The aggressive secularization of America
As an American I have watched with sadness, the eroding of our Christian values and standards of living. When I was in grade school, each day began with the reading of the Bible, broadcast over the intercom system (yes, we had the technology when I was little). At my graduation from high school, there were two public gatherings in the gym, the first being the baccalaureate service, where the minister chosen by the seniors gave an inspirational address, and religious hymns and patriotic songs were sung. The second public gathering was the actual graduation ceremony. The baccalaureate service is long gone from the American scene, found, as it were, to be an unconstitutional infringement on the separation of Church and State.
Gone, also, are the student Christian organizations, banned as they were, from the use of public school facilities, again on the basis of the separation of Church and State. Many of these same schools have given over classroom use to Muslim students, for their required prayer services.
Our courts have aggressively moved to push the Christian faith further from the public forum. Attacks toward public displays of religious themes, such as the Ten Commandments, Nativity Creches, and even crosses from the graves of soldiers, have increasingly become the norm. There is even a movement to force police and fire department chaplains to remove the cross from their badges, something we’ve all vowed to resist.
This aggressive move towards secularism has increasingly become a part of American foreign policy, with the move to pressure other countries to follow our lead. Just as the Russian Revolution was supported, in the very beginning, by the anti-monarchist sentiments of the American government, so too, are we seeing an increase in the negative attitudes of the American government towards the rise in power and influence, of the Russian Orthodox Church.
At a time when our governmental leaders are pushing Christianity from the public forum, we criticize the Russian government because of it’s close ties with the Russian Orthodox Church. We even question the sincerity of Russian leaders Orthodox faith, perhaps because we know that many of our own leaders have put on the veneer of being Christian, for political survival.
Russians know the dangers of aggressive secularism, having suffered seventy years of state sponsored atheism, and many Russians look with amazement at what they see as American capitulation to a secularism that has promoted a sort of state atheism of its own.
The Moscow Patriarchate is waging a “War on Aggressive Liberalism”, and calling upon believers to fight the “anti-clerical forces” and “false values of aggressive liberalism.” The Patriarchate will not sit back complacently, and watch a replay of the rise of anti-Church forces that hurled the Russian people into the dark days of the Communist aggression against the Church, and against believers.
The same forces that are aggressively seeking to discredit the clergy, divide Russian society, and turn Russians away from their temples, is at work in the United States. The time has come for all Christians to stand firm, and resist the forces of aggressive secularism. Whether we be Russian, Canadians, British, Greeks, or Americans, we need to stand united, and work to return Western civilization to her Christian roots.
An American Catholic Bishop stated recently: “I shall die in my bed, my successor shall die in prison, his successor will die as a martyr in the public square”. Although God will protect his Orthodox Church from the Gates of Hell, we must remember that the blood of the Martyrs has always watered the seed of the Church.
With love in Christ,
Saturday May 9, 2020 / April 26, 2020
Third Week of Pascha. Tone two.
Hieromartyr Basil, bishop of Amasea (322).
St. Stephen, bishop of Perm (1396).
New Hieromartyr John (Pankov) priest and his children, Martyrs Nicholas and Peter (1918).
Righteous Virgin Glaphyra of Nicomedia (322).
Venerable Ioannicius of Devich (Serbia) (1430).
Commemoration of Fallen Soldiers.
Venerable Jusca, righteous.
St. Nestor the Silent (Greek).
Venerables Andrew and Anatole, disciples of St. Euthymius the Great (5th c.) (Greek).
St. Richarius, abbot in Picardy (645).
St. Calantius of Tamaseos on Cyprus (8th c.).
St. George of Cyprus (1091).
The Scripture Readings
Saul Preaches Christ
20 Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.
21 Then all who heard were amazed, and said, “Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?”
22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ.
Saul Escapes Death
23 Now after many days were past, the Jews plotted to kill him. 24 But their plot became known to Saul. And they watched the gates day and night, to kill him. 25 Then the disciples took him by night and let him down through the wall in a large basket.
Saul at Jerusalem
26 And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. 28 So he was with them at Jerusalem, coming in and going out. 29 And he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenists, but they attempted to kill him. 30 When the brethren found out, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him out to Tarsus.
The Church Prospers
31 Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.
17 These things I command you, that you love one another.
The World’s Hatred
18 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet Because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 He who hates Me hates My Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father. 25 But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’
The Coming Rejection
26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.
Jesus Warns and Comforts His Disciples
16 “These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. 2 They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service.