The workings of the enemy of the Church
There have always been attacks on the integrity of the Church. Sometimes these attacks have been directed head on toward the Church, such as the invasion of Islam into Orthodox lands. At other times the Church has experienced attacks within her own walls, with divisions occurring that threatened the integrity and unity of the Church herself.
The internal strife that has taken place during various periods in the history of the Church is tragic. Saint John Chrysostom, Saint John of San Francisco and St. Nectarios of Pentapolis are but three examples of bishops who suffered injustice at the hands of brother bishops. Within the life of the Church there have also been moments when synods of bishops have had to make difficult, but necesary decisions, knowing some would find fault with the outcome, but being morally and spiritually pressed to move swiftly in spite of criticism.
There have been disputes between monasteries over the concept of land ownership, with some teaching that monastic communities should own no land, while other holy brotherhoods insisted that the independence afforded monasteries by land ownership was an important safety net for the longevity of the community.
The important thing for all of us to remember during periods of strife in the Church is that nothing is new. From the very beginning there has been strife and division, disagreements between members of the Church, including her clergy and bishops. Saint Paul even directed his thoughts regarding those who would say, “I am of Christ”, or “I am of Paul”. Like blood families, we are all part of the human condition that is the result of the Fall, and we need to remember that attacks against the unity of the Church have always been there, and will always be there, until the end of times.
Of course the root of these attacks and divisions is none other than the evil one himself. Satan hates the Church, and has been attacking every part of the Church from the very beginning. Can we really expect Lucifer to spend all of his time attacking only drunks and cut throats? If he’s already got them, why would he not turn most of his evil wrath against the very Church founded by Christ Himself?
During difficult times, where we see brother against brother, it is important that we do not react, do not gossip, and let peace reign in our hearts.The promise we have from the Lord Himself, is that the gates of hell shall not prevail against His Church. Divisions will come and go, strife between brothers will always be there, yet the Holy Spirit will still continue to guide the Church. We must learn to trust the Lord, leave the guidance of the Church in the hands of our bishops, and work on our own hearts. If we be of a peaceful heart, all will be well. Peace must begin with me.
With love in Christ,
Photo: The doors of the altar have remained open all of Bright Week, symbolizing the opening of the “gates” of paradise through Christ’s victory over death.
Saturday April 14, 2018 / April 1, 2018
Bright Week. Fast-free
Venerable Mary the Egyptian (522).
Venerable Euthymius, monk, of Suzdal (1404).
Venerable Barsanuphius of Optina (1913).
New Hieromartyr Sergius priest (1938).
New Hieromartyr Schema-bishop Macarius of St. Macarius the Roman Monastery near Lezna (1944) and Michael, fool-for-Christ (1931).
Martyr Abraham of Bulgaria (1229).
Venerable Gerontius, youth, canonarch of the Kiev Caves (14th c.).
Venerable Macarius, abbot of Pelecete (840).
Martyrs Geroncius and Basilides (3rd c.).
St. Meliton, bishop of Sardis (177).
St. Procopius, abbot of Sazava (1053).
Sts. John of Shavta and Vardzia (12-13th c.) and Eulogius the Prophet and Fool-for-Christ (Georgia).
Martyr-hermit Tewdric of Tintem.
The Scripture Readings
Preaching in Solomon’s Portico
11 Now as the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch which is called Solomon’s, greatly amazed. 12 So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? 13 The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. 14 But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses. 16 And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.
John the Baptist Exalts Christ
22 After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He remained with them and baptized. 23 Now John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there. And they came and were baptized. 24 For John had not yet been thrown into prison.
25 Then there arose a dispute between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purification. 26 And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified—behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him!”
27 John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent before Him.’ 29 He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease. 31 He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all. 32 And what He has seen and heard, that He testifies; and no one receives His testimony. 33 He who has received His testimony has certified that God is true.