thus the apocalyptic “cooling of love” is not simply a change of the relationship between people, nor an increase in hatred, but something else. It is primarily a perversion of the true understanding of love! False prophets of the last times (both public and religious leaders) will wrongly interpret this supreme virtue, so that the followers of Christ will not be able to rejoice in such a “love.” It is entirely possible that we are talking about a kind of understanding of love which really leads to the diminution of social pressure, to the establishment of a harmonious society without “sharp edges,” without conflicts of ways of life. However this is not love as a Divine gift, but rather a mutually satisfactory bargain for the sake of comfort: everyone must give up firm convictions of what is proper, godly, and true, and acknowledge the relativity of all values for the sake of social peace and prosperity. It is precisely the fall of this outpost of love, its perversion to such a degree, that in the name of this virtue that iniquity will be committed, that is the clear sign of the fact that mankind has set forth on the path that leads to destruction. After all, if the Lord says concerning wars and cataclysms, but the end is not yet (Matthew 24:6), the Saviour concludes the discourse about the distortion of Truth by false prophets, about the cooling of love and about the preaching of the Gospel for a witness to all the world with the words, and then shall the end come (Matthew 24:14).

And so we see the patristic understanding of the prophecy of our Savior on the ultimate fate of the world is essentially opposed to that myth about the Apocalypse which is actively propagandized in the mass consciousness. If the latter has as its goal to create a terrifying picture in people’s imagination of disasters and social strife engendering fear, then the Gospel portrayal, on the contrary, encourages the faithful, and spurs them to courage and steadfastness, to always hold to the Truth – and the Lord will save His faithful.

If the popular ideology purposefully focuses on social conflict so that people are subconsciously inclined to seek the resolution of these conflicts at any cost – then the Gospel clearly sounds the warning of the danger of a “cooled-off love,” of love deprived of faithfulness to the Truth in exchange for social comfort – it is precisely that smart “love” which leads the world to destruction. That is what we really need to fear – this perversion of love and its conversion from the supreme virtue to the handmaiden of comfort.

Priest Roman Savchuk
Translated by Archpriest George Lardas

Pravoslavie.ru
7/20/2017

1 John Chrysostom, Saint. Explanation of the Gospel of Matthew, Bk. 2. M., 2010. P. 140.
2 Biblical Commentaries of the Fathers of the Church and Other Authors 1-VIII Centuries. New Testament. Vol 1-b: Gospel of Matthew, 14-28 / Trans. from Engl., Gk., Lat., and Syr. Under Ed. Manlio Simonetti, Rus. Ed. Under Ed. Ju.N. Varzonin. Tver, 2007. P. 237.
3 John Chrysostom, Saint, Explanation of the Gospel of Matthew, Bk. 2. P. 430.


Why we should not fear the end of the world, or What in actual fact brings us closer to destruction / OrthoChristian.Com

President Harry S. Truman said: “The fundamental basis of this nation’s laws was given to Moses on the Mount.  The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings…  If we don't have the proper fundamental moral background, we will finally wind up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the state.”

DunkingDan

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Repent, For the Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand
« Reply #72 on: February 06, 2021, 02:54:55 PM »
Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee; and leaving Nazareth he went and dwelt in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, toward the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.” From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Matthew 4: 12-17 (Gospel of Sunday After Theophany)
Today’s Gospel lesson reflects the beginning of Christ’s earthly ministry. The message of Christ’s ministry was very simple: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4;17) Two very important things jump out at us from this verse. First is the word, “Repent.” To repent means to change orientation. In Greek, the word for “repent” is “metania.” “Metania” is also the word used to describe the liturgical action when the priest (and sometimes the people) reach down and touch the floor. It is called that because when touching the floor, (especially when saying the prayer “God be gracious to me a sinner and have mercy on me”) is an act of humility, it changes our orientation.
Repentance is not a one-time action, but rather a continuous action. Our life is supposed to be spent “repenting.” Repentance is not supposed to be a negative word, like “we’re supposed to spend out whole life feeling bad for our sins.” That is not what repentance is at all. Repentance is a continual “running” toward God, a sharpening of our hearts and souls so that we can better glorify Him. Repentance is a positive thing. More repentance doesn’t mean more sin. More repentance means more focus on God. One can even sin less frequently but repent more. Because the greater thirst for God makes one sadder over sin and more motivated to act with righteousness, rather than in sinful ways.
The basic message of Christ is for us to center on Him—our life, our purpose, our hope. What follows next is the motivation to repent, which is that the Kingdom of heaven is at hand. There are two meanings to this phrase. Christ came to earth to inaugurate the “Kingdom of heaven” both on earth and in heaven. Before the time of Christ’s earthly ministry, people were consigned to Hades and death at the end of their early lives. For as long as there were people, after the Fall of Adam and Eve, the journey through life was a journey to an end of darkness.
The coming of Christ changed that. Christ taught that after we die, those who believe will go to the Resurrection of life, a place of brightness, rest and peace.
Christ’s message went even further though. The Kingdom of heaven was not going to just be a far off destination, but with the coming of Christ, it is a PRESENT reality. We LIVE in the Kingdom NOW. This is why the Divine Liturgy begins with the words “Blessed is the Kingdom, of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, NOW and forever and to the ages of ages.” We know that the Kingdom is forever. However, the Kingdom is also present NOW.
How is that? Because when we partake of Christ, either through Holy Communion, or through prayer, when we establish an “intimacy” with Christ, we will experience what heaven will be like. Heaven will be an eternal closeness with Christ. However, we can achieve this closeness in life, by developing a deeper relationship with the Lord.
Throughout the Gospels, we hear references to the Old Testament prophecies and how they are now fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ. Today’s Gospel reading quotes the Prophecy of Isaiah, where he wrote “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, toward the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned. (Matthew 4:15-16. This prophecy is fulfilled in the person of Christ, who came not only to call the Jews, His own people, to salvation, but to call the Gentiles (EVERYONE ELSE) as well. However, the call of Christ is to come to His Light. Oftentimes, when I read this verse, how those who sat in darkness saw a great light, I wonder if the phrase should read “the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and ran away from it,” or “The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, but were content to stay in darkness. They did not desire to BE in the light.
God doesn’t want us sitting in darkness. He does not want us to be depressed about the “shadow of death.” Rather, He wants us to walk in the Light, to repent, to grow closer to Him, to enjoy an intimacy with Him right now, so that we can experience His Kingdom here, which in turn will motivate us to work for the Kingdom which is to come.
Light from Light, Christ our God, has shone upon the world. He is God and He appeared to us. O peoples, let us worship Him. (First Praise of the Feast of Theophany, Trans. by Fr. Seraphim Dedes)
Repent—orient yourself more sharply towards God today, and everyday!

President Harry S. Truman said: “The fundamental basis of this nation’s laws was given to Moses on the Mount.  The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings…  If we don't have the proper fundamental moral background, we will finally wind up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the state.”

DunkingDan

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CHURCHES EMBRACING HOMOSEXUALITY PREPARE MEMBERS TO ACCEPT THE ANTI-CH
« Reply #73 on: February 09, 2021, 05:58:17 PM »
Churches that have deemed homosexuality morally acceptable have rejected Christianity and are preparing their followers to accept the Anti-Christ, according to one of the leading figures in the Russian Orthodox Church.
His statement came as the Russian Orthodox Church announced that it is ending "formal contacts" with the United Protestant Church of France and the Church of Scotland over those churches' abandonment of traditional Christian sexual morality. In its statement, the church said ecumenical dialogue was pointless after France's United Protestant Church last month voted to allow pastors to officiate at same-sex "marriages" and the Church of Scotland approved ordaining clergy who are in same-sex civil unions.
"The Russian Orthodox Church holds the firm position based on Holy Scriptures and has repeatedly declared that [homosexual 'marriage' is] inadmissible for moral teaching," the statement reads. Churches that offer to "marry" homosexuals "trample upon the principles of traditional Christian morality."
The statement explains that over a period of years, the Orthodox Church has shared her concerns with these Christian bodies and warned of ecumenical consequences if they adopt same-sex "marriage."
"Regrettably, the words of warning have not been heard," Orthodox officials concluded.
Following the decision, the Very Rev. Fr. Dimitry Smirnov – the chair of the Russian Orthodox Church Commission for Family, Protection of Motherhood and Childhood – told one of the leading Russian television stations the new moral teachings place these liberal denominations beyond the pale of Christianity.
"We separated ourselves from them as from the plague, as it's contagious,” he said. “The Russian Orthodox Church cannot support with its authority something that is just an iniquity from the Biblical point of view.”
“These are not Christian communities anymore. This is another community with its own distinct name of 'LGBT.' Its future is simple and clear – the 'fire of Gehenna' – this is just what the Holy Scripture says,” Fr. Smirnov said.
By rejecting the Christian faith's immemorial teaching on sexual morality, “the former Christian peoples are preparing themselves for the solemn reception of the Anti-Christ."
His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow has stated many times that gay “marriage” is incompatible with Christian teaching.
The Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate's Department for External Church Relations, Metropolitan Hilarion, explained, "The legalization of same-sex cohabitations, tolerant attitude to euthanasia and prostitution, disruption of the centuries-old institution of marriage and family, pose a clear threat to the future of humanity."
Archpriest Jason Kappanadze of the Orthodox Church in America, the "daughter" church of Moscow, called the Moscow Patriarchate's move "an appropriate statement of moral clarity," noting that "certain Protestant denominations that have crossed the line away from Christianity...making further dialogue impossible."
Kappanadze was careful to point out that the reason for Moscow's decision is not hatred but its care and concern for the well-being of all. "We stand with firm love for the salvation of our fellow human beings!"
Father Hans Jacobse of the American Orthodox Institute told LifeSiteNews, "People will look at the decision by the Russian Orthodox Church and think it is unfair. One must understand that the Russian Orthodox looks at gay marriage as a grave distortion of God's design for men and women.”
Fr. Jacobse said the Russian Orthodox Church is concerned with the long-term societal effects of sanctioning homosexuality. "The Russians have always been brilliant long term thinkers," he told LifeSiteNews. Orthodox leaders believe that legalizing same-sex "marriage" "will change our understanding of who God created us to be, and that will have destructive ramifications for society down the road."
The Russian Bishops’ Council of 2013 explained that "Dialogue with confessions which openly defy the Biblical moral norms is impossible." The Church's Department for External Church Relations "does not see any prospects in maintaining official contacts" with such groups.
Noting a tragic liberal trend throughout the Protestant world and implying there may be more severing of ties to come, the Moscow Patriarchate statement read, "We regretfully acknowledge, that today we have a new divide in the Christian world, not only regarding theological subjects, but regarding moral issues as well."
The Russian Orthodox Church previously cut ties with The Episcopal Church in the United States in 2003 after it consecrated an open, practicing homosexual as bishop. Two years later, it severed its ecumenical relationship with the Swedish Lutheran Church after it sanctioned ceremonies for same-sex civil unions in 2005.
The bishops of the Orthodox Church in America, which together are called "the Holy Synod," have made several public statements against homosexuality. "Homosexuality is to be approached as the result of humanity’s rebellion against God, and so against its own nature and well-being," one such synodal statement from 1992 explained. "It is not to be taken as a way of living and acting for men and women made in God’s image and likeness."
Those suffering from same-sex attraction are to be treated in the Orthodox Church with compassion.
"Men and women with homosexual feelings and emotions are to be treated with the understanding, acceptance, love, justice and mercy due to all human beings," the bishops said. "They are to seek assistance in discovering the specific causes of their homosexual orientation, and to work toward overcoming its harmful effects in their lives."
However, homosexuals "who still want to justify their behavior" are barred from Holy Communion, "since to do so would not help, but harm them."
Churches embracing homosexuality prepare members to accept the Anti-Christ: Russian Orthodox leader / OrthoChristian.Com

President Harry S. Truman said: “The fundamental basis of this nation’s laws was given to Moses on the Mount.  The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings…  If we don't have the proper fundamental moral background, we will finally wind up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the state.”

DunkingDan

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CHRIST SAID: THERE WILL BE PESTILENCES…
« Reply #74 on: February 10, 2021, 12:54:46 PM »
Reflections on pandemics, lockdown, fears, and Divine Providence

Spanish flu patients in the USASpanish flu patients in the USA   

And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences (Lk. 21:11). In the Gospel “pestilences” (λοιμοὶ in Greek) are contagious diseases—that is, epidemics. Christ said that there will be pestilences, and they really do happen. They must happen. The Savior tried to make us understand that mass epidemics wouldn’t disappear after His first Coming. Neither would “earthquakes” (that is, natural disasters) and “famines” (social calamities). Such is the law of life outside Paradise. Since man infected the world by sin the world has infected mankind with viruses, microbes and malignant bacteria.

Epidemics, or large-scale ones called pandemics, are like COVID-19. Everybody is equally weak before a raging calamity. Kings and paupers, rich and poor equally flee from fires, are afraid of natural disasters and tremble at the contagiousness of deadly diseases.

William Shakespeare’s only son, Hamnet, died of bubonic plague at the age of eleven. Constantine Pavlovich, a younger brother of Emperor Alexander I, died of cholera. Celebrities and nobility, tsars and hierarch would die during epidemics. These sharp-toothed jaws have remained wide open, all-devouring and insatiable throughout the centuries.

There are ten diseases that developed into pandemics:

  • Leprosy
  • Plague
  • Cholera
  • Smallpox
  • Typhus
  • Malaria
  • Tuberculosis
  • Flu (all its types)
  • HIV infection
  • And the present coronavirus disease—COVID-19.

Like the ten Plagues of Egypt, they disturb people, spreading anxiety and pain. The plagues come one after another, but none of them has been overcome entirely. Like waves of a raging sea, severe pestilences cover, “carry away” those on their way and then recede—only to return after a time. They have raged in all the centuries of our wretched history, although the force of the waves varies.

What is the source of pandemics?

Fears and uncertainty give rise to numerous theories in people’s minds: from a global government conspiracy to biological weapons that have allegedly gotten out of control. But in their origin, all pandemics have the same bitter source.

Diseases are a tribute to an imperfect and broken world. The ugly hard truth is that man has broken this world.

Man was ordained by God to cultivate and keep Paradise (cf. Gen. 2:15). Through man, creation was being spiritualized, the created was being united with the uncreated, earth was mingling with heaven, and the whole universe was being illuminated by the light of the Giver of life. But, paradoxically, he who was called to be the king behaved like a slave, a clown and a traitor. Instead of cultivating the Garden of Eden he cultivated pride in himself. Instead of preserving union with God and the harmony of creation, through it he treacherously came into contact with the fallen spirit. He let the serpent’s poison enter the pure world, and the whole creation was infected with sin.

Poor, poor man. You have lost and broken the gift of paradisal life just as someone carelessly drops and breaks a precious vessel given for safekeeping. Likewise, the paradisiacal world that was entrusted to the “crown of creation” was broken; the newly-created man at once turned his back on the Creator. Life and harmony reigned in the world as long as man—the crown of creation—participated in life. Falling away from life brought about diseases and death.

Sin caused the break, the imbalance and distortion in the world that had lived in the paradisiacal harmony. Preying on others, the frantic struggle for survival, devouring each other and feuding—this is what the world has been like since the loss of Paradise. After rejecting God, man subjected himself to laughably miserable, infinitesimal particles of the fallen world; he who was called to theosis was enslaved by microbes. Out of fear of death you have to study microscopic parasites, bacilli, virus strains and colon bacillus, and even have your own urine and feces analyzed because you refused to contemplate God, celestial purity, and become like angels.

Such is the law of life outside Paradise.

For our virus of deadly sins we have the virus of deadly diseases.

For the infection of the passions that eat at our souls we have infections that eat at the flesh.

For the contagion of self-complacency we have the contagion of maladies that deprive us of rest and comfort.

Pandemics are analogous to world wars with the only difference that here nature rebels against man. You have acted the predator—and the fallen world is paying you back. Nature has gotten out of control just as you ceased to obey the Creator. In some sense, the world avenges itself against man through pandemics for his damaging creation by sins and his perfidious relationship with the destroying devil.

The enormous catastrophe of the fall is reflected in every pandemic as in a mirror. The impotence of people in the face of every lethal pestilence is the image of the yawning abyss of sin—the alienation of man from God; and, therefore, suffering and death.

O man! Your heart has a thirst for life and happiness, but you are hurt by the thorns of miseries and suffering. Your spirit soars up to heaven, but the thorn of illness, thrust into your flesh, puts you in the place you deserve.

Thus human pride is suppressed, for this is how every idol is overthrown. The life of him who is called to be immortal has become miserable, like this microbe. Pandemics have shown how weak and feeble man is. But they have also revealed that there is no sense in living for the earth alone.

Don’t think that outside Paradise you will live a happy life without illness and death. Life outside Paradise is not life but the struggle for survival. After overcoming one disease we are sure to face a new and unknown one. After all, you can’t avoid God’s verdict: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return (Gen. 3:19). You can’t prosper on an earth which Thorns… and thistles shall… bring forth to thee (Gen. 3:18) for your sins.

Diseases as part of Divine providence

What are diseases before the hand of God? Maladies are mere dust that is scattered with a wave of Christ’s robe. Christ saw Peter’s mother-in-law who was lying with fever, took her by the hand…, and immediate fever left her (Mk. 1:31). He commanded to the decaying corpse in the dark grave: Lazarus, come forth (Jn. 11:43)—and Lazarus came out of his tomb full of vigor and inspired for a new life. This is what diseases and death are before the hand of God! The touch of life is vivifying, and the touch of the Immortal One is healing.

But man values bread when there is no bread, and water when he is parched with thirst, and air when he is gasping for breath. Thus a sinful man begins to appreciate all of God’s things through deprivation—that is, through suffering.

Any deprivation is suffering. The loss of health is torment. For good health is inseparably linked to life. No one dies because his or her life has ended—people die because of their ruined health—its exhausted or destroyed resources. That is why everyone tries so hard to take care of his health—hence the indomitable craving for life in human beings. And even if someone neglects his health, ruining it by his unreasonable behavior, this is only because he naively believed that his health resources were inexhaustible.

The Lord only has to wave His hand for all pestilences to vanish and all human diseases to stop. But we are left with natural methods of struggle against diseases so that we can value all God’s things.

We are like Christ’s disciples in the boat with a heavy storm striking around them, while the Savior has supposedly left them, sleeping and not hearing them. Wouldn’t it be better for the Savior to keep vigil, protecting the sleep from any breath of wind, and for the disciples to sleep peacefully? No, carelessness kills people. What ruins us is not troubles and miseries but the sleep of our own souls, our obsession with comfort and prosperity, and lack of concern.

Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked: thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness; then he forsook God Which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation (Deut. 32:15). Adam, who was pure from sin and had an untroubled life, died spiritually. How will we be saved, sinful and negligent?

Imagine that someone is only given money and given no job. What will become of his soul? A consumerist and carefree attitude towards life damages it. When you have everything but make no efforts, you are close to perdition. The wisdom of Divine providence, which is unfathomable for us, has revealed itself in the fact that despite the abundance of gifts of healing, our lot is to overcome hardships through a terrible struggle rather than receive miraculous good things from God with a complete lack of concern.

Christianity is not comfort

I will also express an idea, knowing full well that it won’t be accepted by everybody. Christianity is not comfort. Christianity can’t be comfortable. Christianity is confession and martyrdom, for it is about following Christ; and the path of Christ is that of the Cross.

When Christianity becomes comfortable, the Lord sends trials that crush comfort. The Savior addresses us: Sleep on now, and take your rest (Mk. 14:41). And we don’t know what to answer. We are used to freedom, to having everything and being allowed to do anything, when churches are open, our rights are protected, it is calm around and we even can sleep for a while. But the Lord allows a tempest for us to awaken.

Every storm brings us out of the usual and comfortable conditions of life. The church of God—the “chamber of Paradise”—is closed to us so that we can look at the Church, the Sacraments and our happy meeting with Christ in Eucharist from a different perspective. We cherish things that are returned to us with great difficulty as the apple of our eye. This applies to churches, good health and all that is made on earth.

We struggle against diseases as against giants. In the sweat of our brow we grow our bread, and we acquire good health through sweating blood. Giants are stronger than us. The lowly David defeated the proud giant Goliath. Throughout the centuries our victory over global pandemics was attained through incredible efforts and numerous losses so that we could learn to value our life given by God.

Having put up with merciless pandemics that recur every century, humanity gets an opportunity to win a victory over them. The Lord will certainly reveal the remedy for this new virus, too. And every time the methods of beating pandemics are the image of God’s blessing that opens the door of salvation to every painstaking, humble toiler.

This is how humility is cultivated. Thus we begin to value God’s gift of life, pining at the gift of immortality that we have lost owing to sin. Thus we come to understand that true life is not in battles, trenches or medical tents—that is mundane life. But there are abodes our souls long for, to which our Savior has paved the way by triumphing over death through His Resurrection.

But let us have a look at how Russia had already responded to pandemics and what it did to combat them. What lessons can we learn from it?

To be continued.
Priest Valery Dukhanin
Translated by Dmitry Lapa

Pravoslavie.ru
5/19/2020



President Harry S. Truman said: “The fundamental basis of this nation’s laws was given to Moses on the Mount.  The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings…  If we don't have the proper fundamental moral background, we will finally wind up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the state.”

DunkingDan

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POD PEOPLE: VATICAN III? NICEA III? PRESS BLIND SPOT 666?
« Reply #75 on: February 17, 2021, 12:26:27 PM »
Terry Mattingly
Source: Get Religion
    
The questions jumped into Twitter in a flash, which is what one would assume would happen when there is a chance that a once-a-millennium news story could be breaking.
So Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I and Pope Francis have proposed a 2025 event to mark the great Council of Nicea.
Line up, religion-news consumers, to ask your big questions. Father James Martin, you go first:
Whoa! Huge news. Pope, Patriarch call for Ecumenical Council in 2025. Vatican III? No. Nicea III. East/West together. http://t.co/abrV3rjVse
— James Martin, SJ (@JamesMartinSJ) May 30, 2014
So no Vatican III?
But a proposal for Nicea III?
Slow down. First things first. Was this a proposal for a true Ecumenical Council between the ancient churches of East and West?
It quickly became clear, from Rome and Istanbul, that this was not the case.
FYI #Vatican's Fr Lombardi says Bartholomew's idea for 2025 Nicea is for a common commemoration, NOT an ecumenical council. Tranquilli…
— Nicole Winfield (@nwinfield) May 31, 2014
But what did it mean, really, to say that this date — so far off in the future — is now on the calendar for an ecumenical gathering to celebrate the great Ecumenical Council of Nicea? That, of course, is the gathering of the church fathers best known because of the Nicene Creed and its proclamation of the Holy Trinity.
Once again, I was amazed that the big guns in the mainstream media didn’t jump in on this story. Amazed.
During this week’s Crossroads podcast chat, host Todd Wilken and I pondered, once again, why journalists concluded that the Pope Francis pilgrimage to the Middle East was primarily a political event about statecraft. It was not, repeat NOT, as the Vatican kept stating, an event that grew out of the highly symbolic invitation by Bartholomew for the pope to meet him in Jerusalem. (Click here to listen in.)
In this case, I had written both a GetReligion post (click here) and a Universal Syndicate column (click here) on this topic. In the column I noted:
The symbolic leader of the world’s Eastern Orthodox Christians, the successor to the Apostle Andrew, had earlier invited Francis, the successor to the Apostle Peter, to join him in Jerusalem to mark the 50th anniversary of the breakthrough meeting between Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I. Their embrace ended 900-plus years of mutual excommunication in the wake of the Great Schism of 1054.
So why wasn’t this gathering newsworthy? Why was it missing from the vast majority (kudos to the Associated Press for being a major exception) of the mainstream reports about this trip?
Even in the fine AP report, the truly historic ecumenical prayer rite at the ancient Church of the Holy Sepulcher was referred to as the “spiritual” highlight of the pilgrimage. In the GetReligion post on that I asked:
Ah, there we have it. This was the “spiritual” highlight of the pilgrimage. As opposed to? The political highlight? The real highlight? The news highlight?
Yes, there we have it again, the same old, same old. When the pope travels it is a big news event. Big news is, by definition, primarily about politics. Thus, the most important events in a papal tour must, by their very nature, be political. The religion stuff? That’s nice for photographs, unless the pope stops at an Israeli security wall and there is (validly so in this case) a spectacular photo with political implications.
Got that? Politics are real. Religion is not so real. At best it is “spiritual.”
Now, in the case of yesterday’s bombshell/media blind spot, The Huffington Post did offer a short report that spotted the news hook:
Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Barthlomew I prayed together in Jerusalem at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in a beautiful act of unity.
Now, they’re taking a further step to heal the centuries-old schism between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches by holding a gathering together to commemorate the Council of Nicaea, which took place in 325. Seventeen centuries later, Francis and Bartholomew will come together in 2025 to celebrate the historic meeting, reports Vatican Insider.
“We agreed to leave as a legacy to ourselves and our successors a gathering in Nicaea in 2025, to celebrate together, after 17 centuries, the first truly ecumenical synod, where the Creed was first promulgated,” Bartholomew told Asia News.
Nicaea, now known as Iznik, brought together over 300 bishops from the Eastern and Western traditions in 325. While the next planned gathering is eleven years away, both leaders can use that time to continue to work towards friendship and cooperation between their churches.
OK, fellow Godbeat scribes, let’s stop and think about this for a moment. This event is a long way off. What else might be on the ecumenical discussion agenda in the meantime?
Obviously, there is the issue of the pope striving to find a way to tweak Rome’s claim for absolute, total primacy over all of the world’s ancient churches, a claim that the other ancient patriarchates cannot accept. However, we have already heard more papal references to the pope being the Bishop of Rome, a title that warms the heart of the Eastern Orthodox. We have also heard papal references to the pope as the patriarch of the West, a title that implies there could still be — as in the first millennium — patriarchs of the East, with the pope seen as the first among equals. And what’s up with the steady drumbeat of “synod” language from Pope Francis?
And wouldn’t it be fitting if, in an event marking the Nicean Council, East and West made progress on the ultimate issue of the 1054 schism, as in the infamous, from an Eastern Orthodox point of view, Roman insertion of the filioque clause into its version of the creed? As Father Alexander Webster, an Orthodox historian, once noted in Crisis Magazine, a conservative Catholic publication:
The real dogmatic difference revolves around the insertion of the Latin compound word filioque into the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed originally formulated in Greek by the bishops assembled at the first and second ecumenical councils (325 and 381). The Latin addition has the Holy Spirit “proceed from the Father and the Son” (filioque) instead of proceeding from the Father alone, as in the original Greek. There is no room here to rehearse the arguments for and against that pesky term. Let it suffice to note that the Orthodox are convinced that the insertion radically, albeit unintentionally, changes the meaning of the Creed (by demeaning the Personal dignity of the Holy Spirit) and remain adamant that the filioque must be disavowed by Rome.
And so forth and so on, world without end. Amen.
Yes, Webster’s 2000 essay did propose a way for Rome to end this ancient logjam. Yes, the word “synod” plays a crucial role.
Terry Mattingly
6/2/2014


President Harry S. Truman said: “The fundamental basis of this nation’s laws was given to Moses on the Mount.  The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings…  If we don't have the proper fundamental moral background, we will finally wind up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the state.”

DunkingDan

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Apocalypse Now
« Reply #76 on: February 18, 2021, 12:26:40 PM »
Few teachings of the Christian faith are as easily misunderstood and equally misapplied as the things pertaining to the “End of the World.” Christian history, both East and West, offers numerous examples of popular misunderstandings – some of which led to bloodbaths and the worst moments in Church history. By the same token, apocalypticism, the belief in an end of history, has had a powerful impact on the cultures in which Christianity has dwelt. Various Utopias (Marxism, Nazism, Sectarian Millenarianism, etc.) are all products of a misunderstood Christian idea. They are not the inventions of Christianity – but they could hardly have originated in any other culture. The same can be said for various Dystopias (the belief in very difficult and hard times). The imagery of the end of the world can be read both ways. In either case, the worst outcomes generally are found in groups who not only believe in one form of apocalypticism or another, but believe that their own actions can have a direct effect on the advent of the end.
Any number of apocalyptic sects have sprung up from within various Christian heresies over the centuries, many of them on American soil, a land whose first European settlers had a decidedly apocalyptic view of the world. Even Islam, sometimes described by the Orthodox fathers as a “heresy” rather than a “new religion,” has its apocalyptic element, particularly within its extreme groups.
So what is the nature of false apocalypticism and the Orthodox understanding of the End? To a large extent the primary element of false apocalypticism is rooted in a linear view of history in which everything is read in a literal manner. Linear time allows for only a succession of moments, whose cause is to be found in the moment before. God may intervene in this linear procession but the linear nature of things is not changed. We can say that in this model historycan be changed, but not the nature and experience of time.
Such linearity and literalism can often reduce its devotees to caricatures of Jerry Fletcher, the near psychotic lead role in the film Conspiracy Theory (1997). He carefully read an armload of daily newspapers, looking for patterns,finding connections where none existed (but also accidentally finding some for the sake of the movie’s plot). The End, as understood in Orthodox theology, is not a cosmic conspiracy theory being wrought within the linear time-line of human history. Our newspapers do not contain hints and hidden clues to its appearance. Indeed, the entire linear conception of life and time are a failure to understand the Lord’s Pascha and what has come to pass in the Resurrection of Christ.
The language of Scripture, both in the course of Christ’s ministry and particularly in the descriptions of the disciples’ encounters with him after the resurrection, is quite peculiar, especially its treatment of time. Most Christians are familiar with Christ’s statement:

Quote
Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.”  Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?”  Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” (John 8:56-58).
Obviously the text makes reference to the pre-existing Son of God – but the statements of Christ utterly destroy the normal sense of time. His statements are more than a mere mind-game being played by Christ – they are a revelation of the “distortion” (perhaps reconfiguration) and fulfillment of time. Christ, in St. John’s Revelation, says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last” (Rev. 22:13). This statement, a clear proclamation of Christ’s divinity, is made purely in temporal terms – but in each of the three cases, temporal terms that are normally contradictory. The temporality of Christ cannot be stated in purely linear terms.
St. John again leaves temporality behind in the proclamation: “All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8). Christ is most surely slain on the Cross within history, and yet St. John identifies that Christ with the Lamb “slain from the foundation of the world.” Christ’s Pascha is both “historical” and yet cosmic, transcending time.
This same transcendence of history and time is an inherent part of the Orthodox understanding of worship (and ultimately of all our life). We begin the Divine Liturgy with the words, “Blessed is the Kingdom…” The priest doesn’t say, “Blessed is Thy Kingdom which is to come…” He blesses the Kingdom which is, for when we give thanks to God, we stand within His Kingdom. In the course of the liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, the priest prays and gives thanks in the past tense for the glorious second coming of Christ. What can such language mean?
It means that having been Baptized with Christ into His death and raised in the likeness of His resurrection, time has shifted from the time of this age, and now participates in the time of the age to come. We stand with the Alpha and the Omega: the Beginning and the End dwells in our hearts.
Many have rejected the Beginning and the End in favor of a “linear Christ,” either lost in their search for the “historical Jesus,” or furiously scouring their Bibles and newspapers for signs of the linear approach of a time-bound Christ. Such a Christ reduces Christianity to theories and moralisms. The linear Christ does not and cannot save. That which is bound within time is bound within death. He who has trampled down death by death, has also trampled down time by time and “brought us up to His kingdom which is to come.”
With such a transformation in our lives, we can cease to live as prisoners in our own age awaiting the return of an exiled Lord. God is with us and makes us to be with Him.


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President Harry S. Truman said: “The fundamental basis of this nation’s laws was given to Moses on the Mount.  The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings…  If we don't have the proper fundamental moral background, we will finally wind up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the state.”

DunkingDan

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THE MOST TERRIBLE OF THE LORD’S PROPHECIES
« Reply #77 on: February 22, 2021, 02:11:06 PM »
Holy Monday, at Presanctified Liturgy
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Matthew 24:3-34 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together. Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: 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. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. 35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
Today the Lord speaks to us of the mystery of the Judgment, which is being carried out over the Church even now and which will be revealed in His Second and glorious Coming. When He sat on the Mount of Olives, His disciples came alone to Him and asked: Tell us, when shall these things be?
The disciples ask the Lord of the times and dates and signs of His Coming and the end of the age. Without saying a word about the times and dates, the Lord begins with a warning: Take heed that no man deceive you. Seducers and deceivers are enemies of the Church more dangerous than persecutors. Verily, those who kill the true prophet are first entrapped by false prophets. And those who crucified the true Messiah Christ first allowed themselves to be deceived by false christs and false messiahs. But this test must come so that those who are Christ’s may be revealed.
The Lord tells us that under the guise of the greatest good can hide the greatest evil. Who are false prophets? First of all, those who are seduced by the inspiration of false spirituality, false religions, including those false prophets we have seen in the last century, when millions of people were deceived by the spirit of the enemy. But false prophets can also be from among those in the Church, moreover, people who may teach in the Church and hold important places in it. They are the most dangerous because they are least likely to be suspected of deception.
False christs and false prophets have legions of their servants everywhere, through whom they attract the souls of men to themselves. The consequence of accepting the false teaching of these false prophets will be great calamities on Earth. And when the calamities become so unbearable that people are ready to grasp at everything that seems like deliverance to them, then they will be told: “Here is Christ and there is Christ,” and, “He is in the deserts and in the secret chambers.” As proof of their claims, the servants of the enemy of mankind shew great signs and wonders. Not those genuine miracles that seal the grace and truth of Christ, but those by which they seduce many, and if it were possible … the very elect.
If it were possible … the very elect. The Lord speaks of the power of deception. It will be such that many will be captured by it and few will be able to resist. Even those who think they will stand strong. And the elect are not those who consider themselves such, but those whom the Lord has chosen—and the devil will try to deceive them.
However, the words “if possible” mean that it will be impossible for the enemy, although man always remains free, wherever he is, whatever spiritual heights he reaches. But genuine freedom consists in such an affirmation in the good that a man is already free from evil and can reject any of its provocations. He is already so united with Christ that Christ lives in him (Gal. 2:20). Where the grace of God works, it is impossible to separate a Christian from Christ. Therefore, it will be impossible for the enemy to defeat the Church of Christ.
The Lord prophesies about the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple. And He gives an image of the end of the world. One plan is superimposed upon another. The destruction of the world will be according to the image of the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem, the most holy site before the Coming of Christ, which existed to maintain the elect of God in holiness and through them, all of mankind, to accept Christ the Messiah.
The Lord speaks of wars. Living in such a sinful state, mankind will naturally have wars. He warns of incessant calamities and persecutions against the Church. When the twentieth century began, many, hearing these Gospel words about the persecution of the Church, thought that this prophecy had already been fulfilled, as had many other of the Savior’s prophecies. However, the twentieth century saw something that far surpassed anything that had come before. Do we not think the exact same thing now, hearing these words of the Lord—that this prophecy has already been fulfilled, and all the main trials are behind us? Soon the wolves in sheep’s clothing will drop their masks and appear simply as wolves before the flock of Christ’s sheep.
But, perhaps the most terrible of all the Lord’s prophecies is the prophecy that because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. One is a consequence of the other. The world always lies in evil, but there is coming a particular time when we can say that lawlessness will abound. And the more brazen the evil will be, the weaker will be the resistance of good, that is, love—the highest manifestation of good—although it would seem everything should be the opposite.
Such terrible words: “Love will wax cold.” It’s the same as saying life will die. It’s the same as saying, ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation … stand in the holy place (Mt. 24:15). To be a Christian means to be a loving person. Where is there love in the world? In the Church of Christ. If there is no love in the Church, there can be no love in the world. Before the Church, every one of us will stand before the Cross of Christ; therefore, today’s judgment over the Church consists in our testing ourselves, whether we have this love. Of course, we don’t achieve what the word of God tells us about love as a union of perfection, as a grace that ever lives in our hearts. However, we cannot live without striving for love. It is only because of this that we are alive and thanks to this that the world is alive. If we stop striving for love, then the light that is in the world, that is, the Church of Christ, will become darkness. And what then will be the darkness in the world?
But even in a world that doesn’t know God, human love is always present as a residual light, by which man still exists. Where does this residual light exist above all? In the family. However, today, before our very eyes, everything is being done to destroy the family—and very successfully, as we can see. Where else is human love manifested? Where there are the most intimate and exalted relationships between a man and a woman. What happens here? What used to be called fate, the dream of your betrothed, is now increasingly being superseded by what they say is an easily-replaceable partnership. Finally, children. Where there are children, it is impossible for there to be no love. Whoever doesn’t love children has a dangerously, fatally ill soul. But now this is a mass phenomenon. More and more we see children simply as nuisances. We well know that millions of children are killed before birth or are corrupted almost from their very birth. Day and night, the false media prophets of the propaganda of hate leave no stone unturned on what is the foundation of human life.
The Lord tells us today that amidst this horror, when the abomination of desolation … will stand in the holy place, that not only in the Church, where love waxes cold, but in all of mankind, he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. We must endure to the end—not only in the midst of persecutions and prisons, not only on our sick beds, but even when the world with its lust of the flesh occupies everything—all of culture, all the schools, all the streets with their vile advertisements for sin, and all the homes where these visible demons enter every day and they are received as desired guests; all minds and hearts. And we Christians are nothing to this world; Christ is no one and nothing for them. And they want to interweave us into their stinking fabric as a decorative pattern. Where there is at least a spark of the Divine in life, has it remained? Truly, love waxes cold. Is this not a clear sign of the end?
It is not for us to know the times and dates, says the Lord (1 Thess. 5:1). But it is our duty, because we are Christians, to stand on the final borders of the Kingdom of Christ, where love is above all, until the end; wherever it can still be preserved, both in the Church and outside the Church, in all human relations. Let the Church enter today into that darkness that was from the sixth hour … unto the ninth hour (Mt. 27:45), although the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not (Jn. 1:5). We hear these words on Pascha night, when the triumph of evil turns into its complete defeat. And we must be this light if we are truly Christ’s. By the word of Christ and by the gift of Christ, we must be this light. God trusts us to be faithful to Him, and He speaks so that this word of light, which is offered to us today, would be heard correctly.
The love of many shall wax cold, says the Lord. But He does not say that love waxes cold in all. In the worst of times, like when the Prophet Elijah, in the midst of a general apostasy, thought that he was alone, the Lord reveals that there is a remnant that remains faithful to Him. There are those for whom preserving at least a drop of the love that God give is more valuable than anything in this world, even their own lives.
Love … shall wax cold. But the Lord does not say that it will die. Is it in vain that the Lord reveals the same, simplest and deepest mystery over and over again ever year, before our very eyes? When it seems everything is dead under the snow, we know that there is life in the roots, and it will thrive as soon as winter is gone. When the Lord’s Pascha comes, we hear these words: “Today spring’s sweetness fills the air.” This love of God, which overcomes all the hatred of hell, all the evil of the world, triumphs, and we are called to enter into the joy of our Lord.
But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved—but only in love. The Church of God will endure, but only by love. And although many will be tempted, there will always be those who endure all the way to the end. Who are we and where are we in the midst of the Dread Judgment of the Lord’s Cross?
Archpriest Alexander Shargunov
Translated by Jesse Dominick

Pravoslavie.ru
4/13/2020


President Harry S. Truman said: “The fundamental basis of this nation’s laws was given to Moses on the Mount.  The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings…  If we don't have the proper fundamental moral background, we will finally wind up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the state.”

DunkingDan

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THE LAST JUDGMENT IS WITHIN US
« Reply #78 on: March 05, 2021, 11:13:17 AM »
Sergei Komarov
Just what the Last Judgment is, every person knows to some extent—even if he has not read the Gospels or heard a Christian sermon; even if he has no faith at all. He knows because every person has a conscience. Even before the books of judgment are opened and the Impartial Judge pronounces His sentence about our eternal lot, even in this earthly life, the stern voice of conscience will condemn us. Just like the Heavenly Judge, this accuser is just and incorruptible, because the conscience is Vox Dei, the voice of God in man. It performs the small rehearsal of the Last Day of the Lord, evoking a nagging feeling of guilt and shame before the final judgment of our iniquity.
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But of course, our earthy existence leaves us the right not to obey this testimony and do whatever we want; but the inner voice of conscience will nevertheless continue to reproach us to the end of our days, reminding us of our wrongdoing. The apostle Paul wrote about this in his epistle to the Romans. Talking about the pagans, Paul notes, Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another (Rom. 2:15). Of course, this relates to Christians just as much as it does to pagans, because the law of grace does not invalidate the law of conscience.
* * *
The apostolic words allow us to imagine an interesting picture. On people’s hearts as on a kind of scroll is written the divine law of conscience, which raises its voice independent of our wishes. Furthermore, in the soul of every person both believing and non-believing a certain inner parliament is constantly in session. Besides the voice of conscience, other speeches and proclamations are heard—our desires, feelings, mind, and will. The speakers take their turns, various “legislative projects” are discussed, and resolutions are passed. The voice of conscience can be compared to the speech of the supreme ruler—the president. His opinion has the advantage over the noisy meeting. But there is an opposition party that speaks in counterweight to the president, in which one can discern the whispering of the enemy of mankind. It is his ancient occupation to place the president’s orders under doubt.
The final verdict remains to be voted upon. Here more important is the personality of the person who is weighing pro et contra. St. Theophan the Recluse says about this, “Who is the decider? The free personality of the acting individual. And no one can decide why this person is inclined toward one or another side, and his decisions cannot be fitted into any laws that would make these decisions predictable.”1 Thus, a person makes his own decision, and the session closes—so that the next one can open.
This inner parliament will be working at the Last Judgment also. True, the discussions and resolutions will be about not today’s but past deeds will have the aim of evaluating them spiritually and morally. To this conclusion leads the continuing speech of St. Paul: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another; In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel (Rom. 2:15-16).
How interesting that St. Paul relates all of this inner mental council to the Last Judgment. It turns out that on that day, the parliament of our heart will take upon itself a judicial function, and even before God’s sentence the person will be judged by his own conscience. In the present life this council can make mistakes in its decisions or avoid the pangs of conscience. But on that day, the judicial process will be overseen by the all-seeing eye of God, and there will be no mistakes. Our own judicial parliament (fulfilling a judicial function and headed by Christ) will accept an honest and final decision regarding us.
The holy fathers confirm and elaborate upon the apostle’s thought. In the words of St. John Chrysostom, “On the day of judgment our own thoughts will take the stand, now condemning, now justifying, and the person at that judgment seat will have no need of any other accuser.”2 St. Basil the Great ponders it in the same way. In his opinion, the Last Judgment will be more of an inner event than an outward order—it will take place in the person’s conscience, memory, and mind. Moreover the judgment will happen with lightning speed: “Probably through some unspeakable power, in a flash of time, all the deeds of our life will be imprinted in the memory of our soul as in a picture.”3 “There is no need to think that much time will be spent as everyone looks at their deeds; both the Judge and the findings of God’s judgment will with unspeakable power and in a moment of time appear before the mind, and all will be vividly depicted before us; and in the realm of the soul, just as in a mirror, each will see the image of what he has done.”4
Such a picture of the Last Judgment somewhat breaks the usual stereotypes, isn’t it true? As it turns out, no one is going to be dragged anywhere like a caught thief. Before God’s sentence each person will catch himself and find himself in his own hell. I don’t know what others may think, but for me this inner judgment seems much more terrible than the torments of sinners on a Bosch canvas. When it’s all clear to you yourself, when you understand that your whole life was wrong and there is no second chance, and your conscience burns inside with an unbearable fire—that is the most horrible hell. Hell is too late, said Dostoevsky, and this “too late” taken together with the torments of conscience is truly more terrible than both Dante’s hell and the fantasy of the ingenious Hieronymus.
This is why we call it the Dread Judgment, although there is no such phrase in the Bible. In general a Christian should expect the Judgment Day with joy and hope. We should pronounce along with the Armenian poet Gregory Narekatsi:
I know the day of Judgment is near,
And we’ll be accused of quite a lot,
But isn’t God’s judgment still a meeting with God?
Where will the Judgment be? I’m going there!5
But sins worry us, and we have little faith; and the fear of punishment weighs us down. And our conscience—the one that is already empowered to judge—suggests to us the lines of the Church prayer: “When I remember the day and hour of Thy terrible, threatening, and incorruptible judgment, O Christ, I tremble for I do wrong, my deeds are shameful and evil, for which I alone am to blame.”6
And after these words of the Church we would like to pronounce our own, simple words: O Lord accept us who repent, have mercy on us, who do not know how to rejoice in Thee. Allow us to meet Thy coming with repentance. We believe that Thou wilt not turn us away, but will accept us and forgive us—because the One Who said, repent ye, and believe the gospel (Mk. 1:15) will never reject faith and repentance.
* * *
Thus, the apostle Paul, and after him the holy fathers say that God’s judgment will be preceded by the indisputable testimony of the human conscience. No one can challenge the Judge’s final pronouncement on man’s final lot, for the conscience of the one accused will confirm the sentence. We already know by experience something akin to the Last Judgment in this life, when our conscience judges our thoughts, words, and deeds. Only on that dread day the voice of conscience will be like a bared sharp sword. For now this sword is covered with the rust of our cunning and self-deceit, but on the day of the Lord all rust will vanish, and the sharpened blade of conscience—God’s voice in man—will separate righteousness from iniquity and distinctly determine our eternal lot. And this is worth thinking about and worrying over.
Sergei Komarov
Translation by Nun Cornelia (Rees)

Pravoslavie.ru
3/10/2017

1 St. Theophan the Recluse. Explanation of the epistle of the apostle Paul to the Romans, 2:15. https://azbyka.ru/otechnik/Feofan_Zatvornik/tolkovanie-k-rimljanam/3_1_3
2 St. John Chrysostom, Discourses on the epistle of the apostle Paul to the Romans, 5:15. https://azbyka.ru/otechnik/Ioann_Zlatoust/tolk_63/10
3 St. Basil the Great, Explanation of the book of Prophet Isaiah, 1:18. https://azbyka.ru/otechnik/Vasilij_Velikij/tolkovanie_na_knigu_proroka_Isaii/1_5
4 Ibid, 3:13. Эл. ресурс: https://azbyka.ru/otechnik/Vasilij_Velikij/tolkovanie_na_knigu_proroka_Isaii/3_2
5 Grigor Narekatsi, Book of Sorrows, chap. 1, trans. [Russian] N. Grebneva. http://www.vehi.net/narekacy/slovo.html
6 Prayer after the thirteenth kathisma of the Psalter.


President Harry S. Truman said: “The fundamental basis of this nation’s laws was given to Moses on the Mount.  The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings…  If we don't have the proper fundamental moral background, we will finally wind up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the state.”

DunkingDan

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THE LAST JUDGMENT: DESTRUCTION AND REDEMPTION AT THE END OF HISTORY
« Reply #79 on: March 06, 2021, 04:23:24 PM »
We went through fire and water,
and thou broughtest us out into refreshment.

—Ps. 65:12

Throughout the Scriptures we see water and fire as God’s vehicles of trial, judgment, and destruction. St Peter describes the first destruction of the world by the Flood (1 Pet. 3:20 ff.), and its second and final destruction by fire (2 Pet. 3:10 ff.). The Lord Himself speaks of the house built upon a strong foundation that will withstand the storm and flood (Matt. 7:24 ff.), and St. Paul tells us that this firm foundation is none other than Christ, and that what we build upon it will be tried by fire (1 Cor. 3:11–13).
For as in the days that were before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and they knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be (Matt. 24:38–39). I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled! (Luke 12:49).
The Lord sent the Holy Spirit upon the apostles in cloven tongues of fire; he thus kindled the flame of salvation, and the Apostles spread this flame through the waters of Baptism. But this fire burned up those who, like Ananias and Sapphira, approached it deceitfully, as a warning to others (cf. Acts 5). They were drowned in the flood waters they thought they could control.
The Lord came to save and to restore, to transfigure and illumine; but inevitably this involves death and judgment and destruction. He Himself submitted to death at the hands of false judges, so that death might become the path to incorruptible life. The resurrection, both of man and of the entire created cosmos, will only occur after death. The new heaven and the new earth will be consummated only after the former things have passed away (Rev. 21:1). History had a beginning, and it will have an end. And that end is destruction, and that destruction will give way to boundless, unimaginable glory and beauty.
This beauty will radiate from the Face of Jesus, and will fill everything with light.
But there will be those whose hearts, darkened by a lifetime of sin devoid of repentance, will be repelled by this sight. St. John of San Francisco puts it thus: “This fire will be kindled within man: seeing the Cross, some will rejoice, but others will fall into confusion, terror, and despair. Thus, men will be divided instantly. The very state of a man’s soul casts him to one side or the other, to the right or to the left.”
St. Peter knew from experience the destructive potential of water, when, walking on its surface, he took his gaze off Christ and began to sink beneath its waves. He knew also the trial of fire when, warming his hands over the coals, he denied Christ three times. But then the Lord turned and looked at him, and he broke down and wept bitterly (cf. Luke 22:55 ff.).
When Christ turns and looks at us, we can either turn away from that supremely beautiful Countenance, or we can, with Peter, repent and mourn. The choice is ours, and how we choose in this life, this week, this day, this hour, will sway our hearts one way or the other in that Day, in that Hour, in that moment of Judgment when everything will be decided for all eternity.
Hieromonk Herman (Majkrzak)
3/8/2016


President Harry S. Truman said: “The fundamental basis of this nation’s laws was given to Moses on the Mount.  The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings…  If we don't have the proper fundamental moral background, we will finally wind up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the state.”

DunkingDan

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OF THE LAST JUDGMENT
« Reply #80 on: March 07, 2021, 08:12:00 AM »
From City of God
The Last Judgment. Fresco, Lavra of St. Athanasius, Mt. Athos.
The Last Judgment. Fresco, Lavra of St. Athanasius, Mt. Athos.
Intending to speak, in dependence on God’s grace, of the day of His final judgment, and to affirm it against the ungodly and incredulous, we must first of all lay, as it were, in the foundation of the edifice the divine declarations. Those persons who do not believe such declarations do their best to oppose to them false and illusive sophisms of their own, either contending that what is adduced from Scripture has another meaning, or altogether denying that it is an utterance of God’s. For I suppose no man who understands what is written, and believes it to be communicated by the supreme and true God through holy men, refuses to yield and consent to these declarations, whether he orally confesses his consent, or is from some evil influence ashamed or afraid to do so; or even, with an opinionativeness closely resembling madness, makes strenuous efforts to defend what he knows and believes to be false against what he knows and believes to be true.
That, therefore, which the whole Church of the true God holds and professes as its creed, that Christ shall come from heaven to judge quick and dead, this we call the last day, or last time, of the divine judgment. For we do not know how many days this judgment may occupy; but no one who reads the Scriptures, however negligently, need be told that in them “day” is customarily used for “time.” And when we speak of the day of God’s judgment, we add the word last or final for this reason, because even now God judges, and has judged from the beginning of human history, banishing from paradise, and excluding from the tree of life, those first men who perpetrated so great a sin. Yea, He was certainly exercising judgment also when He did not spare the angels who sinned, whose prince, overcome by envy, seduced men after being himself seduced. Neither is it without God’s profound and just judgment that the life of demons and men, the one in the air, the other on earth, is filled with misery, calamities, and mistakes. And even though no one had sinned, it could only have been by the good and right judgment of God that the whole rational creation could have been maintained in eternal blessedness by a persevering adherence to its Lord. He judges, too, not only in the mass, condemning the race of devils and the race of men to be miserable on account of the original sin of these races, but He also judges the voluntary and personal acts of individuals. For even the devils pray that they may not be tormented (cf. Mt. 8:29), which proves that without injustice they might either be spared or tormented according to their deserts. And men are punished by God for their sins often visibly, always secretly, either in this life or after death, although no man acts rightly save by the assistance of divine aid; and no man or devil acts unrighteously save by the permission of the divine and most just judgment. For, as the apostle says, There is no unrighteousness with God (Rom. 9:14) and as he elsewhere says, His judgments are inscrutable, and His ways past finding out (Rom. 11:33). In this book, then, I shall speak, as God permits, not of those first judgments, nor of these intervening judgments of God, but of the last judgment, when Christ is to come from heaven to judge the quick and the dead. For that day is properly called the Day of Judgment, because in it there shall be no room left for the ignorant questioning why this wicked person is happy and that righteous man unhappy. In that day true and full happiness shall be the lot of none but the good, while deserved and supreme misery shall be the portion of the wicked, and of them only.
*   *   *
The Passages in Which the Savior Declares that There Shall Be a Divine Judgment in the End of the World (Chapter 5)
The Saviour Himself, while reproving the cities in which He had done great works, but which had not believed, and while setting them in unfavorable comparison with foreign cities, says, But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment than for you (Mt. 11:22). And a little after He says, Verily, I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for thee (Mt. 11:24). Here He most plainly predicts that a day of judgment is to come. And in another place He says, The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the words of Solomon; and behold, a greater than Solomon is here (Mt. 12:41–42). Two things we learn from this passage, that a judgment is to take place, and that it is to take place at the resurrection of the dead. For when He spoke of the Ninevites and the queen of the south, He certainly spoke of dead persons, and yet He said that they should rise up in the day of judgment. He did not say, “They shall condemn,” as if they themselves were to be the judges, but because, in comparison with them, the others shall be justly condemned.
Again, in another passage, in which He was speaking of the present intermingling and future separation of the good and bad,—the separation which shall be made in the day of judgment,—He adduced a comparison drawn from the sown wheat and the tares sown among them, and gave this explanation of it to His disciples: He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man [Augustin quotes the whole passage, Mt. 13:37–34] etc. Here, indeed, He did not name the judgment or the day of judgment, but indicated it much more clearly by describing the circumstances, and foretold that it should take place in the end of the world.
In like manner He says to His disciples, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Mt. 19:28). Here we learn that Jesus shall judge with His disciples. And therefore He said elsewhere to the Jews, If I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges (Mt. 12:17). Niether ought we to suppose that only twelve men shall judge along with Him, though He says that they shall sit upon twelve thrones; for by the number twelve is signified the completeness of the multitude of those who shall judge. For the two parts of the number seven (which commonly symbolizes totality), that is to say four and three, multiplied into one another, give twelve. For four times three, or three times four, are twelve. There are other meanings, too, in this number twelve. Were not this the right interpretation of the twelve thrones, then since we read that Matthias was ordained an apostle in the room of Judas the traitor, the Apostle Paul, though he labored more than them all (cf. 1 Cor. 15:10), should have no throne of judgment; but he unmistakeably considers himself to be included in the number of the judges when he says, Know ye not that we shall judge angels? (1 Cor. 6:3). The same rule is to be observed in applying the number twelve to those who are to be judged. For though it was said, “judging the twelve tribes of Israel,” the tribe of Levi, which is the thirteenth, shall not on this account be exempt from judgment, neither shall judgment be passed only on Israel and not on the other nations. And by the words “in the regeneration,” He certainly meant the resurrection of the dead to be understood; for our flesh shall be regenerated by incorruption, as our soul is regenerated by faith.
Many passages I omit, because, though they seem to refer to the last judgment, yet on a closer examination they are found to be ambiguous, or to allude rather to some other event,—whether to that coming of the Saviour which continually occurs in His Church, that is, in His members, in which comes little by little, and piece by piece, since the whole Church is His body, or to the destruction of the earthly Jerusalem. For when He speaks even of this, He often uses language which is applicable to the end of the world and that last and great day of judgment, so that these two events cannot be distinguished unless all the corresponding passages bearing on the subject in the three evangelists, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, are compared with one another,—for some things are put more obscurely by one evangelist and more plainly by another,—so that it becomes apparent what things are meant to be referred to one event. It is this which I have been at pains to do in a letter which I wrote to Hesychius of blessed memory, bishop of Salon, and entitled, “Of the End of the World.” [Ep.199].
I shall now cite from the Gospel according to Matthew the passage which speaks of the separation of the good from the wicked by the most efficacious and final judgment of Christ: When the Son of man, he says, shall come in His glory, . . . then shall He say also unto them on His left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels (Mt. 25:34–41), given in full. Then He in like manner recounts to the wicked the things they had not done, but which He had said those on the right hand had done. And when they ask when they had seen Him in need of these things, He replies that, inasmuch as they had not done it to the least of His brethren, they had not done it unto Him, and concludes His address in the words, And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal. Moreover, the evangelist John most distinctly states that He had predicted that the judgment should be at the resurrection of the dead. For after saying, The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: that all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father: he that honoreth not the Son, honoreth not the Father which hath sent Him; He immediately adds, Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment; but is passed from death to life(John 5:22–24). Here He said that believers on Him should not come into judgment. How, then, shall they be separated from the wicked by judgment, and be set at His right hand, unless judgment be in this passage used for condemnation? For into judgment, in this sense, they shall not come who hear His word, and believe on Him that sent Him.
From The Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers, by Phillip Schaff. For the complete text, see Christian Classics Ethereal Library.
St. Augustine
3/9/2013


President Harry S. Truman said: “The fundamental basis of this nation’s laws was given to Moses on the Mount.  The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings…  If we don't have the proper fundamental moral background, we will finally wind up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the state.”

Cincydawg

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Re: Has the End of Time Drawn Near?
« Reply #81 on: March 07, 2021, 08:15:57 AM »
I'm guessing not.

DunkingDan

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Re: Has the End of Time Drawn Near?
« Reply #82 on: March 07, 2021, 08:22:51 AM »
I have nothing to add but I could not resist posting. 

President Harry S. Truman said: “The fundamental basis of this nation’s laws was given to Moses on the Mount.  The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings…  If we don't have the proper fundamental moral background, we will finally wind up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the state.”

Cincydawg

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Re: Has the End of Time Drawn Near?
« Reply #83 on: March 07, 2021, 08:25:43 AM »
At least my post was concise and to the point, and original.  Talk about boring ....

 

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