The Church vs. Modern Issues

The Catholic Church continues to wrestle with the idea of homosexual unions and the ordination of females. To get a realistic preview of expectations resulting from these proposed changes, one needs to look no further than the nearest (in faith and practice) Western faith, the Church of England and the world Anglican Communion.

Anglicanism is declining faster than any other majority denomination. With the current rate of decline, it would be set to disappear from Britain by 2033. Ordination of women and inclusion of homosexual unions was hyped as the answer to that rapid decline. Despite that, over the period 1983 to 2014 (women first ordained in 1994), the Anglican population of the United Kingdom almost halved, falling from 16.5 million adherents to 8.6 million, from 40% of the British population to 15%. Between 2012 and 2014 alone, the proportion of Britons who described themselves as Anglicans fell from 21 to 17%, a loss of 1.7 million people in two years.

Attendance too has suffered substantially with 1,370,400 people in England being recorded as regular Anglican churchgoers in 1980. In 2015, there were only 660,000. Only 3% of adults under 24, and only 5% of British adults between the ages of 25-34, identify as Anglicans. Anglican Kathy Gyngell commented that a correlation between the rise in female clergy and the drop in Church attendance cannot be ignored.

“Having women bishops has become more important than dealing with declining church attendances – as though ‘gender equality’ was of spiritual significance. It is not. It is purely ideological and political.”

Kathy Gyngell

The American branch of Anglicanism, the Episcopal Church, as of 2018, reported 1,676,349 baptized members in the United States, a drop of 120,602 members from two years prior in 2016. Total average Sunday attendance for 2018 was 533,206 in the U.S., a decrease of 24.7% percent from 2008 (with a decline of 53,237 persons in the pews between 2013 and 2016 alone.).

All of this is important for the members of the Catholic Church (which has shrunk in U.S. membership only 3% in 7 years but had increased in size worldwide to over 72 million while the Anglican communion steadily shrinks) to take note of as they struggle with the ideas of homosexuals unions and female ordination. History has shown, in the closest counterparts to the Roman church, that bowing to these issues does not and will not save the Church. In fact, the numbers strongly indicate that these factors contribute to a quicker decline.

There is no doubt that there remains much work to do in the way the Catholic Church; welcomes, includes, and interacts with genders, with sexual orientations, and with the plethora of colours of mankind in order to fulfill the mandate of extending the pure love of Christ. The proof, however; shows that bowing to political and ideological winds is not the way to move forward, but rather, is a crippling move.

The Early Church’s Teaching On Abortion:

HINT – Christianity has ALWAYS (until recent times) viewed abortion as murder.

From the Letter to Diognetus: “They marry, as do all others; they beget children but they do not cast away their fetuses.”

From the Didache: “You shall not slay the child by abortions.”

From the Letter of Barnabus: “You shall not destroy your conceptions before they are brought forth; nor kill them after they are born.”

From Clement: “Those who use abortifacients commit homicide.”

From Tertullian: “The mold in the womb may not be destroyed.”

From Basil the Great: “The woman who purposely destroys her unborn child is guilty of murder. The hair-splitting difference between formed and unformed makes no difference to us.”

From Augustine: “Sometimes their sadistic licentiousness goes so far that they procure poison to produce infertility, and when this is of no avail, they find one means or another to destroy the unborn and flush it from the mother’s womb. For they desire to see their offspring perish before it is alive or, if it has already been granted life, they seek to kill it within the mother’s body before it is born.”

From John Chrysostom: “Why do you sow where the field is eager to destroy the fruit? Where there are medicines of sterility? Where there is murder before birth? You do not even let a harlot remain only a harlot, but you make her a murderess as well. Indeed, it is something worse than murder and I do not know what to call it; for she does not kill what is formed but prevents its formation. What then? Do you condemn the gifts of God, and fight with His laws? What is a curse you seek as though it were a blessing? Do you make the anteroom of slaughter? Do you teach the women who are given to you for a procreation of offspring to perpetuate killing?”

Canon XCI: “As for women who furnish drugs for the purpose of procuring abortions, and those who take fetus-killing poisons, they are made subject to penalty for murderers.”

Canon II: “A woman who aborts deliberately is liable to trial as a murderess. This is not a precise assertion of some figurative and inexpressible conception that passes current among us. For here there is involved the question of providing for the infants to be born, but also for the woman who has plotted against her own self. For in most cases the women die in the course of such operations, but besides this there is to be noted the fact that the destruction of the embryo constitutes another murder…. It behooves us, however, not to extend their confessions to the extreme limit of death, but to admit them at the end of the moderate period of ten years, without specifying a definite time, but adjusting the cure to the manner of penitence.”

Canon XXI: “Regarding women who become prostitutes and kill their babies, and who make it their business to concoct abortives, the former rule barred them for life from communion, and they are left without resource. But having found a more philanthropic alternative, we have fixed the penalty at ten years, in accordance with the fixed degrees. …”

“As for women who destroy embryos professionally, and those non-prostitutes who give or take poisons with the object of aborting babies and dropping them prematurely, we prescribe the rule that they, by economy, be treated up to five years at most.”

The Chaplet of Divine Mercy

Today, following an intense introspection and full examination of conscience, I went to see my Father, Confessor. He was kind enough to make a special time for me, as I was certain that this confession would not fit into a quick few moments prior to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. I was correct! After sitting across from him and baring my soul – the most grievous and embarrassing of crimes against God, he assigned to me this chaplet as my penance. It was my very first time having said the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, and I was surprised at how much it spoke to me as I went through the Rosary. Because of this, I am adding it to my own repertoire, and am posting the instructions here to encourage others who, like me, had never said it previously, to take it on as practice. May God in His great kindness and patience with sinful man, have mercy upon us all through the recitation of this chaplet.


Sign of the Cross (on the cross)

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Opening Prayers (on the first bead)

You expired, Jesus, but the source of life gushed forth for souls, and the ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world. O Fount of Life, unfathomable Divine Mercy, envelop the whole world and empty Yourself out upon us. 

O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fount of mercy for us, I trust in You! (Repeat three times) 

Our Father (bead 1 of 3)

Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, Amen.

Hail Mary (bead 2 of 3)

Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death, Amen.

The Apostles’ Creed (bead 3 of 3)

I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; He descended into hell; on the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty; from there He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

The Eternal Father (our Father bead)

Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

10 Small Beads

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

The Eternal Father (our Father bead)

Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

10 Small Beads

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

The Eternal Father (our Father bead)

Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

10 Small Beads

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

The Eternal Father (our Father bead)

Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

10 Small Beads

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

The Eternal Father (our Father bead)

Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

10 Small Beads

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

Holy God/Trisagion (Repeat three times)

Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

Closing Prayer

O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fount of mercy for us, I trust in You! (Repeat three times) 

Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself.

December 6th – the Day of Penance and Reparation

The day is upon us. The day of fasting and of prayer. A day to abstain from food and to drink only water. A day to pray prayers of penance and prayers of reparation. This is the day that the battle truly begins. This day will be remembered in infamy by the Catholic faithful. This is the day that evil will wince at our counter-attack, and tomorrow will retaliate against our advances sevenfold. This is the last day of lukewarm Catholicism – After today, there will be Catholics of the Body of Christ, and “catholics” of the world. Today lines will be drawn, and evil will be watching to know what side you are on.

Today we faithful stand against paganism, idolatry, Satanism and all evil that has infiltrated the church. We stand against those wolves in shepherd’s garments that accept money from abortionists and murderers. We stand against the homosexual Mafia. We stand against Abortion. We stand against birth control. We stand against the Sexual Revolution. We stand against Liberalism and Libertarianism. We stand against the unnatural and surgical alteration of the sexes. We stand against evil everywhere it has placed its filthy claws upon the Holy Bride of Christ. And stand we must, or we fall. *For wide is the gate and easy is the road that leads to perdition, but we choose the narrow gate and the untravelled path that leads to everlasting life. No longer can we be complicit in wickedness… Today we stand.

13 Enter ye in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat. 14 How narrow is the gate, and strait is the way that leadeth to life: and few there are that find it!

Matthew 7:13-14 Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)

Until now, we have been tolerated, though sneered at. We have been accepted but the subject of disapproval. But tomorrow, evil will retaliate against the sanctity of our prayers and fastings. Evil will attack us openly and has already prepared the path for our persecution. The world with its culture of tolerance will begin to fight us full force, and we shall be hated even as our Lord was hated. Tomorrow we will begin the path that leads even unto death. But we will fear no evil, for in walking this path, we will be outside of time itself, walking the Via Dolorosa alongside our Saviour. He became like us to experience our sufferings, but soon we shall be like him and experience His. God help us. Holy Virgin, steady us. Joseph her chaste spouse, uphold us. May we be granted the grace to endure unto the end. Amen.

On the Intercession of the Saints

There is a constant uproar from the Protestant sector regarding the Catholic and the ancient practice of asking the saints for their prayers and their intercession. They insist that there is no Biblical evidence for what they consider to be “Praying TO the saints”. The power of life and of death is in the hands of God, yet, He relegates his authority to others that are living. Doctors are able to save lives. If I see someone drowning, I can jump in and save them. It doesn’t make God any less responsible, but the fact remains that the person was saved by a man (or woman). The view that Protestants present regarding what they perceive as problematic theology is a very narrow view, and places God into a box, and everyone else living or dead on the outside with no ability to touch the divine or to be instruments of the divine. It is not the practice of the Catholics to pray to Mary in the sense that Protestants perceive. If I ask you to pray for me to the Lord our God, I am not praying to you at all. I am asking you to intercede on my behalf, to beseech God for me. That doesn’t mean that I am worshiping you. And as Christ Himself said, He is the God of the living. The saints are alive and in His presence. Yet, they remain a very real part of the Church, of the Body of Christ. Thus, my asking Mary to pray for me the Lord our God is no different than my asking you to pray for me.

There is particularly a large outcry against the Catholic veneration of Mary. Catholic Christians do not “pray to” the Mother of God instead of God; we seek her intercession before her Son, asking her to pray on our behalf; another Byzantine Rite hymn states that “the prayers of a mother availeth much before her Son.” Catholics do NOT worship the Theotokos; they do venerate her exactly as the angel did. 

A sample prayer: 

“It is truly right to bless you, O Theotokos (God-Bearer), ever-blessed and most pure, and the Mother of our God. More honorable than the Cherubim and more glorious beyond compare than the Seraphim, without corruption you gave birth to God the Word, True, Theotokos, we magnify you.” 

Her name is mentioned in every service, and her intercession before the throne of God is asked. She is given the title of “Theotokos” (Greek for “Birth-giver-of-God), as well as “Mother of God”. She has a definite role in Catholicism, and can in no way be considered an instrument which, once used, was laid aside and forgotten.

The angel Gabriel was sent by God to announce to the Virgin the birth of the Saviour: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women.” (Luke 1:28) This angelic salutation forms a part of the hymn of the Church most frequently sung in her honor. Could we be wrong in repeating the words of the very messenger of God? Elizabeth, the Virgin’s cousin, considered it an honor for the Mother of her Lord to visit her. “And whence is this to me that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:43) Is there any real difference between saying “Mother of God” and “Mother of the Lord”? Surely, God is the Lord! (Psalm 118:27) In the course of her visit to Elizabeth, the Blessed Virgin spoke the words that form the principal hymn sung in her honor at the Matins service.

The consequences of denying the Theotokos a part in the life of Christians are more serious than one may think in view of all its implications. Catholic theology insists upon the two perfect natures of our Lord Jesus Christ; He was perfect God and perfect Man. The Virgin Mary communicated the humanity of the Incarnate God. The redemption of the human race was possible through the union of God and man in Christ. De-emphasis of the sinlessness of Christ’s Mother, insistence upon her having other children by Joseph (which cannot be demonstrated by the New Testament), and failure to remember her part in the history of the salvation of mankind have contributed to a general misunderstanding in some churches of the Incarnation in all its fullness and power. Very closely related to the above-mentioned things is the denial of the virgin birth of Christ, a rather popular feature of present-day liberal theology. After the virgin birth, the next basic teaching under attack is the divinity of Christ and His resurrection, and with that, the Holy Trinity Itself.

The Virgin Mary in the Catholic view is not regarded as a mediatrix or co-redemptress. She is an intercessor for us, and the content of supplications addressed to her are merely requests for her intercession.

As to the general intercession of saints, there are multiple examples in the Holy Writ. Rachel was long dead (see Gen. 48:7) and departed from the earth during the Babylonian exile when Jeremiah wrote: “Thus saith the LORD; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, [and] bitter weeping; Rachel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they [were] not. Thus saith the LORD; Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the LORD; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy.” (Jeremiah 31:15-16). The Lord answered her prayer. Again when Herod slaughtered the innocents, Matthew tells us: “In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping [for] her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not” (Matthew 2:18). 

In the story about Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16, Christ illustrates that even the rich man in hell showed concern for the people still living. How much more would those in heaven show concern. The saints are not dead; they are more alive than we are. The Sadducees did not believe in the Resurrection. Jesus told them, “Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection. Now that the dead are raised, even Moses shewed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him.” (Luke 20:36-38).

In the book of Revelation we find the human saints (Rev.5:8) in heaven and the heavenly saints (Rev. 8:3-4) in heaven offering to God the prayers of those still on earth: “And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four [and] twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.” (Rev. 5:8) and “And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer [it] with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, [which came] with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.” (Rev. 8:3-4).If we aren’t permitted to direct our prayers to them, where do they get our prayers? We know “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16). Those saints in heaven have already been made perfect (Heb.11:40, 12:23). 

On earth the saints continue to sin: “For a just [man] falleth seven times” (Proverbs 24:16). Sin affects the effectiveness of our prayers:“If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear [me]” (Psalm 66:18)and “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight” (1 John 3:22). We seek prayer partners in the presence of God who have ceased from all sin, along with prayer partners on earth. Paul tells us: “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset [us], and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2). When we are looking to Jesus and have our eyes on Jesus we are surrounded by these saints in heaven. 

Furthermore, the Bible clearly commands us to follow the teachings passed down to us in word, in letter and by mouth ( 2 Thessalonians 2:15).It also says that all of the things that Jesus said and did could not be written down or they would fill the earth ( John 21:25 ). The Church fathers of the first and second centuries, those that physically walked with Christ taught us of the intercession of the saints. Thus, Biblically speaking, to not accept the teachings of the Church fathers is transgressing the command of Christ and the apostles. Because they did teach the intercession of the saints, I choose to believe them rather than a RECENT (1500’s) Protestant innovation or not. 

BIBLICAL AND PATRISTIC EVIDENCE

Book of Tobit (~ 200 – 100 BC)

When thou didst pray with tears… I [Archangel Raphael] offered thy prayer to the Lord.

Hermas (+80)

“[The Shepherd said:] ‘But those who are weak and slothful in prayer, hesitate to ask anything from the Lord; but the Lord is full of compassion, and gives without fail to all who ask him. But you, [Hermas,] having been strengthened by the holy angel [you saw], and having obtained from Him such intercession, and not being slothful, why do not you ask of the Lord understanding, and receive it from him?’” (The Shepherd 3:5:4).

St. John the Evangelist (+101)

And another angel came, and stood before the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given to him much incense, that he should offer of the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar, which is before the throne of God. And the smoke of the incense of the prayers of the saints ascended up before God from the hand of the angel.

Egyptian Liturgy for the Nativity of Christ (200s)

Beneath thy tenderness of heart we take refuge, O Theotokos, disdain not our supplications in our necessity, but deliver us from perils, O only pure and blessed one.

Clement of Alexandria (+208)

“In this way is he [the true Christian] always pure for prayer. He also prays in the society of angels, as being already of angelic rank, and he is never out of their holy keeping; and though he pray alone, he has the choir of the saints standing with him [in prayer]” (Miscellanies 7:12).

Origen(+233)

“But not the high priest [Christ] alone prays for those who pray sincerely, but also the angels . . . as also the souls of the saints who have already fallen asleep” (Prayer 11)

Cyprian of Carthage (+253)

“Let us remember one another in concord and unanimity. Let us on both sides [of death] always pray for one another. Let us relieve burdens and afflictions by mutual love, that if one of us, by the swiftness of divine condescension, shall go hence first, our love may continue in the presence of the Lord, and our prayers for our brethren and sisters not cease in the presence of the Father’s mercy” (Letters 56[60]:5).

Methodius (+305)

“Hail to you forever, Virgin Mother of God, our unceasing joy, for to you do I turn again. You are the beginning of our feast; you are its middle and end; the pearl of great price that belongs to the kingdom; the fat of every victim, the living altar of the Bread of Life [Jesus]. Hail, you treasure of the love of God. Hail, you fount of the Son’s love for man.

. . . You gleamed, sweet gift-bestowing Mother, with the light of the sun; you gleamed with the insupportable fires of a most fervent charity, bringing forth in the end that which was conceived of you . . . making manifest the mystery hidden and unspeakable, the invisible Son of the Father—the Prince of Peace, who in a marvelous manner showed himself as less than all littleness” (Oration on Simeon and Anna 14).

“Therefore, we pray [ask] you, the most excellent among women, who glories in the confidence of your maternal honors, that you would unceasingly keep us in remembrance. O holy Mother of God, remember us, I say, who make our boast in you, and who in august hymns celebrate the memory, which will ever live, and never fade away” (ibid.).

“And you also, O honored and venerable Simeon, you earliest host of our holy religion, and teacher of the resurrection of the faithful do be our patron and advocate with that Savior God, whom you were deemed worthy to receive into your arms. We, together with you, sing our praises to Christ, who has the power of life and death, saying, ‘You are the true Light, proceeding from the true Light; the true God, begotten of the true God’” (ibid.).

Cyril of Jerusalem (+350)

“Then [during the Eucharistic prayer] we make mention also of those who have already fallen asleep: first, the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, that through their prayers and supplications God would receive our petition . . . ” (Catechetical Lectures 23:9).

Hilary of Poitiers (+365)

“To those who wish to stand [in God’s grace], neither the guardianship of saints nor the defenses of angels are wanting” (Commentary on the Psalms 124:5:6).

Ephraim the Syrian (+370)

“You victorious martyrs who endured torments gladly for the sake of the God and Savior, you who have boldness of speech toward the Lord himself, you saints, intercede for us who are timid and sinful men, full of sloth, that the grace of Christ may come upon us, and enlighten the hearts of all of us so that we may love him” (Commentary on Mark).

“Remember me, you heirs of God, you brethren of Christ; supplicate the Savior earnestly for me, that I may be freed through Christ from him that fights against me day by day” (The Fear at the End of Life)

The Liturgy of St. Basil (A.D. 373)

“By the command of your only-begotten Son, we communicate with the memory of your saints . . . by whose prayers and supplications have mercy upon us all, and deliver us for the sake of your holy name” 

St. Ephraim the Syrian (+373)

Remember me, ye heirs of God, ye brethren of Christ, supplicate the Saviour earnestly for me, that I may be freed through Christ from him that fights against me day by day. Ye victorious martyrs who endured torments gladly for the sake of the God and Saviour; ye who have boldness of speech towards the Lord Himself; ye saints, intercede for us who are timid and sinful men, full of sloth, that the grace of Christ may come upon us, and enlighten the hearts of all of us that so we may love him.

Gregory of Nyssa (+380)

“[Ephraim], you who are standing at the divine altar [in heaven] . . . bear us all in remembrance, petitioning for us the remission of sins, and the fruition of an everlasting kingdom” (Sermon on Ephraim the Syrian)

Letter of the Second Ecumenical Council to Emperor St.Theodosius the Great (Constantinople, 381 AD)

May God by the prayers of the Saints, show favour to the world, that you may be strong and eminent in all good things as an Emperor most truly pious and beloved of God.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem (+386)

We then commemorate also those who have fallen asleep before us, first, patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs, that God, by their prayers and intercessions, may receive our petitions. 

George Bebis on the Cappadocian Fathers

 “In one of his letters, St. Basil (+379) explicitly writes that he accepts the intercession of the apostles, prophets and martyrs, and he seeks their prayers to God. (Letter 360)Then, speaking about the Forty Martyrs, who suffered martyrdom for Christ, he emphasizes that they are common friends of the human race, strong ambassadors and collaborators in fervent prayers. (Chapter 8) “

St. Gregory of Nyssa (+395-400)

asks St. Theodore the Martyr …to fervently pray to our Common King, our God, for the country and the people (Encomium to Martyr Theodore). “The same language is used by St. Gregory the Theologian (+390) in his encomium to St. Cyprian. (Gen. 44: 2 and Encomium to Julian, Iuventinus and Maximinus, 3).”

St. Basil the Great, of Caesarea in Asia Minor (+379)

According to the blameless faith of the Christians which we have obtained from God, I confess and agree that I believe in one God the Father Almighty; God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost; I adore and worship one God, the Three. I confess to the oeconomy of the Son in the flesh, and that the holy Mary, who gave birth to Him according to the flesh, was Mother of God. I acknowledge also the holy apostles, prophets, and martyrs; and I invoke them to supplication to God, that through them, that is, through their mediation, the merciful God may be propitious to me, and that a ransom may be made and given me for my sins. Wherefore also I honour and kiss the features of their images, inasmuch as they have been handed down from the holy apostles, and are not forbidden, but are in all our churches. We beseech you, O most holy martyrs, who cheerfully suffered torments and death for his love, and are now more familiarly united to him, that you intercede with God for us slothful and wretched sinners, that he bestow on us the grace of Christ, by which we may be enlightened and enabled to love him. O holy choir! O sacred band! O unbroken host of warriors! O common guardians of the human race! Ye gracious sharers of our cares! Ye co-operators in our prayer! Most powerful intercessors! 

St. Gregory the Theologian, Patriarch of Constantinople; of Nazianzus in Asia Minor (+389-390)

Mayest thou [Cyprian] look down from above propitiously upon us, and guide our word and life; and shepherd [or shepherd with me] this sacred flock … gladdening us with a more perfect and clear illumination of the Holy Trinity, before Which thou standest. 

John Chrysostom (+392)

“He that wears the purple [i.e., a royal man] . . . stands begging of the saints to be his patrons with God, and he that wears a diadem begs the tentmaker [Paul] and the fisherman [Peter] as patrons, even though they be dead” (Homilies on Second Corinthians 26).

“When you perceive that God is chastening you, fly not to his enemies . . . but to his friends, the martyrs, the saints, and those who were pleasing to him, and who have great power [in God]” (Orations 8:6)

St. Gregory of Nyssa in Lower Armenia (+395-400)

…I wish to commemorate one person who spoke of their noble testimony because I am close to Ibora, the village and resting place of these forty martyrs’ remains. Here the Romans keep a register of soldiers, one of whom was a guard ordered by his commander to protect against invasions, a practice common to soldiers in such remote areas. This man suffered from an injured foot which was later amputated. Being in the martyrs’ resting place, he earnestly beseeched God and the intercession of the saints. One night there appeared a man of venerable appearance in the company of others who said,”Oh soldier, do you want to be healed [J.167] of your infirmity? Give me your foot that I may touch it.” When he awoke from the dream, his foot was completely healed. Once he awoke from this vision, his foot was restored to health. He roused the other sleeping men because he was immediately cured and made whole. These men then began to proclaim the miracle performed by the martyrs and acknowledged the kindness bestowed by these fellow soldiers…. We who freely and boldly enter paradise are strengthened by the [martyrs’]intercession through a noble confession in our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. Do thou, [St. Ephraim the Syrian] that art standing at the Divine altar, and art ministering with angels to the life-giving and most Holy Trinity, bear us all in remembrance, petitioning for us the remission of sins, and the fruition of an everlasting kingdom.

St. Ambrose of Milan (+397)

May Peter, who wept so efficaciously for himself, weep for us and turn towards us Christ’s benignant countenance.

St. John Chrysostom, Patriarch of Constantinople; b.Antioch, Syria (+407)

When thou perceivest that God is chastening thee, fly not to His enemies . . . but to His friends, the martyrs, the saints, and those who were pleasing to Him, and who have great power [parresian, “boldness of speech”]. He that wears the purple, laying aside his pomp, stands begging of the saints to be his patrons with God; and he that wears the diadem begs the Tent-maker and the Fisherman as patrons, even though they be dead. “[St. John]says that we should seek the intercession and the fervent prayers of the saints, because they have special “boldness” (parresia), before God.(Gen. 44: 2 and Encomium to Julian, Iuventinus and Maximinus, 3).”

St. Jerome (+419)

If the Apostles and Martyrs, while still in the body, can pray for others, at a time when they must still be anxious for themselves, how much more after their crowns, victories, and triumphs are won! One man, Moses, obtains from God pardon for six hundred thousand men in arms; and Stephen, the imitator of the Lord, and the first martyr in Christ, begs forgiveness for his persecutors; and shall their power be less after having begun to be with Christ? The Apostle Paul declares that two hundred threescore and sixteen souls, sailing with him, were freely given him; and, after he is dissolved and has begun to be with Christ, shall he close his lips, and not be able to utter a word in behalf of those who throughout the whole world believed at his preaching of the Gospel? And shall the living dog Vigilantius be better than that dead lion?

St. Augustine of Hippo, in North Africa (+430)

At the Lord’s table, we do not commemorate martyrs in the same way that we do others who rest in peace so as to pray for them, but rather that they may pray for us that we may follow in their footsteps.

CONCLUSION

This is only a small fraction of the pieces of evidence from the early Church. The list goes on and on… by refusing to accept their instruction and testimony, anyone that denies that the saints intercede, transgresses the commands of the apostles. The weak argument of insisting that the Bible doesn’t say so is easily disproven. Scripture never says that Scripture is the sole infallible authority for God’s Word. Matt. 28:20 – “observe ALL I have commanded,” but, as we see in John 20:30; 21:25, not ALL Jesus taught is in Scripture. So there must be things outside of Scripture that we must observe. Mark 16:15 – Jesus commands the apostles to “preach,” not write, and only three apostles wrote. The others who did not write were not less faithful to Jesus, because Jesus gave them no directive to write. Luke 1:1-4 – Luke acknowledges that the faithful have already received the teachings of Christ, and is writing his Gospel only so that they “realize the certainty of the teachings you have received.” John 20:30; 21:25 – Jesus did many other things not written in the Scriptures. These have been preserved through the oral apostolic tradition and they are equally a part of the Deposit of Faith. Acts 8:30-31; Heb. 5:12 – these verses show that we need help in interpreting the Scriptures. We cannot interpret them infallibly on our own. We need divinely appointed leadership within the Church to teach us. Protestants, however, continue to attempt to interpret the words of the Saviour for themselves, which explains exactly why there are thousands upon thousands of Protestant denominations. As soon as a group disagrees with a teaching of their denomination, they splinter off and form their own denomination over and over until all that is left is a husk of Christianity filled with the very man-made teachings that they insist that they stand against. 

On the Evils of Slanderous Speech

This is by no means all-inclusive, it is merely a starting point.  This list is being created for the purpose of reminding the Holy body of Christ, the Catholic Church, of the evil that we allow into our lives, at times, unwittingly.  If each of us reads just one of these daily and strives to prevent ourselves from speaking evil or slander, then this world will be a much better place, and the body of Christ will be more complete!  If you know of a bible verse or Patristic quote that applies, please message me and I will get it added.  I appreciate any help that you provide, and will credit you at the bottom of the post for your assistance.  Please spread this note around to all of your Orthodox friends and let’s make it our goal, to reduce the evil speech and slander that goes on in this world by each and every one of us purifying our own tongues from this wickedness.

BIBLE QUOTES REGARDING EVIL SPEECH:

  • “You shall not go about as a slanderer among your people, and you are not to act against the life of your neighbor; I am the Lord.” – Leviticus 19:16
  • “To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.” – Proverbs 8:13
  • “He who utters slander is a fool.” – Proverbs 10:18
  • “He who guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.” – Proverbs 13:3
  • “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” – Proverbs 15:1
  • “An ungodly man plots evil, and his speech is like a scorching fire.” – Proverbs 16:27
  • “He who mocks the poor insults his Maker.” – Proverbs 17:5
  • “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” – Proverbs 18:21
  • “…let not the slanderer be established in the land.” – Proverbs 140:11
  • “Glory and dishonor come from speaking, and a man’s tongue is his downfall.  Do not be called a slanderer, and do not lie in ambush with your tongue.” – Sirach 5:13-14
  • “A slip of the tongue is worse than a slip on the pavement; the wicked will go to ruin just as suddenly as a person slips and falls.” – Sirach 20:18
  • “Curse the whisperer and deceiver, for he has destroyed many who were at peace.  Slander has shaken many and scattered them from nation to nation, and destroyed strong cities, and overturned houses of great men.  Slander has driven away courageous women and deprived them of the fruit of their toil.  Whoever pays heed to slander will not find rest, nor will he settle down in peace.” – Sirach 28:12-16 
  • “Beware of useless murmuring, and keep your tongue from slander.  Because, no secret word is without result, and a lying mouth destroys the soul.” – Wisdom 1:11
  • ‎”You brood of vipers!  How can you speak good, when you are evil.  For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.  The good man out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.  I tell you on the Day of Judgment men will render account for every careless word they utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words, you will be condemned.” – Matthew 12:34-37
  • “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” – Ephesians 4:29
  • “If any man among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue, but deceives his heart, this man’s religion is vain.” – James 1:26
  • “Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.  The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” James 3:5-6
  • “With the tongue, we praise our Lord and Father, and with it, we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.” – James 3:9-10
  • “Do not speak evil against one another, brethren.  He that speaks evil against a brother or judges his brother speaks evil against the law and judges the law.  But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law, but a judge.” – James 4:11
  • “But now put them all away; anger, wrath, malice, slander, and foul talk from your mouth.  Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old nature with its practices and have put on the new nature, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” – Colossians 3:8-10
  • “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful and beneficial to others.” – Colossians 4:6

PATRISTIC QUOTES REGARDING EVIL SPEECH:

“We must answer for every superfluous word, even more so for every shameful word” – St. Gregory the Theologian

“They say that most of the people in hell are those who murdered with malicious words!” – Elder Arsenie (Papacioc)

“We and our brothers are dual images: whenever a man is attentive to himself and reproaches himself he finds his brother to be virtuous; but when he thinks that he himself is good, he finds his brother to be evil in his sight.” – Saint Poimen

“Busy yourself with your own faults, and not with other people’s and the workshop of your mind will not be despoiled.” – Saint Mark the Ascetic.

“The chief cause of criticism and slander is pride and egotism, for man thinks himself better [than others]. For this reason, it is very beneficial for a person to think of himself as smaller than all, so that he sees the brother as better, in order that he may, with the help of God, be delivered from this evil.” – Elder Ephraim of Philotheou 

“If something pushes you to criticism about some business or other of a brother or of a monastery, you, rather, try to pray about the matter, without passing it under judgment of your reason.” – Elder Ephraim of Philotheou”

Criticism is a serious sin, just as it is likewise serious when someone does not bear the weaknesses of his neighbor.” – Elder Ephraim of Philotheou

“My children, avoid criticism, a very great sin. God is grieved whenever we criticize and loathe people. Let us concern ourselves only with our own faults, for these let us feel pain; let us criticize ourselves and then we will find mercy and grace from God.” – Elder Ephraim of Philotheou”

How much hope there is for those who do not trust in themselves too much and are not overly-critical of others! And how little hope for those whose orientation is the opposite!” – Father Seraphim Rose

‎”He who quarrels consoles the devil; he who makes peace gladdens Christ.” – Saint John Maximovich

“One who spreads words of evil from one person to another is the messenger of Satan!” – Saint John Saba

“It is better to eat meat and drink wine and not to eat the flesh of one’s brethren through slander.” – Abba Hyperechius

Judging – a Christian Attribute?

I continue to be amused by the poor souls which proclaim me to not be a Christian and then proceed to name my faults. These people, ignorant of Christ’s words, bemoan my mistakes, sins, and shortcomings as if they themselves, are the very picture of perfection. All the while, overlooking that Christ said, “it is not the well that require a physician”. I am the first to admit that I am sinful and that I do not always portray the glowing credentials of what a Christian should be. But it is this ability to admit my own faults give evidence that I continue to struggle for holiness. For if I didn’t care about being righteous, evil would have no cause to attack me. That being said, what exactly is the Christian attitude of the judgemental holier than thou mentality? What does the Church teach on judging, and more importantly, what did God and His messengers teach?

The easy answer is to look to His parable of the Publican and the Tax Collector found in the Gospel of Luke 18:9-14: “Two men went up into the temple to pray; one was a Pharisee, and the other was a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed to himself like this: ‘God, I thank you, that I am not like the rest of men, extortioners, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week. I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far away, wouldn’t even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

In this parable, we see a Pharisee judging a tax collector, and indeed all others that are not like him, and Jesus uses this to show that those that judge lack humility, instead of counting all of their good deeds to exalt themselves pridefully above others, and even indicates that their prayers are not heard! Continuing on, let’s look at Jesus’ direct teachings on judging others. In three very clear and indisputable words, Jesus commanded us, in Matthew 7:1 “Do not judge”. Can it be that He actually intended us not to judge others? He continues in His teaching, and implies that it’s not the act of judging but rather the attitude with which it is done that causes God to dislike the act as indicated in the following verse, Matthew 7:2; “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged”.

There are many other Scriptures that speak on the issue, though some at first glance appear to be contradictory. Paul advised Christians of Rome in Romans 14:13 to avoid judging one another but told the Corinthians in First Corinthians 5:12-13 that they were to judge sinful believers, but to leave people outside the church alone for God to judge. James taught in James 4:11 that whoever judges his brother is speaking against the law but in James 2:12-13 he also implied that any judgments of others made must be done in mercy.

This confusing mix of instructions has confused many people. On one hand, we are commanded by Jesus, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Matthew 7:1). On the other hand, we are warned to beware of evildoers and false prophets and to avoid those who practice all kinds of evil. How are we to rightfully discern who these people are if we do not in any way judge them? To answer this question, we must research the usage of judgment throughout the Bible.

Many Old Testament passages attest to God as true and righteous Judge:

  • God is a just judge, and God is angry with the wicked every day.” – Psalm 7:11
  • He shall judge the world in righteousness, and he shall administer judgments for the people in uprightness.” – Psalm 9:8
  • Let the heavens declare His righteousness, for God himself is Judge. Selah” – Psalm 50:6
  • For the Lord is our Judge, the Lord is our Lawgiver, the Lord is our King; He will save us.” – Isaiah 33:22

The Old Testament refers often, to God as the ultimate Judge. Whereas in the New Testament, we see that the Father has committed authority and judgment over to the Son. Jesus spoke of this granted authority before ascending into heaven, as recorded in Matthew 28:18.

  • For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son.” – John 5:22
  • “I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day”. John 12:46–48
  • Because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” – Acts 17:31

As may be clearly seen in the aforementioned passages, the Bible makes clear that in the end, Jesus will righteously judge all of humanity based upon each person’s faith in, or rejection of the Son. The Judge of all of creation has made a judgment regarding salvation, echoed by the Apostle Peter in Acts 4:12: “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. There will be no time to debate whether the judgment is right or wrong because the ultimate Judge has decreed His justice through the Son.

Scripture makes it very clear that there is but one true and righteous Judge, which is the Lord God, through the person of His Son Jesus, and that He alone is worthy to determine the righteous or the wicked motives and behaviors of those who appear to be doing evil. The plain and simple fact is, as proven throughout scripture, that judging is the diametric opposite of humility, making a judgmental person a transgressor of both the command against judging and the command against pride.

The Bible on Judging

Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Matthew 7:1-5 “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure, you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

Luke 6:31 “And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.”

Luke 6:37 “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

John 8:7 “And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”

James 4:11 “Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.”

James 4:12 “There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?”

Romans 2:1-3 “Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God?”

Romans 12:16-19 “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

Romans 14:1-13 “As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.”

Fathers of the Church on Judging

“If at some time you show mercy to someone, mercy will be shown to you. If you show compassion to one who is suffering (and of course, this is not a great deed) you will be numbered among the martyrs. If you forgive one who has insulted you, then not only will all your sins be forgiven, but you will be a child of the Heavenly Father. If you pray from all your heart for salvation – even a little – you will be saved. If you rebuke yourself, accuse yourself, and judge yourself before God for your sins, with a sensitive conscience, even for this you will be justified. If you are sorrowful for your sins, or you weep, or sigh, your sigh will not be hidden from Him and, as St. John Chrysostom says, ‘If you only lament for your sins, then He will receive this for your salvation.” – Saint Moses of Optina

“A man can know nothing about the judgments of God. He alone is the one who takes account of all and is able to judge the hearts of each one of us, as He alone is our Master. Truly it happens that a man may do a certain thing which seems to be wrong out of simplicity, and there may be something about it which makes more amends to God than your whole life; how are you going to sit in judgment and constrict your own soul? And should it happen that he has fallen away, how do you know how much and how well he fought; how much blood he sweated before he did it? Perhaps so little fault can be found in him that God can look on his action as if it were just, for God looks on his labor and all the struggle he had before he did it, and has pity on him. And do you know this, and what God has spared him for? Are you going to condemn him for this and ruin your own soul? And how do you know what tears he has shed about it before God? You may well know about the sin but do you not know about the repentance?” – Saint Dorotheos of Gaza

“To judge sins is the business of one who is sinless, but who is sinless except God? Whoever thinks about the multitude of his own sins in his heart never wants to make the sins of others a topic of conversation. To judge a man who has gone astray is a sign of pride, and God resists the proud. On the other hand, one who every hour prepares himself to give answer for his own sins will not quickly lift up his head to examine the mistakes of others.” – Saint Gennadius of Constantinople

“If someone offends you, don’t tell anyone about it except your elder, and you will be peaceful. Bow to everyone, paying no attention whether they respond to your bow or not. You must humble yourself before everyone and consider yourself the worst of all. If we have not committed the sins that others have, perhaps this is because we did not have the opportunity – the situation and circumstances were different. In each person there is something good and something bad; we usually see only the vices in people and we see nothing that is good.” – Saint Ambrose of Optina

“Christ prayed for those that crucified Him: ‘Father, count not this sin against them; they know not what they do.’ Archdeacon Stephen prayed for those who stoned him so that the Lord would not judge this sin against them. And so we, if we wish to retain grace, must pray for our enemies. If you do not find pity on a sinner who will suffer in flames, then you do not carry the grace of the Holy Spirit, but rather an evil spirit; and while you yet live, you must free yourself from his clutches through repentance.” – Saint Silouan the Athonite

“Almost every sin is committed for the sake of sensual pleasure, and sensual pleasure is overcome by hardship and distress arising either voluntarily from repentance, or else involuntarily as a result of some salutary and providential reversal. ‘For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged; but when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, so that we should not be condemned with the world.” – Saint Maximos the Confessor

“Believe that others are better than you in the depths of their soul, although outwardly you may appear better than they.” – Saint Augustine

“Even if you are not what you should be, you should not despair. It is bad enough that you have sinned; why in addition do you wrong God by regarding him in your ignorance as powerless? Is he, who for your sake created the great universe that you behold, incapable of saving your soul? And if you say that this fact, as well as his incarnation, only makes your condemnation worse, then repent; and he will receive your repentance, as he accepted that of the prodigal son and the prostitute. But if repentance is too much for you, and you sin out of habit even when you do not want to, show humility like the publican: this is enough to ensure your salvation. For he who sins without repenting, yet does not despair, must of necessity regard himself as the lowest of creatures, and will not dare to judge or censure anyone. Rather, he will marvel at God’s compassion.” – Saint Peter of Damaskos

“A man may seem to be silent, but if his heart is condemning others, he is babbling ceaselessly. But there may be another who talks from morning till night and yet he is truly silent, that is, he says nothing that is not profitable.” – Saint Abba Pimen

“A discerning man, when he eats grapes, takes only the ripe ones and leaves the sour. Thus also the discerning mind carefully marks the virtues which he sees in any person. A mindless man seeks out the vices and failings …Even if you see someone sin with your own eyes, do not judge; for often even your eyes are deceived.“ – Saint John of the Ladder

“If you see your neighbor in sin, don’t look only at this, but also think about what he has done or does that is good, and infrequently trying this in general, while not partially judging, you will find that he is better than you.” – Saint Basil the Great

Narratives of Saintly Fathers

Abba Pastor said, “Judge not him who is guilty of fornication, if you are chaste, or you will break the law like him. For He who said “do not commit fornication” said also “Do not judge”.

A brother asked abba Poemen, “If I see my brother sin, is it right to say nothing about it?” The old man replied, “Whenever we cover our brother’s sin, God will cover ours; whenever we tell people about our brother’s guilt, God will do the same about ours.”

A brother in Scetis committed a fault. A council was called to which abba Moses was invited, but he refused to go to it. Then the priest sent someone to him saying, “Come, for everyone is waiting for you”. So he got up and went. He took a leaking jug and filled it with water and carried it with him. The others came out to meet him and said, “what is this, father?” The old man said to them, “My sins run out behind me, and I do not see them, and today I am coming to judge the errors of another.” When they heard that, they said no more to the brother but forgave him.

A brother sinned and the priest ordered him to go out of the church; abba Bessarion got up and went out with him, saying, “I, too, am a sinner.”

Prayers Specific to Judging and to Humility

“O Lord and Master of my life…grant me to see my own transgressions, and not to judge my brother, for You are blessed unto ages of ages.” – Prayer of Saint Ephraim the Syrian

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy upon me, an unworthy sinner.” – The Jesus Prayer

Homily of Saint John Chrysostomos

“What then? Ought we not to blame them that sin? Because Paul also says the same thing: ‘Why do you judge your brother? Who are you to judge the servant of another?’…How then does Paul say elsewhere, ‘Them that sin rebuke in the presence of all?’ And Christ too says to Peter in Mt.18, ‘If your brother sins, go and reprove him in private, and if he refuses to hear, take to yourself another also, and if even then he does not yield, declare it to the church’. And how has Christ set us clergy over so many to reprove, and not only to reprove, but also to punish? In the command “Judge not, lest you be judged”, Christ speaks to them that are full of innumerable ills, and are trampling upon other men for trifles. And I think that certain Jews too are here hinted at, for while they were bitterly accusing their neighbors for small faults that came to nothing, they were themselves committing deadly sins… And the Corinthians too, Paul did not command absolutely not to judge, but not to judge their own superiors; they should not refrain from correcting them that sin… ‘What then!’ you say, ‘if one commit fornication, may I not say that fornication is a bad thing, and correct him that is fornicating?’ Correct him, but not as a foe, nor as an enemy exacting a penalty, but as a physician providing medicine. For Christ did not say, ‘Do not stop him who is sinning’, but rather ‘judge not’—that is, ‘do not be bitter in pronouncing sentence’…Christ does not forbid judging, but commands you first to take out the log from your own eye, and only then set right the doings of the rest of the world” – Homily 23 on Matthew’s Gospel

Back to the basics of the Faith

This list is not all-inclusive…  I have selected only the most commonly known verses to remind the faithful.  Too many know but do not do.  This list of verses will bear witness against all of us.  George Lucas writes, through the persona of Yoda, “Do or do not.  There is no try.”.  I offer you the same advice today.  You are a follower of Christ or you are not.  There is no middle ground.  And a follower of Christ is known by their “fruits” (Matt. 7:20)  Christ tells us that every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. (Matt. 3:10, Matt. 7:19, Luke 3:9)  Notice that He does not say every tree that does not bear any fruit… no, he says every tree that does not bear GOOD fruit!!!  I challenge you all to make it your goal to choose to do one of the following EVERY DAY:

  1. Help the oppressed
  2. Feed the hungry
  3. Clothe the naked
  4. Care for the widow and the orphan
  5. Care for the sick
  6. Help the stranger
  7. Visit the imprisoned
  8. Be kind to your neighbor (Yes, that means EVERYONE)
  9. Do good to a fellow believer

Pick just one, and add it to loving the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, and mind.  This is spiritual fasting and is accepted before the Heavenly Throne more readily than any physical discomfort that you may cause yourself by abstaining from food.  In choosing to make one of these a part of your day, you will bring yourself one step closer to holiness!

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.” – Isaiah 58:6-10

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? Jesus replied: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22:36-40

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” – Matthew 25:31-46

“On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life? What is written in the Law? he replied. How do you read it? He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live. But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” In reply, Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers? The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” – Luke 10:25-37

“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” – Galatians 6:10

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” – James 1:27

Against The Sola Scriptura of the Protestants

The Protestant doctrine of sola scriptura is not biblical, and thus, by its own argument, completely irrelevant. The writings of the Church Fathers and the councils, both regional and ecumenical, reveal that sola scriptura was completely alien to the thought and life of the early Church. ‘I praise you, that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions just as I handed them on to you,’ and Hold fast to the traditions that you were taught whether by an oral statement or by a letter of ours’.   I know what most Protestants will immediately think, more as a knee jerk reaction than an educated statement… “But that’s not in the Bible” is an overused argument, by those that claim to follow the Bible fully, but conveniently overlook all of the following:

Scripture never says that Scripture is the sole infallible authority for God’s Word. Matt. 28:20 – “observe ALL I have commanded,” but, as we see in John 20:30; 21:25, not ALL Jesus taught is in Scripture. So there must be things outside of Scripture that we must observe. Mark 16:15 – Jesus commands the apostles to “preach,” not write, and only three apostles wrote. The others who did not write were not less faithful to Jesus, because Jesus gave them no directive to write. Luke 1:1-4 – Luke acknowledges that the faithful have already received the teachings of Christ, and is writing his Gospel only so that they “realize the certainty of the teachings you have received.” John 20:30; 21:25 – Jesus did many other things not written in the Scriptures. These have been preserved through the oral apostolic tradition and they are equally a part of the Deposit of Faith. Acts 8:30-31; Heb. 5:12 – these verses show that we need help in interpreting the Scriptures. We cannot interpret them infallibly on our own. We need divinely appointed leadership within the Church to teach us. Acts 15:1-14 – Peter resolves the Church’s first doctrinal issue regarding circumcision without referring to Scriptures. Acts 17:28 – Paul quotes the writings of the pagan poets when he taught at the Aeropagus. Thus, Paul appeals to sources outside of Scripture to teach about God. 1 Cor. 5:9-11 – this verse shows that a prior letter written to Corinth is equally authoritative but not part of the New Testament canon. 1 Cor. 11:2 – Paul commends the faithful to obey apostolic tradition and not Scripture alone. Phil. 4:9 – Paul says that what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, do. There is nothing ever about obeying Scripture alone. Col. 4:16 – this verse shows that a prior letter written to Laodicea is equally authoritative but not part of the New Testament canon. 1 Thess. 2:13 – Paul says, “when you received the word of God, which you heard from us. 1 Thess. 3:10 – Paul wants to see the Thessalonians face to face and supply what is lacking. His letter is not enough. 2 Thess. 2:15 – the fullness of the Gospel is the apostolic tradition which includes either teaching by word of mouth or by letter. Scripture does not say “letter alone.” 2 Thess 3:6 – Paul instructs us to obey apostolic tradition. 1 Tim. 3:14-15 – Paul prefers to speak and not write, and is writing only in the event that he is delayed and cannot be with Timothy. 2 Tim. 2:2 – Paul says apostolic tradition is passed on to future generations. 2 Tim. 3:14 – continue in what you have learned and believed knowing from whom you learned it. James 4:5 – James even appeals to Scripture outside of the Old Testament canon.

To avoid falling into the same trap of using only scripture in an effort to disprove sola scriptura, I have compiled a few patristic quotes as evidence on the subject of scriptural authority. A favorite quote of a Church Father by Protestants, is the following from Basil of Cesarea: Therefore, let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the Word of God, in favor of that side will be cast the vote of truth” However, if we are to use this as an argument for the Protestant cause, we must first prove that this is not taken out of context by comparing this quote with other writings of Basil. Here is where the argument fails… “Of the beliefs and practices whether generally accepted or enjoined which are preserved in the Church, some we possess derived from written teaching; others we have delivered to us in a mystery by the apostles by the tradition of the apostles; and both of these in relation to true religion have the same force” (On the Holy Spirit, 27). Here, we see Basil of Cesarea blatantly state that the tradition of the elders carries the same weight as that of the Biblical canon. Another favorite seems to be Saint Athanasius: “The holy and inspired Scriptures are sufficient of themselves for the preaching of the truth” (Contra Gentiles 1:1), as well as “These books [of canonical Scripture] are the fountains of salvation, so that he who thirsts may be satisfied with the oracles contained in them. In these alone, the school of piety preaches the Gospel. Let no man add to these or take away from them” (39th Festal Letter). The problem with using only these two quotes from the body of Athanasius’ writings is that in the first quote, the saint was instructing his flock as to what could and could not be read at Church as “Scripture.” The second quote falls apart with the following quote, also from the Saint: “The very tradition, teaching, and faith of the Catholic Church from the beginning was preached by the apostles and preserved by the Fathers. On this the Church was founded; and if anyone departs from this, he neither is nor any longer ought to be called a Christian” (Ad Serapion 1:28) Again, the saint clearly demonstrates a belief in, and reliance upon sacred tradition. As far as the quotes of Saint Cyril, favored by Protestants, I won’t bother to quote them because Saint Cyril also wrote on infallible teaching office of the Catholic Church (18:23), the Mass as a sacrifice (23:6-8), the concept of purgatory and the efficacy of expiatory prayers for the dead (23:10), the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist (19:7; 21:3; 22:1-9), the theology of sacraments (1:3), the intercession of the saints (23:9), holy orders (23:2), the importance of frequent Communion (23:23), baptismal regeneration (1:1-3; 3:10-12; 21:3-4), all of which are specifically “Catholic” doctrines. Thus, to select a small quote that aides in the Protestant purpose and reject the full body of writings which specifically promote the teachings of the Catholic Church and promote the tradition of the apostles is in itself, a fallacy.

Taking this into account, the Protestant doctrine of dismissing the mysteries/sacraments is also faulty.  Interestingly enough, Protestants who claim to follow the scriptures, seem to miss these mysteries/sacraments which are clearly referenced in the Bible, and in their hatred of the Catholic Church from which they themselves were born, have relegated the mysteries/sacraments to idolatrous practice. If the Protestants did, in fact, participate in the mysteries/sacraments, they would no longer be Protestant but would have, in essence, rejoined the body of Christ. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments”. Thus, the mysteries/sacraments which were instituted by Christ and His Holy Apostles are not, in any way, something that a Christian can choose to participate in. They are OBLIGATIONS. Therefore, anyone not participating in them has removed themselves from the body of Christ. Re institution of the mysteries/sacraments constitutes rejoining to the body of Christ. Since this goes against Protestant teaching, it stands to reason that any former Protestant who is a practitioner of the Mysteries/Sacraments would no longer be a Protestant at all.  

Baptism. Scripture shows that John’s baptism was a symbol of repentance, but not a sacrament. It did not confer grace. In the Acts, it is clear that those who received Christian baptism also received the Holy Spirit, had their sins forgiven and became members of Christ, and thus of the Church. It is the foundational mystery/sacrament, the only one Philip thought necessary to confer on the Ethiopian eunuch. Matthew 3:16; Matthew 28:19; Mark 1:8; Mark 16:16; John 3:5; Acts 1:4-5; Acts 2:38; Acts 8:16; Acts 8:36-38; Acts 11:16; Acts 16:15; Acts 16:33; Acts 18:8; Acts 19:3-6; Acts 22:16; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Cor. 12:13; Eph. 5:25-26; Col. 2:12; 1 Peter 3:20-21, and many others.

Confirmation/Chrismation. Completes Baptism by a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit and enables the Christian for mission. This was seen at Pentecost with respect to the apostles. In the early Church, it was often accompanied by charismatic signs, though these are not intrinsic to the mystery/sacrament. Conferred by the laying on of hands. In Acts 19:3-6, especially, it is clear that John’s baptism, Christian baptism, and Confirmation are all distinct realities. Also, in Hebrews 6:2 baptizing and laying on of hands are distinguished. Isaiah 44:3; Ezekiel 39:29; Joel 2:28; John 14:16; Acts 2:4; Acts 8:14-17; Acts 19:3-6; Hebrews 6:2. 

Eucharist/Communion. The Eucharist is visibly bread and wine but is, in reality, the Body and Blood of Christ. No mere symbols can effect eternal life. And abuse of no mere symbol can be worthy of damnation. In the early centuries, the name of the Mass was the breaking of the bread. Yet, when word got out of what the Eucharist really was the Romans accused Christians of sacrificing babies and cannibalism because they heard they ate human flesh. Matthew 26:26-29; Luke 24:35; Acts 2:42; 1 Cor. 11:24-27;

Penance/Reconciliation. Christ gave authority, the keys, to the apostles to forgive sin, to decide between absolving or retaining guilt. This requires “confession” of sins for this judgment not to be arbitrary, hence the popular name of the mystery/sacrament. This authority was passed on to bishops, and from them to priests, with ordination. Matthew 16:19; John 20:21-23; Rev. 1:18.

Anointing of the Sick/Unction. Anointing prepares the person for death, and only incidentally may produce physical healing. The salvation and resurrection spoken of in James are in the first place spiritual. James 5:14-15.

Holy Orders. The threefold division of sacred ministers (bishops, priests and deacons) prefigured in the Old Law (high priest, priests, Levites) is clearly revealed in Scripture. Yet, most so-called “bible-believing” Protestant churches do not have them. Acts 6:3-6; Acts 13:2-3; 1 Tim. 3:1; 1 Tim. 3:8-9; 1 Tim. 4:14; 1 Tim. 4:16; 1 Tim. 5:17-19; 1 Tim. 5:22.

Matrimony/Marriage. Marriage is, as St. Paul states, a mystery (mysterion). The Latin word used to translate mysterion is “sacramentum”. The sacraments are mysteries (as Eastern Christians still call them), for one thing, is visible and something else is known by faith. By faith, matrimony is a sign of Christ and the Church, as well as a special calling. Mt. 19:10-11; Eph. 5:31-32.

Considering what is aforementioned, this arouses a problem of professing to believe what is written, while at the same time, not practicing it.  Most Protestants recognize only the importance of Baptism and of Communion. However, even this is flawed as the lack of belief in transubstantiation renders the Eucharist, from an Orthodox perspective, invalid. Thus, Protestants also do not participate in the mystery/sacrament of communion. Many do not anoint the sick either.  (unless of course, you accept that not believing in the real presence of Christ in the communion host constitutes communion). Furthermore, Protestants are famous for having invented many different formulas for Baptism. In fact, many have even developed the idea that Baptism is not necessary for salvation at all, and do not require Baptism to be considered a Christian.  

One simply cannot call oneself a Christian and not participate in the Mysteries of the faith.  It is not possible in any way, shape or form to be part of the body without participating in and being connected to the lifeblood of the body.  A body part not connected to the blood source, will wither and die, and more importantly, infect and destroy other parts surrounding it. You are either a Christian, or you are not.  And if you are not a member of a Church that celebrates each and every one of the mysteries/sacraments, then you are not of Christ, nor are you in Christ. You are alone, apart from the body, you are the chaff that will be separated from the grain and you will be thrown into the fire.

The Pope’s Strange “Blessing”

A visibly weak and uncertain Pope Francis gave an unusual blessing at the conclusion of Cittadella della Carità, marking the 40th Anniversary of Rome’s Diocesan Caritas. He appears to struggle to speak, and his thoughts appear cumbersome.

Without making the sign of the cross as is customary when imparting an Apostolic benediction, he says :

“May the Lord bless all of you… All of you… May God bless All of you… And be your companion… along the way… of your life… Amen.”

Following his unusual blessing, he requires assistance down the step to leave the stage. It leads one to wonder if either something is weighing heavily on his mind causing distraction, or if he is weakening physically or both.