After my death our beloved Church abroad will break three ways ... first the Greeks will leave us as they were never a part of us ... then those who live for this world and its glory will go to Moscow ... what will remain will be those souls faithful to Christ and His Church. ~St. Philaret of NY


Day 40 Memorial

May 19/June 1


• (under the old saying: "All is not always as it appears to be!")-German Police Confront Armed Mob

• ROCA photos Pentecost Service in Moscow, Parish of St. John's

• ROCA photos adult baptism: Newly illumined servant Svetlana Melbourne, Australia.

• Putin declares Russian troop deaths, 'in peacetime', a state secret
   An old saying about lies and liars:
   "Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!".

• It's a state secret
     Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree to make losses of Russian troops in peacetime a secret.
     The amendment bans information about the deaths of Russian forces "during special operations" in peacetime.
     Russia's army is massing troops and hundreds of pieces of weaponry including mobile rocket launchers, tanks and artillery at a makeshift base near the border with Ukraine , a Reuters reporter saw this week.
     Many of the vehicles have number plates and identifying marks removed while many of the servicemen had taken insignia off their fatigues. As such, they match the appearance of some of the forces spotted in eastern Ukraine, which Kiev and its Western allies allege are covert Russian detachments.
     The amount of military hardware at the base was about three times greater than in March this year, when Reuters journalists were previously in the area. At that time, only a few dozen pieces of equipment were in view.
     Meanwhile the authors of the Atlantic Council report - including British weapons analyst Eliot Higgins - say satellite images have confirmed the movement of Russian troops and camp build-ups along the Ukrainian border.

Putin's Kleptocracy

Booklet (English)


shared with us by:
Vladimir Djambov, Eng
00359.885.455.189 - M/cell
00359.2.855.62.62 - H
En <> Bg translation, interpreting 

40th Day Memorial St. Xenia's Ottawa

Sunday May 31 – Pentecost – Holy Trinity Sunday. 10:00 a.m. Divine Liturgy, Vespers with Kneeling Prayers, 40th day panikhida - memorial service for our former warden, Alla Adrianova-Ivask, followed by a luncheon. The kitchen closes for the summer after this luncheon.
Parish Events BulletinBlessed Saint Xenia of Petersburg
Russian Orthodox Cathedral
2 Colchester Square
OTTAWA Ontario (Kanata) K2K 2W9

Link to the most recent issue of The Shepherd

The Shepherd magazine

Reader Daniel comments:
    For those who don't know, this valuable Orthodox monthly publication is from the St. Edward's Brotherhood, Brookwood, UK, which belongs to our sister church to our ROCA, the GOC. 
    This issue, especially, is full of very edifying sayings and  lives of saints, and other important spiritual advice, as well as church news and descriptions of the liturgical celebrations and church life of the Orthodox  people there.
    It is all well worth reading.

Teaching on the Liturgy (cont.)
   Archpriest Alexander Rudakov
   published in 1890 in St. Petersburg

The Gospel Beatitudes
   St. Ignatius Brianchaninov

Sermon on the Ascension of our Lord
   Bishop Photii of Triaditza (GOC)

Points from Correspondence
   We belong to one nation named after Christ.
   Ignorance of our faith is spiritually destructive...


Fr. Dositheos musically gifted monk

videos shared by Protopsalti John of Portland

--this is the late Fr. Dositheos Katounakis of the St. Cyprian and Justina Monastery in Fili.  He was profoundly blind, and ironically gifted with a fantastic musical ear to hear Byzantine intervals with a very low error rate.

(13 min.) Doxastikon Holy Fathers
(3½ min.) Άξιον Εστίν Φιλανθίδου

Biographical notes by Georgios K. Michalakis
He was born in 1912 at Attaleia in Asia Minor.  He lost his sight at 5 years of age, but was endowed with rare musical gifts.  In 1931 (at the age of 19) he became a monk at Mount Athos.  He invented a Braille system for Byzantine music, and used it to transcribe all the classical pieces.  The melodic lines of his personal compositions were always based upon those of the great teachers, and the overall hymns combined art with prayer.  With all due respect to the classical texts and methods of composition, he also opened the path of musical freedom within the domain of Psaltic art (ecclesiastical chant). His compositions and performances of all the classical pieces, recorded on magnetic tapes, constitute a precious treasure for researchers, specialists (and students) of Ecclesiastical Byzantine Music.  He reposed in the Lord on Friday of Palm Week in 1991 at the age of 79.

In the vocal introduction by the right choir monk chanter, one is informed that Monk Dositheos chanted all these hymns without any isson (which was added years later by the monk chanters), at the age of 50 to 55.  He had particular admiration for the works of Iakovos Protopsaltis (whose two volume work he had also transcribed in the special Byzantine Music Neumatic Braille he had developed).  He left behind about 100 hours' worth of chanting. He'd use classical patriarchal editions (with the Patriarchal stamp).  He also transcribed many developements of various musical formulae, which he has organised in systematic manner.

The information here, was partly obtained from the chant master in charge of the distribution of monk Dostheos' work at the Monastery of Saints Cyprian and Justina, Postal Box 46 006, Postal code 133 10, Ano Liosia, Fili, Attica, Greece, Tel: (+1 210) and then 24 11 380, Fax: 24 11 080.

Other information here is from another long-time student of monk Dositheos, monk Father Chrysostom, with whom Georgios chanted for almost 2 years, as right chanter, in Montreal. Monk Dositheos spent the last years of his life in the monastery cited above, and bestowed upon them this inestimable treasure.  Monk Dositheos also had very particular admiration for Iakovos Nafpliotis, and this above all other chanters.  He would dictate the neumes by heart to his students and would do parallagi likewise.  The students would transcribe this diction, and then do Parallagi (again, by heart as far as Monk Dositheos is concerned). Father Chrysostom left me his notes and exercises as well as some old classical editions he'd study with monk Dositheos.  Father Chrysostom reposed in Christ after succombing to a rare, quick, and devastating heart cancer (rhabdomyosarcoma)

Orthodoxy News post about Patriarch Irinej

AROUND AND TREASON cowardice and deceit!  Jerusalem.  Interview with Alexei Dobychin Patriarch Irinej. (VIDEO)

For 10 years as a forced deposed from the patriarchal throne of Jerusalem Patriarch Irinej is in complete isolation in prison. Today there is a real threat to his life and health, because of his anti-ecumenist principle, antimodernist position Patriarch-confessor is very dangerous for the executors of the will of the antichrist and the new world government, preparing for the fatal act of all Ecumenical Orthodox retreat from our Lord Jesus Christ and the true faith - Eighth Ecumenical Council.
That is why today launched a massive smear campaign against Patriarch Irinej, his accusations of ecumenism, the betrayal of Christ, etc. Of course, it is well aware of the Patriarch, it is absolutely clear to all the falsity of such allegations. But the conspirators are not confused. Their father - the devil, and they are doing the will of his father. We have shown the whole essence of the catastrophic events in the Holy Land in the movie "Silence of God is betrayed!" .

In the near future, with the help of God, it will create a short video about the current situation around the Patriarch Irinej. Why is this necessary? Because all of us, Orthodox Christians all over the world - there is one body. All of us - the Church and its head - himself, our Lord Jesus Christ. No matter what the patriarchate, diocese or parish we belong. We should and must know and understand what is happening now in our Holy Apostolic Church. Our lukewarm and indifferent to the fate and the fate of the Patriarch of Jerusalem - has a bright and clear evidence of our spiritual impoverishment aberration and love in our hearts.

This Russian language interview was done, by a priest (or is it our Bp. Roman?), on the street speaking to the Patriarch,  who is looking down and speaking from the roof of his prison apartment.
The internetsobor.org comments under this article may be useful for those fluent in Russian. But, for myself, I do not know the whole story.  -R.D.
And about the first half of this video,  is a man speaking, apparently explaining the situation.


• HOCNA (1999) report on the Finding of St. Philaret's relics (Panteleimonite slant)

• Smells like bull

• Putin signed bill disallowing foreign organizations

• Another reason not to raise kids in this country

• Reader Daniel Sharing: Putin's plan of returning Russia to the glories of the Soviet Empire: Subverting the Innocent Children to the Cause of the Antichrist.  PHOTOS

• Reader Daniel Sharing: Old Calendar Bulgarian Orthodox Church: 65th. Anniversary of the Knyazheva-Pokrovsky Women's Monastery PHOTOS

• Reader Daniel Sharing:  Odessa News, Ascension sermon in Russian, Vl. Agafangel, VIDEO  INSIDE CHURCH

Metr. Philaret letter to Fr. Victor Potapov

A letter addressing appropriate relations with the MP, and the ecclessiological position of the Church in Exile.

I'm reposting this to show that ROCOR-MP Fr. Victor Potapov was a loose canon even back in 1980.   This letter appears in several places online, but usually without naming to whom it is addressed, except sometimes just, "Fr. Victor".   I don't see where he ever did a flip-flop.  I think he was a sleeper agent.  -jh     

NOTE: What Met Philaret described is still going on, but now that the God-hating anti-christian regime has disguised itself as orthodox and democratic, its lies and falsehood have gained credibility, and are successfully disseminated worldwide. Many are blinded and tempted by the external flourishing of the official church and its spectacular acts of false piety, and believe the lies of the soviets that Russia has resurrected, and that the official church is truly orthodox.  But alas! the God-hating, anti-christian regime and its official church are still there, and now that they’ve disguised themselves, they’ve become more dangerous than ever. (comment added circa 2000)


June 26/July 9, 1980
Dear Father Victor,

For a long time now I have been intending to write a few words to you, but somehow I haven’t managed to get around to it. But at last I have collected myself, and so I write.

When I, while still in Australia, began to receive information from America already post factum that here [in New York City] there had been protests, demonstrations, and even molebens in front of the Soviet consulate, I became quite alarmed and regretted that I was not here, since I would have decisively opposed much of what took place.  In particular, holding a moleben in such a place. Did they not sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?  What cause was there to display the holy things of the Church’s services before the gaze of the frenzied servants of Antichrist? Was it really not possible to pray in church?

I must say frankly that I am always seized by dismay when I hear of protests, demonstrations, and the like. In the USSR, life is governed by him (the one with horns) who fears only Christ and His Cross; and who fears nothing else in the world.  And he merely chortles over protests and demonstrations.  Public opinion?  Why, the antichrist regime has nothing but the uttermost contempt for it!  They wanted to seize Czechoslovakia and they seized it, paying no heed to the commotion that was raised. They wanted to invade Afghanistan and they invaded it, again paying no attention to the protests and threats of the various Carters & Co.  All attempts to shape public opinion in the so-called Free World in favor of those suffering from Communism are powerless and fruitless, since the Free World stubbornly closes its eyes and imitates the ostrich, which hides its head under its wing and imagines that it cannot be seen…

In bewilderment did I read in the newspaper how one journalist approvingly cites your words: 
 Father Victor is correct when he writes:  "Russia is arising from the dead!  We must believe in this; for we believe in Christ the Saviour Who arose the dead." 

I cannot understand what is the connection between the one and the other?  Personally, I believe in the Resurrection of Christ for me this is the most precious thing in the world. But I absolutely cannot see why must I believe that Russia is resurrecting? I hope that she truly will rise, then all-powerful nod for it will be given by God. But at present, not only do I not share your enthusiasm, but I am greatly alarmed for the Russian people. The falsehood and emptiness of atheism is obvious to them. But alas, it is not true Orthodoxy that is being disseminated there. There, under the guise of Orthodoxy, the Russian people are being offered Bulgakovism, Berdyaevism, and similar rubbish of the Evlogian schism. The sects are flourishing there: the Baptists etc. The official Church preaches cooperation with the God-hating regime, lauding it in every possible way. The true Orthodox Church has gone to the catacombs, hidden from the common masses … Is that, then, the rebirth of Orthodoxy?.. And are you not perhaps taking a bit too much upon yourself, proclaiming to the whole world that Orthodoxy is being reborn in Russia? God grant that the Truth should overcome all errors and should triumph over them. But for the present it is too soon to speak of it, since the influence of the anti-Orthodox elements is still so very strong there; not to mention the fact that the antichrist Soviet regime, as long as it rules Russia, will never permit the triumph of Orthodoxy. It is not without cause that the true Orthodox Church concealed herself in the catacombs and is fiercely persecuted.

Now a few words on the tragedy of poor Father Dimitry Dudko.

From the very beginning of his activities, when his name was being mentioned more and more often as a pillar of Orthodoxy, and moreover, the members of the Synod, the hierarchs, were joining their voices to this; I, however, the author of these lines, immediately kept out of it and forewarned my fellow hierarchs that a disaster might happen here. How so? Because in the USSR, according to the premise of Archimandrite Constantine, there is now a satan-ocracy. There rules he whom the Saviour called a liar and the father of lies. This lie reigns there. Therefore one cannot trust anything that occurs there. Any seemingly spiritually encouraging fact may turn out to be a falsification, a forgery, a deception, or a provocation…

Why did this calamity befall Father Dimitry Dudko? Let’s assume the best, not suspecting him of conscious collaboration with the KGB and betrayal of his convictions, but simply noting the sad fact that he did not endure, but was broken; he capitulated before the enemies of the Church. Why? It would seem that he did display courage and daring; and then suddenly, such an inglorious end.


Because his activity took place outside of the true Church…
What then is the Soviet church? Archimandrite Constantine has often and insistently stated that the most horrible thing that the God-hating regime has done in Russia is the creation of the Soviet Church, which the Bolsheviks presented to the people as the true Church, having driven the genuine Orthodox Church into the catacombs or into the concentration camps.

This pseudo-church has been twice anathematized. His Holiness Patriarch Tikhon and the All-Russian Church Sobor anathematized the Communists and all their collaborators. This dread anathema has not been lifted till this day and remains in force, since it can be lifted only by a similar All-Russian Church Sobor, as the canonical supreme ecclesiastical authority. And a terrifying thing happened in 1927, when the head of the Church, Metropolitan Sergius, by his infamous and apostate Declaration, subjected the Russian Church to the Bolsheviks and proclaimed collaboration with them. And thus in a most exact sense was fulfilled the expression in the prayer at the beginning of Confession: having fallen under their own anathema! For in 1918 the Church anathematized all the confederates of Communism, while in 1927 she herself joined the camp of these collaborators and began to laud the red, God-having regime to laud the red beast spoken of in the Apocalypse.

As if that is not enough. When Metropolitan Sergius promulgated his criminal Declaration, then the faithful children of the Church immediately separated themselves from the Soviet church, and thus the Catacomb Church was formed. And she, in her turn, has anathematized the official church for its betrayal of Christ.

And it was within this very church of evil-doers that the activities of Father Dimitry Dudko occurred, who has frankly declared in the press that he is not going to break with the Soviet church but will remain in her. Has his spiritual eyes been open, and had he seen the true nature of the official church, he might have found within himself the courage to say: I have hated the congregation of evil-doers, and with the ungodly will I not sit I am breaking off with the company of the enemies of God, and I am withdrawing from the Soviet church. Why, then for us he would have become one of our own his courage would have destroyed the barrier which irrevocably stands between us by virtue of the fact that the Sobor adopted as its guiding principle the Testament of Metropolitan Anastasy. For in this Testament it is ordered that we must not have any communion whatsoever with the Soviets, not only no communion in prayer, but not even ordinary contact in daily life. But as long as Father Dimitry would have refused to remain in the Soviet pseudo-church, and would have withdrawn from membership in her the barrier would no longer have applied to him.

I recall a marvellous case of the direct and miraculous aid of God to those who remained faithful to the end. They banished a group of nuns belonging to the Catacomb Church to Solovki. The Chekists told them: Get settled now, and tomorrow you will go to some sort of work. But they received an unexpected answer: We will not go and work. “What, have you gone out of your minds? Do you know what we will do with you? screamed the Chekists. There followed the calm reply of people who in their faithfulness feared nothing: What shall be, shall be but what is pleasing unto God shall be, and not what suits you executioners and criminals. You may do with us what you please: starve us, torture us, hang, shoot, or burn us with fire. But we give you notice once and for all: we do not recognize you, you servants of Antichrist, as the lawful authority, and we will not fulfill your orders in any way!..

In the morning the infuriated Chekists drove the nuns up onto the hill of death. Thus was called a high hill where in winter an icy wind always blew. In that wind a man would freeze to death within a quarter of an hour. The nuns, clad in their shabby ryassas, are led up the hill by Red Army men in their sheepskin coats. The nuns go happily, joyously along, chanting psalms and prayers. The soldiers left them at the top of the hill and then descended. They hear how they continue their chanting. Half hour, an hour, two, yet more all the while the sound of chanting carries from above. Night fell. The guards approach the nuns they are alive, unharmed, and continue chanting their prayers. The amazed soldiers led them home to the camp. News of this spread immediately throughout the entire camp. And when on the following day the guards were changed and yet the same thing happened, the camp authorities were bewildered and they left the nuns in peace…

Is this not a victory? Behold what it means to be faithful unto death as the marvellous words of Apocalypse say: Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. In this instance it’s an obvious miracle, as it was with the three youths in the Babylonian furnace, only there the death-bearing element was fire, but here a death-dealing and killing cold. Behold how God rewards faithfulness!

And hear my heartfelt conviction: if the entire mass of the many millions of Russians would evidence a like faithfulness as did those nuns, and would refuse to obey the bandits who have been oppressing the Russian nation, then Communism would collapse in a second. For the succor of God, which had saved in a miraculous manner the nuns while on their way to certain death, would come likewise to the Russian people. But as long as the nation recognizes the regime and obeys it, even if all the while cursing it in their hearts, that regime will remain in place.

Of course, the nuns were strengthened by the power of God, just as the ancient martyrs; without this aid they would not have endured. But their podvig [martyric exploit] was accomplished within the true Church, filled with grace and Truth. For the true Church, according to the apostolic teaching, is the Body of Christ the Lord abides in her and leads her as her Divine Head.

Will anyone dare to assert that the Lord and His grace abide in the Church of the evil-doers, which lauds His demonized enemies and collaborates with them, which because of this is found under a twofold anathema, as indicated above? Can a church which has united with the God-haters possess grace?! The answer is obvious!

The hierarch Theophan the Recluse in his own day warned that a terrible time was approaching when people would behold before their eyes all the appearance of church grandeur solemn services, church order, and such while on the inside there would be total betrayal of the Spirit of Christ. Is this not what we see in the Soviet church? Patriarchs, Metropolitans, all the priestly and monastic orders and at the very same time, an alliance with the God-haters, that is, a manifest betrayal of Christ.

To this company belongs also Father Dimitry Dudko. Of course, his sincere religious feelings compelled him to preach concerning God and not to condone many of the disgraceful happenings in the lives of Russian people. But for him, Pimen was, and likely still is, his spiritual head, the head of the Soviet hierarchy; while for us, it is not at all so. For our Sobor in 1971 passed a resolution: on the basis of such and such canons to consider the election of Pimen as unlawful and invalid, and to consider all his acts and decrees as having no force or significance.

How difficult is Father Dimitry Dudko’s position now! What is he to do? Continue his pastoral work? And what can he say to the faithful? Say the same thing that he said before his repentance? But then, he has already renounced this! Say the opposite? Why, they believed him before when he preached that which won for him the trust and respect of the faithful and now, how will he look them in the face? One girl correctly said that there is one way out for him: make a genuine repentance in atonement for the one he just now made. But in order to do that he must depart from the church of the evil-doers for the true Church, and there make his repentance. However, in return, the red church will undoubtedly deal with him with particular malice and cruelty. Of course, by crossing over to the true Church, he will pass over into the realm of Divine grace and strength, which can fortify him just as it fortified those catacomb nuns. God grant that he find the true and saving path.

I should also like to note the following. The Catacomb Church in Russia relates to the Church Abroad with love and total confidence. However, one thing is incomprehensible to the Catacomb Christians: they can’t understand why our Church, which realizes beyond a doubt that the Soviet hierarchy has betrayed Christ and is no longer a bearer of grace, nevertheless receives clergy of the Soviet church in their existing orders, not re-ordaining them, as ones already having grace. For the clergy and flock receive grace from the hierarchy, and if it [the hierarchy] has betrayed the Truth and deprived itself of grace, from where then does the clergy have grace? It is along these lines that the Catacomb Christians pose the question.

The answer to this is simple. The Church has the authority in certain cases to employ the principle of economia condescension. The hierarch Saint Basil the Great said that, in order not to drive many away from the Church, it is necessary sometimes to permit condescension and not apply the church canons in all their severity.  When our Church accepted Roman Catholic clergy in their orders, without ordaining them, she acted according to this principle. And Metropolitan Anthony [Khrapovitsky], elucidating this issue, pointed out that the outward form successive ordination from Apostolic times that the Roman Catholics do have; whereas the grace, which the Roman Catholic church has lost, is received by those uniting [themselves to the Church] from the plenitude of grace present in the Orthodox Church, at the very moment of their joining. The form is filled with content, said Vladyka Anthony.

In precisely the same manner, in receiving the Soviet clergy, we apply the principle of economia. And we receive the clergymen from Moscow not as ones possessing grace, but as ones receiving it by the very act of union. But to recognize the church of the evil-doers as the bearer and repository of grace, that we cannot do, of course. For outside of Orthodoxy there is no grace; and the Soviet church has deprived itself of grace.

In concluding my lengthy letter, I should like to point several things out to you, Father. The Bishops’ Sobor resolved to be guided by and to fulfill the Testament of Metropolitan Anastasy, in which the late First Hierarch bade us not to have any communion with the Soviet church whatsoever, not only no prayerful communion, but not even ordinary contact. On what basis then have you and other clergymen had direct relations with Father Dudko? And have written him letters, etc.? No matter how sincere a man you may have considered him to be, nevertheless, can your private opinion annul a ruling adopted by the Church? Now, had Father Dudko said: I am breaking with the official church and leaving her then you could have entered into lively contact with him. But in the absence of that, your actions constitute a violation of ecclesiastical discipline. Dudko wrote to me personally, but I did not answer him although I could have said much. By the way, on what basis did you, even before this, take into your head to commemorate an archbishop of the Soviet church during the Great Entrance? Who gave you the right to do that, which hierarch who, how, where, when?.. Be more careful, my dear, zealous, but, ah, too impetuous fellow minister!

Peace to you and the mercy of the Lord. To Matushka and the children too.

With love,
Metropolitan Philaret

footnotes added by translator available here:
What our synod says about how to regard piety found in the MP


sadly missed

October 2013
May 2015

The Church as the Body of Christ

Towards a clearer concept of the Church

The Church as the Body of Christ
St. John Shanghai & San Francisco

And He [Christ] is the head
of the body, the Church (Col 2:28),
which is His body, the fullness of Him
that filleth all in all (Eph. 1:22)

In the Holy Scripture, the Church is repeatedly called the Body of Christ.
Who [Paul] now rejoice in my sufferings for you, . . . for His Body's sake, which is the Church (Col. 1:24), the Apostle Paul writes about himself.
Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, he says, are given by Christ.., for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ (Eph. 4:11-12).
At the same time, bread and wine are made into the Body and Blood of Christ during the Divine Liturgy, and the faithful partake thereof. Christ Himself ordained it, in communicating His apostles at the Mystical Supper with the words, Take, eat; this is My Body; . . . Drink ye all of it; For this is My Blood of the New Testament (Matt. 26:26-28).
How is the Body of Christ at the same time both the Church and the Holy Mystery?
Are the faithful themselves both members of the Body of Christ, the Church, and also communicants of the Body of Christ in the Holy Mysteries?
In neither instance is this name, "Body of Christ," used metaphorically, but rather in the most actual sense of the word. We believe that the Holy Mysteries, while keeping the appearance of bread and wine, are the very Body and the very Blood of Christ. We likewise believe and confess that Christ is the Son of the Living God, come into the world to save sinners; that He became true man, and that His flesh, taken from the Virgin Mary, was actual human flesh; that in body and soul Christ was a true man, like other men in all respects except sin, while remaining at the same time true God. In this incarnation, the Divine nature was neither diminished nor changed in the Son of God; likewise the human nature was not changed at this incarnation, but retained in full all human qualities.
Unchanged and unconfused forever, indivisibly and inseparably, Godhead and manhood were united in the One Person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Son of God became incarnate to make people partakers of the Divine nature (II Peter 1:4), to free them from sin and death, and to make them immortal.
Uniting ourselves with Christ, we receive Divine grace which gives human nature strength for victory over sin and death. By His teaching, the Lord Jesus Christ has shown people the way to victory over sin, and He grants them eternal life, making them partakers of His eternal Kingdom by His Resurrection. In order to receive from Him that Divine grace, the closest possible contact with Him is necessary. Drawing all to Himself by His divine love, and uniting them unto Himself, the Lord has united to each other those who love Him and come unto Him, uniting them into one Church.
The Church is unity in Christ, the closest union with Christ of all who rightly believe on Him and love Him, and their union is through Christ.
Now the Church consists of both her earthly and heavenly parts, for the Son of God came to earth and became man that He might lead man into heaven and make him once again a citizen of Paradise, returning to him his original state of sinlessness and wholeness and uniting him unto Himself.
This is accomplished by the action of Divine grace granted through the Church, but man's effort is also required. God saves His fallen creature by His own love for him, but man's love for his Creator is also necessary; without it he cannot be saved. Striving toward God and cleaving unto the Lord by its humble love, the human soul obtains power to cleanse itself from sin and to strengthen itself for the struggle to complete victory over sin.
The body also partakes in that struggle; now it is a receptacle and instrument of sin, but it is foreordained to be an instrument of righteousness and a vessel of holiness.
God created man, breathing divine breath into the animate body He had created earlier from the earth. The body was to have been an instrument of the spirit, subject to God, for through it the human spirit manifests itself in the material world. Through the body and its separate members, the spirit reveals its properties and qualities which God gave it, as to His own image, which is why the body also, as a manifestation of the image of God, is both called and is indeed "our beauty created in the image of God" (sticheron from the Funeral Service).
When the first-created people fell away in spirit from their Creator, the body, hitherto subject to the spirit and obtaining its directions through the soul, ceased to be subordinate to it and began to strive to dominate it. In place of the law of God, the law of the flesh began to rule man.
Sin, having cut man off from the source of life — God, rent man asunder. The union of spirit, soul, and body was violated, and death entered into him. The soul, no longer surrounded by the streams of life, could not transmit them to the body, which became corruptible, and the soul began to languish.
Christ came to earth to restore the fallen image and return it to union with Him Whose image it is. Uniting man unto Himself, God thus restores him to his original goodness in all its fullness.
Granting grace and sanctification to the spirit, Christ also purifies, strengthens, heals, and sanctifies the soul and the body.
But he that is joined unto the Lord is one Spirit [with Him] (I Cor. 6:17). The body, then, of the man who has been united unto the Lord, must be an instrument of the Lord, must serve for the fulfillment of His will, and become a part of the Body of Christ. For a man's complete sanctification, the body of the servant of the Lord must be united with the Body of Christ, and this is accomplished in the Mystery of Holy Communion. The true Body and the true Blood of Christ which we receive become part of the great Body of Christ.
Of course, for union with Christ, the mere conjoining of our body with the Body of Christ does not suffice. The consumption of the Body of Christ becomes beneficial when in spirit we strive toward Him and unite ourselves with Him. Receiving the Body of Christ, while turning away from Him in spirit, is like the contact with Christ which they had who struck Him and mocked and crucified Him. Their contact with Him served not for their salvation and healing, but for their condemnation.
But those who partake with piety, love and readiness to serve Him, closely unite themselves with Him and become instruments of His Divine will.
He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood, dwelleth in Me, and I in him, said the Lord (John 6:56).
Uniting with the Risen Lord, and through Him with the entire Eternal Trinity, man draws from It power for eternal life and himself becomes immortal.
As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me (John 6:57).
All who believe in Christ and unite themselves unto Him by giving themselves to Him and by the reception of Divine Grace, jointly comprise the Church of Christ, whose Head is Christ Himself, and they who enter into her are her members.
Christ, invisible to the bodily eye, clearly manifests Himself on earth through His Church, just as the invisible human spirit manifests itself through its body. The Church is the Body of Christ both because her parts are united to Christ through His Divine Mysteries, and because through her Christ works in the world.
We partake of the Body and Blood of Christ, in the Holy Mysteries, so that we ourselves may be members of Christ's Body: the Church.
This is not accomplished instantly. To fully abide in the Church is already a state of victory over sin and complete purification therefrom. Everything sinful estranges us from the Church to some degree, and keeps us out of the Church. This is why, in the prayer read over every penitent at Confession, we hear, "... reconcile and unite [him/her] unto Thy Holy Church." Through repentance a Christian is cleansed and he is united closely to Christ in partaking of the Holy Mysteries. Later, however, the dirt of sin again settles upon him and estranges him from Christ and the Church, and therefore repentance and Communion are again necessary.
Until man's earthly life finishes its course, up to the very departure of the soul from the body, the struggle between sin and righteousness continues within him. However high a spiritual and moral state one might achieve, a gradual or even headlong and deep fall into the abyss of sin is always possible. Therefore, communion of the holy Body and Blood of Christ, which strengthens our contact with Him and refreshes us with the living streams of the grace of the Holy Spirit flowing through the Body of the Church, is necessary for everyone. The great importance of partaking of the Holy Mysteries is seen in the life of Saint Onuphrius the Great to whom, as well as to other hermits living in the same desert, angels brought Holy Communion; and in the life of Saint Mary of Egypt, whose final wish after many years in the desert was to partake of the Holy Mysteries. And there are similar examples in the lives of Saint Sabbatius of Solovki and many others. Not in vain did the Lord say, Amen, amen, I say unto you, except ye eat the Flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His Blood, ye have no life in you (John 6:23).
To partake of the Body and Blood of Christ is to receive in oneself the Risen Christ, the Victor over death, Who grants to those with Him victory over sin and death.
Preserving in ourselves the grace-filled gift of Communion, we have a guarantee and foretaste of the blessed, eternal life of the soul and body.
Up to the very "Day of Christ," His Second Coming and the Judgment of the whole world, the struggle of sin with righteousness will continue, individually in each person, and collectively in all mankind.
The earthly Church unites all who are reborn through baptism and who have taken up the cross of the struggle with sin, and who follow after Christ, the contest-master of this struggle. The Divine Eucharist, the offering of the bloodless sacrifice and partaking thereof, sanctifies and strengthens its partakers and makes those who receive of the Body and Blood of Christ true members of His Body, the Church. But only with death is it determined whether a man remained a true member of the Body of Christ to his last breath, or whether sin triumphed in him and drove out the grace which he received in the Holy Mysteries and which bound him to Christ.
He who, as a member of the earthly Church, has reposed in grace, goes over from the earthly Church into the heavenly Church; but he who falls away from the earthly Church will not enter into the heavenly, for the Church in this world is the way into the heavenly.
The more one is found to be under the influence of the grace of communion and the more tightly one has united himself to Christ, the more one will find pleasure in communion with Christ in His coming Kingdom.
It is important to partake of the Mysteries of Christ just before death, when the lot of a man is determined forever. It is necessary to try to receive just before death, if there be even the slightest possibility of this, to beseech the Lord to find us worthy of this and to take thought for others, so that they may not be deprived of Communion before the end.
Inasmuch as sin continues to operate in the soul until death, so the body is liable to its consequences, bearing in itself the seeds of disease and death from which it is freed only when it decays after death, and then rises at last free of them in the general resurrection. He who unites himself in spirit and in body with Christ in this life will be with Him in spirit and in body in the life to come. The grace-filled streams of the life-creating Mysteries of the Body and Blood of Christ are the well-spring of our eternal joy in converse with the risen Christ and in the contemplation of His glory.
The same consequences of sin, not yet completely driven out from the human race, operate not only in individual people, but through them they are manifested in the earthly activity of entire parts of the Church. Heresies, schisms, and disputes arise constantly, tearing away part of the faithful. Misunderstandings between local Churches or parts of them have troubled the Church since antiquity, and prayers for their cessation are repeatedly heard in the Divine services.
"We pray for the unity of the Churches," "unity to the Churches" (Triadic, Resurrection Canon, Tone 8), "Set aright the dissensions of the Church" (service to the Archangels, 8 November, 26 March, 13 July), and similar prayers have been offered by the Orthodox Church through the centuries. Even on Holy and Great Saturday, before the epitaphion of Christ, the Church pronounces: "O most blameless, pure Virgin, who didst bring forth the Life, stop the scandals of the Church, and grant peace as thou are good" (last verse of the second stasis of the Lamentations).
Only when Christ appears on the clouds will the tempter be trampled down, and all scandals and temptations disappear. Then the struggle between good and evil, between life and death will cease, and the earthly Church will merge with the Church Triumphant, in which God will be all in all (I Cor. 15:28).
In the Kingdom of Christ to come, there will no longer be a need to receive the Body and Blood of Christ, for all who have been vouchsafed it will be in closest converse with Him and will enjoy the pre-eternal light of the Life-originating Trinity, experiencing that blessedness which no tongue can express, and which is incomprehensible to our feeble mind. For this reason, after partaking of the Holy Mysteries at Liturgy, in the altar there is always said the prayer which we sing during the Paschal season: "O Christ, Thou great and most sacred Paschal O Wisdom, Word and Power of God! Grant us to partake of Thee more perfectly in the unwaning day of Thy Kingdom" (Ninth Ode, Paschal Canon).
taken from Man of God