Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Synod 2012




ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who by thy Holy Spirit didst preside in the Council of the blessed Apostles, and hast promised, through thy Son Jesus Christ, to be with thy Church to the end of the world; We beseech thee to be with the Council of thy Church here assembled in thy Name and Presence. Save us from all error, ignorance, pride, and prejudice; and of thy great mercy vouchsafe, we beseech thee, so to direct, sanctify, and govern us in our work, by the mighty power of the Holy Ghost, that the comfortable Gospel of Christ may be truly preached, truly received, and truly followed, in all places, to the breaking down the kingdom of sin, Satan, and death; till at length the whole of thy dispersed sheep, being gathered into one fold, shall become partakers of everlasting life; through the merits and death of Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.

The Synod of the Diocese of the Eastern United States of the Anglican Province of America will be held from Monday 9th July until Friday 13th July 2012. This year, it is sponsored by Saint Paul's Church, Melbourne, Florida. Of your Christian charity, please pray earnestly for the impending Synod and for its ministry and work, as it seeks to conduct the administrative business of the Church according to the mind of Christ and His Gospel and to advance the mission, governing, formation, preaching, teaching and evangelistic outreach of our unique branch of Christ’s Holy Church. 

The word Synod, which term may be new or unfamiliar to many, is taken from the Greek word σύνοδος (sunodos) meaning ‘assembly’ or ‘meeting,’ and it is synonymous with the Latin word concilium, meaning ‘council.’ Synod literally means ‘to journey with’ or ‘the way together.’ No better description of the annual meeting of the Church’s authorised representatives, lay and clergy, could possibly be offered! Synod is not merely a business meeting, an ecclesiastical legislative body or a social event, although it is all of these things; it is the Church herself gathered, the Church at worship, in communion, in service and ministry, the Church in movement together. Synod powerfully and tangibly demonstrates the unity of the Body of Christ, the catholicity and universality of the Church, what is called in the Russian language sobornost, from the root word meaning ‘to gather,’ wholeness and inner completeness, wherein the many are brought together into free and organic unity by the power of love, a perceptible manifestation of the Holy and Undivided Trinity in Whom there is both unity and diversity in communion of love.

In short, Synod is the Church, one in heart, mind, and soul, on pilgrimageAll of the Christian life is described in Apostolic Tradition as being a pilgrimage: we are on a pilgrimage through this mortal world to our true heavenly homeland. We are the Pilgrim People of God, the Church, making our way as God’s ecclesia, His ‘called-out ones’, through this world to the next. Everything we do, pray, say and think as Christians should orientate us towards the ultimate, final goal, the final reward and promise, which is eternal life in Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the heavenly JerusalemIf the vocation of the Christian in this life is pilgrimage, the wayfaring journey through this vale of tears to heaven, then the gathering of the Church in Synod, journeying together, should be seen as a microcosm of what the whole of the Christian life genuinely entails.

Synod is also the Church dynamically revealed as communionThe historic ecclesiology of the Great Church is a eucharistic ecclesiology based on the Holy Communion as the source and summit of the Church's life and on the episcopate as the continuation of the apostolic ministry. Holy Altar, Holy Sacrament, Holy People and Holy Order are inseparable. 'The Sacraments for the Saints.' 'Holy Things for the Holy People.' The Body of Christ in heaven and the Body of Christ in the Eucharist are one with the Body of Christ, the Church. That ecclesiology as espoused in the second and third centuries has been generally received by Anglicanism: a true 'Church' is a bishop in the historic succession, designated for a geographical area, presiding in love at the eucharistic altar with his presbyterate, diaconate and faithful people gathered with him in sacramental communion. A true Church, according to the Tradition of the Church as a whole, requires a true bishop, a geographical jurisdiction, and the People of God established incommunicatio in sacris. Any local particular Church with these characteristics is rendered a true Church, according the model universally held since the time of Saint Ignatius of Antioch and Saint Clement of Rome, the age of the Apostolic Fathers of the second-century. The Church universal is the worldwide communion, the oecumene, of local particular eucharistic assemblies - the One Church is by definition a Communion of Communions. The unity and catholicity of the Church inheres in the communion of the People of God with their local bishops and the communion of the bishops with one another, what Saint Cyprian of Carthage calls the 'undivided episcopate.' Synod is the ideal expression of this principle, a visible manifestation of the Church as Church, as communion.

We invite everyone to enter into the spirit, significance and purpose of Synod by prayer. Thank you all so very much for your support and encouragement during this special time in our corporate life together.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

An ACNA Video on Women's 'Ordination'



Progressive revelation, hermeneutical evolution, process theology and development of doctrine... and this not from TEC.

The spectre of Montanus rises...

'The Quintillianists, in their turn, who are also called Pepuzians and known as Artotyrites and Priscillianists are the same as the Phrygians (Montanists) and derive from them... they use the Old and New Testaments, and likewise affirm the resurrection of the dead. They cite many texts which have no relevance... They have woman bishops, presbyters, and the rest; they say that none of this makes any difference, because "in Christ Jesus there is neither male nor female." ... they do not cling to the anchor of the truth but entrust themselves to their own reason... and they have overlooked the commandment of the Apostle, "I suffer not a woman to speak, or to have authority over a man" (I Corinthians 14.34-38) ... What prolific error there is in this world!'

- Saint Epiphanius of Salamis, Panarion 49, AD 377.

'Ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.' (Saint Jude 1.3)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

An English Reformer on the Real Presence of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist




'Moreover, we allow the Sacraments of the Church, that is to say, certain holy signs and ceremonies, which Christ would we should use, that by them He might set before our eyes the mysteries of our salvation, and might more strongly confirm our faith which we have in His blood, and might seal His grace in our hearts. And these Sacraments, together with Tertullian, Origen, Ambrose, Hierom, Chrysostom, Basil, Dionysius, and other Catholic fathers, do we call figures, signs, marks or badges, prints, copies, forms, seals, signets, similitudes, patterns, representations, remembrances and memories. And we make no doubt, together with the same doctors, to say, that these be certain visible words, seals of righteousness, tokens of grace: and do expressly pronounce, that in the Lord's Supper there is truly given unto the believing the body and blood of the Lord, the flesh of the Son of God, which quickeneth our souls, the meat that cometh from above, the food of immortality, grace, truth, and life, and the Supper to be the communion of the body and blood of Christ; by the partaking whereof we be revived, we be strengthened, and be fed unto immortality; and whereby we are joined, united, and incorporate unto Christ, that we may abide in Him, and He in us.

We say, that Eucharistia, that is to say the Supper of the Lord, is a Sacrament; that is to wit, an evident token of the body and blood of Christ, wherein is set, as it were, before our eyes, the death of Christ and His resurrection, and what act soever He did whilst He was in His mortal body: to the end we may give Him thanks for His death, and for our deliverance: and that, by the often receiving of this Sacrament, we may daily renew the remembrance of that matter, to the intent we, being fed with the true body and blood of Christ, may be brought into the hope of the resurrection and of everlasting life, and may most assuredly believe that the body and blood of Christ doth in like manner feed our souls, as bread and wine doth feed our bodies. To this banquet we think the people of God ought to be earnestly bidden, that they may all communicate among themselves, and openly declare and testify both the godly society which is among them, and also the hope which they have in Christ Jesu. For this cause if there had been any which would be but a looker-on, and abstain from the Holy Communion, him did the old fathers and bishops of Rome in the primitive Church, before private mass came up, excommunicate as a wicked person and as a pagan. Neither was there any Christian at that time which did communicate alone, whiles other looked on. For so did Calixtus in times past decree, "that after the consecration was finished, all should communicate, except they had rather stand without the church-doors; because thus (saith he) did the Apostles appoint, and the same the holy Church of Rome keepeth still."

Moreover, when the people cometh to the Holy Communion, the Sacrament ought to be given them in both kinds: for so both Christ hath commanded, and the Apostles in every place have ordained, and all the ancient fathers and Catholic bishops have followed the same. And whoso doth contrary to this, he (as Gelasius saith) committeth sacrilege. And therefore we say, that our adversaries at this day, who having violently thrust out, and quite forbidden the Holy Communion, do, without the word of God, without the authority of any ancient council, without any Catholic father, without any example of the primitive Church, yea, and without reason also, defend and maintain their private masses, and the mangling of the Sacraments, and do this not only against the plain express commandment and bidding of Christ, but also against all antiquity, do wickedly therein, and are very Church robbers.

We affirm that bread and wine are holy and heavenly mysteries of the body and blood of Christ, and that by them Christ Himself, being the true bread of eternal life, is so presently given unto us as that by faith we verily receive his body and his blood...' 

-Bishop John Jewel, The Apology of the Church of England, Part II

Saturday, June 09, 2012

The Church as Apostolic




In the month of June, our beloved parish celebrates our 33rd birthday and simultaneously our patronal feast day in honour of Saint Barnabas the Apostle! As we do so, and render thanks to Almighty God for His manifold blessings upon our parish family, let us consider the questions, ‘What exactly is an Apostle?’ and ‘How is the Church Apostolic?’ and ‘Why is the Church called Apostolic in the Creed?’

The Second Office of Instruction in the Book of Common Prayer deftly tells us the Church is ‘Apostolic; because it continues stedfastly in the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship’ (page 291, Acts of the Apostles 2.42). The Church, in her historical character and in her spiritual constitution, was founded upon the Twelve and their successors, built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone (Ephesians 2.20). Holy Scripture declares that the Church of the living God, the House of God, with her Apostolic foundation, is the pillar and ground of the truth (I Timothy 3.15). The Church is called Apostolic because the Holy Apostles set the historical beginning of the Church. They spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth; almost all of them sealed their proclamation of the Saviour with the death of the martyrs. The seeds of the Faith were sown throughout the world by their word, and watered with their blood. The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church (Tertullian, Apologeticus, Chapter 50). The appellation Apostolic also indicates that the Church of Christ was not established upon a single Apostle, as the papal error maintains, but upon the Apostolic College of the Twelve - a body, a collective, a unity in diversity, the Twelve Patriarchs of the Twelve Tribes of the New Israel, the universal Church.

The Apostles, apostoloi, literally ‘the sent ones,’ ‘God-sends,’ fired the flame of faith in Jesus Christ by the power of their personal belief and example. The Apostles, the first bishops of the Church and eye-witnesses of the Resurrection, consecrated and ordained by Our Lord, preserved for and transmitted to the Church the teaching of the Christian Faith in that very form in which they received it from their Lord and Master (II Timothy 2.13). They handed on, ‘traditioned’, to the faithful the teaching and instruction of Our Lord by word of mouth and in the Holy Scriptures, so that the deposit of faith, the Revelation of Christ, might be confessed, preserved, and most importantly, lived out (II Thessalonians 2.15). We call the work and ministry of the Apostles, in this respect, the Holy, Great and Apostolic Tradition, for traditionmeans ‘to deliver, to hand-down, to pass-on.’ According to the direction and commandments of the Lord, the Apostles established the structure of the Church’s sacred liturgy; they set the pattern for the celebration of Holy Baptism, Holy Orders and the Holy Mysteries of the Body and Blood of Christ, the Eucharist.  The Apostles conveyed in and to the Church the grace of the episcopal succession, the episcopate, and, through that Order of Bishops, the entire threefold ministry of the ordained called to be stewards of the mysteries of God and organs of the Church’s body (I Corinthians 4.1, Collects, BCP page 572, Preface to the Ordinal, BCP page 529). Concerned that all things might be done decently and in order, the Apostles provided what was necessary for the internal order of the primitive Church (I Corinthians 14).

The Holy Apostles are not dead historical figures of a long-ago past; they were not solely part of the Church in a previous age. They still belong to the Church and remain in the Church now, in the Communion of Saints. Once in the Church Militant, now they belong to the Church Triumphant; they are in communion with earthly believers today. They continue forever the spiritual nucleus of the Church, as once they were the historical centre of it. The Church is eternal. The Church in time and space is urged to remain in communion with her shepherds and teachers, the Apostles, to persevere in communion with the doctrine, fellowship, liturgical forms and prayers of the Apostles, and with their saintly persons in heavenly glory. The wall of the city has twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb (Revelation 21.14).

The Church on earth is one with the Church in heaven, for the Church is the one Body of Christ. The Church’s unity is both earthly and heavenly; the Church is holy with a sanctity that comes from the heavenly Spirit of God; and the Church is Catholic and Apostolic because she possesses an unbroken connection, an inseverable link, with the Apostles and Saints in heaven. We are the Church insofar as we remain true to the Apostles and faithful to what they have taught and done. The Four Marks of the Church identified in the Creed are real, and, although they may be as yet imperfect in our expression of the Church on earth, they point us to their eschatological fulness and fulfilment in the Life of the World to Come, where, in Christ, the Apostles reign victoriously over sin and death in glory of the Blessed Trinity. The Apostolicity of the Church is first and foremost a gift that God has generously bestowed upon us on earth, that we should offer our everlasting gratitude for a wonderful tie that binds us to all orthodox Christians, in heaven and earth. May we, in the words of the Prayer Book, ‘with one heart desire the prosperity of God’s holy Apostolic Church and with one mouth profess the faith once delivered to the Saints.’

God bless you!

+Chad

A Pastoral Letter from the Catholic Bishops of the Church of England


8th June 2012

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Jesus prayed: ‘May they be completely one, so that the world may know that you
have sent me.’

As Bishops standing in the Catholic tradition of the Church of England, we write to
encourage and support all those who stand in that tradition.
The celebrations of the Queen’s diamond jubilee have reminded us of the important
bonds that exist within our nation between the monarch, the Church, and the people
of this land. The celebrations have also underlined the value of tradition as
something that is always alive and dynamic, while remaining true to its character and
inheritance.

A sense of the dynamism of Christian tradition is familiar to us from other
celebrations and texts.   We speak of our inheritance of faith as one which “the
Church is called upon to proclaim afresh in each generation.”   These words are
declared before every bishop, priest and deacon and congregation at ordinations
and when new ministry is authorised by the bishop’s licence.

Remaining faithful and obedient to this commission is a challenging task.   The
ordination of women has opened up divisions over what is and what is not a
legitimate development of our inheritance.  We shall see those divisions played out
again at the General Synod in July.  We believe that the Church of England must keep
its pledge to recognise that many in the Catholic tradition cannot in conscience
receive the sacramental ministry of women priests and bishops.

How are we to face the tensions of that debate?  What positive message do we as
Anglo‐Catholics have to give to the Church and to our nation about our distinctive
contribution to the dynamics of our Church, and particularly the call to holiness, a
growing into the likeness of Christ, which has been so much part of the tradition of
catholic spirituality?

Firstly, we must say something about diversity.   At the heart of our theological
tradition is an acceptance that the Church of England is enriched by the range of
viewpoints within its spectrum.   We are committed to the recognition of this
diversity and to the liberty that protects it.  Of course, the defence of liberty is one of
the functions of justice and law, of which the monarch is guardian and symbol.

Secondly, we assert that respect for this diversity needs to find expression in unity as
the foundation for our mission, not only as Anglicans, but also with other Christians.
We have the task of patient reiteration that truth, not personal preference, commits
us to referencing the inherited wisdom of Catholicism in the great traditions of East
and West.   Arising from this, our search for unity will commit us to continuing
engagement with the ARCIC process and dialogue with the Orthodox Churches.

Thirdly, we must commit ourselves to the recovery of a vision for mission that
interacts confidently with present and future realities.   Recovery of confidence
begins with realistic and humble engagement in the experiences and spiritual hunger
of today’s increasingly diverse and un‐Churched society.  In this, we may also have to
acquire the humility to learn from the wisdom of others about how to interpret and
use our distinctive inheritance of faith and practice.

We have a future; the seeds of renewal are sown within us.

The tensions of the next few weeks must not distract us from the task that lies
beyond the General Synod vote on women bishops.  Here is a call to action, to build
afresh.   The issue is simply one of vocation – new Christians entering our
congregations, the confident nurturing of young people to train for priesthood and
lay ministry.

As bishops we commit ourselves to work with you and for you in the months and
years ahead to meet these challenges.  Let us form a future in the Church of England
that is better together in its defence of freedom, respect, diversity and unity, in
order to be effective in our worship of almighty God, service of others, and
converting articulation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Yours in Christ,

+Jonathan Baker Bishop of Ebbsfleet
+Norman Banks Bishop of Richborough
+John Ford Bishop of Plymouth
+John Goddard Bishop of Burnley
+Martyn Jarrett Bishop of Beverley
+Nicholas Reade Bishop of Blackburn
+Tony Robinson Bishop of Pontefract
+Geoffrey Rowell Bishop in Europe
+Mark Sowerby Bishop of Horsham
+Martin Warner Bishop of Whitby (Chichester designate)
+Peter Wheatley Bishop of Edmonton
+Lindsay Urwin

Women clergy and doctrine dividing ACNA from the Orthodox


Metropolitan Jonah offers terms for reconciliation to the ACNA

Metropolitan Jonah addressing the ACNA Assembly
The Metropolitan of the Orthodox Church in America, His Beatitude Jonah has called upon the Anglican Church of North America to ditch women clergy, Calvinism and the filioque in the name of Christian unity.
This is an “opportunity to return your church to its original catholic heritage” Jonah told delegates attending the ACNA’s 2nd Assembly at the Lifeway Conference Center in Ridgecrest, NC on 8 June 2012.
The ACNA can “overcome generations of schism, a schism forced upon the English church” by Rome if it eliminates the filioque from the Nicene Creed, the Orthodox leader said. The Filioque – the phrase “and from the Son” is a clause found in the Western Christian Church but not in the Eastern Churches.
The Catholic Church began to add the phrase ”from the Son” to the  traditional language of the Nicene Creed between the 8th and 11th centuries, eventually formalizing the creed to state the Holy Spirit “proceeds from the Father and the Son”.  The Orthodox have long objected to the addition of “and the Son” to the language of the creed and it has been a long standing theological dispute between the Eastern and Western Churches.
In his address, Jonah said the “ecumenical hope is to overcome the schisms of the West.”
“Removing the filioque is not a gesture of ecumenical theology, but a restatement of the orthodox catholic faith,” the Orthodox leader said.
Discussions of the propriety of removing the filioque have been part of the dialogue between the ACNA and the Orthodox Church, members of the ACNA’s theological dialogue commission with the Orthodox tell Anglican Ink. The ACNA’s liturgical commission’s revision of Rite I of the Holy Communion service used in the worship of the Assembly takes note of this issue, placing brackets around the phrase “who proceeds from the Father and the Son”.
However two members of the liturgical commission stated this was a printer’s error, as the brackets should have been only around “and the Son” as there was no question the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father.
In a hard hitting address to the delegates, Jonah cited the common moral vision of the Orthodox and the ACNA and the Protestant confessing churches.  While the churches were divided amongst themselves over issues of doctrine and discipline – including the propriety of women clergy – the more pressing split was “between those who hold traditional biblical faith” and show who hold a “secularized faith according to contemporary” mores and “who dismiss the moral teachings of the Scriptures and the Fathers as culturally irrelevant.”
“This realignment is not the protestant/catholic, evangelical-charismatic/mainline divide, it effects all churches,” Jonah said.
“As faithful Anglicans you are no stranger to this,” he said. “It is creating a massive realignment” between the true faith and “those who reject it, criticize it and persecute it.”
“This is a radical shift away from traditional Christianity,” where the “secularists reject the virgin birth, often the resurrection, even the divinity of Christ.  They reject that his words as recorded in the scriptures “ and see them as being “irrelevant.”
Bishop Jack Spong declared “that ‘Christianity must either change or die,’ referring to orthodox traditional Christianity.  But it is not the orthodox Christianity will die,” Jonah said.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn said that “what the Soviet death camps could not do, western secularism can do more effectively -- whether you call it Soviet atheism or western secularism it is the same enemy.  Do not be confused” about the enemy facing all true believers, he charged the delegates.
The Pope has “called for us to stand against this enemy.  Without alteration, without change, without revision” we must stand together “against those who would subject their faith to the wisdom of the current age.  We must stand together because we cannot stand alone.”
The meetings other ecumenical speakers from the North American Lutheran Church, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, confessing Presbyterian groups and the Polish National Catholic Church endorsed the message of taking a common stand against the secularist culture of the West.
The affirmation of the mission and ministry of the ACNA by its ecumenical guests was a source of great excitement for some delegates to the convention.  Bishop Keith Ackerman told Anglican Ink he was especially pleased to hear the Polish National Catholic Church was considering returning to a state of intercommunion.  In 1978 the PNCC ended its concordat of intercommunion with the Episcopal Church after the General Convention approved the ordination of women clergy.
If the question of women clergy could be resolved to its satisfaction, the PNCC would welcome formal links with the ACNA, the assembly learned.

The text of the address: There is one Body and one Spirit, just as there is one hope in God's call to us: One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism, One God and Father of all. 


Brothers and sisters in Christ, It is good to be here with you again, three years after I first was with you in Bedford, Texas. I bring you greetings and, I hope, encouragement, from the Orthodox Church in America.


Over the past three years our churches have conducted a theological dialog, discussing the issues that separate us, issues that are not so much OCA vs. ACNA, but issues that separate Anglicanism from Orthodoxy. This has focused on the issue of the filioque, the addition by the Roman Church to the Nicene Creed, forced on the entire Western Church in the 11th century, and this, disrupting the unity of the confession of the Catholic Faith.


I would remind you that the root and foundation of the Church of England is not "Roman" but rather, the broader Orthodox Catholicism that prevailed until the Roman Church began massive changes in the Second Millennium. The English Church was a local Orthodox Catholic Church in communion with Rome and the rest of the Churches for most of the first millennium. Part of the English, and even continental, Reformation was intended to bring the Church back to its original roots, free from the changes that occurred during the isolation of the Western Church in the Dark Ages and Middle Ages. The Orthodox see the Reformation as having gone awry, and reinforced the very elements that made the Western Churches' theological positions idiosyncratic, thus isolating it even more from Orthodoxy.


My hope is that we can roll this back. You have the opportunity to return your Church to its original heritage, and thus actualize the rich inheritance of English Orthodox Catholicism, in communion with its root tradition. This means the overcoming of generations of schism, a schism which was forced on the English Church, and then a perpetual state of schism for itself and the churches established by it in its colonies and missions. This needs to be healed.


The ecumenical hope is to overcome the schisms of the West, so that the English and Roman Churches can again take their place within the communion of the One Orthodox Catholic Church. You have an immense role and opportunity within this. Removing the filioque is not simply a nice gesture of ecumenical solidarity; it is, rather, an affirmation of the ancient faith of the Undivided Church. 


Realignment


There is another element in this which is of immediate importance, and directly follows on the above. As was written about by Robert Terwilliger, a great Anglican divine of the 20th century, there is a coming realignment within Christianity, one which we can already see the strains of. Whenever schisms happen within the Church, they are generally because certain individuals lead a group out of the Church, being disobedient to the Faith and Doctrine, and refusing to submit to the authority of the hierarchy, which is trying to discipline them and call them to repentance.


What is happening now is somewhat different: a split between those who hold to traditional, biblical faith as interpreted by the Fathers of the Church and the ecumenical councils; and those who espouse a secularized belief, subject to the rationalizations of the scholars according to contemporary philosophy, who dismiss the Fathers and the Councils as no longer relevant, who dismiss the moral teachings of the Scriptures and Fathers as culturally relative. This could be called, by one side, a break between traditional Christianity and post-modern worldly philosophy. Or it might be labeled as the freeing of people from fundamentalist oppression to the light of their own reason.


This is not the protestant/catholic divide; it is not the evangelical-charismatic vs. mainline divide. It cuts across all communities in the West, even affecting the Orthodox and Roman Churches in some degree. As Anglicans, you are no strangers to this: it is the reason you are here, and not in TEC. It is creating a massive realignment within Christianity; those who hold to the traditional Scriptural and patristic Faith and discipline of Orthodox Catholicism; and those who reject it, criticize it, and I will add, as you well know, persecute it. You and the ACNA are part of that realignment.


There is a radical cultural shift away from traditional Christianity, toward something unrecognizable. The "Secularists" (for lack of a better, non-pejorative term) reject the virgin birth of Christ, the resurrection, even His Divinity; that His words are recorded in the Scriptures and that the Scriptures are even relevant to our days; rather they are oppressive and keep humans in darkness. Another Episcopalian bishop, a certain Mr. Spong, wrote that "Christianity must change or die," referring to traditional orthodoxy, espousing the radical secularization of the Episcopal Church and all Christianity. It is my prediction that it is not the Orthodox Churches that will die.


Solzhenitsyn said that "what the Soviet death camps could not do, Western secularism is doing more effectively. In Russia, 20 million died in the last century as martyrs for the Orthodox Faith, and countless millions of others were thrown in the gulag, for standing up against militant secularism. Many perished because they resisted the Renovationists whose schism distorted the Orthodox Faith. Whether you call it Soviet atheism, or Western secularism, it is the same enemy.


Our battle is against secularism. His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, has called for us to stand together against this enemy. This is the realignment: to stand together for the faith once delivered by Christ to the Apostles, and thence to the Bishops, without alteration, without change, without revisions; against those who would submit their faith to the current of the age, the wisdom of this world. We must stand together, and we cannot stand alone. Even the immense Roman Church is buffeted by the militant secularists, who defy authority and criticize that which they know not, and we can see in this country how increasingly fragile their unity is.


Brothers and sisters, we must embrace the Cross of Jesus Christ, the foolishness of the Gospel, the wisdom that is not of this world. We must rejoice in the salvation that God has given us in His Son Jesus Christ, who was crucified for us and rose from the dead. We glory in His Resurrection, and await His Coming Again. We must overcome the divisions that separate us, so that we can stand united in one mind and one heart, confessing that God has come in the flesh to raise us to heaven. We must live according to the moral and ethical commandments of our Lord Jesus Christ enshrined in the Gospel, and reject sin and recognize its corruption. This is the orthodox faith of the Fathers, the Ecumenical Councils and the undivided Church. We will have to accept the scorn and derision of those who are of this world, even those who call themselves brethren, being cast out of their synagogues and ridiculed, sued in civil courts, and count all things as worthless that we have lost for the sake of Christ. This, my friends, is our cross. We have to support one another in bearing it. The closer we come, the greater our mutual support will be, and we will not lose heart, or forget that Christ has already won the victory: He has overcome the world. By accepting to go by way of His Cross, we too will share in His Victory.


Let us listen to the words of St. Paul: 10 I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.
11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe's people that there is quarreling among you, my brethren.
12 What I mean is that each one of you says, "I belong to Paul," or "I belong to Apollos," or "I belong to Cephas," or "I belong to Christ."
13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? ...
17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
19 For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart."
20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.
22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom,
23 but we preach Christ crucified a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles,
24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17-25, Revised Standard Version)



Beloved, Christ is Risen.

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