You are currently browsing the daily archive for March 22, 2009.



The Lord said:

Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take 

up his cross, and follow Me” (St. Mark 8:34).





    The Great Fast is a season of repentance; and repentance is that struggle to contend against sinful passions and lusts which is so difficult for man that the Lord, the Judge of the contest Himself, likened it to the bearing of a cross. We are vividly reminded of this at the very midpoint of the Great Fast, on the Sunday of the Adoration of the Cross. Just as the Lord bore the Cross for the sake of our salvation, so each of us must bear “his cross” in order to attain the salvation prepared for us by the Lord.
    Without the cross, without struggle, there can be no salvation! This is what true Christianity teaches. The teaching on struggle, on the bearing of the cross, runs like a scarlet thread through all the Sacred Scriptures and all of the history of the Church; and the lives of those holy ones who were pleasing unto God, the spiritual athletes of Christian piety, clearly bear witness to this. The Great Fast is merely an annually repeated exercise in the bearing of one’s cross in this life, an exercise in spiritual struggle inseparably bound up with the entire life of the true Christian.
    But now, in the twentieth century of the Christian era, “wise men” have appeared — “neo-Christians,” as some of them refer to themselves — who do not wish to hear of this. They preach a new sort of saccharine, sentimental, rosy-hued neo-Christian love and the unrestricted enjoyment of all the delights of this transitory earthly life. They totally ignore the innumerable passages in Holy Writ which forcefully and eloquently speak of spiritual struggles, of emulating Christ the Saviour in crucifying oneself, of the many sorrows which await the Christian in this life, beginning with the words which Christ the Saviour Himself addressed to His disciples at the Mystical Supper: “In the world ye shall have tribulation” (St. John 16:33). And this is because, as the Lord Himself explained, true Christians are not “of the world” (
St. John 15:19), since “the whole world lieth in wickedness” (I John 5:19). This is why Christians must not love this world and “the things that are in the world” (I John 2:15); “the friendship of the world is enmity with God,” and “whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (St. James 4:4).
    These modern “wise men” somehow fail to see the Word of God nowhere definitely promises Christians full spiritual satisfaction and paradisical blessedness in this earthly life, but quite the contrary emphasizes that life on earth will move further and further away from the Law of God; that, in respect to morality, men will fall lower and lower (see II Timothy 3:1-5); that “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived” (II Timothy
3:12-13); and that, finally, “the earth also and the works therein shall be burned up” (II Peter 3:10). But there will appear “new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (II Peter 3:13
) — a wondrous “new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of Heaven” (Revelation 21:2), which was shown to John, the beholder of mysteries, during the revelation accorded him.
    All of this is not to the liking of the “neo-Christians.” They want blessedness here in this world, burdened with its multitude of sins and iniquities; and the await this blessedness with impatience. They consider one of the surest ways of attaining it to be the “ecumenical movement,” the union and unification of all peoples in one new “church” which will comprise not only Roman Catholics and Protestants, but also Jews, Moslems and pagans, each retaining his own convictions and errors. This imaginary “Christian” love, in the name of the future blessedness of men on earth, cannot but trample upon the Truth.
    The destruction of this earth with everything on it, although clearly foretold by the Word of God, is considered by them to be something indescribably horrible, as though it were not consistent with the omnipotence of God and, apparently, quite undesirable. They reluctantly admit the destruction of earth (for how can one not accept something prophesied in the Word of God?), but with the condition that it will take place in the far, far distant, mist-enshrouded future, not centuries, but millions of years from now.
    What is the reason for this? One might say, because they are weak of faith, or lacking entirely in faith in “the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the age to come.” For them everything is in this earthly life, and when it ends for them, everything does.
    In a few of its points — especially in the expectation of the blessed life in this world — such a frame of mind closely resembles the widespread heresy of the first centuries of Christianity called “chiliasm.” This is the expectation of a thousand-year reign of Christ on earth; therefore the modern manifestation of this heresy may be termed “neo-chiliasm.”

    One should be aware and keep in mind that chiliasm was condemned by the Second Ecumenical Council in the year 381; and therefore to believe in it now in the twentieth century, even in part, is quite unforgivable. Besides which, this contemporary “neo-chiliasm” is far worse than the ancient chiliastic heresy in that at its basis indubitably lies a disbelief in the “life of the age to come” and the passionate desire to attain blessedness here on earth, using all the improvements and achievements of the material progress of our times. This false teaching wreaks terrible harm, lulling to sleep the spiritual vigilance of the faithful and suggesting to them that the end of the world is far away (if in fact there will be an end?), and therefore there is no particular need to “watch and pray,” to which Christ the Saviour constantly called His followers (cf. St. Matthew 26:41), since everything in the world is gradually getting better and better, spiritual progress keeping step with materialism. And the terrible phenomena which we observe at the present time are all temporary; all has happened before, and all will ultimately pass away, and an extraordinary flourishing of Christianity will replace it, in which, of course, the ecumenists will occupy the principal and honored places.
    Thus, everything is fine! It is not necessary to labor over oneself, and no spiritual struggle is required; the fasts may be abolished. Everything will get better all by itself, until the
Kingdom of God
is finally established on earth with universal earthly satisfaction and blessedness.
    Brethren! Is it not clear where the ultimate source of this alluring false teaching is found? Who suggests all these thoughts to contemporary Christians with the purpose of overthrowing all of Christianity? As an infectious plague, as fire, must we fear this “neo-chiliasm” which is so profoundly contrary to the teaching of the Word of God, the teaching of the Holy Fathers and all of the centuries-old teachings of our
Holy Church
, by which many, many thousands of the righteous have been saved.
    Without spiritual struggle there is not, and cannot be true Christianity! Therefore, our path does not lie with all the modern movements, nor with ecumenists, nor with the new-chiliasts.
    Our faith is the faith of the holy ascetics, “the apostolic faith, the faith of the Fathers, the Orthodox Faith” which, “hath made the whole world steadfast” (from the service for the Sunday of Orthodoxy). This faith and only this faith will we firmly adhere to in these evil days in which we now live. Amen.

By Archbishop Averky (Taushev)









“This Child is destined for the fall and rising of many … and for a sign which will be spoken against” (Lk 2:24)


Lecture “On the Veneration of the Holy Cross”


In Holy Scripture, the word ‘cross’ has two meanings – one with spiritual meaning and another with material meaning. In what follows, we shall, by the grace of God, mention some Holy verses that contain the spiritual meaning of the cross but our main focus will be about the veneration of the sign of the cross.


The Spiritual Cross

Talking and meditating about the spiritual cross is beyond the scope of this lecture, however, we may just mention a few verses:

·  “He who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.” (Mt 10:37)

·  “Those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Gal 5:24)

·  “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” (Gal 2:20)

·  “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor 1:18)


The Sign of the Cross

The cross is the principle symbol of the Christian religion recalling the crucifixion of Lord Jesus Christ and the redeeming benefits of His passion and death. Thus, the cross is a sign of both Lord Jesus Christ Himself and the faith of the Christians. This is the sign, which will appear in heaven before the second and final coming of Lord Jesus Christ – “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with

power and great glory” (Mt 24:30). – Before the time of emperor Constantine, Christians were not allowed to portray the cross and to openly display it for such actions might have exposed them to sever danger. After Constantine converted to Christianity in 337 AD, he abolished crucifixion as a death penalty out of respect and veneration to Lord Jesus Christ and the Christians were free to display the cross and to say with St. Paul: “God forbid that I should glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been

crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Gal 6:14)

In the 16th century, the Protestants refused the veneration of the cross and rejected its use considering it ‘idol worshipping’ until the 20th century when ornamental crosses on their buildings of worship started to appear. This lecture is intended to answer some of the frequently asked questions about the sign of the cross.


Q1: What is the meaning of drawing the sign of the cross on oneself?

A1: We make the sign of the cross in the following way: We unite the three fingers (thumb and two closest fingers – to signify the Holy Trinity) of the right hand (sometimes the five fingers are grouped together to remember the five holes in the holy body of Lord Jesus Christ – 1 in each wrist, 1 in each leg, 1 in the right side) and bring them to our forehead saying “In the name of the Father,” honoring God the father, the Master of everyone. Next we lower our hand to the mid to lower section of the chest saying, “and of the Son,” which denotes the descent of the Son of God to earth and His incarnation of the holy St. Mary for our salvation.

Afterward we place our hand on our left shoulder and finish by crossing over to the right one saying, “and of the Holy Spirit,” which expresses our faith in the reconciliation with God via the work and grace of the Holy Spirit that will transfer us from the left side to the right side (Mt 25:33). – This is basically a summary of the whole Christian faith as we recall several important articles of faith:

a) Faith in the Holy Trinity.

b) Faith in the Incarnation of the Son of God.

c) Faith in Redemption and Atonement through the cross.

d) Faith in being on the right hand of the Lord in the Last Day.


Q2: What is the benefit of making the sign of the cross and is it biblical?

A2: The benefits are numerous for this is the first lesson we teach our children and thus plant the articles of the Christian faith in their hearts. We also proclaim our faith to the world and thus receive the blessing of the words of our Lord, “whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God” (Lk 12:8). Some of the biblical benefits and blessings of the sign of the cross are:

a) (Gen 48:13-19)  Israel put his right hand on Ephraim’s head who was on his left hand side and his left hand on Manasseh who was standing on his right hand side, making the sign of the cross and blessing them. Thus the sign of the cross became a source and a means of blessing.

b) (Ex 12:7)  The doorpost and the lintel of the house form two perpendicular lines as the sign of the cross. Thus by putting the blood on them the Israelites were actually making the sign of the cross on their houses and they were saved through the cross from the plague.

c) (Ex 17:11,12)  Moses the prophet had his hands outstretched as a sign of the cross and by this sign the Israelites were able to conquer Amalek. Likewise, we are victorious in our spiritual warfare by the grace of God through the sign of the cross for it is written, “having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over

them in it [the cross]” (Col 2:14,15).



Q3: Shouldn’t we only honor the actual cross upon which the Saviour was crucified and not the others which have been fashioned by sinful men? These are not worthy of any veneration.

A3: Elder Cleopa of Romania answers saying: Then we should also do the same with Holy Scripture. Today we have an incalculable number of publications of Holy Scripture, which, in your opinion, we should not honor, as sinful or even faithless printers have published them. Only the original text would suffice in this case. This, however, is absurd for a reasoning person, as is your previously formulated opinion irrational.


Q4: How is it possible for us to honor the instrument that was the means to put our Saviour to death?

A4: The cross was the alter upon which Lord Jesus Christ, the Chief High Priest, offered Himself up as a Sacrifice (Heb 9:11-14) and thus redeeming us and saving us from the death of sin. The cross is a sign of power (1 Cor 1:18) and a sign of victory and triumph (Col 2:15). It is the instrument of our salvation and the sign of our redemption thus, the sign of the cross will announce the second coming (Mt 24:30) and therefore, is worthy of all veneration and honor. The Copts celebrate two feasts for the cross: on Tout 17th – September 27th (the apparition of the sign of the cross to emperor Constantine) / on Baramahat 10th –March 19th (the discovery of the cross by Queen Helen).


Q5: Why didn’t our Savior die by any way other than the cross?

A5: St. Athanasius answers saying:

a) It is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree” (Deut 21:23). – Thus if He came to bear our curse, how else could He do so unless He received the death set for a curse?

b) It is only on a cross that a man dies with outstretched arms. Here, again, we see the suitability of His death on the cross. It was as such that He might draw His ancient people and the Gentiles and join them both together in Himself, “If I am lifted up from earth I will draw all people unto Myself.” (Jn 2:32)

c) The cross provides a death in the air, which is the sphere of the devil, the enemy of our race – “according to the prince of power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” (Eph 2:2). – Our Lord came to overthrow the devil and purify the air and open a path for us to heaven this was accomplished by His death being lifted up in the air – “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” (Lk 10:18)

d) By the death on the cross His body was kept whole fulfilling the prophecy (Jn 19:33; Ex 12:46). – No bones of His body were broken as a strong evidence of the oneness of the Church, which is His Body (Col 1:24) thus, leaving no excuse to the heretics who cause schism and divisions.



This lecture is adapted from ‘Comparative Theology’ by H. H. Pope Shenouda III


Hymns: 03-save-me-o-lor-greek







Blog Stats

  • 527,948 hits
March 2009