Do we think ourselves wiser than the Church?
In an age of unbelief it can be a struggle to submit to the laws of the Church. When the society around us regards the Church’s laws and traditions unfavorably, we can easily give in to thinking the same thing, and disregard the canons and statutes of the Church of Christ. If our work associates and friends, or even family members, think our adherence to the periods of fasting is extreme, we can find ourselves giving in to peer pressure, just as children are known to do. If our taking time out from work to attend special feast day services is criticized by co-workers as being excessive, do we decline to ask for the day off for the next feast day?
If we allow ourselves to choose the traditions and societal structures of those around us, in preference to the Church’s traditions, canons and laws, we will soon find ourselves betraying our Christian faith. Christianity was not meant to be easy, but is by nature compared to doing battle. If we desire the easy comforts and pleasures of this world, we will eventually lose the battle, and we will perish. If we prefer the laws of this world over the laws of the Church, in the end we will have lost that which is most essential and eternal in value.
In times of turmoil and earthly hardship will we find we have not built up the spiritual strength and fortitude to stand strong against the winds of destruction that lay hold our lives, and we will have lost the battle. Submitting to mere human traditions and authority, we will find that a thief will have taken the very treasure that is the Kingdom of God, and we will be left by the wayside, the Gates of Heaven having been closed to us.
If we revile the laws of the Church we will have reviled Christ Himself, Who is the Head of the Church. This is true because the laws of the Church were given by the Holy Spirit through the Apostles, and are therefore not simply the traditions of man.
With love in Christ,
A note to my readers:
Please know that I take my direction from none other than Saint Paul, who was willing to preach anywhere for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am not a follower of Sister Vassa, but I admire her willingness to go into the marketplace with Orthodoxy. The controversy surrounding her is not something I’ve followed, since I am way too busy with my own work, and with my community of monks. I agreed to be on her show for much the same reasons Saint Paul would agree to preach anywhere.
As well, that our bishops have blessed her to continue her on-line ministry, as well as her speaking tours, is enough for me. So, if I’ve somehow offended any of you for my having agreed to be on her show, I can only say that I am sorry for having caused offense.
Meanwhile, I will continue my own ministry of outreach, and with God’s help, never depart from the path of our Orthodox Faith and Tradition.
With love and blessings,
Thursday June 6, 2019 / May 24, 2019
The Ascension of our Lord. Tone five.
Holy Georgian Martyrs of Persia (17th-18th c.) (movable holiday on the day of the Holy Ascension) (Georgia).
Venerable Symeon Stylites (the Younger) of the Wonderful Mountain (596).
Venerable Nicetas Stylites, wonderworker of Pereyaslavl-Zalesski (1186).
St. Xenia of Petersburg, fool-for-Christ (Glorification 1988).
Martyrs Meletius Stratelates, Stephen, John, and 1,218 soldiers with women and children, including: Serapion the Egyptian, Callinicus the Magician, Theodore, Faustus, the women Marciana, Susanna, and Palladia, two children Cyriacus and Christian, and twelve tribunes: Faustus, Festus, Marcellus, Theodore, Meletius, Sergius, Marcellinus, Felix, Photinus, Theodoriscus, Mercurius, Didymus, all of whom suffered in Galatia (218).
Venerable Vincent of Lerins (ca. 450).
St. Gregory, archbishop of Novgorod (1193).
Nun-martyr Martha, abbess of Monemvasia (990).
The Scripture Readings
Mary Magdalene Sees the Risen Lord
9 Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons. 10 She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. 11 And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe.
Jesus Appears to Two Disciples
12 After that, He appeared in another form to two of them as they walked and went into the country. 13 And they went and told it to the rest, but they did not believe them either.
The Great Commission
14 Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. 15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
Christ Ascends to God’s Right Hand
19 So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.
1 The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 2 until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, 3 to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.
The Holy Spirit Promised
4 And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; 5 for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” 6 Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Jesus Ascends to Heaven
9 Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11 who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”
The Upper Room Prayer Meeting
12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey.
Jesus Appears to His Disciples
36 Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, “Peace to you.” 37 But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. 38 And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.”
40 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. 41 But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, “Have you any food here?” 42 So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb. 43 And He took it and ate in their presence.
The Scriptures Opened
44 Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” 45 And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.
46 Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And you are witnesses of these things. 49 Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”
50 And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. 51 Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen.