Talks about Faith
Archbishop Nathanael (Lvov)
Translated from Russian by Tatiana Pavlova
In what way do we, the Orthodox Christians, believe in God? — First of all, we believe in Him, as in the Creator of the world, of everything seen and unseen — both everything material and immaterial.
This surrounding us world, as another, unknown to us worlds, we do not recognize as infinite that means, they did not exist before. In its very essence, the material world cannot be infinite, but it has to start with an outward, as far as the relation to it is concerned, immaterial cause.
But is there anything immaterial in the world? Is not everything, surrounding us, material? Surely not. The immaterial world we know better than the material one, for we know it directly through our personal experience. In our mind, feelings and will the immaterial, spiritual world is manifested. Opposite to the material, the spiritual world is not subjected to decomposition or destruction. Consequently, the spiritual world can exist infinitely.
So we profess, that our spirit is immortal, meaning that it will never cease existing. Though it cannot be called eternal, for there was a time when it did not exist. It was brought to existence by the other Spirit, the same Creative, Spiritual, immaterial Personality, Which created the material world, i.e. by God.
We profess God to be perfect, i.e. perfectly wise, perfectly loving, absolutely merciful, righteous and almighty. The almightiness of God means, that nothing external limits Him.
God created the world, in order that the greater multitude possible of creatures might experience the joy of existence — that joy, which He Himself experiences to the full.
God created everything good and nothing evil. The evil appeared because of the fact that some of the created by God spiritual creatures, angels and people, having the freedom of choice, chose the evil and rejected God and His good. God does not take away his long-standing gifts. Thus, having freely rejected God and the good, the devil throws all his forces at the seizure of other reasonable creatures, first angels, and then people, from God.
Why does God let it happen? We do not know. But we believe and profess, that at the end of ages everything will turn out to be good, due to the power of Divine love and wisdom.
This does not mean that we should not fight with the evil. On the contrary, the Lord unceasingly struggles with it and call us to do the same. The Lord wants us to love the good and hate the evil and to understand that any attack, directed at the Divine qualities, i.e. at love, mercy, truth and freedom, unavoidably causes attacking God — the struggle with God, which develops, because people turn away from God and incline towards the sin.
Let us, the believing Christians, pray to our Merciful God, so that He could reveal Hid holy truth to those receding Him and not searching for Him, in order they could perceive the truth.
God is a Spirit.
"There’s no God, — say the atheists, — because no one has seen Him." Unfortunately, there are superficial, naïve people, who can get confused because of such a "proof" of non-existence of God.
But about two thousand years ago, not an atheist, but the chosen preacher of faith, St. Apostle John the Theologian, announced: "No one has ever seen God." And those words were said not to refute but to ascertain our faith in God.
Archbishop Tychon, who once ended his life like a martyr, responding to the reason about non-existence of God, asked: "And can we see our mind? Does it mean that we do not have it?" In this question he revealed not only witty resourcefulness, but the explication of the essence of the matter.
What is mind? This is, together with feelings and will, one of the sides, manifestations of our spirit.
Can we doubt the fact that we possess these immaterial qualities? For sure, not. About the fact that I have mind, feelings and will, I know even better than about that outside there exists the surrounding world, for about the surrounding world’s existence, and even about my own body I know from without, and about the existence of my mind, my feelings and my will I know from within, directly through my self-evident experience. Not by chance, the whole world philosophy, the entire theory of human knowledge, is based upon the statement: "I think, that means, I exist!"
Why do these self-evidently existing soul forces remain to be invisible for us? Because, being the manifestation of the spirit, they are immaterial. And one of the basic conditions of the spiritual world is its invisibleness and impossibility of its perception by the outward means, its immeasurableness.
That is why God is unseen.
God is a Spirit. This said our Lord Jesus Christ, when talking with a Samaritan woman near Jacob’s well, He taught her, that not only at the Gerizim Mountain, and not only in Jerusalem one can serve to God, but at any place, where the man would like to serve Him in spirit and truth.
God is a Spirit — This means that He cannot be seen with carnal eyes or heard with carnal years.
But how is it possible then to perceive Him? We perceive the outer world by the means of our feelings. Our soul perceives the soul of another person through the bodily feelings: in order to know the thoughts of another person, it is necessary that he through the body language could bring the material sound waves to our hearing.
The man perceives himself not through the outward feelings, but in the direct inner process. I do not see my inner achievements with my eyes; do not percept my spiritual process with ears or the sense of touch.
Only through this, internal, connected neither with the bodily sight, nor with bodily hearing, God reveals himself to the spiritual process. The man can perceive the Divine existence only, with a rare exception, through the internal process, heeding to that Divine voice, which louder or softer sounds in each human soul.
Such personal perceiving of God through experience is necessary for the all-sided development of the man. The one, who will personally feel God in his soul once, will be firm in faith. But such personal experience of one person is not enough yet. Therefore, instead of the inner experience of this or that person, we in our faith and in our cognition are as well guided by the Divine revelation, which was brought into the world by the Son of God, Who accepted human nature and talked with people face to face, appealing to their outward senses.
So, we perceive God internally and outwardly. And if we develop in ourselves such cognition, we shall not be confused with the denial of God’s existence on the basis of the fact, that he is invisible.
The Soul Feels God.
The human soul feels God.
No matter how high the waves of atheism rise, what terrible blasphemy, sacrilege or mockery at the Name of God people are uttering, anyway the feeling of God, sometimes absolutely unconscious, remains undestroyed in the human soul, because these feelings are quite typical of its nature, for it was created exactly for the development of God’s presence in it.
God is the fullness of the Good. He is kind and all He does, is good enough.. So therefore, one can say that when the human soul is attracted to the good, it is attracted to God. As Metropolitan Anatolius of Kiev taught, any good, no matter where and by whom it is performed, invariably belongs to God. So, the human soul feels it. That is why, wherever the good appears, the human soul reaches for it.
When the man lies neither to himself, nor to the others, he distinctly differentiates the good from the evil. It is typical of him, forgetting about the profit, to reach for the good, admire it and protect it. Even a middle usual person, if he sees that another one helps the one in need, approves of that. If he hears of the victory of justice, rejoices at it. He worships the heroic exploit.
If the man stands on the way of the moral damage of his soul, he starts to reveal the signs of the downfall: first of all, it is the betrayal of the good due to the mercenary calculations, and with time — gloat when seeing the others’ misfortune. Though, complete hatred towards the good by itself, thanks God, is not met that often among people. This is the quality of those rarely-met individuals, who went too far in the terrible process of doing evil things, in the process of regeneration of people into demons.
A simple human soul knows and loves the good. No matter how the enemies of our faith try to define the good else wise than it is in reality, to show as the good the profit of the class, party or race, anyway, human souls in their majority will not agree with that, will never loose the ability to recognize the good and reach for it.
And, loving the good, the man loves God, for God is the fullness of the good. He, too, is the fullness of Truth, Wisdom, and Beauty. That is why the undamaged human soul reaches for all that.
One of the highest joys in life is the joy to see the good and truth to triumph and the evil to be defeated, to contemplate the manifestations of wisdom and to admire beauty. In all this the man forgets about his profit and even the most mercenary people sacrifice the part of their property for the beautiful things or for the matter that they think to be right.
What does cause the appearance of such a precious ability, to forget, at least partly, about one’s calculations and disinterestedly enjoy the contemplation of the triumph of truth, goodness, wisdom and beauty?
This precious ability is given to the man by the sometimes realized, and sometimes not thirst for the Lord God, Who had created him for the purpose, so that he, perceiving God and realizing the Divine qualities, could admire them, worship them and try to be enriched by them.
And even if the forcefully seized from his Creator, the man forgets the very name of God, in his soul for a long time still sound the heavenly motives of love for the good, truth, wisdom and beauty. For a long time the sacred duty to love the main Divine qualities is preserved in him. The things, which God put into the nature of the human soul, would not be destroyed fast.
Why Does Faith Weaken?
When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:8).
Religious faith weakens in our time, for it seems to some people, that scientific discoveries contradict it. Meanwhile, scientific discoveries themselves cannot contradict religious faith. Just on the contrary: with the correct understanding, they prove the things about which faith says, correct.
Really, let us start recalling that recent discovery about the huge, but still limited size of the universe. Does not such an idea coincide with the Christian idea about the infinite grandeur of God more, than the ancient concept about the earth as the center of the universe, its major part, when any conqueror, that had subdued this or that piece of the land, important for the whole universe, might compare himself to God in his own understanding and in that of the surrounding him people? Till the latest times, the majority of scientists supposed that the universe is infinite. Now, it is stated that its diameter is approximately 15 milliards of light years. And what is there, behind its boundaries? No one knows that. In Christian understanding, only God is infinite and limited with nothing.
This belief is expressed by poet Derzhavin in the following inspired poem:
The millions of lit celestial bodies
Are running in infinity
They fulfill Your laws
Produce the life-giving rays.
But these fiery lanterns
Or immense crystals
Or the multitude of golden boiling waves
Or the burning ether
Or the knot of the giving light lyres
Against You are like night, compared with the day.
Let us look at the latest discovery of atomic division. When in science was ruling the theory about the conservation of matter, non-ecclesiastic mind could assign to matter the Divine quality of eternity and lack of origin. On that the materialism was based. But the bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki together with the deadly horror, brought with them into the world, broke that theory into pieces, and now we know for sure, that matter is not everlasting, not lacking origin, it has its source and will have the end, and we know that matter, dethroned in its lack of origin and infinity, powerfully tells about that to everyone, who wants to hear. Thus, the latest theory much more obviously than the old one, testifies to God as the Creator of the heaven and earth.
And what about the theory of the expanding universe, according to which the whole gigantic multitude of star worlds was concentrated in one point of the universe billions of years ago! Is it not more correct than the theory about the static, motionless universe, from our Christian point of view?
And the matter is surely not in the fact, that it is easier for us to imagine the creative Divine word that was heard in one point of the universe. It could have been heard the same way at the distance of millions of light years. But on the theory of the expanding universe, the physical material world, having not even smallest pretensions to the Divine quality of spatial eternity, acquires the quality of resemblance to God. Small at the beginning, it becomes greater. We feel that similarity with the man, gifted by the quality of resembling God, on the word of St. Basil the Great: "I am — a creature but I was given a task to become God," — i.e. become more and more similar to God — the process, calculated for eternity, that would never cease. The man is called to become similar to God spiritually: mentally and morally, in his similar to God spirit, and the material universe — to imitate God in the terms of space.
And the theory of the evolution of the living organisms? Logically it necessarily demands the presence of the Divine masterful guiding hand, because this entire theory is based on the analogy of the natural selection and the artificial one, and consequently, if the artificial selection is fulfilled when the presence of the host and his masterful hand is available, then the sound mind has its right to demand the same, in the natural selection.
No matter which field of science we would take, everywhere we shall meet not the refutation of our faith, but its support and useful illustrations.
And what about the new historical discoveries? Not long before, when the most ancient manuscripts of the Holy Scripture were those of the forth and fifth centuries, it was possible to propound theories (for example, of Bauer or Morosov) about the appearance of the Christianity almost in the III-d century and that the Holy Gospel was supposedly written by the fathers of the forth century. Now we have the manuscripts of the New Testament scriptures of the second and third centuries, and the extracts from the Gospel of St. John, that earlier was mostly subjected to criticism and doubt in the circles of people with weak faith, which exist even in the manuscripts of the very beginning of the second century, i.e. written in those times, when Apostle John himself lived.
Here we talk about the extracts from the Gospel of John, which are kept in the library of I. Reeland in Manchester. In order to understand, why the manuscripts of the Christian Holy Scripture, dated with the forth century, are so rare, one must recollect some circumstances of the ancient Christian life. The Christians of the first centuries were very poor, with some rare exceptions. Consequently, they could have their books only rewritten on some cheap material, like papyrus. But papyrus can be preserved for a long time, if only it stays in an absolutely dry place. It is enough for some water to get onto it, and it will rot in one or two centuries. So, the books, made of papyrus, had a chance to be preserved for ages only in dry places, having no water, i.e. in deserts. But in deserts, before the monasticism appeared in the forth century, there were no Christian settlements. The only part of the ancient world, which was absolutely dry, with the rarest fall of precipitation, and at the same time, different from a desert, was Egypt. That is why exactly in Egypt all the ancient-Christian manuscripts of papyrus were found.
The most durable, resisting through ages, material for books, was parchment — a chart. Certainly, Christians wrote their books on it since the ancient times. We remember, that St. Apostle Paul writes to St. Apostle Timothy: "Bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments" (2 Tim. 4:13), i.e. exactly parchments (parchment was made out of skin, mostly out of donkey’s or calf’s skin). But they, as a consequence of the Christians’ poverty, were very rare, and besides, at the time of persecuting the Christians, especially during the most severe, last persecution, at the time of Emperors Diocletian and Maximilian at the beginning of the fourth century the Christian books were thoroughfully and systematically destroyed. We have many historical narrations about how the Christians gave their life not only for their faith, but for their holy books, resisting to the emperors’ orders, who prescribed to destroy their books. Surely, parchment books were most conspicuous, and because of more volume, were harder to hide.
And the latest confirmations of exquisite precision about the geographical indications of the Holy Bible, refuting conjectures about Its mythical character! The government of contemporary Israel with invariable success fulfills geological researches in Palestine, guided by the corresponding indications of the Bible.
In comparison with the anteceding generations, we are enriched not only with the examples, mentioned above, which support the belief of the ill-informed from all sides. We got enriched with the terrible experience, which earlier was available only to the holy prophets, and now is obvious to everybody, we learnt about the system and methods of work of demons.
Throughout the centuries, beginning with the Gospel pages, it was said to us, that the basic method of the satanic forces’ activity is a lie. "When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it."
The very name "devil" means "a slanderer" and the favorite type of a lie, his main weapon, is slander. He slanders unceasingly, i.e. viciously, interprets every phenomenon in the world with a wicked sense, and mostly, the spiritual phenomena: the Divine actions, and those of angels and people.
Another favorite for the demonic force type of lies is deluding and tempting the people by attractive promises of unbelievable delights, happiness, which cannot be achieved, and when the deluded believe in that and yield to those ideas, — their enslavement with violence and tortures.
Together with that the holy fathers constantly define, that the demonic force is weak and infinitesimal in its essence: it is strong only due to our weakness. The devil is cunning but not smart. He knows how to destroy, but not how to create. It is enough to resist him decisively, to reveal moral courage and firmness, and all his vain attempts will be destroyed.
All that we learnt during the centuries of the Christianity, on the testimony of the holy spirit-bearing fathers and ascetics, and now we saw it all in the realm of the battling atheism, which our poor Russia was.
The weapon of the Communists always was a lie; and among its various types the favorite were the unceasing slander, directed to everything good in mankind, and the propagandistic promises of happiness and well-being, interchanged with enslaving, torturing and poverty, as soon as the enslaved yield to the temptation. They are very skillful in destroying, but unable to create.
Thus, our époque was extremely enriched with the spiritual religious experience, unknown to the preceding generations, and much became evident to us. The Lord longs to support our weakening faith by these phenomena in the various spheres of knowledge.
But why does our faith, in the contemporary generations, weaken, in spite of so much support?
It weakens because of the same thing as always. In this respect our époque brings nothing new into the world, for the human soul always stays the same in its main features. Faith was always fading in certain individuals and in the whole society because of human pride and self-assertion, of the thirst for sinful pleasures, the strife for getting rid of all moral limitations.
Being proud with their achievements and getting established in them, the ancient Romans stopped believing in their Gods and at the same time rejected the Christianity, as the religion of the illiterate and slaves, in spite of the fact that since the very first years of the Christian history the Christian faith was professed by such deeply educated people as Apostle Paul and the majority of the so called apologists. And then the greatest minds of the ancient world, possessing the whole amount of knowledge of that time, but not feeling proud because of that, and on the contrary, establishing themselves in faith, showed in what bright and complete manner one can combine culture and the Christian holiness.
In the following centuries as well, including the present days, it is not the elite of the scientific knowledge that hurries to rise against faith. On the contrary, we know many great scientists to be believers. But just a small amount of knowledge is sufficient to start feeling proud about it, get established in it, and having established oneself in it, to begin the rebellion against faith, especially if love for sin, strife to get freed from the moral commandments of faith, puts one up to that. The Red Army soldier, the character of a funny story, who approached the deeply believing physiologist Pavlov that had come out of the church, and said to the scientist with haughty condescension: "So, old man, you still pray, eh, ignorance, ignorance!," is very typical in this respect.
Physiologists Ivan Petrovich Pavlov is the bright example of the fact how the Soviet regime used the works of the inclined towards creative activity believing people. In order to provide this scientist with the possibility of doing scientific work, the Soviet regime not only freed him from the oppressing yoke and not prevented him of making sometimes sharp remarks about it, but even saved untouched that parish church, to which Pavlov went to, during the period of the most sever anti-church campaign. Pavlov, who preserved the faith of the fathers (he was a priest’s son), having the great knowledge and never growing proud or self-establishing himself, combined faith and science, and the miserable Red Army soldier, who just learnt how to read and having heard of the fact that God did not exist, as of a scientific discovery, which made him glad because of his love for sin (typical for the Red Army soldiers of that time) and the perspective thanks to all that to cast off the moral bans, was proud with that recently acquired "scientific tinge" and despised the praying elder (the famous scientist).
There exist many such examples in the history. Proud and depraved Middle Age Emperor Fredrick II (do not take him for Frederic of Prussia) was in no way distinguished for scientific knowledge within the contemporary to him Middle Age society, when he sharply rebelled against the Christianity, calling our Lord Jesus Christ, together with Moses and Mohamed, "a deceiver."
Leo Tolstoy, though endowed with the gift of a writer, was not an outstanding person, neither scientifically, nor culturally. As it is known, he could not graduate from the Kazan University and left it because of lagging behind. Nevertheless, his endless pride and self-assertion made him impudently rebel against the Christian faith and the Church.
Neither Marx, nor Lenin, the people of average culture, possessed any profound scientific knowledge, when they began their terrible attack of the heavens. But they all possessed extreme pride, which makes the man similar to the father of the evil —the devil. The second cause of the man’s estrangement from God — the thirst for pleasures and strife to get freed from the moral limitations — in the same measure responds for the contemporary downfall in faith.
The Russian revolutionary rebellion against God was nourished by that strife to throw off all the restraining laws and establish the principle: "Everything is allowed" — as our great believing thinker and writer F.M. Dostoevsky wrote, foreseeing that, half a century before the revolution.
To subdue and limit oneself is not easy. But only in this is the hope for the mankind salvation. The example of the ancient cultural world, which had an ability to subdue and at the same time to rise to the high cultural picks and which through that had found the way to the greatest Christian spirituality and cultural progress — is a precious and encouraging example for all the centuries and generations.
Why Do They Argue about Faith?
Why are the scientific facts so unquestionable and clear, and why does the religious truth cause many discussions?
To that question the scientist and thinker Pascal responded 300 years ago, saying: "If the theorems of geometry were connected with all human desires and passions in the same way as the truth of faith, then geometry would have caused the same number of objections, as religion."
Scientific knowledge normally remains outward. If you learnt the theorem about hypotenuse and sides of a triangle, it stays in your memory, not influencing your life.
But if you believed in God’s existence, in God’s retribution for everything, that you have done in your life, then you have to change all your life, subjecting your will, passions and maybe the most cherished desires to that law. The man does not want to give up his desires, and so he passionately begins to search, what and how can be changed in the indefeasible Divine law, in order to make it compatible with his aspirations.
People have many wishes, incompatible with the Divine law. Some have ones, the others — different ones. Therefore, different people long for changing the Divine law, according to their manner. But always there can be found some people, who are faithful to the Divine law, and who think it to be higher than their wishes.
Так возникает безбожие. Because of that, in religion there can take place arguments and collisions. When against religion raise those, who ungovernably strive for fulfilling their desires, they throw off not only the separate, seeming unpleasant features of the Divine law, but the whole law itself.
If the Divine law was protected only by the human forces, then people would have distorted it beyond recognition. But God’s hand preserves His law on purpose. It is that hand, which distinguishes the giants of the spirit among the people, who fearlessly, despite sufferings and danger to loose their lives, protect the truth of faith and the eternal Divine law.
Many of these heroes of the spirit appeared during the last half of the century in our land, were faith was persecuted so severely. We worship the exploit of these heroes of the spirit. We know that even the outward science has its martyrs, who went to face the trials, and even death, for the truth of the outward knowledge. We respect their exploit.
But their exploit to the great extent is considered to be only their personal exploit: in the life of the majority of people nothing will change because of the way of understanding of the world’s creation: if the sun runs around the earth, or the earth — around the sun.
Вот почему так много сомнений, так много разногласий возникает вокруг вопросов религии. That is why there are so many doubts, so many disagreements that arise around the questions concerning religion.
But these truths shine with quiet, inhuman, heavenly, above-the-world light, and the human soul, sincerely seeking them, ready, alike the Gospel merchant, give everything for the precious pearl of truth, find them with God’s help.
The Subconscious Faith of Scientists.
Dear friends, have not you posed yourselves a question: how, strictly saying, can an astronomer work in the scientific and fruitful way on the problems of the composition of some certain stars, their matter, evolution, chemical and physical processes, that happen there?
For, in spite of the entire gigantic technical progress of our time, the one observing the world spaces from the earth still is alike a boy, which looks inside a gigantic circus through a small hole. For, opposite to a chemist or a botanic, who can subject the objects that he uses for research to the direct analysis and experiment, an astronomer can only look at the objects of his studies and together with that observe them not in the form, which they have at the moment, but some objects — the closest stars — like they were years or dozens of years before, the others, separate galaxies — like they were millions of years before.
Nevertheless, an astronomer assuredly says that some star contains hydrogen, another one chlorine and iron, that on some certain stars the matter is in some certain state, while on the others — in another state. Where does he take all these statements from? Upon what does he rely in his conclusions? For neither him, nor anyone else can reach a star and prove all these conclusions.
An astronomer builds all his inventions upon chemical and physical experiments, fulfilled here, on the Earth, and the conclusions of these experiments he bravely applies to the world spaces. If the over-heated fumes of copper produce green rays here, on earth, then the green rays in the farthest worlds at a distance of quintillions kilometers from us have to testify to the presence of the over-heated rays of copper.
And what if the matter in those far away spaces of the universe has different qualities that here, on the earth?
But no, an astronomer will never doubt the entity of matter’s essence and its laws. He undoubtedly believes in that, and builds all his scientific work upon it. In those small supplements, which became available to us during the latest years, these astronomic conclusions find their superb confirmation. In that small section of the universe, which the Russian and American astronauts were able to visit, they did not meet any other type of matter, or any natural laws, but only those, which we saw here, on the Earth.
What does it say about? It says about the fact that all the scientific workers believe and upon that belief build their scientific work; believe that the entire universe is built according to one plan; and that the laws triumphing in the whole universe, are the same, beginning with the smallest corner of the earth, ending with the most far superstars and galaxies.
And this, in its turn, testifies not only to the fact that the unique plan and laws could only be given by the Unique Legislator, but about the fact that this is the indispensable condition of any scientific work, and probably is revealed through astronomy in the most vivid way.
Such a belief in the essential unity of the universe and its laws has been brought up in us and in all the scientists during the thousands of years of belief in the Single God. These subconscious layers of faith possess all the scientists, even if they announce themselves to be atheists. Anyway, in their works they subconsciously rely upon the again subconscious idea about the Single Creator of everything visible and invisible, the Creator, Who had given to us the common plan and laws of the universe. This subconscious idea was put in them by the generations of their believing antecedents, and without this idea no scientist could be working fruitfully.
The atheists, who wanted to assign to us the incorrect, heathen understanding of God, living in the material world above the clouds, thought to strike a blow to our faith, having brought from space the affirmation, that there are the same physic laws, as here, on the earth. Blind, they do not understand that they bring to us only the new testimonies about the main dogma of our faith, about that the Creator of heaven and earth triumphs over the whole space of the uncountable multitude of the worlds, and that his laws rule in this whole space.
The Fight for the Christian Faith.
Great, tense, many-sided fight for religion and against it is waged in the world.
But what is religion? Religion in Latin means "connection," the connection between God and people.
This connection is many-sided. First of all, it is the connection of faith. With all the forces of his soul, i.e. with mind, feelings and will, the man establishes the existence of God and His main qualities, though he have not seen God with the physical eyes, and have not heard Him with the bodily ears. Therefore, in faith the triumph of the spiritual side of the man is revealed in the most distinct way. The man comprehends God with his spirit: mind, feelings and will, and establishes connection with Him. This is the basis of religion.
Having believed in God, having established His existence with all the three sides of his spirit, the man appeals to God in a prayer. The prayer is the conversation with God. This is the second manifestation of religion, as of the man’s connection with God. The prayer is not at all begging something from God, as the people, not knowing of faith, imagine it to be. An appeal occupies an important place only by the primitive people. The main, basic content of the prayer is addressing of the loving heart to the Loved One. The letters of those in love, the conversations of true friends, the appeal of loving children to their parents — this is what is similar to a true prayer, if to look at the everyday life. Joy in God, the gratitude to Him for His lenience, His glorification, delight with His wisdom, goodness and power, and beauty and truth — this is what fills our prayers in the greatest measure, and this is what our divine services’ texts and those of simple prayer-books are full of.
The realization of the personal nonentity, sinful state and guilt before God is the next important element of the Christian prayer. To ask for the forgiveness of sins, for, that in spite of our sinful state the Lord would not take His love away from us, — this is another important element of the prayer.
So, the prayer is the second type of the man’s connection with God.
The third type of the man’s connection with God is his life according to God’s rules. Having believed in God, having established for himself His existence with all sides of his soul, having strengthened the connection with Him in prayer, the man feels the presence of God in each moment of his life and wishes that every moment would be God-pleasing. Thus, religion, i.e. the connection of the man with God, fills the whole life of the man, enlightening it and making it precious and full of sense.
A religious person is a person, connected with God. As a loving husband, neither being upset, nor like a slave, under compulsion, but freely, and happily realizes that in all the minutes of his life, in everything, he is connected with that one, whom he loves and joyfully uses every moment in order to tell her everything, what happens in his soul, in the conversation and show her his love, trying not to do anything that might make her sad, — the same way a truly believing person always rejoices over the free, voluntary accepted connection with God, strives to be with Him mentally all the time, to tell Him about all the movements in his soul, to express his love for Him, and tries never do, say or think anything, that could upset loving God, be unpleasant to Him or break connection with Him.
St. Basil the Great, who reached this ideal in his life, writes: "No eye should act without God, no hand should move without Him, and no heart should think of the unpleasant to God" (vol.1, p. 147).
Not accidentally, the unity of the man with God, our connection with Him, i.e. religion, is compared in the Holy Scripture with marriage, the marriage of the Lamb, the Son of God, with a believing soul, and the Church calls the Lord "the Bridegroom of our souls and bodies."
This is what religion is, that is why for the personal religion, the personal connection with God any believer must fight till the last breath, with all his forces, in the greater measure, than any loving person would fight for the one he loves.
The Clash of World Views.
The theme of clash of the religious and scientific world views once was fashionable and tempting for many.
To a considerable extent this clash is inevitable, for the religious world-view is a stable phenomenon, eternal in principle, and the scientific world-view is an unstable phenomenon, that is constantly changing, depending on new discoveries and the development of the scientific views.
The religious world-view, thinking life over, and giving a certain direction to it, cannot change because of the fact, for example, that an atom was considered indivisible in the 19th century, and in the 20th century it was proved to be divisible.
The scientific work must be absolutely free in its researches, investigations and conclusions. It cannot be lead by any predisposed thoughts, created outside of its sphere. Therefore, strictly saying, there can be no scientific world-view, as a constant value. This value is changing all the time, depending on the success of knowledge development.
But does it mean that the complete estrangement between the religious world-view and scientific knowledge must always exist, that these two sources of understanding of the world and its phenomena are incompatible?
Absolutely not, on the contrary, such a divergence is a very sad phenomenon, which sows dissension and brings temptations into human souls. The integrity and consistency of the world-view is a precious quality, which in the full measure possessed the holy apostles and the great fathers and teachers of the Church of the ancient times.
Despite the usual understanding, such integrity, consistency of the world contemplation was reached by them not due to that simple method, which was assigned to them in the vulgar descriptions: substantiation of their religious and scientific ideas on the basis of the Holy Scripture alone. Despite the spread notion, such facilitated solution of the problem is incorrect in principle and unacceptable from the point of view of the Church.
If concerning the social questions we know, that Christ the Savior with all decisiveness said to those, who asked him: "Who made me a judge or a divider over you?" and with that rejected the direct solving of the social problems; if the state matters, according to the thoughts of Metropolitan Anthony, the Lord entrusted to the free human will and does not want any dogmatization it this sphere, then the same can be said in the relation to the scientific sphere. The Church never patronized the references to the Holy Scripture or to its tradition, as to the manual on the natural science or other branches of science. Even if such references were still made, and the Church did not punish for that, then it happened only because of condensing to the creative infirmity of those, who made the references, for that way of acting did not cause any direct harm to the soul.
But the ecclesiastic creators did not act that way. The Apostle Paul knows the Greek philosophy, and the wisdom of Talmud and when there appears some certain need, knows how to deal with these out-of-church sources of knowledge. Let us recall for example his famous speech in the Athenian Areopagus (The Acts, 17:22-31).
It is seen much more distinctly in the example of St. Basil the Great. In his "Hexaemeron," in the connection with the narration about the world creation, of course according to the Holy Scripture, because this is the religious topic, not accessible to the scientific experience, St. Basil the Great, as soon as the thing has to do with natural-scientific themes, switches on to the scientific subjects.
But all the supreme wealth of his knowledge St. Basil the Great subdues to the highest, ecclesiastical wisdom, bringing to it the outwardly gained wealth, but not simply taking this wealth from it. The integrity of the world-view of St. Basil the Great, as well as of the Apostle Paul, is in no way harmed through that.
Unfortunately, this thought direction, opening such vast perspectives, was abandoned. It required the extreme tension of thought and its flexibility, as well as the high spiritual level. It required unceasing mental work, for its secret was in the constant introduction of the new connections between the eternal Christian world-view and the always changing scientific ideas, in each new period of time.
The decline of such creative connecting work happened to some extent as a result of the common cultural slowing down in the middle ages, but, in some measure, due to the fact that during the started comparatively calm period of the church history, the Christian mankind, not only in its "fool," but in the "wise" part, "while the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept" (Math. 25:5). The gigantic elevation of the creative thought, so bewildering, which was seen in Basil the Great and his contemporaries, lowered. The keen questions of the human mind started to be followed by the answers, which were sluggish and compilation-like, made of the references to the Holy Scripture and the Church tradition. Such answers satisfied those asking and responding throughout the centuries. There was no direct harm to the soul because of that sleeping state, it did not represent the danger for salvation. The moral truth of these answers was in the fact that they were given in a rather Christian way, on the basis of the infallible source. We as well clearly understand that for the eternal authentic aim of the human existence, for the soul salvation and inheriting the Kingdom of God it is absolutely unimportant, if the earth is round or flat, if the earth rotates around the sun or vice versa, if God created the world in six normal days or six milliards of years. Therefore, the Church, which was busy with its major task, did not worry about the fact that the answers to those questions were given, using the wrong method.
But the Lord gave to the man his reason to have the deliberate look at the surrounding him world, that was why the people had a moral right to pause the mentioned above questions and look for the correct, corresponding to the objective truth, answer. Exactly this was the circumstance that the demonic power used in its unceasing attacks of faith and the Church of Christ — the citadel of salvation. Having torn off the known part of the leading thinking circle of the society from the Church, the militant atheism used them to throw a number of impudent questions about these or those phenomena of the outer world to the Church, to which the church thinkers could not give a good answer exactly because the activity of St. Basil the Great ceased, the Christian integral world-view was narrowed up to the purely theological world-view, and the method of the whole Christian, not at all compromising, answers to the natural-scientific questions, based not on the theological, but the natural-scientific ground, was lost.
Those questions were sometimes the maliciously intended attempts to humiliate the Church and bring confusion into the Christian minds, but sometimes they represented sincere perplexity.
The fact that the most outstanding creative minds of the science, such as Copernicus, Keppler, Newton, Faraday, Mendeleyev and many others were the believing people, helped very little in the matter, for those scientists worked in their own field and were not able to fulfill the duties of the church leaders to restore the integrity of the Christian world-view on the basis of science, as well as on any other basis.
At present, the situation with the Christian apology improved to the great extent. Though we do not possess the integral ecclesiastical-scientific world-view, which had St. Basil the Great, we still have the Christian answers to the number of scientific questions, which are strictly substantiated.
Sometimes, these answers are given by the scientists themselves, as for example, in the questions of paleontology — by the catholic monks Teyar de Charden and abbot Brale; sometimes they naturally come out of a new scientific discovery together with already aroused religious interest in the scientific field, as it can be clearly seen in the example of religious conclusions from the theory of relativity of Professor Einstein or the latest ideas of the structure of an atom.
Some of such successful and deeply acute religious answers to the scientific questions were enough to refute the wrong and harmful thought about the inevitability of the contradiction between the religious and scientific world-views. By the present moment, the thought about the inevitability of such contradiction is absolutely out-of-date and no one will seriously insist on it.
But in the 20th century, in the period of confusion of the ecclesiastic thought there was formed an anti-religious in its essence movement, which took as a base these, seemingly irreconcilable contradictions between religion and science, for its anti-religious struggle.
Thinking science to be in principle and inevitably irreconcilable with religion and proclaiming it as such, this anti-religious movement, taking its name from its main ideologist — Marxism — proclaimed itself the follower and protector of the scientific world-view.
Even before the revolution, various anti-religious Marxist movements, such as for example, memorable for the entire anteceding generation publications of Buchner and Bittner, in every way accused religion and the representatives of the religious thought of the oppression of the scientific investigations and drew the pictures of the blossoming forth of the scientific thought in the age of triumph of "the scientific" socialism.
That idea supported the leaders of Marxism, for example Stalin, who said: "The party holds the anti-religious propaganda against all and any religious prejudices, because it stands for science, and the religious prejudices contradict science, for any religion is somewhat opposite to science… The party holds the politics of the universal defense of science" ("The Questions of Leninism," p. 194).
Till in science reigned the ideas, using which that anti-religious movement had built its principles, the similar seeming union of it with science could seem stable and cause the consequent wrong conclusions, with the superficial outlook at it.
Though, if the religious world-view wants to be eternal principally, then the anti-religious, Marxist world-view must inevitably have pretensions if not for eternity, then at least for durability, stability, because it, by its conception, as well as religion, should define the whole life of the man, and as a result, cannot change in a blink of an eye, due to this or that scientific discovery.
Meanwhile, all the principle conception of Marxism is connected with the certain level of the scientific knowledge, to be more precise, with the level of knowledge of the second half of the 19th century — the period of domination of materialism in the scientific thought.
But the scientific progress since that time made significant progress, and the Marxist world-view lagged behind so much, being unable to catch up. Together with that in its conflict with science, the religious world-view appears to be in the much worse situation, that the religious world-view.
For a religious thinker the whole visible world is a masterpiece of the Same Creator, Who is the source of the revelation, on which a religious thinker builds his world-view. Therefore, he priory knows, that there can be no fundamental contradiction in understanding of these two manifestations of One and the Same Ever-Wise Mind. The contradictions always appear either because of misunderstandings, or lack of thinking, of human limitedness, or the evil will of that resisting to God, and announcing of such a contradiction researcher.
That is why, when there appear controversial questions, a religious thinker might be calm, he can wait for the forthcoming investigation about the subject and use his world-view as a guiding light. This world-view gives him the key for understanding, what is more and less stable in the scientific concepts.
While an anti-religious thinker does not have any support out of the scientific notions’ sphere. He like a slave depends on each and every innovation in science, no matter how ephemeral it is. Under the influence of the present day discovery he has to restore his world-view, in order that the next day to rebuild it again, if the present day discovery will be refuted the next day.
Consequently, if anti-religious world-view wants to be thorough, scientific, then in our age of the rapid progress of all kinds of science, it cannot be stable.
Consequently, in order to exist, it should be unscrupulous, which it is.
First, this personal scientific unscrupulousness had to be revealed by the Marxists in the very first days after the seizure of authority in Russia.
In 1915, as it is known, A. Einstein established the principles of relativity. The strictly substantiated concept of the finite universe, based on the theory of relativity, was introduced into the astronomic understanding of the world.
Developing the thoughts of Einstein, a Belgian scientist, the professor of Luven University abbot Lemetre found out that all the nebulas get away from us with the cosmic speed of 100 kilometers per second, and so, the material objects, which form the visible world, are distributed over greater and greater distance. The defined world expansion, according to the calculations of Ellington, is to increase the size of the whole universe twice in 1300 millions of years, and during one and a half milliard of years the density of matter should diminish to 1/10, i.e. in one and a half milliards of years, one would be able to see 10 times less of the star nebulas from the Earth.
Even the Soviet power could not hush up all these discoveries, establishing the new astronomy époque. But Marxism had to accept its defeat, shown in the fact that the simple police measures forbade the Soviet scientists to derive direct conclusions out of the scientific ideas.
Exactly the same way the Marxists acted in the relation to another important discovery of our days: the new idea of the atomic structure, and consequently, matter on the whole.
In the time of Marxism, in science dominated the theory of matter conservation, i.e. the idea that matter never and under no conditions can be destroyed, but only changes its forms in different physic and chemical processes. Thanks to that theory, it was possible to assign to matter one of the main Divine qualities, infinity, for the sake of building of the anti-religious materialistic concept of Marxism.
According to the latest scientific theories, matter as such is being destroyed with the explosion of an atom, converting into energy. Such a conversion of matter into energy with the help of human means began to be fulfilled not long ago, first, in the laboratories, and since 1945 on a large scale for the scientific purpose, but in the depth of the sun and other stars it is done continuously, on a gigantic scale. With that, such a process is inconvertible, i.e. that amount of energy, which we obtained from the given amount of matter, cannot be converted into the same amount of matter, because for such a reverse process the extra quantity of energy should have been used.
The apologetic horizons, revealed by such latest theories and discoveries, are extremely broad. The discovery of the opportunity of conversion of matter into energy radically destroys the scientific materialism. It will not be saved by the law of energy conservation, for energy has different qualities, than matter. Any kind of energy is to be converted into heat energy, and heat energy strives for equal spreading. In the scientific language this is called striving for entropy, i.e. the even heating of the entire space, and consequently, ceasing in it any chemical and physic processes. That means, if matter existed infinitely, then an eternity ago it would have been converted into energy, which would have reached even distribution over the whole space of the finite universe, and consequently, the heated evenly and spread all over the universe matter would have been absolutely lifeless, without change and movement.
These indisputable conclusions of the theory of relativity and division of an atom clearly prove that matter originated from the immaterial Source.
The resembling conclusions can be drawn out of the theory of Lemetre, concerning the expanding universe. If all the nebulas and star congestions move away from one another with the constant speed of 100 kilometers per second, then 15 milliards years before matter would have had the density 10 times more than it is, i.e. star worlds would be 10 million times closer to one another, and 200 milliards of years ago all matter of the universe would have been concentrated in the space of some cubic millimeters.
Surely, the Soviet regime did not allow even to discuss those problems, and the wide circles of the former Soviet Union were hardly acquainted with the theory of Lemetre.
It could be that this conflict between the Marxist anti-religious thought and science in the argument on the biologic theory of Mendel, which ended up with prohibiting such a discipline as genetics in the Soviet Union, revealed itself even brighter.
The theory of Mendel appears in biology as the same counterpart theory of the époque, revealing the new horizons, as there was the theory of Darwin at its time.
Gregory Mendel, a Czech, the Catholic monk of St. Thomas monastery in Brno, performed a number of the most interesting experiments on cross-breeding giant beans with dwarf ones, and yellow peas with green in the middle of the past century, between 1856 and 1865. The conclusions, drawn out of those experiments, establishing the indefeasibility of the laws of heredity, he described in his book "The experiments with Plant Hybrids," published in 1865. Up to the year of 1900 this work of Mendel was unknown. But in 1900 three biologists Devrie, Correns and Chermack, got acquainted with the work of Mendel and made it known. L. Ceno in France and Bateson in England developed it, passing over to the experiments on cross-breading the animals, according to the method of Mendel, and in 1910 the professor of Columbia University in the U.S.A. T. Morgan together with his helpers Muller, Bridge and Trurvent and independently of them — professor Weisman, applying the same methods in cross-breeding to flies and their dozens of thousands of generations, gained the more stable establishment of laws of the new science — genetics, the science of heredity.
The laws of this science in brief are reduced to the determination of the fact of presence of the living organisms in the embryos cells, which appear to be the carriers of heredity. These molecules got the name of genes. They cannot be mixed or join with other similar cells. That is why, on the one hand, the progeny inherits this or that hereditary sign from one or the other parent, and on the other hand, not a single sign, acquired by the parents in their life, even in the line of generations, can be inherited, if there is no corresponding gene in the embryo cell. The manifestation of new hereditary features can be explained only by the so-called phenomenon of mutation, which happens under the influence of extraordinary, powerful factors. For example, in one case, the American Mendel-followers professors Muller and Henson achieved the effect of mutation of fruit flies, affecting them by the X-rays.
For, being developed further, the theory of Mendel absolutely distinctly comes into collision with one of the basic principles of Marxism: "existence determinates the consciousness," asserting that the surrounding is the decisive factor in the life of organisms, and because the theory of mutation reveals broad horizons for the religious apologetics, then the Soviet regime first began to fight with Mendel doctrine with the help of police measures, and then finally prohibited the existence of this science within reach of its power.
At the same time, due to the similar police measures the doctrine of Michurin about the changeability of the hereditary signs under the influence of the outward world was elevated to the rank of the indisputable scientific law. The preacher of the principle of Michurin was absolutely unknown before in the scientific circles T. Lysenko, appointed by the Soviet rule (by Stalin) instead of sent into exile genius Vavilov, as the president of the agricultural academy.
The first action of the new president (the ignoramus) was closing of the Medical-Biological Institute, where were held the most interesting experiments with human and animal, so called "identical," twins, i.e. the twins, coming from one embryo cell. Those experiments established that heredity plays an important role in forming mentality, while the influence of the outward world is trifling. The Institute was closed in 1937, all its leaders were arrested, and the majority of them shot.
Never, even in the most backward medieval time, anyone had resorted to such bloody measures to oppress the unpleasing scientific thought. About the reasons of such relentless hatred, such panic fear of Mendel doctrine, is rather sincerely written in the Soviet magazine "Science and Life," the issue of the Academy of Sciences of USSR: "The doctrine of Michurin asserts the unity in the organism of the embryo and bodily cells, the unity of the organism and medium, states the dependence of hereditary qualities of an organism on the conditions of life and inheriting of the typical features, acquired by plants and animals in the process of their development under the influence of the factors of the inhabitance medium."
"On the contrary, the oppositionist Weisman-Mendel-Morgan’s doctrine in biology asserts, that a living organism is divided into the autonomous hereditary essence and somatic cell, which appears to be only the case for the essence. According to this concept the conditions of life cannot change the hereditary qualities of an organism, the inheritance of the typical features, acquired by plants and animals in the process of their development under the influence of the factors of inhabitance medium, is denied, and so, the unity of an organism and its inhabitance is denied as well."
"The Mendel’s doctrine asserts that the basis of forming of the hereditary features of an organism is the mechanical re-combination on the principle of fortuity of the so-called material carriers of heredity (according to Morgan — genes), passing from one generation to another through the cross-breeding of animals or plant forms. Weisman’s doctrine admits the change of hereditary matter only in the form of new formations — mutations, as the exceptional phenomena. According to Weisman, mutations have the immanent stipulation, which in the final run leads to the acceptance of the Creator."
"Weisman-Mendel-Morgan’s doctrine in biology is anti-national, pseudo-scientific and harmful movement. It destroys practice, orientates the man towards subduing." "The founders of this movement are reactionary bourgeois biologists Weisman, Mendel and Morgan" ("Science and Life," № 9, 1948, p. 12-13).
Concerning the way the question is posed, the English scientist, Professor Eric Ashby, in his book writes: "The Scientists in Russia are the product of the medieval way of thinking, resorting to the medieval technique of verbal fantasies."
The coincidence of the Soviet methods of fighting against science and those medieval ones is not accidental, as we are trying to explain in the present article. But the oppression of science by the medieval religious authorities with all cruelty and incorrectness of it was an honest act, for the medieval religious authority did not proclaim itself to be fighting for science, but professed itself to be struggling for religion, to which it tried to serve through that rough, incorrect, but principally honest and logical method.
The Soviet anti-religious authority proclaimed its goal to be "the universal protection of science." Therefore, its persecution of the scientific thought revealed its ontological mendacity from one more side.
We, the believers, find out one more important truth in it.
Once Metropolitan Anthony wrote that everything kind, good, true, wherever it is, in its essence belongs to the Church of Christ and is typical of It. We see the undisputable confirmation of that in the fact, that nothing kind, nothing true even in the sphere that does not belong to the Church, cannot be slightly vicious, cannot belong to that horrible demonic power, which totally manifested itself in anti-religious Marxism.
The persecution of science from the side of the Marxists was a meaningful phenomenon.
Once, in the first period of Communism domination, many honest people plunged into the scientific work, as it was some kind of inner immigration. Suffering from the spiritual and political oppression of the Communism in the political world and everyday life, many of those, who had the opportunity, changed their lavish life for the scientific field, inaccessible for masses and political leaders. But the satanic power found them even there.
So, in this secret sphere, too, it demands from the scientists an answer to the question, which it poses through various threats and temptations to all its victims in all the spheres: "Whom are you with: with the Truth (and the truth is always Divine) or with us?" And once again we get convinced that for no one, who wishes to be faithful to any form of the good, there can be any reconciliation with that fighting with God power in any field.
Life beyond the Grave.
We believe that the connection of the man with God does not break after death; that even beyond the grave the soul, loving God and having preserved faithfulness to Him, will be living in great joy of constant communication with God. And we believe that communication with God in the greatest measure includes the entire joy and happiness, accessible to a human being.
But are not right those, who say that the Christian faith is mercenary, that we believe in God and serve to Him from the fear of death and those calamities, which death can cause us, and because of selfish hope for the blissful reward, which God will give to us for serving to Him in our lives?
But this is, of course, not so.
All the Christian teachers, who touched upon this problem, say that serving to God from fear of hell or thirst for the heavenly reward is unworthy of a Christian. Abba Dorotheus, the ancient worshipped teacher of monks, says that to serve to God because of fear is the state of a slave, to serve for a reward is the state of a hireling, and only to serve to God out of the feeling of filial love for Him is the authentic Christian mood, the only worthy state of a child of God.
If the Christianity was based on the fear of hell and on the expectance of the heavenly reward, then in the teaching of Christ, and in the apostolic sermon it would have been said much more about both the things.
Meanwhile, both the Gospel and the Epistles mention amazingly little about it. The Lord only in brief recalls of the eternal torture, awaiting the devil and his angels, to which will be sent off the unrepentant sinners, and about the eternal joyful life, waiting for the righteous, but not giving the detailed description of the heavenly beatitudes. The Apostle, talking about that, only in brief repeats the words of the Old Testament Prophet: "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him"
Of course, such brevity of the Lord and His apostles concerning the heavenly life comes out of the fact that in reality it is impossible to describe in our human language and to understand with our three-dimensional consciousness the conditions of the other, immaterial being. But out of this brevity, almost silence of the Gospel about the details of the heavenly life we can draw a conclusion, that the appeal for faith and righteous life is not based on it.
The main promise of the Lord for everybody, loving Him and believing in Him, are His words: "I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also (John 14:3). Certainly, expectations of such a reward cannot be called as hiring. This is the manifestation of love. For only the one, who loves, appreciates to be there, where is the one, whom he loves. And if a Christian serves to God in order to be with Him in eternity, then he is not a hireling but a child of God.
Nevertheless, the Holy history knows the examples of the more elevated serving to God, when the people, devoted to Him and loving Him limitlessly, were ready to denounce their happiness to be with Him and condemn themselves to the torture of being away from Him, for the sake of fulfilling His tasks. This way, St. Prophet Moses, asking from God forgiveness to his people, exclaimed: "Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written." The same way Apostle Paul says: "For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh." This way the limitlessly loving person can sometimes denounce the most precious happiness of communicating with the one, whom he loves, if it is for the good of his beloved. This is the elevated self-denial.
But let us not mix the most holy self-denial of righteous Moses and Apostle Paul with the readiness of a sinner to sacrifice his salvation, i.e. the future communication with God, for the sake of these or those sinful pleasures. In the first example, love for God and devotion to His teaching pours over the brim, and in the second — there is indifference towards God and to the own soul. So, the refusal of the loving mother of the happiness of being together with the loved child, when it is for the good, cannot be compared with the criminal indifference of parents to the unloved children.
So, not of the trepidation caused by hell, not of the mercenary desire to earn the blessedness in heaven, a Christian serves to God. But, serving to Him because of love for Him, a Christian knows that the Lord, in the infinite measure responding to love with love, will not leave the soul, devoted to Him, in the abandoned state, but will call it to Him on His word: "Where I am, there shall also my servant be."
A bride, marrying not because of love for her bridegroom, but on the strife for becoming rich, is bad. But if she longs for her bridegroom because of love, and at the same time, knowing of his wealth and loving nature, is sure of her future happiness, then this is natural and good. Such must be, on the Church teaching, the attitude of a true Christian to his Lord.
To this must be added, that the words of Christ about the eternal bliss and eternal tortures are necessary for those, who still are far from God. These appeals are necessary in those cases, when the fear of torture can stop the soul, ready to commit an evil act, or the thirst for eternal bliss will make the sleeping soul wake for obtaining the eternal blessing.
In its upbringing of human souls the Church has aspirations, so that its children could have as a goal not only the salvation from tortures and gaining the state of blessedness, but first of all, the acquisition of the Divine love, so that not for anything else but for the sake of God, the Christian soul could long for Him, knowing that there where He is, there is the heavenly joy.
“Lord, Have Mercy!”
All the Divine services of the Orthodox Church are filled with the praying wail: "Kirie eleison — Lord, have mercy!"
This is the most ancient human prayer. The ancient narration tells that our antecedents, who committed a sin and were driven out of heaven, sitting close to it, started to appeal to God exactly with this penitent wail of the soul: "Lord, have mercy!" "Merciful, have mercy on me, a sinner!"
The holiest Old Testament creations Psalms and prophesies unceasingly repeat this word: "Lord, have mercy!" "Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness" (Ps. 50). "Beseech God that he will be gracious unto us," says Prophet Malachi (1:9).
The first prayer that sounded in the newly built temple in Jerusalem was: "Lord God, when thou hearest, forgive" (1 Kings 8:30).
This is the first prayer, which is learnt by an Orthodox child and the last one, which is repeated by the waning consciousness of a dying.
And if in the calm days, in the commotion of the daily fuss, "Lord, have mercy!" is often indifferently repeated, like learnt by heart chorus, then, when in the moment when a danger, or suffering, or ardent realization of one’s own downfall shakes the soul, this short praying wail suddenly gets filled with great power and the most profound sense. And as a condemned for death, standing in front of the judge, in whose look he wants to see the last hope for forgiveness, as the seriously sick in his appeal to the doctor, able to save him, the soul starts appealing to the Almighty: "Lord, have mercy!"
Many wonderful prayers are composed by the inspired prophets. But when death looks you in the eye, or when the unbearable fire of shame is burning the soul, then the man cannot find forces in himself to quietly repeat the diffuse prayers, but instead, with his own words appeals: "Lord, have mercy!"
And when, surpassing the expectations, it will turn out that the wail is heard, when the Merciful Hand will deflect the inevitable, as it seemed, danger and lead the soul out of a hopeless deadlock, then the saved soul is getting attached to this simple prayer with real love and now in a calm and enlightened way repeats it in all the dark and light, happy and sorrowful minutes of life.
That is why the Orthodox divine service is filled with the chorus "Lord, have mercy!" If the Orthodoxy, as Metropolitan Anthony teaches, is mostly the religion of repentance, if, on the teaching of the same holy father, it is the sanctuary of the entire mankind, and everything kind, valuable, right in the universe, wherever it is, belongs to the Orthodox Church in its essence, then, for sure, here, in the Orthodox temple, in the Orthodox prayer, on the worthy place, in rich in content divine services, must be the fundamental prayer of mankind — "Lord, have mercy!"
A separate human being, and all nations and mankind on the whole many times stood on the verge of ruin and many times were saved by the Divine merciful hand. How are we not to appeal, then: "Lord, have mercy!"?
With no doubt, we guess that this first prayer of mankind, first pronounced by our having sinned antecedents in the bitter hour of casting out of the paradise, will be the last prayer of the man, when in the fire and storm, with the sounding archangelic trumpet, the human history will be finished, and in the anxious approaching to the throne of the Righteous Judge the human souls will find neither strength, nor time for any other prayers than this one, shortest and unfathomably-profound: "Lord, have mercy! Lord, spare and have mercy!"
You gave the gift of the word, and with it I glorify Thee.
The Lord takes care of all his creations. He says: "For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills" (Ps. 49:10). To each of His creatures the Lord gives the necessary quality: strength — to a lion and a bear, speed — to a deer and a horse, huge size — to an elephant. But the Lord endowed the man, created in God’s image and after His likeness, with the most precious gift — the word in its multiple sense, undertaken by the Son of God.
"And the Word was God," says apostle John, and nothing can be worshipped more than that.
That is why, since the very beginning of his existence the man was called to serve God mostly using the word. When we pray, we appeal to the Lord: "He gave us the word and we worship Him with it." When we hear the words of the Holy Scripture or read it, we receive the answer from God. Not by chance the people, announcing the Divine words, were called the prophets, in Hebrew "nebihim," i.e. "the talking," or in Greek "profitis," i.e. "proclaiming."
Throughout the century the Divine word, which laid in the Holy Scripture, was available only to the Jewish people, the descendents of righteous Abraham, for it existed only in the language of Abraham’s posterity, little known to the other branches of mankind. But when the time arrived, when the Divine word was to be heard among the nations of the earth, the Divine Providence prepared the translation of the Divine words into the Greek language, which by that moment was known to the entire world of that time, to which the fullness of the truth — the Christianity — had to be preached.
In two centuries after that a great even occurred: the Divine word came onto the Earth and mankind heard the very God the Word, already not through the scriptures but directly from mouth to mouth, through the holy apostles, and among those words heard the prayer of the Son of God about themselves: "I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine … Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word."
The New Divine Scripture appears, it is the New Testament, which starts to spread throughout the world along with the Old Testament and to be translated into many languages. Nowadays people worship God in all the languages of the world.
On this way of general spreading, general understanding of the Lord’s words, there appears an unexpected obstacle: the unwise worshippers of "the holy languages," honored by the inscription over Christ’s cross, prohibited to the whole regions and nations to get acquainted with the Holy Scripture in the language that could be understood by the people. But the Church overcame that obstacle as well.
Our nation, since it became a child of the Orthodox Church, straight then obtained the Holy Scripture, and the Divine service, held in the known to antecedents language. And not accidentally, not without the permission of the Divine providence, the first words, translated into Slavonic, were those of the Gospel of St. John: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."
So, our nation got everything for the unimpeded communication with God: the opportunity to pray, of calling His name, learning the commandments and edifications from the Holy Scripture, enjoying the unspeakable Divine beauty of our Orthodox service — the best and most perfect fulfillment of that service to God through the word, about which we said in the beginning of the article.
Unfortunately, for the latest centuries the devotion to God and thirst for serving Him became less in our Orthodox people, and in the entire Christian world, and our people in the time of the struggling with God regime, was deprived of the Holy Scripture and Divine Service. Similar to ancient primitive tribes, they only had to appeal to God, not possessing His word, which responded to them. Through such moral sufferings, only if they stay devoted to God, the people get martyr-crowns.
But we, possessing freedom and well-being, shall be subjected to judgment, if we do not use our greatest advantage — the possibility to study the Holy Scripture, attend to the Divine services and participate in their prayers in the full measure.
The Ever-Holy Trinity —
The Image of Catholicity.
Since the time began and before that our God has His existence in Trinity: three Persons in One Creature. The understanding of this holy truth, the basis of the Christian dogma, during the number of centuries happened to be forgotten by the Christian mankind in such a measure that the countless multitude of the enemies of our faith quote exactly this dogma as the one, having no sense, and those protecting the Christianity, almost agreeing with that, demand blind taking of this truth on trust, without even any slightest profound understanding of it, for, as it seems to them, such understanding is absolutely impossible.
Surely, it is not possible in the fullest measure, but the same way it is impossible to understand anything up to the end, especially the dogmas of faith.
The profound plunging into this dogma in particular, in the way it is possible, deeper understanding of it, is mostly important and necessary for the correct understanding of the Church of Christ, and human nature itself.
God created the man in His image, after His likeness, for only a creature similar to Him can be truly kind.
God is one in His essence, but triple in Persons. The same must become the created by God creature. Adam and Eve were each an original personality, but together had to be one creature. The means to that was to be the similar to Divine quality of love. Love is the incomprehensible Divine power, which fulfills complete and absolute unity of the Divine, in spite of the difference of personalities, and so completely typical of God, that Apostle John says, that God is love.
Exactly this, God-resembling quality of love, given by God to people, had to bind them between themselves into one creature, so that this united human creature also with love, but now for God, gradually, in the infinite joyful process of love could be joined into one creature with God.
This is what St. Basil the Great expressed so distinctly: "I am the man, but got the task to become God." This process will never end, for the goal by itself is infinite.
But the man stumbled in the first step towards it. In order to fulfill one’s task, the man had to improve himself in love, showing it and cherishing it by the free (for love, the God-resembling quality, cannot be forced) fulfillment of the commandment of the One, Whom he was called to love.
The man overstrained the bounds of love for God with breaking His commandment, and this connection of love, by throwing the blame one at another before God.
But the human sin was not absolute, and the cast out of the paradise people stepped onto the way of confession, and the bounds of possessing the same essence — catholicity, being overstrained, was not completely destroyed in the mankind.
All the manifestations of love, compassion, mutual understanding are the manifestations of this original catholicity of people. I can understand the other person’s thought only because according to the plan of God I was to be of the same essence with him. But I would never completely understand another person, his whole life, as mine, for our natural catholicity is undermined by sin, we withdrew into our self-establishment.
The most complete manifestation of this, though overstrained, but existing natural catholicity are marriage and motherhood. Here, most of all, a person is living the life of another, as his own one.
In marriage two personalities strive to become one creature, completely preserving their personal features, the individual originality. Good marriage of two loving people is the most natural approach to this goal’s fulfillment. Loving husband and wife really live the life of each other, as their own one. Together with that, this unity in no way limits, diminishes the personal originality of each of the spouses.
But even in the most perfect terrestrial marriage, moreover in all the other manifestations of the post-sinful catholicity, the completeness of unity can never be reached.
Meanwhile, according to the Divine plan, the man was given the full catholic unity, perfect as in the unity of the Holy Trinity, in the Eternal Trinity Council, in the image of Which the man was created. And, in its turn, that longed-for, being fulfilled in the Divine Kingdom unity with God, is called the Marriage of the Lamb, i.e. the marriage of God with the human soul, in which the man joins God, not loosing his personality, as a husband and a wife strive for becoming one creature.
In the light of such understanding of originality and all-embracing character of the law of love, as the basis of the Divine plan about the man, it becomes clear why Christ the Savior, Who had come to restore the lost connection between people and God, made the commandment of love for God the corner-stone of His sermon and explained, that exactly on these two commandments are built the entire law and prophetic writings, i.e. the whole teaching of the Holy Scripture.
To love a neighbor as oneself, to live his life, as one’s own, means to be of the same essence with him. To love God with the entire heart, all thoughts, all the essence means to fulfill the Divine plan in the respect of the man, for all the spiritual sources, and the essence are given to the man, so that he could search for God to join Him and to reach that in the giving joy process— the marriage of the Lamb.
This highest commandment of love was brought to mankind by Christ. But it is very short-sighted to think that with that ended the deed of the Savior, as it is expressed by the moralists-rationalists, who appreciate the Christianity only for its moral law. If it had been that way, then to the considerable degree would have been right those, who, developing this point of view, come to the conclusion, that honestly speaking, the Christianity did not give anything new to mankind, because the founders of all the other religions also gave high moral commandments, which often coincided with the basic Christian laws, and even more, had been given before the Christianity.
We can partly agree with such an opinion; but not because that the Christianity is borrowed from some outside sources, but because the soul of the man is Christian by its nature, as one of the ancient teachers of the Church said, and that the roots of similarity to God are deeply based in it, guiding it to the authentic ideal.
But never and not any, even the most perfect Christian moral law would not have been fulfilled by the man, as the result of the corruption of his soul by sin, if Christ had not given the new power to the people, offering them the chance to join Him in one creature in the Church, restoring by that the lost in the downfall catholic entity of people, similar to the entity of the Holy Trinity.
So Christ, equal in essence to God the Father and the Holy Spirit, simultaneously became absolutely equal in essence to us in the Church, thanks to what we obtain in It the limitless spiritual strength, which give us a chance of eternal life in the Divine Kingdom, which is the Church Itself, i.e. the fulfillment of the process, once entrusted to us — the most blissful unity with God.
However it does not mean, that the Church fulfills our salvation mechanically: one enters the Church body, joins God and is saved. No! The being in the Church, because it exactly means joining God, demands of the man the fulfillment of a difficult condition — the complete sinless state, absolute purity from any spot or vice, for nothing unclean can be connected with God. So, in order that we could really come into the Church, we should be cleansed from sin, completely fulfill the Evangelic law of perfection.
The base of this law is love, the main element of which is ancient, preserved in the man, original human catholicity that had preserved the opportunity of salvation for him. Without it new, restored catholicity — the unity of God and people in the Church — cannot be reached. It is the sign of the soul’s health.
Let us note, how because of sins and crimes, the natural catholicity of the man obscures; how the man, serving to his sins and passions, looses any interest to the others, the ability to understand them, kills in him the authentic catholicity and with that dooms himself for melancholy and loneliness, for the moral torture. It happens because all the joy of life is given only through that resembling to the Divine council life with love and care for one another.
That is why, the demonic force, that had lost once typical of it angelic catholicity, and plunged into the hopeless darkness and torture, raises so much against the feeling of catholicity in people.
As a result of negation of God by mankind in the contemporary époque, we clearly see this fading of the catholicity in mankind, which in vain tries to conceal this terrible phenomenon by various international conferences, meetings, agreements.
People lost their interest to one another, mercy, compassion — these basic manifestations of catholicity. And finally, in our poor motherland in the years of communism, in the nightmare of reciprocal tracking down, penetrating everywhere espionage and lack of trust to the others in all the spheres of life, the demonic force was trying to destroy the hated by it catholicity of mankind.
We, the Christians, on the contrary proclaim the catholicity of basic life. We rejoice at showing love, trust, understanding, solidarity in people, seeing in all that the elements of ancient, originally given to us by God catholicity.
Though knowing that this natural, damaged by sin catholicity is imperfect, through it we reach for the highest catholicity, which is infinite and invincible, for that catholicity in the Church, which is in the unity with Christ and through Him —with the Holy Trinity.
The Lord’s Prayer.
If we admit ourselves to be weak, unwise and live in poverty, and we have a friend and protector, who loves us a lot and can do much for us, for sure in the moments of need we shall address him, appealing for help. And the more he loves us, the more eagerly he will fulfill our requests. Everyone knows from experience, how much more pleasant is to do a favor to the man, who will tell about his need clearly and will ask to help him, having complete trust, than to the one, who will murmur unsurely: "Maybe, you will not be able to help, maybe, you will have no wish to…," and then will start giving advice: "You should help me not like this, but that way… or otherwise I do not want it." Pure, authentic, enlightened desire to help — a spark of our Divine similarity — fades because of such distrust or importunity, and we shall reject helping such a person, or help him not out of an authentic feeling but out of the sense of duty.
Furthermore: having a loving, powerful and wise friend and protector, we shall not only appeal to him, but love him in response, shall try to show our love for him and thank him.
Exactly the same way a Christian treats God. We know that He loves us, each one of us, each of His creatures, as He Himself said: "Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee" (Is. 49:15), and as Apostle John teaches us: "We love him, because he first loved us" (1 John 4:19).
We know as well that He, the One Who created the skies and the earth and is holding everything in His Hand, is almighty, infinitely good and wise.
Therefore we, the Christians, with complete hope address to Him with appeals about our needs, sorrows and troubles. We do that with absolute trust and love, which are greater than a father has to the loved son, without imposing our caprices, often sinful and unreasonable, and not demanding that He should send us this or that thing. Only complaining about our difficulties, and not doubting that He will hear us, we totally entrust to His ever-Good will the fulfillment of our requests.
Though, as loving children of a father, we not only ask something from God, we also thank Him for His endless blessings, and worship Him, expressing our love for Him, seeing in Him the source of everything good in the universe. A person, possessing in the Christian way developed soul, rejoices at each given to him opportunity to pray, express his love for God, as a person, who loves, is glad about each opportunity to express his love to the beloved. Following the advice of Apostle Paul: "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thes. 5:17), many pious Christians repeat Jesus Prayer many times a day, which easily helps to address God, working and doing everyday things without stopping.
Although, the specimen of the most elevated prayer always was and will be the so-called Lord’s Prayer, with which Christ Himself taught His disciples, when they asked Him to teach them how to pray. The Lord told them : "After this manner therefore pray ye:
"Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen." (Math. 6:9 and Luke 11:2).
This prayer begins with calling the Lord: "Our Father which art in heaven." The greatest joy, the biggest advantage Christ brought to us: the right to call God the father, the right, which people were deprived of, when they became unfaithful to Him, breaking His commandment. We call God "Father which art in heaven," not because God lives nowhere, but in heaven. God is the ubiquitous Spirit: in heaven, on earth and in every place. Our sky that is visible, spreading over the earth, appears as a symbol of everything elevated and as such — a symbol of the throne of God. Therefore saying: "Our Father which art in heaven" we remind ourselves that He is our Father, Who is higher than everything!
Then come our appeals. The first among them is a request: "Hallowed be thy name." Each loving son of the father, who has all the merits, feels an ardent desire that his father’s name could be known to all and honored by all. Especially the son must fear not to harm his father’s good name with any unworthy act. Exactly these feelings we show in the relation to the Heavenly God-Father, saying: "Hallowed be thy name"
Holiness is the combination of perfections. Therefore, in the full sense of the word, only God can be holy, as it is chanted in the prayer: "The Lord alone is holy." People can be holy only relatively, but the more they will be drawn to the Divine holiness, the more the Lord’s name will be hallowed and glorified in them, as in the praising of a good son, his parents are honored as well. Exactly about such a glorification in us of the name of God we ask in the first appeal of the Lord’s Prayer.
Then comes: "Thy kingdom come." "For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost" (Rom. 14:17), — teaches the apostle. Consequently, one should not be concerned neither about the physical rest, nor about life pleasures, but about the spiritual values: pure conscience, righteousness, peace and joy, which are reported by the Holy Spirit. The Divine Kingdom should come in its glory and power at the end of time, when the world will burn in the cleansing power of God’s judgment, and all the dead will resurrect, when all lies, dirt, malice, with which our world is filled now, will stop existing. Then in the entire universe will begin to rule Christ and His ever-good law. For this longed-for moment must reach every Christian soul, asking in prayer together with the apostle: "Even so, come, Lord Jesus."
But one should think of the Reign of God to come not only at a distance of the end of ages. Together with the arrival of Christ it already came to the earth in the image of His Church. Everything that can be in the Kingdom of God is put into it. In the Reign of God that will arrive after the end of time, we shall meet all that Grace, which is now given to us in the Church, in its fullness. Surely, we are talking about the Church, not as about an organization, but as of the inwardly blessed organism, about the Body of Christ, to the blessed life of which we are drawn in the divine services and mysteries. About that inner mysterious life, abiding in us, Christ said: "The kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:21).
And so, saying, "Thy kingdom come," we ask the Lord so that His Kingdom could triumph in our souls with righteousness, peace and joy of the Holy Spirit, and then about this Kingdom to be revealed throughout the world, that the oppressing times of lies and malice would end.
In the third appeal of the Lord’s Prayer we ask all we do and all that occurs to us to happen not in the way we want, but in the way it is good for God. Trust is the basis of a prayer. We should entrust ourselves to God the Heavenly Father, knowing that He is Ever-Good, Ever-Wise and Almighty, loves us without measure, and consequently wishes us the best. This is said not only in the relation to ourselves, but to our close ones and everything dear to us: our fatherland and family. Only malice that sometimes takes control of the man is hated by the Lord, all the rest that is dear to the human heart, in the same way is dear to the Lord, as anything that is loved by the children, is dear to the heart of their mother. That is why we should give ourselves, and all that is loved by us, over to the will of God with complete, entire trust. "Let us commit ourselves and one another and all our life unto Christ our God."
We sometimes achieve something and then bitterly regret about what we have achieved. The example of the past Russian generation, which longed for the radical changes in the existing authority, is in front of our eyes. The Divine plans are infinitely wise. And the one, who can entrust everything to the Divine will, finds stable spiritual peace, which does not leave him even in the time of serious tests, and feels glad, seeing the guiding and good Divine hand in the meandering ways of the world lots and deadlocks of his life.
Exactly this way, once and forever the angels in heaven gave all their life to the will of God, and we ask it to be the same way on earth, so that we could walk along the correct path.
The man has the body and soul. For the both of them food is needed. Food for the soul is the Divine grace, and for the body we ask in the next appeal of the Lord’s Prayer: "Give us this day our daily bread." Exactly the daily bread, i.e. the necessary, without scantiness or surplus. The Lord will always give us everything necessary for us. In reality, the man needs just little food; and people more often suffer of excesses, then of lack. There’s surplus of food on the planet. If people would be happy only with the necessary things, then some would never suffer of hunger, and the others of satiation, which causes harm to their health. There would be no severe wars, for people fight not for the daily bread but for excess and luxury. We ask the Heavenly Father about the daily, necessary bread, knowing that we should earn it honestly, for "that if any would not work, neither should he eat" — teaches Apostle Paul (2 Thess. 3:10).
Therefore, the Savior says: "Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof" (Math. 6:34). And more: "And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Luke 12:29).
Then we ask so that the Lord would forgive us "our debts, as we forgive our debtors." A debt in its true meaning is any of our duties, that, what we should do. God, the fullness of the good, created us so that we should love the good, do it and serve to Him, and we waste our strength and time for any type of fuss, and commit sins. So, the Lord inspires us to ask for forgiveness, promising to forgive us. With that, as the only condition of His forgiveness the Lord asks us to forgive those, who have fault with us. Christ several times drew attention to the importance of this condition in His sermons and His parable about the merciful king and unmerciful debtor (Math. 18:23). "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (Math. 6:14). And more: "Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift" (Math. 5:23)
In the sixth appeal we ask: "And lead us not into temptation." Various temptations and trials would come, and we have to overcome them. The will, not hardened in the battle, is not stable; love and faithfulness, powerless to fight against temptations, do not have any value. It is a joy for a father, when he sees his son avoiding friendship with the depraved people. A mother asks her child for a piece of something sweet to test him, and if he shares it with her, she rejoices at his kind heart. A person in love is happy, if his love, being subjected to a trial, remains inviolably strong. Such love gains even greater value and durability. Our love for God must become indestructibly firm and unfailing up to the end. And it might become alike, only passing the tests. That is why Christ said that "the temptations have to come."
But for in the temptations there hides the possibility of downfall and treason to God, we should fear them and not rely upon our forces alone. Therefore we ask the Lord not to let us fall during temptations, but send us strength to win in them.
"But deliver us from evil," we ask in the seventh, last appeal. Sly in Greek, evil, low — is the spirit of malice and the source of any kind of evil — the devil.
In the connection with that it is necessary to respond to the question, which is often posed: about the origin of the evil in the world. If God is the Creator of all and there is nothing in the world, that He did not create, then the question is: does not He appear to be the Creator of the evil, which we see in the world so often? The correct answer is: No!
God created everything as kind, but the created by him personalities are endowed with the free will. And freedom gives the opportunity of choice: to obey or disobey God. And so, those of the created by God spirits, which chose the devotion to God, became His angels, and those, who rebelled against Him, consciously chose the evil path and became demons. From this initial evil, separation from God and resistance to Him, originated various and many-sided evil, swirling in the universe. But it possesses no independent essence; it did not create anything and is not able to do it. It exists as a parasite at the expense of destroying the good.
The angels were solving the problem of devotion to God once and forever, because they are not bound with changeable and inert body, but are able instantly, independent of time, to perceive the entire depth of difference between the good and the evil and make a deliberate and decisive chose.
People, being carnal, are bound with time, subjected to changes, possess the ability to incline either towards the good, or the evil many times. Being created by God as kind, they had to preserve and multiply that goodness, resisting temptations and forthcoming from the easier to the more difficult. But they did not resist the very first temptation, yielded to the seduction of the evil bearer — the devil, and being weaker, got under his influence.
But the Lord did not leave people in the destructive state, He undertook measures for their salvation, in order that they could regain the lost purity, helped them to fight with sin, leading them through His righteous men and prophets. Finally, God sent into the world His Son — Christ the Savior, Who gave people the opportunity to become the members of His blessed Kingdom — the Church. The devil turned out to be defeated. But, possessed by irresistible malice, he continues tempting people, playing on their stupidity and weaknesses.
So, against his slyness and malice, we ask God to defend us: "Deliver us from evil." We finish the prayer with the glorification: "For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen." We realize and rejoice at the fact that all belongs to Him, though in our imperfect world all the qualities are revealed in the imperfect manner as well.
Let it be so for the moment! We all can and should feel ourselves as the messengers of the great powerful king, who in the presence of robbers and rebels, which rose against the invincible Ruler, without fear announce of his power and greatness, about his unfading glory.
"Christ reigns!" joyfully and victoriously exclaimed ancient martyrs, ready to face the death, in the presence of the wicked, outwardly triumphing, and inwardly already defeated Roman heathens. The same way we, in spite of the outward triumph of the evil, know that the true force and Power belong to our Only God, ruling over the universe, and the triumph of the evil is momentary and illusory. The Kingdom of Christ will come, and we glorify His coming beforehand. It will not resemble the quick-fading terrestrial kingdoms, which exist one day, and crumble to dust the next one. This is the Kingdom of Christ and now and forever, for the ages of ages it is steadfast. And we are called to inherit this Kingdom (Luke 12:32) and co-reign with Christ.
Should we not rejoice and thank God?
One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.
(After A.S. Homyakhov)
Ibelieve in One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church — we profess in the Creed.
But how can the Church be one, when there are so many church societies and organizations, reciprocally excluding one another, which have pretensions for this name? We know the Orthodox, Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican, Armenian and other churches.
We believe in one Church, because only one of all churches has the well-founded right to be called so, all the rest are called as churches only according to the common custom, similar to the one, following which in the letters they call the person, to whom they write "a merciful sir," and themselves as "resigned servants," though both the expressions do not coincide with the real state of things.
Only one church can be real, because with the notion of the Church is inseparably connected the title of the carrier of the perfect truth, which can be only one. If concerning important and precise things they express various points of view, only one of them can be correct, and the rest will be wrong.
But can the Orthodox Church be one, if we see separate churches in It: the Russian, Greek, Serbian, Bulgarian, Romanian, etc.? These local churches comprise to one Orthodox Church. They are not even the parts of the Church, because the Church is indivisible, but only local, limited by the national or state character, separate manifestations of one and the same Church. The originality of each local Church can be great, but the unity will stay untouched, if the Evangelical truth is not violated.
The air in the whole world is the same and everywhere equally life-giving, if its chemical composition remains unchanged. But the action of the air, the fields, that it envelops, the degree of its dampness are various, and this variety comes from the peculiarities of the region, which the air fills. The same way the Church, one for all places, manifests itself in different ways in Russian, Greeks and other Orthodox nations. But all these nations belong to one Church, till they profess one, unique true faith.
In what is the sense of division of the Church into visible and invisible, into the heavenly and terrestrial Churches?
This division exists only in the respect of the man. In the essence, the invisible Church, the leader of Which is Christ, to Which belong angels and all the saved people, and the visible Church, consisting of the living on the earth Orthodox people, are the Body of Christ. For example: if an ant looks at the man from the ground and sees only a toe, and the rest of the man: the head, arms, legs and body are lost in the height of the ant’s glance, then for this ant the man, observed by him, is divided into the visible, — the closest toe, and invisible, — all the rest, — parts. But in the essence, there is no such a division within the man. The same way the Church, in reality inseparable, is divided for us into the accessible to our sight, and That, which is not accessible to it. But in the full measure, such a division exists for us, until we, as an ant, looking at the man, look at the Church from without, from aside, as strangers. But when we become its Body parts, this division disappears and we clearly, though inexpressibly, feel the completeness and indivisibility of Its life.
The outside unity of the Church is manifested in the unity of Its mysteries in the fact, that the man, baptized with a Russian, Greek or Syrian priest, joins one and the same Church, confessing he receives the remission of sins from one and the same Church, partaking Communion he receives the same grace. The inner unity is the unity of the spirit. Many were saved (even some martyrs) without undergoing any Sacraments of the Church (even baptism), but no one will be saved, without partaking church holiness.
How the Church can be holy, if the comprising It people are sinful, moreover, not only the simple members of It, but the pastors and archpriests?
The Church is holy not due to the holiness of people, but to the sanctity of Its Leader, not metaphorical or figurative, but real Christ, together with Whom it comprises one organism. Holiness, i.e. purity, freedom from sins, is necessary for the people, for only thanks to it they can enter the Church, in Which there should be nothing unclean, for It is one body with Christ. Committing any grave sin the man falls off the Church, with repentance he gets restored in It again.
Without holiness there can be no involvement in the Church. Apostle Peter says not about exceptions, but of all the Christians: "But ye are…a holy nation" (Pet. 2:9). The Lord calls all of us: "Be ye therefore perfect (i.e. holy), even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Math. 5:48), and Apostle Paul explains: "But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end (as a consequence) everlasting life," i.e. life in the Church (Rom. 6:22).
If we sin, we can rise through confession, having sinned again, we need to confess again, even seven times seven a day, without getting tired, weak in repenting, for it is the door to the Church. "Reconcile and unite him (or her) to Your Holy Church" — says a priest in the prayer for the sacrament of Confession, absolving the separated by sins, but returning through confession into the Church sinner.
Therefore, it is so important to be an Orthodox, i.e. to defend the point of view of the Church — suppose to be evil that It thinks to be evil, and accept as the good anything that it calls so. If the man does not step away from this church ground, then, even being deeply plunged into sins, he always will find the way for repentance and restoration of his unity with the Church. And, on the contrary, woe is to the man, who does not agree with the Church in the interpretation of the evil and the good. Sinning not because of weakness or negligence, but of assuredness that this or that sin is good, such a person will not find his way to repentance, will not restore his unity with the Church, until he rejects his self-will and self-wisdom and will not subdue them to the church way of thinking.
So, our Church is holy, though Its members are all the sinful people on earth. But they join It only with the holy sides of their souls and the more they take root in Its blessed life, the more holy they become, and the holiness of the most holy people does not proceed from them but from the Church. There is no other holiness, than that of the Church. Any possible good, all sanctity that is in the universe, wherever it is, inseparably belongs to the Church, Which is one with Christ.
What does it mean, council-like, catholic (the Greek word) Church? Does not it mean ecumenical? The word catholic has several meanings. It comprises the notion of universality, what especially like to underline the Latin, translating the word "catholic" with the word "ecumenical." But the universal character concerning the Church does not mean that it is mostly spread in the world, and does not at all mean the number of Its followers, then we would have denied the catholicity of the Church of the first times of the Christianity, when it was spread only in Palestine, and all its members could go into one room, and when the Church existed only in the Roman empire. On the contrary, we should have accepted as catholic Aryanism of the 4th century and Nestorian heresy of 7th-10th centuries, when these heresies were wide-spread throughout the world, and the Orthodox Church was outnumbered. Finally, we would have to agree with the catholicity of Buddhism, the most populous of religions.
No, the notion of ecumenism, when used in the relation to the Church, means another thing. It means that it is not connected with any state or nation, but all the people of the world have the equal possibility and right to be its children, that it can be equally spread over al nations and countries, and nobody — neither Greeks nor Russians — have a right to claim possessing it.
But the main meaning of the word "catholic" is not in the sense "ecumenical," but in that, what is interpreted by the Slavonic and Russian word "council-like."
Saint, Equal-to-the-Apostles brothers Cyril and Methodius could leave the word "catholic" with no translation, as the West did, or translate it by the word "ecumenical." This word existed in their times as well: for example, in the expression "the Ecumenical Council." But they preferred the word "council-like," which expresses the idea not only of visible spreading, but the idea of unity in the multitude.
Does it mean that the Orthodox Church is the Church of seven Ecumenical Councils, and that the Ecumenical Council is the highest authority? Yes, but it is not the main thing. The Catholic Church had council character even before the first Ecumenical Council and before the Jerusalem Council of the holy apostles, from its very foundation, for equally with its unity and holiness, catholicity is the basic feature of the Church.
The Lord could save every man separately. But the Divine plan is not in that. He built the Church — the council of people, similar to the Pre-Eternal Divine Council, and revealed His will and teaching not to some separate people, but to their council unity, and gave it the great and terrible power of grace.
The council character of the Orthodoxy is manifested in the fact that the Orthodox Christians, for they live in the Church, no matter how different the outward circumstances of their living are, believe, think and feel absolutely the same way.
In 1938 there was held a conference of the Orthodox and Anglicans. Among the Orthodox there were Russians, Greeks, Serbian, Romanian, Bulgarian and Syrian — the people of different nations and races, different cultures and cultural levels, which had very little in common in the mundane life. But in the question of faith, for they were attached to the grounds of the Church, they were absolutely unanimous. At the same time other participants of the conference, belonging to one nation, one cultural medium, representing the unity in all tastes and customs, were profoundly estranged in the matter of faith, though officially they belonged to one church.
Together with the fact that the unity of the Orthodox Church is ensured not by the outward authority, like the authority of the Pope in the Roman-Catholic Church, but exclusively by the inner unity of life. Such unity is catholicity.
In the first centuries of the Christianity, with the great strain of the church life, when the Christians’ life passed in the Church, and outside the Church they did not have any interests, this catholicity revealed itself with great power. In different parts of that time world: in Spain and in Mesopotamia, in Mauritania and Gallia, the Christians without any previous arrangement, lead life, which was so perfectly unanimous, that a Christian, which happened to be transferred from Damascus into Messily, felt himself the same way in the church community of the foreign country, as in his motherland. Everything, that was worked out by the outwardly multi-colored, but inwardly absolutely unanimous various Christian communities, without any official meetings or special decrees, was the manifestation of will and life of the Holy Spirit, abiding in the Church.
Further on, when there appeared an opportunity, the same spirit of catholicity, the organ of the Holy Spirit, started to be revealed in the gatherings of bishops, which got the name of the Ecumenical and Local Councils, which zealously, with complete realization of their right for that, declared: "This is what the Holy Spirit and we demand."
Catholicity is not the common subordination to any authority, is not obedience to the directions how to believe and think, is not a scrupulous investigation on the question, about how they taught about this or that in antiquity. An Orthodox Christian believes and professes it not in the way, how this or that church authority directs him to do , not in the way, how one or another ancient holy father prescribes, but how his conscience and consciousness, living in the Church, prompt him to do. But he checks his conscience and consciousness with the voice of the Church — that of the Ecumenical Councils, holy fathers and that of his contemporaries, whom he knows to be truly Orthodox. And if he finds in his consciousness divergence of his and their opinion, he does not assert it as the contrary to the church consciousness, as a Protestant, but realizing that if his consciousness came into a conflict with that of the Church, then there is some drawback in his way of thinking, and there is necessary not simple submissiveness, but changing of one’s spiritual state with repentance and subdued prayer.
Keeping to catholicity is not always that easy. It demands constant spiritual steadfastness. To that calls us Christ, saying: "The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force" (Math. 11:12).
In what sense do we call the Church apostolic, though much had been changed in it since the apostolic times? In the sense, that our Church till the present day stays inwardly perfect, similarly to the apostolic times, in spite of changing of rites and the church traditions since the time of apostles. The Church and its members know with the inner knowledge of faith the unity and constancy of their spirit, which is the Divine spirit.
The outward people, i.e. not Orthodox, see the outer changes of the outward rites with human eyes, not realizing their inner unity. The Church admits itself to be immutable, and since the apostolic times never announces the things, which It always considered to be true, a lie.
Anyway, not the apostles determine the Church, but the Church, as the Body of Christ, determines the apostles. Continuing the activity of Christ, the Church called apostles such attendants as Clement, Timothy, Titus and the others, who, probably, did not know Christ in person; then It called Equal-to-the-Apostles the multitude of the heroes of faith from different countries and historical époques.
The Church deprived those, who became unfaithful to It, as for example, Apostle Nicolas, of the title of apostles. It asserted the new forms of serving to itself, such as Presbyterian service, or deaconate, and some of those representatives it endowed with the apostolic rights. The Church authorized or non-authorized the apostolic epistles and with that established the canon of the Holy Scripture, which those, who deny the Church, feel necessity to accept.
A scientist-historian knows, that in the first centuries of our époque there were many books, which were called gospels or apostolic epistles, some of them were authentic, the others were false or distorted by heretics. Analyzing them, the Church, led by the Holy Spirit, asserted and accepted as true only four Gospels, 21 epistle and 50 books of the Old Testament. Together with that, the Church did not insist on the fact of the authorship, but admitted that these are Its books, for they express Its ideas.
The rest of the so-called gospels the Church either rejected, as those not coinciding with Its ideas, or gave them less authority, as for example, the epistles of Apostle Barnabas, Apostle Clement, prophetic revelations of Apostle Erma and others. Nevertheless, from the number of these so-called "apocryphal," i.e. doubtful books, it sometimes used those, which did not contradict Its teaching. Thus, for example, some of the church legends, connected with the feasts of the Lord and Theotokos, which are written down in our Mineas and Synacsarion, are taken out of those apocryphal writings.
All that the Church did in the full accordance with the voice of the Divine Spirit, living in It. But the activity of the Church did not end there. There was the necessity in the further explication of the teaching of Christ.
The truths, necessary for the human salvation are not many in reality. In order to be saved, one does not need to be a theologian, but the existence of atheism and appearance of the false doctrines put before the Christians new questions, which cause the development of theology, that is the answer of the Church to the posed questions.
This way, in the narrow sense of the word, there appear the writings of the fathers and teachers of the Church, which are sacred as well, for they are enlightened by the same Holy Spirit, Which spoke through prophets and apostles.
In this ocean of holiness and spiritual knowledge we all are called to reach for perfection, being the members of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.
What is catholicity? The words "The Prophesy of Faith of St. Athanasius the Great," highly estimated in the Christian world, show how important it is for a Christian to find an answer to this question.
This prophesy says: "The man, who desires to be saved, first of all must keep to the catholic faith. If anyone does not keep this faith pure and innocent, then with no doubt he will perish forever."
The word catholic was translated by our saints and spiritual first teachers Cyril and Methodius with the word council. This shows that they in the full accordance with the understanding of the entire Orthodox Church, put in this word not the same sense, which the contemporary West assigns to it, interpreting the word "catholic" as "ecumenical, universal." The same way the Trident Council of the Roman Catholic Church was interpreting the meaning of this notion, which by the way stated: "The third feature of the Church is its catholicity, i.e. ecumenism and universality" (Catechismus ad Parochos, 1567)
The fact, that the Church understood that word not the way the Roman Catholics did, is seen through the circumstance, that already in the 11th century, in the epistle about martyrdom of St. Policarpus, it is said about "the bishop of the Catholic Church in Smyrna." The idea of the Ecumenical Church in Smyrna is senseless. Clement of Alexandria (the 3d century) writes: "We say that in its essence and ideas, in the origin and development, the authentic Catholic Church is the one, which is unanimous, as it has to be, about the unity of faith" (Stromates, VII. XVII R. D. IX, 552).
Though, the notion "catholic" needs to be explained. What is a council, and catholicity? For the correct understanding of this word, we have to look back at the very beginning of the physical world and rise to the heights of theology.
God reveals Himself in front of us not as a Unite-Monad, but as the multitude, trinity in unity: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, but not three gods, One God, Three Personalities, but the Only Creature.
How such unity of the Three Divine Personalities is achieved? Through fullness and perfect love of One Personality to Another and full complete authenticity of the Divine Persons, through the absence of any shade of untruth, falsity in the Holy Trinity.
This is the true, original image of catholicity, council character, the way the Holy Church calls the Ever-Holy Trinity: the Pre-Eternal, Divine, Trinity Council.
Such council-like or catholic existence is the source of the greatest absolute joy and blessedness. That is why, on His inexpressible goodness, God wished that the joy of the council existence could be shared with other creatures, whom He created as able for that: first the angelic council and then the human kind.
He put in these creatures thirst for perfection, which can be reached due to the closer approaching to Him. Exactly the same is the state of angels and those people, who will inherit the Kingdom of God, as St. Basil the Great said: "I am a creature, but got the task to become God."
Joy and love grow more, according to the measure of approaching God, coming close to Him, and consequently, in sharing His joy and blessedness. It follows, that for God joy is a state, while for angels and blessed people a process, but the infinite process, for the Divine joy, which they partake of, is absolutely infinite.
With that, this process is not individual. The angels have council character, they are catholic. Each angel is a personality, but all together they comprise to one, indivisible council, similar to the Trinity, Divine Council.
From this angelic council fell out that angel, who did not want to communicate with God and be close to Him, but chose the way of self-establishment and isolation. He lead a part of the angels, those who followed him, onto that way, dooming them for estranged existence, deprived of any joy, for they fell off from the source of joy — God.
The man was called to the council existence. St. Basil the Great writes: "The monastic, exterminating in themselves the sin of Adam, restore the prehistoric beauty, because people would not have had any divisions, discords, wars, if the sin did not split the unity. Monks imitate the Savior, His life on earth. For, as the Savior was the image of the disciples, and even made Himself unanimous with the apostles, the same way they do. Monks imitate the life of angels, preserving council state in everything, like angels do. They anticipate the blessings of the promised kingdom, presenting with their virtuous life and mutual communication the absolute imitation of that kingdom’s way of living and state. They have definitely showed to the world, how many blessings the incarnation of the Savior brought to us, for they bring into unity with God the torn in thousands of pieces and scattered human entity, as hard as they can. For this is the most important in the house-building: to bring human nature into the unity with itself and the Savior and, destroying the sly division, to restore the primeval union, similar to how an experienced doctor again makes the body, falling into many parts, strong with the help of medicines" (Basil the Great, chap. XVIII, "The Ascetic Regulations").
Consequently, according to the Divine plan, people should be not the separated from one another units — monads and individuals, but personalities, connected with one existence, i.e. everyone, preserving his individual features, should live with the rest of the people, leading common, but not separate life.
This Divine plan was distorted by sin, when human nature turned out to be cut in pieces — individualities — with the fact that the man opposed his will to the Divine one.
But the man committed a sin not because of definite and mature decision to step onto the way of opposition to God, that was why his sin was not so awful, and distortion of his being was not hopeless. The original, authentic council character of mankind, its ancient catholicity, to some extent was preserved in the depth of the human soul. And everything kind and truly precious, of what was in the pre-Christian world and up to the present moment can be observed in the non-Christian world, has its roots in this in the first place harmed, but not destroyed council character — catholicity of mankind.
The man leads not only his individual life. Only to some extent, not fully, but still he feels the necessity of the other type of existence — the council-like one. From our experience we know the feeling of compassion, typical of all people, their desire as if to come out of oneself and walk in another’s shoes, feel for his grief, share his happiness. These are the pieces of the original ability of the man to live not only within himself, but in his neighbor. We possess the ability to understand another person, to be imbued with thoughts and feelings of other people, sometimes in such a measure that these thoughts and feelings become as if our own. The main and most precious trace of original catholicity is the possessed by all people ability to love. Love drives the man out of the destructive separation, which conceals in itself cold and torture, and returns to him, in the measure of the strength of his love, the ancient joy of council-like existence.
The scientific and artistic creativity from the very primitive manifestations up to the most elevated, as well roots in the original council character, since scientific creativity is the strife for finding the truth, and art — for seeking and expressing the beauty, for they are the traces of the authentic process, to which the man is called — to the comprehending of Fullness, Truth and Beauty of God. And the joy, which brings scientific or artistic creativity, is the trace and reflection of that joy, towards which, on the plan of the Creator, was originally called the man, and of which he got deprived, committing a sin.
Surely, these traces of the council character, put into our nature, are now very weak and powerless, because of our sinful nature. Everyone, who examined his intentions in a good way knows, how much infirm these kind, natural feelings are. For example, how much can the man sincerely and with all his heart sympathize with the excruciating sufferings of a neighbor, without being distracted by his own interests and concerns?
The return to the completeness of the council character catholic life, to human one-essence existence is not possible for our natural forces alone. That is why all the ancient and new attempts to build the natural morals, undertook out of the Christianity, are powerless: even the most loving and self-denying people in the final run would give preference to their interests, than to those of the others. The demands of self-establishing and ego in the fallen man are stronger than the reflections of the violated council character.
And meanwhile, only catholicity leads to salvation, for it returns the man onto the way of approaching God, and consequently leads to joy. Separation and reticence conceal torture in themselves.
And so, for returning catholicity to the man, God comes down onto the earth.
Each person inherits his physical and spiritual qualities from his parents. In the essence of each one of us there is nothing that was not in our father or mother, or in any of the antecedents. Consequently, the fullness of our qualities, both physical and spiritual, was put in Adam, the father of mankind. So, if he committed a sin, then any of the descendents earlier or later could commit it as well.
That is why it was necessary for the salvation of mankind that something new, that Adam lacked, would be brought into human nature. This new thing was brought to the people by the Son of God, connecting the essence of Adam with His own. Becoming a human, He was subjected to all temptations, typical for us, but, unlike Adam, He resisted and did not yield to the temptation to oppose his will to that of the Father, and therefore remained sinless.
Having taught the people with word and His Personal example to lead righteous life, he lifted their sins upon Himself, suffered and died to efface them. For He personally was sinless, then death did not have any power over Him. Hell, where He descended after His death on the cross, could not tolerate the glory of His Divinity. Destroying the walls of hell, and exterminating the bounds of death, Christ was risen.
Though these extraordinary qualities of Jesus Christ — wisdom, holiness, unceasing life, spiritual strength — would have remained His personal advantages, if His ever-good will would not have pleased to spread them over entire mankind.
But how did the Lord achieved that? He created the new Creature — the Church.
The sin cut in pieces the human essence; therefore a sinful man cannot become one with another. Only some slightest reflections of possessing common essence remained in mankind. Though a sinless person can gain common with the others essence.
So, the sinless Man, Jesus Christ, obtained common essence with those people, who attach to Him and get freed from sins, due to His redeeming the sins of the world.
Such a mysterious connection with Christ happens in Baptism.
Though, the fact that Christ redeemed our sins does not mean that we can sin further, and remain sinless. No, the Lord does not force anyone to come to Him, for love and communication with God are built upon freedom. Every time the man sins, i.e. freely chooses the evil instead of the good, he separates Himself from Christ. On the infinite Divine mercy, he can again come back to Christ through repentance. Therefore, in the sacrament of confession a priest reads a prayer: "Reconcile and unite him (or her) to Your Holy Church, through Jesus Christ our Lord." Receiving sinless state through confession, the man again connects himself with Christ in the sacrament of the Holy Communion.
Thus, the Church is the new Creature — the human Council, guided by Christ, the authentic organism, in which He is the Leader. In it all the members are of the same essence with Christ and one another, representing the multitude in its unity, the similarity of the pre-eternal Divine Trinity Council.
This is what council character, or catholicity is.
What does it mean the "catholic faith," which St. Athanasius mentions to be the indispensable condition of salvation?
This is that faith, which is professed with the Council of co-essential with Christ and one another personalities, among which is the Holy Spirit, teaching them truth. This catholicity equally comprises of all departed and alive, those Christians, who believe catholically, i.e. correctly. Each of them is responsible for the purity of their faith, for to believe otherwise than the others, who form the Church do, means to separate oneself from the Council, and to oppose the own will and ideas to the will and ideas of the Council, lead by Christ and inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Therefore, it is very important to believe and live in the unity with the whole Council, the entire Church, not opposing oneself to It in anything. To be in unity does not mean to be dissolved in featurelessness, for each person is a unique personality, individual inimitable image of the Divinity, with only belonging to him, and never and in no one repeated qualities, as the qualities of Each Divine Personality of the Holy Trinity are. Each man has his own tasks in life, but he has to fulfill them in catholicity, unity, one-essence existence with the other members of the same organism — the Church.
This is the short scheme of catholicity. About catholicity, the council character of mankind, about the restoration of the damaged with sin unity of mankind Christ the Savior was praying in the Archpriest prayer before His cruciferous sufferings: "Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are…Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us" (John, 17:11, 20-21).
Here Christ prayed about the establishment of the Church, the human Council, similar to the Pre-Eternal Trinity Council, for we are called to be similar to God from the moment of our creation.
The Church as the Restoration of the Authentic Man.
We profess the One and Catholic Church. Strictly saying, one should not say about the Church division, it can only be said about the falling off from It, such as various heresies and schisms.
The inner divisions of the Church for the local ones are not separation, for example: Russian, Greek, Serbian, Bulgarian, Romanian… All these local churches comprise to one Orthodox Church. They are not even the parts of the Church, for the Church cannot be divided in parts, but only local, stipulated by the national or state character, separate displays of one and the same Church. The distinguishing features of each local Church can be many, but the unity remains indivisible, if the purity of faith and blessedness of the apostolic succession are preserved.
Striving for Catholicity
With the question of the Church unity is connected the question of its catholicity. We can be asked concretely: why don’t we, being the members of the Church, feel neither one-essential catholicity, nor the full unity within It? It happens because in our soul there can be many self-orientated, not belonging to the Church sides. Sometimes we keep to our opinions, which do not coincide with the Christian teaching. But for the authentic conversion one needs not only the absolute unity with the Church in thoughts, but putting these ecclesiastic thoughts into practice, into the very depth of the soul.
The holy righteous, who had cleansed their souls and made them completely ecclesiastic, i.e. a part of God, distinctly felt that unity and catholicity of the Church.
Though, we, the ordinary children of the Church, can understand and feel Its unity and catholic unanimity: when one reads the life of saints or works of the holy fathers, he in reality can feel his unity with them, the proximity of his interests, experience and longings. The Church tries to develop in us that council-like feeling, for example, giving in Its Divine services the opportunity to experience those feelings, which were known to the participants of the feast events, and through that catholically unite us with these of Its children, now belonging to the triumphing heavenly Church.
In communicating with one another each one of us, the Orthodox, experienced the unanimous feeling within encounters with some, very often unknown, but also the orthodox, believing people. At the same moment we see them, they turn out to be dear and close, dearer and closer, than any of our relatives, who are less like-minded to us, and with whom we are connected only through the physical relationship.
In the first ages of the Christianity, with the great strain of the church life, when the Christians fully lived in the Church, and had no interests out of It, this catholicity was perceived as very important. In different parts of the Christian world, in Spain and Mesopotamia, in Mauritania and Gallia, the Christians, with no arrangements, lead so very unanimous life, that a Christian from Damascus, who found himself in Massilia, felt himself as in the motherland, in the Church community of a foreign country. This inner unity of the scattered in many countries Christian communities was, no doubt, the declaration of will of the Holy Spirit, abiding in the Church.
Further on, when there appeared the possibility for that, the same spirit of catholicity, the organ of the Holy Spirit, began to reveal itself in the gathering of bishops, who obtained the triumphant name of the Ecumenical Council, zealously, with the complete realization of their right for that, declaring: "This is what the Holy Spirit and we demand."
Catholicity is not the common subordination to any authority, is not obedience to the directions how to believe and think, is not a scrupulous investigation on the question, about how they taught of this or that in antiquity. An Orthodox Christian believes and professes it not in the way, what this or that church authority directs him to do, not in the way, how one or another ancient holy father prescribes, but how his conscience and consciousness, brought up in the Church, prompt him to do. But he checks his conscience and consciousness with the help of the voice of the Church — that of the Ecumenical Councils, holy fathers and of his contemporaries, whom he knows to be living in the Church. And if he finds in his consciousness divergence of his and their opinion, he does not assert it as the contrary to the church understanding, but realizes that if his consciousness came into a conflict with that of the Church, then some capital error must have crawled in his way of thinking, which must be corrected through repentance and prayer.
Keeping to the catholicity is not easy, for it demands steadfastness and resignation. But about it, as of the entire Christian life, Christ says: "The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force"
The Church is not only united, it is unique, and for it has the only Leader— Christ. Everything that has communication with Him, is united with It.
Besides, the kept by the Church truth is one. There can be no several truths. If they express different opinions about the important and precise things, there can be only one of them, which is right, and the rest are incorrect.
So, the Church is absolutely new, special and unique being on earth, which cannot be precisely defined by notions, taken out of the mundane life.
The fact that they call the Church a "society" is inexact, for the mundane society consists of the reserved personalities of our sinful and imperfect world. The lay society is subjected to juridical laws, protecting and consolidating the reticence of individuals. We cannot imagine any commercial society, built not on the codex of rights and duties, but on the mutual compassion and sympathy.
The Church has an absolute council character. That is why the substitution of the council relations of its members by juridical ones within it is the distortion of its nature. One might compare the Church with a family, a society, built not upon juridical but natural quasi-council basis. But a family is too much specific and limited. Though, the Holy Scripture, in order to explain the nature of the Church, sometimes uses the comparison with a family, in which God is our Heavenly Father, and connection of a Christian with Christ is compared with the marriage of the soul with its Heavenly Bridegroom. The best analogy is given in the comparison, made by Apostle Paul with a body, but the thought of the Apostle, pointing at the aim of the body of the Church "unto the edifying of itself in love," already destroys the image of the body, knowing no love, and by that again points at the fact, that the nature of the Church cannot be explained through life examples.
In its essence, the Church is the similarity of the Trinity existence, in which many personalities become one creature. Why is such existence, as well as the existence of the very Trinity, so inexpressible for us and impossible to understand? It happens because in our understanding a personality is a reserved being, radically isolated from any other personality, to the extent that the notion of opposition of "I" and "Not Me" became a corner-stone of the European philosophy (Decart).
On the contrary, a personality, which develops itself in the Church, possesses the fullness of catholicity: self-denial and love for the others, as for oneself, with the high degree of the individual development of self-awareness. The most typical representatives of such a combination are the types of saints of the Church. Let us remember them: martyrs, ascetics, saints… In all these three types, dissimilar because of the daily conditions of life, we find the equal harmony of the two elements, which seem incompatible with the natural intellect.
All these three types are the giants of will with the extremely intense understanding of their personal responsibility, and at the same time absolutely alien not only to egoism, but to slightly felt haughtiness, or any pretensions to their rights.
So, the Christian truth of the Church, as of the council being, similar to the Trinity not only within the idea, but in life, frees the man of the natural clash between the self-awareness of the personality and self-denying love, as a principle of life. That is why the dogma of the Trinity is the main dogma of the Christianity, and the feature of catholicity — the main feature of the Church.
The establishment of the Church, the Divine-human organism, was the greatest act of the Divine love, the victory of Christ over the devil.
The attempts of the prince of darkness turned out to be destroyed by the act of the greatest Divine leniency, which the devil could not foresee because of his pride. He, the proud and powerful spirit, the firstling of creation and the head of angels, despised people, physical infirm creatures. He could in no way suppose that the Son of God — the Creator and God, sharing the throne with the Father and the Spirit, would become one of them.
The sphere of darkness was defeated by the Divine lenience, the hell was destroyed. The Gates of the Heavenly Kingdom opened wide, and the saved people as a broad stream flew into its light dwellings, "prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Math. 25:34).
But the enemy of God and the people in his insane pride did not want to accept that he was defeated and to give up. Seeing that people were saved in the Church, he focused all his hatred on It. First, he tried to destroy the Church physically through the bloody persecutions of heathen leaders. Having succeeded in the persecutions, he simultaneously began to try to divide the Church into different hostile parts, through the establishment of heresies and church schisms.
But the first heresies were not very successful. With the high tension of the church life, the firm idea of catholicity and constant communication of the ancient churches, those false teachings were rapidly noticed by the Christians, as the phenomenon, that was strange and alien to its nature, and the propagators of those heresies, various false teachers, were rapidly excommunicated out of the Church. This way and rejected the ancient heresies of Gnostics, evionites, saulians, dockets were exposed.
But with the growth of the Church in breadth, with the penetration into it the new human masses, the moral level of the Christian society began to drop, and as a result the spiritual perceptiveness and sensitivity began to fade. And so we see that in the 4th century first the Aryan, and then Nestorian and monophysite heresies began to enthrall many millions of the Christians.
Nevertheless, the success of these heresies was not durable. After the first success, those heresies began to fade, not only outwardly, but first of all inwardly, with the impoverishment of righteousness and loss of the idea of catholicity. Little by little the followers of those heresies began to play the role of a local separate phenomenon.
In spite of the troubles among the people, the deficiencies of the church life, caused by the flow of the former heathens, who came into the Church, in spite of the certain cooling of religious fire, in comparison with the apostolic age, the Christian world in the period, preceding the event of the separation of the Western and Eastern Church, in the 5,6 and 7th centuries, represented an amazing, bright and enlightened spiritual scene.
The Lives of Saints, the Spiritual meadow, Lavsaik and the similar books of antiquity tell us of the time, when all over the territory, which could only fit in the horizon of a European, the holy Christian Church grew in breadth and took roots. Millions of people freed themselves from the power of paganism and became the convinced Christians. In spite of the difference between the belonging to the Church nations, the church life was the same from Spain to Mesopotamia, and all this territory was inhabited by the millions of the righteous, so that in every corner of the Christian world each man, who wished to serve to Christ, could find a good example for himself.
The Roman Catholicism Falling Off from the Church
In the 9th century for the first time appeared the sinister crack between the Christian East and the West, that crack which further on caused the sad division, which till now is painful for the entire Christian world.
What was the reason for that crack’s appearance?
The dark demonic force always builds temptations on the base of these or those human infirmities. This happens both in the respect of a single person and of one or another society, nation and the entire mankind. Let us explain it with the help of an example: the man can be hungry, what is quite natural and normal, but through the feeling of hunger, the devil forces the man to serve to his womb, overeat, what becomes a sin.
The separation between the Western and Eastern Churches is often explained by the difference of psychology of the East and West. This is true, but only partly. In this very difference there is no sin and necessity of separation in the questions of faith. Such a difference existed from the beginning, but nevertheless the Church of Christ was living with unanimous life. The blessed unity of the Church to cover all the varieties of national mentality and way of life, as a full-flowing river covers all the shoals and reefs, which are at its bottom. The variety of psychology of different ethnical groups, comprising to the Church, does not separate, but provides for the wealth and multi-sidedness of the church culture.
Though, in the number of reasons, causing the psychological difference between the East and the West was the one, which by the moment of separation became if not to say a sin, then at any rate, the drawback of the West in comparison with the East.
The East and the West obtained different cultural legacy from the heathen antiquity. The East got the Hellenistic philosophy, the West — the Roman juridical empire understanding of the law.
But the East, having accepted the Hellenistic philosophy, transformed it into the Christian philosophy. The attempts to plant out the fruit of heathen philosophy in the Christian consciousness, which undertook Gnostics, Saulians, Arians and other heretics, were categorically rejected by the Church, and philosophy took its place in the ecclesiastical consciousness of the East only when it totally went through the ecclesiastic prism.
We see the other thing in the West. There the juridical and empire understandings of heathen Rome were not transformed by the Christianity. We see neither the struggle for creating the Christian world contemplation, nor the work on the transformation of the Roman heathen psychology in the West. Although, while the unity with the East was still preserved, there was nothing destructive in that inner inactivity of the West, for the Orthodox West derived the true world contemplation from the East. For the East, the period of the vigorous fight with heresies, the calm and stable in the Orthodoxy West was the precious basis.
Nevertheless, the very imperturbability of the West concealed danger in itself. "For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you" — writes Ap. Paul (1 Cor. 11:19).
The East realized that the true Orthodox faith was seized by various false doctrines, against which it had to fight; that for the purity of faith were responsible all the Christians, starting with archpriests and ending with lay people. The West was getting used to the thought that the true faith was given to it once and forever, and that it was glorified only because it is the West.
Beside the difference in mentality, they think the reason of separation to be the rise of the significance of Roman popes. Though, this phenomenon by itself does not yet conceal anything sinful within it.
We know that in the ancient Church the significance of these or those bishop departments rose, and especially of those so called apostolic departments, i.e. the departments, directly founded by the Apostles, which they led, being in the role of bishops for the more or less durable time. There were several similar departments in the East, and in the West only the Roman one, which apostles Peter and Paul visited themselves. With time there started to appear archbishops, metropolitans, patriarchs, as the hierarchs with more wide administrative powers. Such centralization of the Church started because of the need of the better organization of the Church life. Theoretically one can imagine that finally the Church could become administratively united and led by one chief patriarch. But that did not happen. The highest authority of the Church was given to the Ecumenical Councils.
The separations did not yet take place even when there appeared the erroneous opinion in the West that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son as well, against which first arouse the Roman Popes Leo III and Adrian I. The separation happened only when the West took root in this misconception and considered itself to have the right officially, as the indisputable truth, to announce of its private opinion, despite the protests of the Eastern Church, and when the West added its new doctrine into the Creed, despite the categorical prohibition of the 3d and 4th Ecumenical Councils to change anything in the Creed.
First of all, by this heretical novelty was violated catholicity, council character, the understanding that the fullness of truth the Lord gives not to the single personalities, not to the separate parts of the Church, but only to the entire Church, in all its fullness, to its council unity.
The break happened when the West wanted to impose its self-willed change of the Creed upon the East. This tragic separation became more profound later when the Christians of the West came into the Eastern Church not like brothers, whishing to protect but like enemies and in the so-called forth crusade destroyed the eastern empire worse that the enemies of the Christian faith did further on. Here, strictly speaking, comes the main and final border, dividing the Christian West and the Christian East.
After the happened separation, all the basic typical features of the Christian life of the West, the traits of variety, enriching the church culture, became additional factors for the separation.
The Papacy, used to the thought about the rightness of its opinion, having seen its spiritual flock growing in number, and its rising significance in the Church (which boundaries in its understanding were limited only by the West), finally appropriated all the basic qualities of the Church, proclaiming on July 10, 1870 that the Roman bishop "has the same infallibility (i.e. accuracy in the questions of faith), which the Church possesses …" and that "the definitions of the Roman bishop cannot be abolished."
The Roman juridical consciousness made the West forget the authentic relations of the man and God, replacing them by the juridical formal relations, built on the theory of agreement and purchasing salvation.
Left after the heathen times memories of the "pontificus maximus" as of the ruler of the universe, led to the mingling of the spiritual and mundane authorities, to the pretensions to the world majesty of the Roman popes.
The Protestantism and Sectarianism
In several centuries after the separation of the Western Church, the gap between the churches became greater, because of the appearance of the Protestantism. If the local Roman church allowed itself to proclaim the new teaching independently and to enter it into the Creed willfully, violating the principle of catholicity, then why cannot be such a right given to any single man?
So, the Catholic monk Luther appropriates the right to publish the Schwabach articles, which end with such significant words: "The Church is nothing else but the sum of the believers in Christ, possessing the up above mentioned articles, believing in them and learning them."
But this means that anyone has a right to compose similar new articles and proclaim them to be the teaching of the Church.
The Anglican Church, for example, finds possible that in one and the same Church can be present the people, both believing in the basic ecclesiastical truths, and the people, who do not believe in the incarnation of Jesus Christ, caused by the Holy Spirit and the forthcoming resurrection of the dead, as it is proclaimed in "the doctrinal report" of the years 1922-38.
There is nothing left to say about the countless sects.
It is very interesting to define the typical feature of the world view of these new sects in comparison with the ancient ones. The ancient sects, which were based on the false suppositions, in defiance of the catholic thought of the Church, strove for the catholicity by the fact that they naively thought that their doctrine was in accordance with the teaching of the Scripture, or at least did not contradict it. That was why the ancient sects caused the more profound study of the religious questions and consequently, to some extent, contributed to the development of theology.
The new sects, on the contrary, totally ignore the principle of catholicity, do not even wish to hear about it. Haughtily and disdainfully they wave the historical experience and catholic reason of the Church aside, and therefore cause not the development but the decline of theology, and through the material flat reasoning about faith lead to the cooling in its respect, decrease of the interest to the truth and making the religious thought mundane; in the final run the new sects lead to atheism.
So, with the époque of the separation from the East, with the moment of break of the catholic unity and proud self-accretion, the West of the Christian world forgot the authentic understanding of the Church, and they began to perceive it as the mundane, built on the juridical grounds, society with the juridical relations among its members and formal, contractual relations with God.
The Two Understandings of the Church
The understanding of Christ as the Head of the Church started to transform from the organic and substantial into the metaphoric one. Christ started to be accepted as the head of the Church only like the head of the state, the president or king, ruling its outward ways, but not giving life to the given institution. Consequently, the attitude of believers towards Christ changed, and the new, distorted understanding of the Christianity appeared.
With such an understanding, with the forgetting of the organic unity of the Church with Christ, the Christian West, which separated from the body of the Church, naturally started to need the terrestrial leader, for Christ cannot rule the Church visibly and evidently for everybody. Together with that such a belittled understanding of the Church and purely terrestrial reconstruction of its administration turned out to be convenient for semi-Christians.
The Orthodox organic belonging to the Church requires constant exploit. Really, in the Orthodox understanding of the Church as the Body of Christ living one life with Him, in which there must be nothing sinful, we can belong to the Church to such an extent, to which we constantly cleanse ourselves from any sin and sincerely strive for righteousness. Any sin holds us away from the unity with Christ; our communication with Him weakens and can be finally destroyed.
With the understanding of the Church, as the terrestrial society, guided by a terrestrial leader, there can be no kind of such falling off and the return of the man to the Church is not necessary. Any sinner, even if he does not at all wish to be saved, is the member of the Church because of his formal belonging to the Roman Catholicity, or to a certain Protestant denomination. If sinfulness is foreseen and beforehand protected by certain rules, it forms the norm of life of this church organization and does not excommunicate from it.
Meanwhile, in the Orthodox world the grave sin of a Christian is a tragedy and catastrophe, breaking his connection with the Church, which is painfully felt by the entire Church, on the words of Ap. Paul: "And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it." That is why now, in the period of the moral decay in the Christian world, the drop of spirituality and sinfulness, especially among the clergy, so painfully affects the Orthodox world. The moral downfall or infidelity to the purity of the teaching of the Church from the side of a bishop or a priest is always a catastrophe, causing pain.
In order to understand it, let us imagine first the norm of the church pastoral life, what it should be like. A bishop or a priest is totally living the church life, all his aspirations are in God, when he sets "affection on things above, not on things on the earth" (Col. 3:2). This does not mean that he does not take care of his parish or eparchy, but means that he searches for the Reign of God and its truth for him and for his spiritual children, and for all the rest as a supplement, on the word of Christ. Together with that, the Reign of God and Its truth are being searched by him not according to his own ideas, not willfully, but catholically — in the unity with the Church, i.e. together with the equally believing faithful.
How much, how full can be the unity of the members of the Church in such cases, we know from the church history, from the examples of the whole line of important church events, for example, the establishment of the eparchial, and then parish structure of the Church, working out the church laws and activities, which with the appearance of the similar needs, on the whole space of the ancient Christian world from Spain up to Mesopotamia were introduced by the catholically thinking bishops and their co-workers, without any specially made arrangement.
Each question in no matter what field: personal, state, national, social — was answered by all the representatives of the Church in the same way, for they did not have any personal opinions or personal interests, but only the common church ones. And that happened in spite of the fact that they, as personalities, in no way were deficient. We imagine them: for example, St. Ignatius God Bearer, Policarpus of Smyrna, Irineus of Lion and others, as the giants of the spirit, highly developed individualities, which they seem to be to a reader of their lives’ descriptions, or their works. Did such a unity need any outer guidance or juridical registration, if it was directly supported by the common life together with Christ?
Such, ideally, must be the arrangement of the Church of Christ. Its unity is provided by the unity of Its members with Christ, and any breaking of this unity, coming out of sinfulness, self-being, self-assertion, immediately influences the headed by them church unit (a parish or eparchy). It cannot be the other way round, for a sin is a catching spiritual disease.
It can happen that some member of the Church starts sinning and not repenting in his sin, but keeps to it. The sin deprives him from the unity with Christ, the unity with the Church. Until the Church decisively cuts off this separating from It member, or he repents ("metanoia" — his absolute conversion), until that time his separation will harm the well-being of the Church. He either would start to teach incorrectly, trying to justify his sinfulness with a lie, or would behave himself temptingly, or sow dissension in the Church.
Certainly, as we said, nowadays, with the extremely low general church standard, this is the way how we react mostly at the betrayal of the Church by Its archpriest and pastors. But we often do not pay attention to the betrayal of Its ordinary members, for we got used to it during the latest centuries. But in reality, with at least some higher church level, the attitude to the betrayal of any member of the Church should be the same.
We, the Orthodox, now suffer of all the types of the church destruction, as a result of the most profound disparity: the Church in its essence remained the same, what it always used to be, — the body of Christ, the bride of Christ, which has neither any spot, nor any vice, and the people, who are called to be its members, representatives, and in their number archpriests and priests, have many spots and vices and do not want to be cleansed by repentance, but take root in them and try not to cleanse themselves, but to liken the Church to themselves. Nevertheless, the Church remains the same, what it always used to be, is and will be, and they fall out from It, loose their unity with It, for "What is the chaff to the wheat?" says the Prophet Jeremiah (23:28).
Seeing this process of the slow falling off from the Church, an Orthodox Christian cannot stay indifferent. For the healing of himself and of the whole body of the church, he longs for the interference of Christ the Savior, prays for the correction of the church life.
The Legalization of Sin
This process is quite different in the Latin world. In it there is the completed strictly centralized church organization, which is headed by the terrestrial leader, to whom belongs the fullness of power. All the members of this church organization — for unanimity of thinking — do not need catholicity, which requires the spiritual purity. For to have an agreement, it only suffices to appeal for a reference into the corresponding leading organ of the highest church authority. Sins do not appear to be tragedies. They are either punished, if they cause indignation, or are proclaimed a norm, like the violation of fasts.
Through that is achieved the outer uninterrupted character of the church life, but it is bought with the high price: the sin is not exterminated, but penetrates inside of the church, becomes no longer a personal downfall of this or that member of the Church, but the sin of the whole Church, causing in it all those abnormalities of the church life, which are so evidently seen in the Latinism. The Catholicity with its papist infallibility and indulgencies, with intricate calculations of the number of good deeds and over-due services, with the juridical relations between God and the man and formal attitude to the sacraments — all these are the fruits of the separation of the Latin West from the unity of the Church.
Salvation is understood as the outward reward for the certain number of good deeds, or by the Protestants — for the belief in Jesus Christ. They have forgotten that salvation is reached through the moral cleansing and becoming similar to Christ.
The Catholicity has its own ascetics, but they fulfill the disciplinary requirements through their duty, for what they are promised eternal life to come. And the fact that this life already exists and that the blissful communication with God can be already achieved here, on the earth, and the after-death lot is the continuation of the process, which started already in this life, and is not a separate reward for it, — all this was forgotten by the West.
So, as far as we can, let us take care of, make more profound and perfect our catholic existence with God in the Church, in order to reach the fullness of it in the Kingdom of the Heavenly Truth and love, which is prepared for the faithful since the creation of the world.
The Origin of Life on Earth.
Thinking of the history of the universe, we note the uninterrupted development in it, which as it seems, does not require any interference from without. When La Place was explaining to Napoleon his theory of the provenance of the solar system, to the question of Napoleon: "Where is the interference of the Lord God here?" he answered: "My theory does not need it."
It was an impudent, but not an atheist statement. La Place was a believing person, they say that to the question of Napoleon, about if Jesus Christ really existed, he answered: "It cannot be doubted, like cannot be doubted the existence of Julius Caesar or Your Majesty."
His first statement we can paraphrase in such a way: the laws of the universe, created by the Lord God, are so perfect, that the interference in their action or correction of them is not necessary. Naturally, the presence of laws supposed that there is the Lawgiver.
Saint righteous John of Kronstadt writes: "The Lord has the full respect to the created by Him nature and its laws, as to the works of His infinite Wisdom. Therefore He usually shows His Will with the help of nature and its laws…"
The laws of nature were not eternal, they appeared together with the appearance of the first energy-matter, when the time and space started existing. The scientists call this moment "The big bang"; it happened approximately 15 milliards years ago at the time when there "was not any thing made that was made’. This way the material universe started from the immaterial Element.
Each second the millions of tons disintegrate into atoms and these atoms become the stores of energy. This process is irreversible, for as though energy can be converted into matter again, for that it is necessary the expenditure of more energy.
Meanwhile, even if at least one gram of the material substance could be transformed into energy during one thousand years, the substance would not be infinite: even in the beginning of times it would all be transformed into energy, and this energy is irreversibly used for the increase of entropy, i.e. the equal spreading of chaos in the universe.
So, according to the modern scientific understanding, the material universe must have surely started from the immaterial cause, which we call the Lord God and testify about it, citing the Bible: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth."
After God created the heaven and the earth (i.e. the terrestrial material substance), the further development of the universe, which got the blessing of the Lord, happened according to the given by Him laws, without His interference, but with His guidance, when His arm directed all the processes towards the outlined by Him goal.
Likewise it happened until in one point of the universe appeared something new — life.
The living organisms are something absolutely new, which does not come out of the chemical and physical processes of the development of lifeless matter. All the living organisms originate from the similar to them living organisms, like brilliantly was noted by Pastere. And if it is correct now, then it is not possible to state arbitrary and without proof, that millions of years ago everything was different.
The references to the most primitive organisms, bacteria and viruses, which as though have their borders between living and lifeless matter erased, loose their persuasiveness, if we recall that both bacteria and viruses need organic medium for their existence, without which they cannot live. Consequently, they could not be the first samples of the animal kingdom, but could appear when the organic world already existed on the earth.
Our closest neighbor and satellite in the universal space, the Moon, is the absolute witness of the fact that the development of the physical and chemical processes does not give the start to life by itself. Now we definitely know about the Moon, that there is no life on it. Our planetary neighbors, Venus and Mars, seem to be the similar witnesses. Apparently, there is no life on these planets, either. The hypothesis that Mars has fading life, and Venus the starting one, is unfounded.
Now the most recent investigations showed that in any case there is no developed life, neither on Venus, nor on Mars. And even if there is some primitive life there, it means that there, too, sounded the creative word of God, about which the Bible says: "And God created every living creature."
To these living creatures God commanded to be fruitful, and multiply and fill the earth, and gave them the ability to be perfected, get accustomed to the conditions, in which they live. From this came the natural development of living creatures, i.e. evolution. Though, no evolution could make a mute animal out of a rational being. To that testify all the kinds and types of animals. All of them are our far contemporaries, which according to the Bible and paleontology, appeared before us. No other kind, than mankind, became rational, about which it is said: "God created man in his own image."
So, we stated that the direct interference of God into the lead by Him process of world creation happened for three times.
It can be objected that in the Bible there are mentioned not three, but six days of creation, and as though nowhere it is said about the mentioned by us three boundaries. But it only seems, if one reads the Bible not attentively enough. Concerning the days of creation Moses himself, who wrote the narration about the creation of the world on the inspiration of God, says in Psalm 89: "For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past" and Apostle Paul repeats: "One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."
Six days or periods are mentioned in the Bible to show that the Lord created the material universe not with a single act, not in a moment, but gradually, letting the laws of nature reach the planned by God results and as if take part in the creation. The seventh creative period, on the teaching of the Church, goes on till the present day and will last till the end of ages, when there will come the eighths day, which will have no end. About that say many holy fathers and especially it is described in detail by St. Basil the Great.
The creative moments of the direct interference of God into led by Him, and subordinated to those set by Him laws, process, are mentioned in the Bible (in Hebrew) with the Hebrew word "bara," which is very well translated in Russian with the word "to create," in opposition to the Hebrew word "asa," which in Russian means "to design, bring forth."
In the Biblical narration about the creation of the world the word "bara" is used only thrice, in the meaning "to create from nothing" (as a poet creates his poem not from a pencil and a piece of paper, but from himself):
In all the other cases the word "asa," "to bring forth," is used. God brought forth, but not created the outward seen sky, brought forth, but not created the heavenly bodies. Having created the living creatures in water, God created, but did not bring forth the beasts of the earth.
In this one should see the indication of the Bible of the process of evolution, the provenance of the beasts of the earth from the water creatures. And, finally, he created, but not brought forth the man in His image, after His likeness. But still concerning this part we should understand that it is our spirit that is created in His image and similarity. What is said about the body is: "The LORD God formed (but not "brought forth") man of the dust of the ground," i.e. from the terrestrial elements.
The Scientific Views of St. Basil the Great.
St. Basil the Great (330-379), who is commemorated by the Church on the 1st and 30th of January, is the fighter against the heresy of Arians, the bishop of Caesarea of Cappadocia, one of the fathers of Liturgy, the teacher of the Church and a great saint.
Surely, not only because of his education, and not only for his scientific knowledge he deserved such reverence. Through the mouth of St. Apostle Paul the Church teaches that "the foolishness of God is wiser than men"… "God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise." Basil the Great himself repeats the same thought, when he writes: "The wise men talked much about nature, and none of their teachings stayed firm and unshakable, for the forthcoming teaching overthrew the preceding one…We, though we do not know the nature of the created, admire the things that are accessible to our feelings, so that even the most active mind seems to be insufficient to explain even the least part of the world, and to worthily praise the Creator, to Whom it is Glory, Honor and Power."
Though, in order that these words can be convincing, it is necessary that the one, who pronounces them, could really possess the possible fullness of the known to mankind knowledge, so that no one could say that he (attacking the bible) blasphemes at the things, he does not know. As far as St. Basil the Great is concerned, his erudition was extremely high.
This is the most important fact, which we, Russians, have to distinguish, for the works of St. Basil the Great at the beginning of the 10th century were translated by the Bulgarian presbyter John the Exarches and from the ancient times were the favorite reading of our ancestors.
Here we shall not mention the theologian knowledge of St. Basil. They are wider than the knowledge in this sphere of the majority of his contemporaries and even much higher. Very wide is the knowledge of St. Basil in the field of the classical Greek literature. Here we should mention only the natural-historical knowledge of St. Basil the Great, for exactly in this field the holy fathers are often assigned the opinions, which do not coincide with their real statements.
What is the information, which possessed St. Basil? Which are the facts that learnt the educated part of the Orthodox world of those days?
Long before Newton, who established the law of gravitation, the Church testified to the Lord: "You fixed earth upon the void, O Lord, by Your own command, and You made it free floating, heavy though it be" (3-rd hirmos of Matins’ canon, 5th tome).
In accordance with that St. Basil writes: "If you suppose that the Earth stands on water, you will have to ask, why it, being so heavy, does not plunge into it? Moreover, it would be necessary for it to find the support in water itself. This way we can continue till infinity, finding new basis for the singled out foundations" (The Works of Basil the Great, Petersburg, 1911, vol.1, p. 10).
St. Basil teaches that the "days," about which the Bible says as about the period of the world creation, are not our usual days, moreover, there could be no usual days at the time, when the sun was not yet brought forth. "Moses called the unit of time a single day, in order that this day, according to its name, would be akin to a century, for it is said: "The day of the LORD is great and very terrible" (Joel, 2:11). According to our teaching, we know that, not having succession and end, day, which is called the eighths day by the Psalmist. Therefore, no matter if you call it a day or a century, you will express the same notion (vol.1, p. 23).
Let us remind that the Church considers the seventh day to be all the time, which passed since the time of the world’s creation, and the eighths day — the period, which will come with the end of the world.
St. Basil the Great says about the phases of the Moon: "The very body of the moon with its last phase is not destroyed, for in the clear and free from any mist air, the Moon looks like a finest crescent, and you can, if you look attentively, see the dark, unlighted part of it. The light of the Moon is borrowed-like. It gets waned, coming close to the sun, and increases, getting away from it" (vol.1, p. 55).
About the size of the sun: "Do not be deceived by the appearance and by that the sun for those, who look at it, seems to be of the size of an elbow, do not assume that it is its real size. For because of the great distances the size of the visible objects is normally diminished. Our sight, being short, makes us consider the visible objects to be small, transferring its own deficiency upon them. And the heavenly body, according to the testimony of the Scripture, is enormous and more great than it seems to be" (vol.1, p.63).
St. Basil says about the form of the Earth and about eclipses: "Those, who wrote about the shape of the Earth, thought it to be a globe, but I shall not agree to accept our narration about the world’s creation to be worth of less respect, for the servant of God Moses did not discuss shapes, did not say that the circle of the earth had 180.000 stages, did not measure for what distance the shade of the earth spread, and how that shade, covering the moon, causes an eclipse. If he hushed about all that, as of the unimportant for salvation, then would I suppose the words of the Holy Spirit less important than human wisdom?" (vol.1, p.85)
St. Basil describes the rises and falls of the tide: "The changes of the moon coincide with the reverse flows of euripi — a rise and a fall of the ocean, exactly following the time of the moon conversions" (vol.1, p. 64).
One and a half thousand years before Newton, Kirchghof and Bunsen, St. Basil sets forth the theory of a rainbow — the spectrum: "When a ray of light, piercing the haze of clouds, comes to one of the clouds, then there happens some distortion and the light returns to itself. Being multi-colored, the ray gets unnoticeably colored with different shades, in the unseen for us manner concealing the mutual influence of the unequal colored parts. The reflections of all the colored rays, seen together, are white" (vol.3, p. 55).
St. Basil points at the reasons of the seas being salty (vol.1, p.31), at the causes of rain (vol. 1, p.32), gives the description of the contemporary to him practice of transforming salty water into fresh: "The seamen boil the sea water, and wiping the steam with sponges, incase of necessity, satisfy their needs" (vol.1, p.41).
He classifies the sea animals: "To one type belong the so-called scull-skinned: shells, combs, sea snails and thousands of various oysters; another kind form the cranial: the crayfish, crabs and alike; to another kind belong slugs, which have soft and spongy flesh; polyps, cuttlefish and alike. Another kind form those spawning caviar and another – viviparous. The viviparous are whales, dolphins and seals. The fish has endless varieties, differed by kinds: they have own names and food, their appearance, size and type of flesh are different, have own typical features and belong to different classes" (vol.1, p.98).
From these lines of the works of St. Basil we see how the scientific terminology was singled out, at least, the Russian one, where from originated the notions "kind," "type," etc.
St. Basil explains the process of breathing of the insects: "When you see insects, for example, bees or wasps (they are called insects because they have visible incising), note that they do not breathe with lungs, but they accept air with all their body. That is why, if they get into the oil and get wet, they die because the pores of their body become closed, and if you wash them in time with vinegar, they become alive again, for the pores to breath in the air become open again" (vol.1, p.82). In the same place, long before Harvey, St. Basil the Great says about the blood circulation.
St. Basil precisely and in detail describes the territories, from India up to the Atlantic Ocean (vol.1, p.29), he knows where the Nile rises (vol.1, p.368). He knows that the Indian Ocean is connected with the Atlantics. He knows about the existence of the Chinese and that they rear silkworms.
Finally St. Basil says about the scientific questions, slightly known to our generation, about the time relativity: "The wise in everything man can do everything, even can define the nature of time, saying that time is the quality movement of the sun, the moon and the stars, which have power to move by themselves. But how will this wise call the time period from the beginning of the existence of the sky and the earth, up to the creation of the stars? How will he define the continuation of the day, when, on the word of Joshua the sun stood still and the moon was at its place? How will he call this moment? For, if the nature of time got impoverished, then evidently there started the eternity. But to call the eternity the minor part of the day does not it mean to become insane? Days, hours, months, years are measures, but not the parts of time. Time is space, which comes along with the state of the world. By it they measure any movement, be it either of stars, animals, anything that moves, for we say that one thing is quicker or slower than another: faster, when it in less time covers the greater distance; slower, when in more time it moves forward less. A fussy wise man calls the stars resting on time, for they are moving in time. Let us define the time likewise: it is the quality movement of the ground-beetles. It does not differ from the made fussily-wise accretions, except the identity of names" (vol.1, p.148).
These extracts from the works of St. Basil the Great show, what clear, steadfast scientific world-view he had. We do not see in his works even a trace of those fairy-tale concepts of the world, which slanderers try imposing upon the fathers of the church.
His scientific world-view St. Basil did not count as the highest stage of cognition. He gave his forces to the best: the Divine knowledge, contemplation of God and serving to God. Only in passing, but in the same wide and multi-sided way, he accepted the contemporary to him scientific world-view, knowing to choose the best and true from it. In reality: "Godliness is profitable unto all things" (1 Tim. 4:8) and "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Math. 6:33).
The wide knowledge of St. Basil was united into the entire fine and integrated world contemplation, for it was consecrated by his great faith in God and love for Him. Contemplating the purposefulness, considered character of the universe in its small and great details, he gladly saw in that the Divine hand, which created and is guiding the world.
The world has its beginning and was created, writes St. Basil. Let us ask ourselves: who started it and who is its creator? It is better to tell you at once, in order not to deviate from truth, looking for the answer through human contemplations: God created it. This Blessed Creature, this Blessedness, which cannot be depleted, this Kindness, loved and so much longed for by any reasonable creature, this Beginning of creatures, this Source of life, this Spiritual Light, this Unassailable Wisdom is the One, Who in the beginning created the heaven and earth" (vol.1, p.5)
About Freud and Homosexuality.
From the Correspondence with One Young man
I would like to talk to you in detail on one subject, which we discussed during my last arrival. You told me about the theory, obviously based on Freud’s doctrine, that the psychological basis, causing the monks go to a monastery, and sailors, leaving for a long-time sailing and dooming themselves to life among men, without women, is subconscious (or conscious) homosexuality.
I vaguely heard of that theory before, but thought that Freud’s theories moved away to the background after Adler and K. Jung made many-sided refutations of them. K. Jung long before had reproached Freud that he turned the entire variety of human psychics’ functions down to sexual motives. But K. Jung as well proposed almost absolutely negative motives to be the key stimuli for human actions: love for power, covetousness, etc.
From our Christian point of view, both the theories should be disagreed with in the same way. Both of them are the demonic slander on the man. The devil in Greek means "a slanderer." He constantly slanders on people. He knows in them only that, what he had sown, i.e. the evil, and does not want to see the good, which the Lord had put into them.
The most primitive and spread form of such slander on the motives of human actions are the statements of Marx and Lenin that religious, state and social movements were inspired by the aspirations for profit and thirst for power. These statements are constantly repeated by the Communists. "God was invented by priests and generals to keep the workers and peasants submitted and squeeze the profit out of them."
In their essence, the theories of Freud and Jung are slander as well.
Only not knowing the Christian monasticism at all, one can assert that active or potential homosexuals became monks.
Many monks always had sexual temptations. But they unfailingly were heterosexuals. Remember the temptations of venerable Anthony, so popularly described in the books, and most basic lives of saints-ascetics. All of them tell about the heterosexual nature of monastic temptations. Yes, Theodore Studit points at the danger of homosexual temptations, but only because of the absence of women, as at the second class temptations.
The monks won over their heterosexual temptations thanks to their love for God, but not through their homosexuality. The description of their lives is full of purity, not of the dirt of pederasty.
The history tells us that in the pre-Mongol period the Russian people (as the ancient Germans) did not know of pederasty at all. It came to Russia only with Tatars. Yes, in the latest times, before the revolution, in the period of the decay of religion and moral in the entire world, there was some wrecking, both heterosexual and homosexual, especially in the Southern Russia.
The Communists, seizing the monasteries, registered all those facts with pleasure. But in the Northern monasteries: in Solovki, Belozersk, Vologda monasteries, in spite of all their attempts, they could not find any testimonies of the monastic dissolute life.
Together with that, it must be noted that homosexuality existed in the monasteries not because the candidates for monks came to the monasteries with homosexual goals, but because homosexuality was spread mainly like a catching disease. The existing homosexuals attracted to their vice new adepts, which would not have become homosexuals, if they would not have been "taught" doing that.
To a considerable degree the same can be said about seamen. They became seamen because of various reasons: on family traditions, because of the interest to the foreign countries, strife to serve to the Sovereign exactly with that, not easy service. Now you cannot imagine how great the devotion to the Sovereign in Russia was before our revolution and in France, before their revolution.
Yes, among seamen, because of the lack of women, during the long periods of time of sailing, there were cases of homosexuality. But those were the exceptions. In the ports, where the ships arrived, flourished the female prostitution but not the male one.
There was high moral purity among seamen. It is a pity that you read in Russian only a little. Otherwise I would have sent you K. Stanukevitch, where he cites the talks of sea men and their letters to wives. There is much love and purity in them. Already in the Soviet time there were published the biographies of Lisyanskiy and Lasarev. There are published their letters as well. From those letters it was obvious that they were faithful to their spouses. One cannot suspect them in homosexuality, and even in the slightest unfaithfulness to their wives.
This is in our time that many because of the decay of religion and morals got sexually insane and do not imagine how it is possible to live without constant satisfaction of the sexual needs. This was predicted by our Lord two thousand years ago, when He said: "When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" and more: "And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold." The times when religion had more influence, knew the powerful sublimation, i.e. the rise of the bodily calls to the higher stages of creative and spiritual aspiration.
The most harmful consequences of freudism and psychoanalysis is the extermination by it the idea of sin, the idea of acceptance by the man of his fault before God.
In his letter to an English woman, Mrs. N, dated by the 9th of April, 1935, Freud writes about her homosexual son: "What concerns the profit, which psychoanalysis can give to your son, it can give him harmony, spiritual peace, complete effectuality, if he is unhappy, torn in parts by conflicts, experiencing difficulties in relations with other people, no matter if he remains a homosexual or not." That means that psychoanalysis will remove the morally healthy, but painful feeling of guilt, and with that the desire to get freed from this vice will disappear in this young man.
In the same letter Freud writes: "There is nothing shameful in homosexuality, it is not a vice or humiliation, it cannot be treated as a disease, we count it to be a variety of the sexual function…" Meanwhile, according to our Christian teaching, homosexuality is a grave sin, which, on the doctrine of the holy fathers, is equal to murder.
The problems of sin cannot be understood without faith in God. While there is no faith in God, there is no sin. Already Dostoevsky noted: "If there is no God, everything is allowed."
Freud, as a conscious and complete atheist, surely could fail to understand the problem of sin. In his letter to the Jewish organization "Bnai Brit" Freud wrote: "I always was an atheist and was brought up out of religion." But he does not pause in that statement. In his letter to L. Binswanger he wickedly and haughtily noted: "I have found the place for religion, after I have discovered the category of collective neuroses."
Anyone can slander at religion and say blasphemies, but this full of indignation diagnosis of Freud is easily refuted by the fact that the generations of believing people had the least probability of suffering with neurosis, and with the increase of atheism the percentage of neuro-pathological phenomena increased greatly.
But I have not still answered the question: what is a sin?
A sin is the violation of the Divine commandments. When a person loves and respects another person, he willingly fulfills the requests of the one, whom he loves. If he does not fulfill the request of the loved one, which it is possible to fulfill, that means that he is a conceited egoist. Such is in its essence the nature of fault of the man in before God, the nature of sin.
That is why the English young man, about whom Freud wrote to his mother, was tormented by the understanding of his guilt. He hardly was a going to the church Christian, even a Protestant, but he had conscience.
About this natural-moral law, which is concealed in conscience, writes Ap. Paul: "For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves, which show 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. 2:14)
Exactly from this, written in the hearts law, Freud dares to "free" the man — he wants to free him from his conscience. This crime is much worse than a murder. Not by chance the famous Argentinean state-social figure Valdivia, in his article "General Peron" puts the harmfulness of Freudism on the same level with the influence of Marxism. V. Valdivia writes: "The liberal circles, which began to rule in 1955, not only got rid of any nationally thinking elements from the universities, but forced the education of the wide ranks of Marxists and freudists, with their artificial prohibition of any bans in life. From here originates the organizing of terrorism."
There are many reasons and causes for sin, but the one most widely spread, and most strong is sexuality. With the perversion of human nature by the first-born sin the evil did not penetrate that deep, than it did into this, generic, sphere, probably because it is one of the most powerful feelings in the man.
To what an extent this feeling is powerful, we can see from the animal world. The man, teaches venerable Anthony the Great, is akin to stones, concerning the body, to animals, concerning his living soul, and angels in spirit. A spider sacrifices his life for sex. An eel and many other fishes go for the difficulties that are hard to imagine, to gain it. Almost all the animals go for great difficulties for that.
The man is not an exception. But at the same time, while other animals, possessing the soul, but no spirit, are not limited by any commandment of God in the realization of their instincts, — the man, the bearer of the similar to God’s spirit, is called by God towards self-limitation.
The Lord requires the same from the man, that he could limit his animal instincts by the submitting to His laws. The same way as the parents require obedience from their children for their good, so the Lord gives His commandments with the same goal. Having entered into communication with people, as their Father (to this points the prayer "Our father," and the words of Prophet Isaiah: "Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee"), the Lord gives them His commandments for their own good. First the Lord wrote his law in the hearts of men, then on the Mountain of Sinai gave them the law, inscribed on the stone tables, and finally, the Son of God preached the New Testament, strengthening them in the righteous life with His grace.
From the start people violated the commandments of God, but the voice of conscience exposed them. By the heathen nations, the obedience to the Divine law, put into their hearts, was not equal: some nations disapproved of some kind of violation of the Divine law, another — of some other kinds.
Homosexuality and incest were equally judged by almost all nations, having several wives was almost not judged by the heathens.
But the main thing was, that the principle of acceptance of the own guilt, and consequently the chance of repentance and through the repentance of reconciliation with God, always existed.
Therefore, the fault of Freudism is so great in the face of people, because it deprives human souls of the salvation way, this beam of the Divine similarity: the lack of desire to repent in one’s sin, of thirst for returning the lost resemblance to God and grief about it, which are capable of cleansing and reviving the man.
If the goal of life was pleasant existence, without cares and remorse, then freudism would be only approved of, for it frees the consciousness of the man from the feeling of guilt, twinges of conscience and connected with them troubles. The English publishers of the books of Freud, which I have, call him like that: "A scientist, a prophet, a liberator."
But life in this case turns into a senseless thing. Then are right those, who say that if they become unable to possess a woman or drink cognac, they would shoot themselves.
If to believe like a Christian that life is given to us to prepare the soul for the Heavenly Kingdom, then Freudism will be considered the most harmful of all delusions of the human thought, for it tries to destroy in the man that single thing, through which the soul is cleansed from sin — the acceptance of one’s own guilt before God.
I would like to tell you about several questions, which probably, you will have in mind in the connection with my first letter.
I write there: "If the goal of life was in the pleasant existence, then Freudism would be only approved of…But in that case life would be transformed into a senseless thing."
You have a right to ask a question and where is a proof that it is not like that, that life is not senseless, that there is God and eternal life? There are no rational proves and cannot be. The Divine will arranged it like that, in order that we could perceive everything, concerning the spiritual world and God not through the rational act of knowledge, but with faith, which differs from knowledge with that fact that all the three sides of the human spirit take part in it: the mind, feelings and will.
In the rationalistic facts there is always an element of compulsion: it does not matter if I want or do not, but two by two is four anyway, and my will does not take part in establishing this truth. The Lord God, Who loves us, wants us to take part in searching for Him with our free will.
Therefore the Lord demands faith from the man. If faith does not depend on our will, it would not be possible to demand it from the man, as a moral obligation. It is not possible to morally demand from the man to know mathematics or physics, for this knowledge does not depend on him. But faith does.
The truth of faith cannot be proved, i.e. forced upon the man, as the truths of knowledge are forced upon. God gives faith but together with the necessary participation of the human will. If I want to believe, the Lord will give me faith, but will ask from me to live according to it. If I do not live according to it then God will take it away from me. Exactly because of the perversion of the will, but not at all because of the development of science, the atheism spread so much now. The people did not want to live according to faith, which implies the known restrictions.
And so, in order to be free from any moral limitations, people renounce faith, and there are no outward known forcible proves to make them restore their faith, except one: without faith the moral requirements disappear and life looses its meaning.
From the point of view of rationalists, this is not yet a proof, but from the spiritual and moral one it is a very important proof.
The man is posed a question: what do you want? The sensible world, in which reigns God, loving and wise, giving you a definite task, fulfilling which you can inherit the joyful eternity, or the world, having no sense, which sooner or later will end, and all that happened in it will disappear without a trace, as Freud himself describes in his works picturesquely enough?
Here is repeated the same thing, which the Lord told to the Jews in antiquity, when they entered the promised land: "Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; a blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day: and a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God."
And if the man, wishing to be "free" from the commandments of the Lord, chooses the life nonsense and immorality, he himself, on his personal will, signs the eternal judgment for him. He sells faith and hope for the lentil soup of satisfying his sensuous desires.
And if he chooses the way of faith, if he strongly, decisively and ardently longs to gain it, then the Lord will give him this faith, for this is what God wishes most, concerning the man: "He that believeth shall be saved"?
And if the man takes root in faith, and the most important, lives according to it, will not leave his faith to be fruitless, then the broad horizons inside of his consciousness, strengthening his faith, will be opened to him.
He will see miracles. I think that any believer in this or that moment of his life was a witness of miracles. The social, and moreover state and national miracles are very rare now. Private miracles that are shown to the people with the sensitive heart happen constantly.
I think it happens because the personal spiritual life of single believing persons is less corrupted than the social life. Sure, we all have spiritually weakened, as if there are no more giants of the spirit, but the radical corruption is more rarely seen in single souls than in the society or state. This also happens because the miraculous events, which are evident only to private persons, are less subjected to the profanation, which inevitably follows each social phenomenon.
I remember the vulgar fuss, which was raised by the press in the years prior to the last war, when in Romania the Lord appeared before the simple righteous shepherd, Peter Lupu and sent him to preach repentance, warning that if the Rumanian people did not repent, they would face terrible disasters.
With that the Lord gave to Peter Lupu the force of wonder-working: he cured the sick and could predict the future. The correspondents from the whole world jumped on this poor shepherd. The movie reporters came from America. Some American movie-star took a photo with Peter Lupu in a bathing suit under the sign: "Together with the man, who had just seen the Lord God."
Such an unlimited flow of vulgarity is abominable in the eyes of God, and God cannot reveal miracles to the society, cultivating such vulgarity.
I want to make the second addition to the previous letter about the complex of Oedipus. With it Freud connects his in the majority blasphemous explanations of what religion is. To be more accurate, he connects religion with the overcoming of the Oedipus complex.
His explanation can be tempting, because in all monotheistic religions, and especially in the Christianity, the idea of God, as the Heavenly Father, is very important. But surely it is not because, as Freud assures (in the 10th chapter of the article "The Mass Psychology and Analysis of the Human "Ego") the man made God for himself out of his antecedent, but because the Lord, loving his creature, the man, took onto Himself the responsibilities of the father, or to be more precise, His attitude to people he made similar to the attitude of the father (and mother) to their children.
The harmfulness of the teaching of Freud is especially destructive because it includes into it the elements of the truth. This is the favorite method of satan. He tempted the first people by the promise "will be like gods," knowing that the Lord created the people to be similar to Him, for that in the eternal, bringing the infinite joy process of becoming similar to God people could become more and more alike Him.
But Freud does not shrink from the more primitive and vulgar slander. In the 7th chapter of the article "The Future of One Illusion" he writes: "The Russian psychics rose up to the conclusion that to sin is absolutely necessary, in order to try all the blessedness of the mercy of God." This is the paraphrase of a known joke, which was invented by the witty men of the highest Petersburg society, concerning Rasputin: "If you do not sin — you would not repent, if you do not repent — you would not be saved."
Never, neither in the Church, nor in the serious Russian thought there was no such understanding. Freud pretends to be thorough and impassionate, but here his feelings burst out. He wants so much to express his indignation towards the Russians, his hatred to their faith that he goes for the unworthy forgery.
He does not shrink from another "spicy statements" in order to express his hatred towards the Christianity; for example, he puts in the 9th chapter a poem: "We let pass angels and sparrows into the heaven."
And finally, I want to touch upon one more problem.
How a believing Christian should perceive Freud and his works? Should he fully neglect this work because Freud was a militant preacher of atheism?
No, the absolute negation of Freudism on the religious motives, as any negation of this or that scientific doctrine on the basis of these motives is not correct and usually brings harm to the church matters, how it happened with Galileo, with Darwinism, with the discovery of a Neanderthal or a pithecanthropus. In the scientific field, as in any other fields, outside the church activity of the man, for example, in politics, in trade, the Lord gave to people the freedom of thought and actions. The Church does not dogmatize in these fields; it dogmatizes in purely religious and moral spheres.
Never and in no circumstances would the Church agree that God is not all-knowing, or not ever-righteous, or that Jesus Christ sinned, as it would not agree with the legalization of murders, abortions, stealing, homosexuality, having several wives and other things of the kind.
But the Church does not prescribe how to trade, how one should do his scientific work or build a state. In these outward spheres the Church demands of its children to be honest and just in their deeds.
The things that are right in the theory of Freud, might and must be accepted. Now one cannot seriously go for psychology or psychiatry, without knowing Freudism. Some discovered by him facts can and have to be accepted, but with his conclusions, preaching atheism, one cannot agree, and what is the main thing — one should not submit to his anti-Christian influence.
This is not easy but possible.
How does a sober, serious sociologist-Christian perceive Marx? For, as one cannot be a psychiatrist, without knowing Freud, the same way one cannot be a sociologist without knowing Marx. Very many of his instructions cannot but be accepted; but with his conclusions, like "religion is opium for the masses," one should not agree. Freud asserts the same. In the 9th chapter of his cited article "The Future of One Illusion" he says: "The believers cannot be deprived of their faith. Those, who took in the soporifics for years, cannot fall asleep if to deprive them of these pills."
It is easier to deal with Marx, for all his prognosis turned out to be incorrect, and many of his conclusions were refuted. Concerning Freud, something was done in this direction by Jung and Adler. But certainly in the history of the human thought both Marx and Freud will remain forever, as there stayed Epicurus, Democritus, Leucippus, Lucrecius and other atheistic philosophers of the antiquity.
In their works as well were the precious elements, which influenced the further development of philosophy, and their harmful conclusions were refuted.
Not to that extent as by Freud, but still there were some incorrect non-Christian conclusions, made by the psychologists and psychiatrists of the middle of the 19th century. For the Orthodox Russian thought they were refuted and edited by the great Orthodox thinker of the 19th century I.V. Kireevsky. He studied in Moscow, Berlin and Munich and got the broadest education. He was very much interested in the problems of psychology and psychiatry, as they were confronted at that time.
Together with that, he was very well-read, concerning the holy fathers. Many of the statements of psychology he confirmed and developed on the basis of the holy fathers’ teachings, some of them he refuted, again basing his views on the assertions of the holy fathers.
Archbishop Nathanael (Lvov, 1906-1985)
—Was an outstanding Orthodox theologian, a preacher and spiritual writer, the bishop of the Russian Church Abroad.
He was the son of the ober-prosecutor of St. Synod Vladimir Lvov. He took part in the paleontologist excavations of Piere Teyar de Charden in China. He was ordained in 1929, in Harbin. In the middle of the 30-th he took a missionary trip to India. In 1939, being the archimandrite, he joined the monastery of venerable Job of Pochaev in the Carpates of Russia. In the years of the Second World War he took an active part in the spiritual-enlightening activity of the Orthodox Church on the occupied by the Germans territory. In the first after-war years he became famous due to his activity, concerning the salvation of the Russian refugees from their giving out to Stalin. In 1946 he was ordained and became the bishop of Brussels and Western Europe. Further on he became the head of the eparchies in England and Northern Africa, took an active part in the restoration of glorification of the ancient Orthodox saints of the West. Since 1966 he became the dean of the temple of venerable Job of Pochaev in Munich. Since 1976 he was the bishop of Vienna and Austria, in 1981 he became the archbishop. In the last years of his life very ill, almost deprived of the possibility to move, Archbishop Nathanael organized huge in size publishing activity, directed at the publication of the spiritual books and booklets, which were secretly brought to Russia. The especially famous book was the Munich "The Lives of Saints," one of the most active authors of which was the archbishop himself.
Archbishop Nathanael found common respect as a preacher and apologetic one of the most fruitful and gifted Orthodox writers of the ХХ century. To him belong the theologian writings, works about the Holy Bible, historical works, apologetic notes, polemical works, directed at the defense of the true Orthodoxy, the multitude of sermons. In the works of Archbishop Nathanael the answer to the questions, posed by the present day, is combined with the strict, unfailing faithfulness to the Orthodox Faith and the Church Tradition.
The part of the vast legacy of archbishop Nathanael is gathered in the 5-volume "Conversations about the Holy Scripture and the Faith," NY, 1991-95.
The Religious Meaning of the Astronomic Discovery of Black Holes
Among many difficult questions, which arise while reading the Holy Scripture in the mind of a person with the scientific world-view, one of the most difficult is the understanding of the Lord’s words about the final moments of the world’s existence: "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" (Math. 24:29). Or according to the Gospel of St. Luke: "Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken" (Luke 21:26).
Of course, not "the tribulation of those days," and not "the fear, and looking after those things which are coming on the earth" cause our amazement. The tribulation of the terrible days, and deadly fear and looking for the coming calamities we have experienced, and in many countries of the world the people still experience, if not to the full, then enough to understand, what Christ is talking about, and to appreciate the following approving words of Him: "And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh" (Luke 21:28).
But the expressions "shall the sun be darkened" and "the stars shall fall from heaven," "the powers of the heavens shall be shaken" — all this remains incomprehensible for us. How will the sun, this colossal heavenly body, which is in thousands of times bigger that the Earth, and about which St. Basil the Great says: "The sun, the heavenly body, according to the testimony of the Scripture, is extremely big and infinitely bigger than it seems" ("the Hexaemeron," the 6th conversation) darken?
The more incomprehensible are the words "the stars shall fall from heaven." Where and how would the gigantic stars, many of which are in hundreds of times, and some in thousands of times, bigger than the sun, fall?
The answer to these and other religious-scientific questions partly is provided by the latest astronomic idea about so-called "black holes" in the universe.
In order to let the reader get acquainted with this problem, we give the abridged article on this topic from "The Reader’s Digest."
Black Holes — the Dark Mystery of the Universe
"In these unseen, disappeared stars, which absorb matter of the universe due to their unbelievably powerful gravity, lies the key for prediction of the final lot of mankind" (John L. Wilhelm).
Let us imagine the force, from which no material body can evade. This force proceeds from any unit of matter. It attracts all objects to one another, even if they are located at a great distance. This power is called the power of gravitation, and it increases depending on the measure of mass of the attracted body, and rises the closer they get to each other. Now imagine the place, where the matter collides and flattens until it cannot be recognized, while the atoms flatten and form the solid mass of the infinite density. This will be all that was left from the disappeared star, the fire of which burnt down, and which once was so huge, that super-heavy gravity squeezed it up to the size of a chicken egg, so that it "disappeared."
The scientists suppose that these gigantic "black spots" erode the centers in the majority of galaxies, and together with that the center of our Milky Way, swallowing at once entire stars. Maybe the 90% of the whole mass of the universe is swallowed by these "black holes." Maybe the mysterious quasars, these roaring boilers, boiling with the powerful flashes of energy, which we can hear with our radio-locators, are these huge black holes, which erode the centers of galaxies. G. Grussky from the Harvard-Smith center of astrophysics researches has proposed a hypothesis: "The last and final nuclear hole will be the universe itself."
Gravitation, i.e. the power of gravity is inverse-proportional to the square distance. If to double the distance between two bodies, then their mutual gravitation will be 4 times less. And with the reverse process, the gravitation power will increase very fast.
In order that black holes might appear, one prerequisite is necessary: the huge mass, focused at the minimum distance. Such mass is produced by the gigantic stars. When they grow old, their inner thermo-nuclear flashes are no longer able to oppose the directed inside of them gravitation pressure of the outer layers. These layers begin shriveling, compressing the atoms, what leads to the diminishing of the star size. The law of the reverse proportion starts to fasten the process. The atoms are compresses more and more, gravitation increases, what fastens the "inner destruction." The process supports itself in the action. The further compressing of a star means the further approximation of the atoms, what causes more gravitation. More compressing, more gravitation, more compressing…
The star, in which all the electrons turned out to be compressed into protons, is finally compressed till the size of a small dot of the infinite density. The final compression happens almost with the speed of light, and can happen in less than a second. The star disappears and a black hole is born.
What happens inside of a black hole, the science can only guess. According to the theory of relativity of Einstein, which foresaw the appearance of black holes, the time and space in them disappear.
What should one do, when searching in the skies such a strange and together with that unseen phenomenon? When a star, compressed to the limit, turns into a black hole, the only thing that is left after it is gravity. And gravity can be found, for it influences the closest star, which runs around the orbit. So, the astronomers, using both optical telescopes and X-ray locators, thoroughly examine the skies in their search of the double stars, in which two twin suns are running around each other. In the case, when one of the twin stars influences the other with special powerful gravity, and with that it is compact and does not give light, then this dark satellite is a black hole.
For the extra detecting of black holes, one can undertake another test. Each star gives off directed to all sides eradiation. The matter, which is swallowed up by a black hole in the unbelievably fast process, is heated up to the billion of degrees. The rays of light, as subjected to the influence of gravitation, are not eradiated by a black hole. But the X-rays with their intense chaotic flow are spread from the black holes through the entire universe and can be detected. Though X-rays can hardly be detected on the Earth, for they are absorbed by the atmosphere, which envelops the globe. Therefore for the better detection of X-rays, the locator of these rays should be placed on board of the rockets, which fly above the air capsule of the earth.
Such an apparatus was recently sent by the Americans from Kenya, and it proved the presence of a black hole in the constellation of Swan, in the star "X-1."
The located in such a way object turned out to be a satellite of a gigantic star, which size is 20 times bigger than that of the sun. A black hole, in its turn, is 15 times bigger than the sun and runs around the star for 5,5 days at a distance of 13 million miles.
The scientists suppose that only in our galaxy there are around 10 millions of black holes, which swallow up stars.
For now it is more than for half of a century that we know that the universe expands, and all the scientists agree that such expansion is the result of the first explosion, which had torn apart the gigantic cosmic nuclear, consisting of matter, form which everything got its origin. Will the universe continue its expansion eternally? Or will the gravitation of the stars and galaxies stop this expansion and make the universe begin its compression? The equations of Einstein predict that once the universe will act exactly this way, i.e. will start compressing.
In the present time the astronomers did not find enough matter in the space to develop the necessary gravitation to stop expansion and turn back to compression. Though many astronomers noted that there is the lack of mass in black holes. If it is so then in any moment the universe will start compressing with terrible speed until self-destruction. With that, not only the existing matter will be destroyed but the space and time will be exterminated. Even if the universe does not turn in one black hole in a blink of an eye, then in the final run it will disappear in the millions of black holes, which already at the moment are swallowing up galaxies, flowing with them to all sides.
Faith, the religious belief in mankind drops. The Lord foresaw that when in grief He said: "When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8) The reason of that the Lord explains with another, not less sad prediction: "And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold" (Math. 24:12). But till the end of ages the Lord does not want to force the people to believe neither with the sticking signs, nor with frightening miracles. He preserves the free will of the man like the apple of His eye.
But he does not leave the weakly believing, hesitating, tempted by the enemies of God contemporary mankind without help, support in faith. There were never so many points of our faith, which found their confirmation. And these confirmations appear mostly for those points of faith, which at the most are undergoing attacks, slander or doubts.
The enemies of faith proclaimed that the Christian Scriptures are the latest imitations, the monuments of the 3 and 4 centuries. The most attacks underwent the scriptures of St. Ap. John the Theologian. Unfortunately, even the people, who called themselves Christians and teachers of theology, often shared those anti-Christian ideas. Let us remember that up to the 20th century the most ancient originals of the books of the Bible were the manuscripts of the 4th and the 5th centuries.
But then, in the 20th century, from the sands of Egypt there appeared one after another the ancient copies of the Holy Scriptures of the Church: the Gospels, Epistles. The Acts of Apostles, as well as the books of the Old Testaments of the 2, 3, 4 centuries, and among them the most precious papyrus with the text of the 18th chapter of the Gospel of St. John of the end of the 1st century, i.e. the time when St. Apostle John still lived.
In 1947 and 1952 in Palestine there were found the precious hidden treasures of the old scriptures of the Old Testament, which gave the bright picture of the spiritual experiences of the period on the eve of the Navity of Christ.
In many countries and many spheres of life nowadays rule demonic forces. The Christians suffer very much because of that. But at the same time, watching these evil forces closely, we now, much better than before, imagine the satanic troops, their customs, methods, ways, actions. The noble-tragic image of a demon, like he was described by Goethe, Byron, and Lermontov, will not appear now. We too closely saw and know the incarnated demons in the face of investigators, jail workers and executioners.
Throughout the ages the Revelation’s meaning, like: "and the third part of trees was burnt up," "and the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died," "and the third part of the waters became wormwood" (Rev. chap. 8) could not be understood. And now, to our horror, we understand better and better these predictions of St. Ap. John.
Many topographic directions of the Old Testament are proved to be true now by the researches in Israel. Left unknown till the beginning of this century remarks concerning the Hatties in the Old Testament, starting with the book of Genesis, and especially the fear of the Hatties’ power in the 4th Book of the Kings 7:6 became clear in the 20th century thanks to the multiple discoveries — the excavation of the cities of the great Hattie Empire.
But maybe the most significant, though terrible support of our faith in the final dozens of years is the discovery of black holes and their astounding role in the lot of the world.
The original classical image of hell became so familiar to our contemporaries that even the believers let themselves say jokes about "the saucepans of hell," and the saving fear of hell, which is so necessary in our time of religious decay, faded a lot. So, in order to renew the fear of hell, the Lord reveals to us the horrible image of black holes, which swallow up the entire universe.
The thought that the astronomic processes are fulfilled slowly, during the millions of years, should not serve to diminish the saving fear.
Yes, the process of the swallowing up of the universe into black holes can cover the millions of years. But it can happen in a second, in a part of a second, for, according to the testimony of Einstein, the dreadful concentration of the mass in a black hole distorts the time and space, and the time disappears. In this assertion of the famous physic and mathematician we recognize the words of Apocalypses: "There should be time no longer" (10:6).
For sure, this newest astronomic idea paints the catastrophe only of the material world. To the maximum decomposed material atoms are swallowed up by black holes. For us, the Christians, hell is the spiritual place, the place of tortures of the souls, not bodies, not human atoms. But this will be so only till the Divine Dread Judgment, until the resurrection of the dead. So, the final lot of the entire material, bodily world is brightly and horribly illustrated through the idea about black holes.
The special horror causes the sense of doom, inevitability of the swallowing up of all the material world by these infernal holes.
Let us imagine, what the feelings of mankind will be like when it will know that the Solar system got into the field of gravity of a black hole and is being swallowed up into it, that the notable warming up on the earth shows the start of the speeding up process of burning of the universe, as the fulfillment of the words of the Apostle: "The earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up" (2 Pet. 3:10)
If one contemplates over that, then it will become clear why till the latest time the Lord did not reveal to the man this terrible secret. While the people lived more or less in the fear of God, in the fear of those descriptions of hell, which were left to us by the Holy Scripture, the people did not need extra horror of the idea about black holes.
The Lord did not wish, till there came the need for that, to subject people to "failing for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth."
Against these ideas triumphantly rises the original since the ancient years and attractive till now light image of Christ the Savior, the only one, who has authority to stop the horrible process and endow mankind and all the terrestrial world, instead of the inevitable darkness of a hole, the light of "a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away" (Rev.21:1).
Blessed is that one, who in these forthcoming fearful days will be able to find consolation in the words of the church prayer, read by the Orthodox Christians in the mornings: "But Thou, my Christ, abundant in compassion and art inexpressible in mercy, hast said: "He who believes in Me shall live and never see death." Thus, if faith in Thee saves the desperate: Save me also, for I believe that Thou art my God and Creator."
We would like to hope that the newly discovered idea will warm up and intensify the ancient Christian feeling, which is expressed in the last phrase of the Revelation:
"Even so, come, Lord Jesus!"
Missionary Leaflet # E116
Copyright © 2004 Holy Trinity Orthodox Mission
466 Foothill Blvd, Box 397, La Canada, Ca 91011
Editor: Bishop Alexander (Mileant)