Why are we Orthodox Christians?

The
Orthodox Christian believer has been distinguished
throughout history by his love for his true faith,
believing that we can reach God through truth. The
feast day of the true Orthodox believer does not take
place through boasting in past achievements, but in
repentance for his failure to live all the realities
of his faith. This is the feast day of the Orthodox
believer—to experientially live the dogmas of
faith in Jesus Christ.

On the first Sunday of Holy
Lent
all Orthodox faithful celebrate the
Sunday of
Orthodoxy
. What does this celebration mean? It
means the triumph of the Church over all heresies that
existed throughout history and against which it directly
fought, for the Orthodox faithful did not easily receive
the truth to which they adhere, but it was handed down
through the struggle of the holy fathers, confessors and
martyrs. This is the strength of the Church, which has
always watched over its faith and holy dogmas against all
foreign teachings corrupting its sacred entities.

This faith is a pledge handed down to the Orthodox
believer and he will be asked to hand it back in the same
form he received it (1 Cor. 11:23). This was expressed by
St. Paul the apostle when he said: I have fought a
good fight, I have finished
my course, I
have kept the faith:
Henceforth there is laid up
for me a crown of righteousness
(2 Tim. 4:7-8).

Every time the Church triumphs over any heresy
it is a considered a celebratory feast for Orthodoxy. Such
triumphs used to be added by the Church to the Sunday of
Orthodoxy while casting anathemas over those who have
opposed and corrupted its teachings. Thus, the Sunday of
Orthodoxy is not limited anymore to a specific time
period, even though we celebrate it on a specific day
every year, but it has become a firm symbol of the
Church’s struggle and its victory over heresies and
foreign teachings that have always existed.

The discernment of the faith of the apostolic Church,
given to the world on Pentecost, from the perverted faith
of heretics which corrupts the teachings of the apostles
has been expressed by the word “Orthodoxy,”
which means right glory or the right faith.

Orthodox dogmas lead us to truth

The dogmas, the faith, the Church, and Tradition,
or “handing over,” are all topics that have
their honorable place in the Orthodox mind; all of these
testify to the one faith that the Church has lived since
its inception. The faith unifying us with the Lord Jesus
Christ must be one, as the Church is one. The faith is
built on dogmas; when dogmas change, the whole faith
changes.

Orthodoxy has preserved the faith of the early Church in
the same form it received it from the beginning; it
neither added to it nor subtracted from it even a letter.
Additions and subtractions in matters relating to the
faith are equivalent. The Church has understood the saying
in the book of Revelation about he who adds to or removes
from this book as applying to anybody who adds or removes
any of the dogmas of the New Testament: For I testify
unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of
this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God
shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this
book:
And if any man shall take away from the
words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away
his part out of the book of life
(Rev. 22:18-19).

In order neither to increase nor diminish the content of
this book, every true Orthodox believer struggles with all
his might to enter into deep knowledge of the Orthodox
faith. Faith in Jesus Christ is not an abstract or
intellectual matter, but is an ongoing pursuit to enter
into the mystery of Jesus Christ. We cannot be saved
without the truth. This truth, which has been entrusted to
each Orthodox Christian, especially bishops and priests,
compels them to precisely preserve the mystery of the
Orthodox faith, to be a solid part of the living body of
Christ, of his Church. The bishop himself becomes
“the Church” when he submits his mind and will
to the Church’s faith and struggles even to the
shedding of his blood to preserve its dogmas. Only then
can the pure love of Jesus Christ burn within
him—love that is moved by the grace of the Holy
Spirit. True love proceeds from the true faith, otherwise
becoming a manmade and corrupt love moved by the passion
of self-love and vainglory.

The Orthodox believer despises
transgression

Inasmuch as the faithful Orthodox Christian loves truth he
equally despises transgression. We have reached an evil
time in history, which Holy Scripture has prophesied, in
which dwells the spirit of Antichrist. This is the
greatest heresy of our current age—the spirit of the
world, or evil globalization, which spreads the spirit of
lukewarmness towards the Orthodox faith and dogmas. The
spirit of lukewarmness toward dogma and faith is a sign
that will precede the coming of the Antichrist—the
latter days prophesied in the Holy Scriptures that will
constitute the age of apostasy from true faith and dogmas.
According to the Holy Scriptures, this age takes
inspiration for its ways and teachings from demons:
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter
times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to
seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils
(1 Tim.
4:1).

We read in the life of Saint Pachomius that while
conversing with some monastics he noticed a terrible, foul
smell filling the place. After they had all left he asked
God to inform him of the reason for the smell, and God
made it known to Saint Pachomius through an angel that
“dogmas of ungodliness were emanating from their
souls.”

The faithful Orthodox Christian lives in spirit
and truth

Knowledge of Orthodox truth is not a theoretical exercise
but a way of life that we follow in the Church’s
liturgical life. Therefore, the life of piety in the
Church is closely related to dogma. If our dogmas are true
and correct, then all of our faith is correct, and this
correct faith preserves the life of piety from perversion
and change. We humbly believe that the spiritual life and
struggle are the special attributes of Orthodoxy that have
preserved it from any perversion or change.

Orthodox Tradition is the tradition of the heart’s
purification, through tedious struggle against passions,
which constitute a barrier between us and the knowledge of
the living God. It is the tradition of the monastic life,
which wipes out sin from the heart and makes man able to
carry Christ’s yoke and to behold His glory.
Monasticism, including fasting, prayer, vigils and
practicing Christ’s commandments is in the end the
only way to reach certain knowledge of the living God with
the active participation of both soul and body. St.
Gregory Palamas says, “Saying something about God
does not equate to an encounter with God”
(Triads 3.42). Inasmuch as we purify ourselves
from our corrupt dispositions, so much do we enter more
into the depth of the mystery of Orthodoxy that preserved
our God alive, for heretics murder this living God,
transforming Him into an idol.

Pride, being the cause of the first man’s fall,
remains the ongoing reason for our falls. The hidden cause
of any heresy is first and foremost pride. But Orthodoxy
is like its Christ—nobody can accept it except by
humility. The humble accept truth without revolting
against it when it opposes their opinions and beliefs. The
true humble person searches for truth and finds it because
the Lord does not let him go astray and lose his
salvation.

Orthodoxy is our everlasting city

Orthodoxy is the true Church of the true Christ, not a
Church of vain nationalities. We are Orthodox before being
Antiochians or Greeks or Russians or Romanians…
What unites us is not geographic nationalism but
Orthodox truth
. It is what makes us one, united
through the bond of faith with every Orthodox Christian in
this world, and it is the eternal bond that unites us all
together after death with Christ in the world to come.

Many want an Antiochian unity, but they seek to unify
Antioch in its transgressions and wickedness rather than
in its repentance. By doing so they war against Orthodoxy
because they mix truth with falsehood. Antioch has been
torn out by heresies and all sorts of innovations, but
Orthodoxy is the one Church that has been neither divided
nor scattered. It is the steadfastness of Orthodoxy in its
faithful alone that preserves Antioch from becoming a
neo-Babylon.

Conclusion

The world needs Orthodoxy the same as it needs water and
air. It is the straight and narrow path to the true
Christ, because the dogmas of the faith are developed
neither by the universities and institutes of this world
nor by the science of this age, but by the power of the
Holy Spirit.
The holy fathers, being filled with the
grace of the Holy Spirit, were sanctified and accurately
defined its dogmas along with the Church’s entire
liturgical life. All that is in Orthodoxy was drawn from
Divine grace working directly in the Church; all that is
in it came along through the struggle of its fathers to
protect and preserve the true faith in Christ, through the
tears of their repentance, their long prayer vigils and
their many fasts and prostrations. This is true dogma,
this is the Orthodox faith—it is what keeps Divine
grace in this depressed world, that it neither die in its
sin nor vanish in its wickedness.

We are nothing but Orthodox.

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