Παρασκευή, 16 Απριλίου 2021

Akathist ("not sitting") Hymn to the Most Holy Theotokos (Mother of God), 5th Friday of the Great Lent

 

 
 
 
 
The First Salutations To The Theotokos
 
 
 
 

"Beg him to enter your heart..."

 
 
Image from here
 

Christ accepts a hundred, accepts all thirty, accepts all five you will give him.
If you can't remember him a thousand times, a hundred times, fifty times a day, remember him ten times and tell him with love: "Jesus!"
Not beg him for your poverty, for your mother, for your sickness, for your success.
No, no, no!
Beg him to enter your heart.
Can't you ten times a day?
Five times can't you?
If you feel it and call it twice a day, after a month you will sweeten and ask for it ten times, then twenty times, then you will start feeling it in your heart.

From Elder Amilianos of Simonopetra
(photo)

"Fanaticism has nothing to do with Christ. Be a true Christian. Then you won’t leap to conclusions about anybody, but your love will ‘cover all things.’ Even to a person of another religion you will always act as a Christian. That is to say, you will show respect for him in a gracious manner irrespective of his religion … There must be respect for the freedom of the other person. Just as Christ stands at the door and knocks and does not force an entry, but waits for the soul to accept Him freely on its own, so we should stand in the same way in relation to every soul."

St. Porphyrios (here)

Icom from here
 

On the sweet satisfaction of virtue:

"If we would desire to rejoice continually, we have many resources for doing so. For if we take hold of virtue, there will be nothing to cause us to grieve. For virtue presents good hopes to those who possess her, making them well-pleasing to God, and approved among men; and she infuses ineffable delight (hēdonēn).

"Yes, though doing what’s right requires labor, yet this fills one’s conscience with much gladness, and lays up within such great pleasure (hēdonēn) as no speech can be able to express. . . . For nothing is so sweet as a clear conscience, and a good hope."

St. John Chrysostom, Homily 53 on St. Matthew (here).

 

Τετάρτη, 14 Απριλίου 2021

Does the Church bless Military Arms?



The excerpt quoted below is part of a far more extensive text by an orthodox theologian on a number of topics, and was addressed as a letter to an a-dogmatic Protestant.

Source: Η ΕΚΚΛΗΣΙΑ ΕΥΛΟΓΕΙ ΤΑ ΟΠΛΑ;
Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries (Translation: A.N.)

In Romans 13: 4, the apostle Paul mentions that “it is not proper for the king to bear the sword, for he is a minister of God in wrath, judging committed evil.” (=he does not carry a sword without reason, but serves God, meting Justice upon the one who commits evil).

If Paul says this about the pagan ruler and king, then, when the king is a Christian (or should kings be excluded from baptism and salvation?) and hordes of barbarians attack, should the Church pray for divine help to the king or not?

If not - and more so if he enforces the abolition of the army - then he is condemning the people to compulsory martyrdom; however, martyrdom cannot be imposed compulsorily - not everyone is ready to be slaughtered like lambs, and many will be those who will grumble against God and thus lose their souls during the onslaught of the enemy, just because they or their families perish.

It is no coincidence that the Church prays to God for victories only to the king (“victories granted to kings, against barbarians” according to the hymn), and not for victories of the army, because in Rom. 13:4, the king 'does not bear the sword' (he does not carry his sword by chance) and that when he uses it against the one committing evil, he is 'a deacon of God'.

There is no ecclesiastic prayer for an army to be victorious - not only in today's ecclesiastic books, but also in the old ones, when the land was living in a time of war! The only relevant prayer is '…for our Christ-loving army, let us pray'. Naturally, soldiers cannot be excluded from the prayers of the Church; that is, to be excommunicated and surrendered to the devil! (Needless to highlight that those prayers only pertain to the ‘Christ-loving' army and as such a philanthropic one, and not to any and every army).

Of course there is no ecclesiastic prayer for the blessing of military arms (whereas there are prayers, for example, for Easter eggs or the pie of Saint Phanourios, e.a.). On the contrary, in every ecclesiastic ritual, the first supplication is in favor of peace, followed by other prayers on this subject. And then the Cross (through which we ask for 'victories to the kings') is characterized as 'a weapon of peace, an invincible trophy'. This characterization meets the warlike similes in the New Testament, such as Ephesians. 6: 11-17.


The holy 40 Martyr-saints who had disobeyed the emperor's commands, albeit soldiers, and were condemned to martyrdom. I could say that Christian Witnesses have been the most populous anti-authoritarian movement in History. Their presence even to this day solves every dilemma about how the words of the apostle Paul are applied faithfully, and where the authority of every political ruler, king or other ends ...

Ecclesiastic rules regarding murder during war

Also dealing with killings during wars are two canons by Saint Basil the Great, ratified by the Quinisext Ecumenical Council:

Rule 8, 'On murder and murderers', includes those 'voluntarily killing' who murder during war attacks: '[…]

«Voluntary is also (considered) to be that which is (committed) wholly and without any doubt; that is, attacks by robbers and by wars. For the former kill for the sake of money (and also) avoiding controls, while the latter that are in wars have come to murder; not to intimidate, nor to reform, but to kill the opposing ones, openly displaying their intention. […] ».

Consequently, these fall under Rule 56, for those who voluntarily murder; that is, they are subject to excommunication for twenty years: the first four to be standing outside the church confessing their crime and asking for the prayers of the Christians:

“The one who has murdered voluntarily and has afterwards repented, let him be excommunicated from all sanctifications, and twenty years of excommunication be imposed upon him. For four years, he is obliged to stand tearfully outside the door of the house of prayer, beseeching the prayers of the people entering therein, and publicly declaring his transgressions. After the four years, he will be accepted by those listening (to the church service), and in five years, he can exit together with them. In seven years, he can exit, having prayed together with the other attendees. In four years, he is introduced only to the faithful, but not receiving any offerings. After fulfilling all the above, he can partake of the sanctifications.»

Rule 13, «On those who have killed in wars» clearly refers to defensive wars, hence writes: «The killings in wars our Fathers did not take into account as murders; I think they were providing forgiveness, to those who were defending sobriety and piety. Apparently, he did well to advise that for having unclean hands, they should abstain only from Communion for three years.»

Significant points here are: (a) The saint mentions that those in the past (= the Church during the persecutions, when Christian soldiers participated in wars, before the supposed 'submission' of the Church to the state) had forgiven murder during war. (b) But he also differentiates himself from those Fathers, asking for three years of excommunication!! (c) Τhe Quinisext Council validated this rule by Basil the Great and not the previous ecclesiastic practice, despite the fact that it was conducted in a Christianized state, whereas the ancient Church was outlawed, within an idolatrous state.

The 66th Apostolic Canon defrocks the clergy and excommunicates (cuts off from the divine Communion) the lay persons who kill during war: “If any of the clergy strikes someone in a battle and with one blow causes death, let him be expelled for his haste. And if it be a lay person, let him be excommunicated». [According to an article by Archimandrite Nicodemus Barousis, “Murder in war and our Priesthood”, this Rule obstructs the recognition of martyred clergymen who had committed murders in revolutions against the Turks – for example, the recognition as martyr-saint of Bishop Isaiah of Salona, the priest Ioannis (brother of the former) and of Athanasios the Deacon, were all rejected by the Church of Greece].

According to the 5th Rule of Saint Gregory of Nyssa, even the one who has killed someone inadvertently is barred from the priesthood: «Even if inadvertently, one becomes a miasma on account of murder, having rendered himself desecrated by the sin, thus the Canon pertaining to hieratic grace deems him rejected». «That is, whoever kills, even if hesitatingly and involuntarily, if he be a layman will not become a priest, and if he be a priest, is defrocked», as Saint Nicodemus comments in the “Pedalion”, pp. 657-658.

And he then adds: «And generally speaking, all the Clergy who might kill, either voluntarily or involuntarily, whether with their own hands, or put others to kill, are defrocked, according to the diagnosis of Constantine Chliarinos. (Balsamon also adds that he had seen a priest be defrocked, because when grabbing his book from someone, after arguing with another priest, the latter fainted because of this hassle and died. Likewise he had seen another priest-monk also defrocked, when, after an exchange of harsh words with another monk who -unable to tolerate those words - had sighed heavily, and who, immediately after that sigh, also promptly died. He had also seen, he says, a High Priest deposed for having killed a Hagarene in a time of war, “having re-wielded his sword against him”).

After all of the above, do you still insist that the Church “has no official view on bloody war”?


The spear-piercing martyrdom of Saint Demetrius.

As a certain author has pointed out, military saints are always defeated saints - and yet, they are the ones who have been recognized and honored as saints - not the proud victors. They were victorious, through their defeat.

The implementation in practice of the Church's view against war is evident in the Book of Saints:

A) Those who were killed in war against infidels are not honored as martyrs and saints (Nicephoros Phokas had requested it, but the then patriarch and the synod had rejected it, citing rule 13 of Basil the Great); recognizing only those who were killed during various persecutions without any war. (Some commentators, like Ms. Hélène Ahrweiler, by judging with social and political (but not Christian) criteria, puts blame on the Church for not recognizing the Emperor Constantine Palaiologos as a saint).

B) The saints serving in the military normally also become martyrs, inasmuch as they have washed away the blood of the enemies (even if shed during defensive wars) with their own blood. Even Nicephoros Phokas, who is a saint, had died of a knife wound but is not honored for having liberated lands from the harsh Arab occupation, but solely for his piety. He too died by a knife, albeit in his marital bed and not on the 'glorious' battlefield! Was it by chance?

C) In addition to the thousands of martyrs during the persecutions, there are other saints who refused to fight, having comprehended the viewpoint on war in their spiritual heritage. Saint Boniface, the enlightener of the Germans, in 754 AD, had refused to defend himself when he was attacked by barbarians in the woods across the Rhine, and had simply covered his head with the manuscript of the gospel.



The Russian saints, princes Boris and Gleb, in 1015, when their older brother Sviatopolk invited them to his palace and they realized he sought to murder them, went there anyway, and in fact within a month of each other, considering it contrary to their Christian faith to put their soldiers to fight for their sake.



In 452 AD, when Rome was besieged by Attila, the Pope - Saint Leo the Great - averted the occupation of the city by going out to meet him unarmed, in uniform, together with the priests of Rome. This act was repeated by Pope Saint Gregory II (717-731 AD), preventing the occupation of Rome by the Lombard king Liutprand.

What should a Christian king do when his country and people are under attack? Abolish the army (thus attracting the attacks of the barbarians) and impose involuntary martyrdom on everyone, or to have an army to defend itself?

This dilemma is huge, and has a direct bearing on Rom.13:4 mentioned above. Some holy kings tried to give a solution, based on their personal thoughts. Are they perhaps “not saints” if the solution they had given was wrong or misplaced? At any rate, they did what they believed most befitted Christianity, even sacrificing their own lives and in defence of their people: 


Saint Sigebert [icon], king of East Anglia, in 637 AD, while under pressure, was forced to lead his army into battle, after having abdicated the throne and become a monk. So he came down unarmed, with only a stick, and of course was killed. We do not know if he had prayed for his soldiers - that is, for them to be forgiven for the enemies they would kill - or if he had come unarmed, sacrificing himself for his soldiers.

Saint Edmund, another King of England, in 869 following a desperate resistance against the Viking invaders, surrendered his kingdom and himself in order to stop the war and was killed by arrows, like St. Sebastian, after refusing to renounce his Christian Faith. He was immediately honored as a miracle-working saint, while some 10-20 years later the Vikings minted coins dedicated to his memory!







Holy Martyr-king Edmund, who sacrificed himself for his people. He is holding an arrow, because he was killed with arrows.



On June 15, 1389, Saint Lazarus, King of Serbia, with 35,000 soldiers, fought against 100,000 Turks in Kosovo, in one of the most important battles in (at least European) history. His biography says that, before the battle, an angel of the Lord put him before the choice between the earthly or the heavenly kingdom: he could immediately attack the Turks and defeat them, or wait for the next day, for the army to attend the divine Liturgy and receive Holy Communion, but be defeated. The saint preferred the latter, choosing to send his soldiers to God equipped with Holy Communion. He was captured and executed, and before being beheaded, he prayed for the forgiveness of his sins and the salvation of his people. Despite the terrible losses of the Turks, the defeated Serbia became their vassal.



Even if we regard these miracles as myths (although they are no different to biblical miracles), the fact that these people are orthodox saints - that these DEFEATED kings were honored as saints – denotes many things as regards the Church's views on war.

The notion that a war for liberation is a holy war does actually exist among our people and to some priests (privately), but such a thing has not been established in any Ecumenical Synod, nor do I know if the Church Fathers express such an opinion. However, biblically speaking, we cannot rule out such a thing, since it is done for the benefit of the people and not for reasons of sovereignty, when we always have Rom. 13: 4, according to which “it is not proper for the king to bear the sword”.

Of course, if we followed the Bible verbatim we could imagine that holy wars do exist, which must be fought rabidly - according to the 4th chapter of Joel; the fact that he talks there about the final War does not change the fact that there are other wars “for the sake of God’s people”: when for instance the pagan Turks or the heretical Latins launch attacks. And yet, ecclesiastically, nothing has been spoken.

Glorifications sung during national holidays also praise God for His granting of liberation (=as His own gift, not thanks our weapons), but they do not highlight any victory over enemies, and even less, the extermination of an enemy.

Strangely enough, although we constantly voice praises in Church on the extermination of the Pharaoh in the Red Sea - as a miraculous intervention by God of course – we naturally utter no praises whatsoever for the extermination of the barbarians who had attacked Byzantium, or for those who had enslaved our nation, tormented us, killed us, burned our churches, pushed for a change in our Faith etc.. We only thank God or the Holy Mother Theotokos (with the hymn “To the Great Defender….”) for Her repulsion of the invaders. Should we not thank Her? Wouldn’t David have sung thanks when he defeated the Philistines?
The Church, by certain others, is accused of abstaining from the National Struggles! Saint Athanasios of Paros and Saint Cosmas of Aetolia had taught that the irreligious conquering Turk was unknowingly the guardian of the Orthodox faith against the lurking Franks; however, neither saint had ever incited the populace to embark on an armed revolution, but only to a spiritual awakening (through education and Orthodoxy). Were they truly traitors, as accused by atheists and neo-pagans, or were they genuine Orthodox Christians? 


Σάββατο, 10 Απριλίου 2021

African Americans Must Look to Orthodoxy for Peace in a Violent America

I am an Orthodox Christian under the spiritual care of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA). My intent is to spread the Orthodox Faith to African Americans.

Glory to Jesus Christ!

One could see that phrase today and think “How can he be rejoicing? This nation is falling apart! There are riots and a plague, and nothing is being done to combat racism is this country!”

Perhaps they are right, perhaps the nation is falling apart, and yet still we glorify our Great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, the one who calms the riots (Php 2:10) and heals the plague (Mt 8:4). But what about the healing of race relations?


As Christians, we know that we are all one in Christ regardless of race or identity (Gal 3:28), and yet despite that we are still divided among ourselves by ethnic lines. This verse is spiritual, we are all spiritually one in Christ, and nothing can be high enough to divide us in Him, but that does not mean that our earthly interactions are in any wise not manifested in accordance with our identities and inherent classifications. This is all to say that Black people, even as Christians, will almost universally have unique interactions with other Black people that will not be manifested in interactions with White people. Likewise, White people, even as Christians, will almost universally have unique interactions with other White people that will not be manifested in interactions with Black people.


Bishop Neophytos Kongai of Kenya (center) with Bishop Paul of Chicago (left) and Father Alexander Koranda (right) in the Holy Trinity Cathedral (2018)

How do we reconcile this fact with the current state of race relations in America? One might think my proposed solution would be to overemphasize our unity in Christ and minimize our ethnic differences, but that assertion implies that the current state of race relations is actually normal, and that we should use faith as sort of a foreign glue to keep a dying nation together. These riots and racial conflicts are NOT the normal of human interactions. It is absolutely not right for the peoples of the world or even within a nation to be fighting for that which does not save. I am proposing that we return to normal. That is not to say we return to a certain point in time, as all time periods are rife with the same conflict. Neither is that to say that we return to an idea of normal decided by the general population. We must return to an objective normal, Christ’s normal, wherein we are all according to our own, yet still in the service of the Immortal Word of God.

How do we reach this supposed normal? I seem to be making it out to be some utopia on earth, but of course we must be realistic in understanding that there will always be some obstinate enough to hold back the common good from prospering. We CAN still find a certain Divine Peace in this harsh world, however, it is all dependent on our repentance. We must absolutely flee from the very evils which perpetuate the dangerous times we are living in.

In a time of unjust killings and riots, African Americans are seeking hope where there appears to be none. The Orthodox Church has produced Black African Saints whose lives are beautifully recorded as ways which help us to see how we can walk in Christ and how we can acquire the Spirit of Peace which calms the eternal storm of a corrupted world. Our fight is not mostly physical, but spiritual. Demons attack man everyday, causing some to commit evil, and us to respond likewise with evil. We must be like our Orthodox Saints, who fought evil and injustice with love, securing with them the Kingdom of Heaven as a result.


Saint Kaleb, King of Axum; Saint Maurice, Commander of the Theban Legion; Saint Fulvianus Matthew, Prince and Bishop of Ethiopia; Saint Djan Darada, the Ethiopian Eunuch

Saint Moses the Black (AD 330–405) was a slave to an Egyptian government official. He was dismissed after being accused of robbery and murder. After this, poor and impoverished, he sought a life of crime, becoming a gang leader of a notorious group of bandits. This is not unlike the story for many African Americans today. Moses was once seeking to rob a local landowner, but the owner was alerted by the dog. In anger, Moses was now seeking to kill both the owner and the dog before robbing the estate. Moses tried again, and again the owner was alerted. In anger, Moses stole and slaughtered the sheep of the land, but at this point, the authorities sought to apprehend him.


He sought refuge in a local Orthodox Christian monastery. While there, he heard the call of the Lord to repentance, and requested to be tonsured an Orthodox monk, but he was initially rejected on his criminal past. The monks were not convinced of the sincerity of his repentance, but the former robber would not be driven away nor silenced. He continued to ask that they accept him. Saint Moses subjected himself to the harshest praying and fasting rules, proving himself to the monks and more importantly to God. He was subjected to constant attacks of temptation towards violence and lust, and yet with God through prayer, he overcame, and eventually was tonsured a monk. 

After years of service, the local Bishop saw it good and right to ordain Saint Moses as a priest. In testing him, the Bishop proclaimed “What is this Black man doing here?” An early display of discrimination on the basis of race, Saint Moses proved himself by refusing to rise to anger, and instead choosing to silently remove himself from the situation. The Bishop saw this and was impressed by Saint Moses’s repentance, and ordained him. Saint Moses shows us that we don’t need to let criminality define us. We don’t have to play into the game that tries to make us into criminals. With Christ, we can overcome what harms us. It will not come from listening to the Devil and his calls to violence.


Bishop Sylvestros of Gulu and Eastern Uganda, Metropolitan Innocentios of Rwanda, Metropolitan Jonah of All Uganda, Bishop Neophytos Kongai of Kenya

Riots arise out of anger and hatred. Modern movements attempt to get rid of this hatred towards their own by instead promoting hatred against others. Violence is the logical conclusion of hatred, and when our culture is taught to hate, conflict is inevitable. It is always man-made organizations which will fall into traps such as these, for they put their trust in the fallibility of man in hopes that by some means their torments in this life will cease. The Holy Scriptures warn us about putting our trust in Princes in whom there is no salvation (Ps 146:3). 

Organizations such as “Black Lives Matter” are truly a misnomer, for in their search of attempting to convince people of their namesake, they have removed the value of Black people and made them to be pawns in a greater game which only searches for destruction. They have idiotically convinced themselves that Black people will never rise out of their struggles, so they chose instead to force everyone to dwell in their struggles. “Black Lives Matter” will never be able to convince people of their position because the philosophy forming the groundwork their thought process cannot account for why any lives matter, let alone Black lives. Without Christ, the Objective Rule of Morality, there is no reason to assume Black lives actually do matter, since without Christ nothing matters. We see our Orthodox Saints fight for Black Lives in a way nothing in the modern world can compare to because they founded their defense of Black Lives on Christ our True God and his One, Holy, Universal and Apostolic Orthodox Church.


Saint Elesbaan of Ethiopia (AD 510–540), who is also known as Saint Kaleb of Axum, who is my patron Saint, shows us how to live a Godly life in defending Black Lives.

Saint Elesbaan of Ethiopia was an Orthodox Christian monarch of the Empire of Axum when it was brought to its greatest extent ever, and all for the protection of his Orthodox Christians. When given notice that Jewish Warlords were oppressing Orthodox Christians in Yemen and Himyaritia, much like how many slave ships to America were owned and operated by Jews, Saint Elesbaan mobilized immediately to invade the area, for he could not bear to sit idly by while his own people were being massacred. He declared war on Dunaan, but his military campaign was unsuccessful.


Wishing to learn the reason for his defeat, Saint Elesbaan, with prompting from above, turned to a certain hermit. He revealed to the emperor that he had proceeded unrighteously in deciding to take revenge against Dunaan, since the Lord had said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay!” (Heb 10:30). The hermit counseled Saint Elesbaan make a vow to devote his final days of life to God, to escape the wrath of God for his self-willed revenge, and then to defeat Dunaan. Saint Elesbaan made a vow to the Lord, and marching off with his army against the enemy, he defeated, captured and executed him. After the victory the Saint resigned as emperor, secluded himself within a monastery and for fifteen years he dwelt in strict fasting and asceticism.

What do we see here? This pious King let anger and unrighteous revenge overcome his mind, and as a result, lost his battle in defense of Black Lives. This is very reflective of the modern conflict in America, which only leads to more suffering for African American due to the refusal of our people to repent before God and seek righteous overcoming of every evil which perils us. African Americans are a divided flock. We are unsatisfied with our modern churches, which have all deviated from the Original Orthodox Faith. We fight ourselves, degrading both genders for baseless stereotypes, we murder our own unborn in the womb, we allow ourselves to be swayed by the simple propaganda of the mainstream media which lies to instigate us to violence. We do all these things when we could be saving ourselves and each other through our Lord Jesus Christ.

What if we are already plagued by sins? Certainly we all are. Many of us are hypocritically attending Church while going home to dwell in our iniquities: Fornication and Adultery, leading causes of the epidemic of Black Fatherlessness in America. Abortion, which kills us more than any outside group or disease. Innocent boys and girls robbed of their lives merely because it would be an inconvenience to us. Why do we not rise up against the destruction of Black Lives in the wombs just as much as we do when they are killed on the street? All these riots and not one destroyed Planned Parenthood! That shows where our priorities are as a people in America. Our churches have left us dissatisfied because they, too, submit to worldliness. It’s a testament to their deviation from the faith of the Apostles. John 5:39–40 [You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. 40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.]

Despite all our sins, our God is a loving and merciful God, seeking the salvation of all who repent and turn to Him. Just as the scriptures say a murderer has no life in him (1 Jn 3:15), we are still offered Eternal Life by our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Tim 6:12, Rm 6:23, Gal 6:8) through his Orthodox Church (Mt 16:18). Our Orthodox Saints are the model of repentance.


Saint Fulvianus was a Prince of Ethiopia at the time the Apostle Saint Matthew arrived in the land. The Apostle Matthew established an oasis there using a miracle working rod given to him by God, and by the miracles displayed there brought many Black People to the Orthodox Christian Faith. This already dispels the tired myth that Christianity is a White Man’s Religion to oppress Black People. In truth, Orthodoxy is the Original Christian Faith, and it made some of its earliest work in African Nations, but I digress. 

Prince Fulvianus saw the miracles and was angered because he was a staunch pagan. Prince Fulvianus seized the Saint Matthew, setting up idols around the Holy Apostle and tying him down to burn him alive. Saint Matthew died and gave his soul up unto the Lord, but his body was miraculously unharmed. Prince Fulvianus was deeply troubled at the sight of this, but still had his doubts of the True Faith. He instructed that the Body of the Holy Apostle be thrown into the sea in a metal coffin, demanding that the God of Matthew protect his body again as it was protected from the flames. Later, the soul of the Apostle Matthew appeared to the Orthodox communities he established and told them to go to the shore, where they found the coffin washed up, and the incorrupt body of Saint Matthew within. 

Saint Fulvianus begged desperately for forgiveness for his sins, received baptism and confession from the Orthodox clergy there. The Prince abdicated his rule to dedicate his life to Christ, and became a priest, eventually becoming the Bishop there and spent the remaining years of his life preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He was crowned with glory in Heaven for his repentance.

So we see, no matter how evil our deeds, God offers us the sacrament of confession, by which our sins are remitted. We must all live a life full of repentance so that the same end met by our Orthodox Saints is met by us.

We have already seen that these worldly organizations are not in the ultimate benefit of us, but how can we be so quick to trust the Orthodox Church?


Saint Djan Darada, also known as Saint Aetius, is the Ethiopian Eunuch in the Book of Acts.

Acts 8:26–40

[Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is desert. So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet. Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake this chariot.”


So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?”

And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him. The place in the Scripture which he read was this:

“He was led as a sheep to the slaughter;
And as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
In His humiliation His justice was taken away,
And who will declare His generation?
For His life is taken from the earth.”

So the eunuch answered Philip and said, “I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?” Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?”

Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.”

And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus. And passing through, he preached in all the cities till he came to Caesarea.]

We see in the story of Saint Djan Darada the necessity to trust our Bishops, who have been given the authority to Bind and Loose on Earth as in Heaven (Mt 18:18), and have been given the power to forgive sins by our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ (Jn 20:23). The Kingdom of Heaven is our Eternal joy (Heb 11:16), freedom from the bondage of sin (Rm 6:16), and the end of all earthly struggles (Rev 21:4). Anyone who can offer that is to be trusted and only the Orthodox Church can.

Even if you were to not look at the Kingdom of Heaven, for some bizarre reason, we can only see the fulfillment of proper race relations by the Orthodox Church. As seen before, no man-made organization is ultimately going to save us, they will lead us astray. Only the Orthodox Faith is capable of accounting for the ethical justification of why lives matter and applying that in a universal way.

“Orthodoxy is the only religion, the only worldview, that can properly, legitimately, and consistently apply the understanding of human dignity compared to any other worldview.” - David Medwhite

If we ever seek to end this reign of terror brought on by the enemies of mankind, we must begin at the beginning of the wisdom (Pr 9:10): the Fear of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-Begotten Son of God.


I encourage everyone who has graced me with their reading of this article to visit an Orthodox Church near you. Try using this link to a directory.

May the Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have Mercy on all of us sinners.

Kaleb of Atlanta

See also

The Modern Monastic Order Of Saint Simon of Cyrene (African-American)
Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black
St. Simon of Cyrene Orthodox Mission
African Americans

Holy Martyr Terence & 40 Holy Martyrs at Carthage / St Miltiades, the African Pope (April 10)

 

Click please:

Holy Martyr Terence & 40 Holy Martyrs at Carthage / St Miltiades, the African Pope (April 10)

 

Holy icon from here