“Life in the one true God and Lord Jesus Christ is really our only true life because it is wholly eternal and completely stronger than death” St. Justin Popovich.
Our Sweetest Lord Jesus has come to destroy sin, death and the devil. He has come to bring Life, and life most abundantly (cf. Jn 10:10). He has come “to bring to nothing the one who had the power of death – the devil – and to deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to life long slavery” (Heb. 2:14-15).
Everything of Christ the Lord communicates only abundant Life, for He is Life Himself. Nothing of Him can or could convey corruption of any kind or death.
“Faith is indeed the revival of the soul from lethargy, the resurrection of the soul from the dead: ‘he was dead, and is alive (Lk. 15:24). Man experienced this resurrection of the soul from death for the first time in the God-man Christ and constantly experiences it in His Holy Church, since all of Him is found in Her. And He gives Himself to all believers through the holy mysteries and holy virtues. Where He is, there is no longer death: and one has already passed from death to life. With the Resurrection of Christ we celebrate the deadening of death, the beginning of a new eternal life,” proclaims St. Justin.
Truly, as the Scriptures announce, Christ is the head of His Church, “which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Eph. 1:23). In Her perfect mystery the Church is the fullness of Christ Himself, thus all of the sacred mysteries which are offered and accomplished in Her are the works of Christ Himself. They are His very life.
Speaking of this lofty truth, St. Justin teaches, “The miraculous Lord who is completely ‘resurrection and life’ is in His Church in His whole being as Divine-human reality, and consequently there is no end to the duration of this reality. His life is continued through all the ages.”
The saints emphasize time and again that Christ the Lord is wholly present in His Church, His Body.
When a believer comes to Church in truth, such a one comes into the very Body of Christ. All of the Divine acts of His Body are abounding with Divine energy and grace. The very energy of the Holy Trinity.
We must never compromise on this Divine reality. It is impossible for the mysteries of God to communicate death, illness, and corruption. We should do nothing whatsoever that would even give the slightest impression that they could convey even .01% of some corruption of this fallen age.
It is another topic entirely to discuss the reality that Christians indeed do get sick and suffer under the current corruption of this age. Sickness itself has been revitalized so that even it can be a path of salvation for a believer. It may be a means of attaining virtue and the Heavenly Kingdom. As St. John Chrysostom says, nothing is evil except sin. It would also be another subject to discuss how one who approaches the mysteries in a spiritually negligent state could receive chastisement (cf. 1 Cor. 11:28ff).
As to the Theanthropic reality of the Church, nothing that proceeds from Her could ever be a transmitter of corruption. Nothing.
“Our vocation is to fill ourselves with the Lord Christ, with His Divine life-giving energies, to live in Christ and to make ourselves christs … this he does by the Church and in the Church, which all the powers of hell cannot overcome, because in Her is the whole wondrous God-man the Lord Jesus Christ, with all His Divine energies, His truths, His realities, His perfections, His lives, His eternities,” thunders St. Justin.
People, even those seemingly in the Church, may cease living in this True Life. Then one hears a different message. A message that is not in harmony with that of the saints, as exemplified by St. Justin.
I reflect on this extremely important topic again due to its pertinence to situations at current. Moreover, while serving the lesser blessing of the water for the feast of the Life-Giving Spring (set on Bright Friday of every year), the above realities were completely evident.
In the beautiful series of hymns to the Mother of God in the service, the clear progression of return is outlined. On the believer’s part, he must come in repentance and humility. To receive of Christ Jesus the believer must have the proper state, that is the ability to contain the grace that is poured out. Repentance is foundational.
“Grant unto me who am unworthy, O Christ, forgiveness of debts … through the prayers of her that bore Thee”
“O Theotokos, by thy prayer grant me remission of iniquities …”
“Deliver me from fire eternal …”
Once the ground of the heart has been properly cultivated through repentance, then the supplication is made for the out pouring of grace.
“Thy temple, O Theotokos, is shown to be free medicine without price for sickness, and the consolation for afflicted souls.”
“Who runs to thy temple, O Most-pure Theotokos, and receives not quick healing, both of soul and body.”
Manifest in the blessing of water is only the total Divine intent for goodness. As it was and is with our Lord. It is unmistakable that the mystery of blessing water is a “Divine medicine.” That is, it participates in the very attributes of Christ the Lord, being a physical mode in which and by which the Divine energies are energized to and in the believer.
In Christ is Life alone. He pours out on the believer His very Life through the holy mysteries, the holy things, in His Body, the Church. No one need fear death and corruption as they approach the very source of Life Himself.
Let the world go mad. Let it run hither and thither in a panic, striving ever so vainly to preserve this fleeting mortal existence. For those who have not Christ, they think that this fallen world is all there is. Let them be governed by the principles of the fallen mind. Let them sell their souls so as to gain this world. Let them re-enslave themselves to death.
Not so for the True Christian, “We are in heaven … We are in paradise … We are in eternity” as St. Justin says. Indeed, those who come in repentance, love and humility to Christ the Lord are in Life. What have such ones to fear? “Death where is your victory?” It is shattered. It is obliterated. Fed on the holy things of Christ, the true Christian “will boldly stand up for the holy truth of His (Christ’s) Gospel unto death, unto every death, and you will feel stronger than all deaths, and much more so than all the visible enemies of Christ; and being tortured for Christ you will shout for joy, feeling with all your being that your life is in heaven, hidden with Christ in God, wholly above all deaths” (St. Justin).
Let us never forget, “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.”
6 thoughts on “Deathlessness”
This is very beautiful. Why do we think 70 years is such a long time. I have been imagining my life lasting merely one year. That is truly how short it is anyway. What is important? Only our Christ!
When I first came into the Church we were encouraged when sick to come to church for a blessing; a few years later, people began to be told to stay home when they were ill. Surely this was a precursor of the Sacramental Apostasy of our time.
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Vis a vis Divine chastisement for spiritual negligence, I have always considered that if I get sick in church it is a sign that being sick is the form of God’s richest blessing for me at that moment; God always blesses, but sometimes his blessings come in the form of chastisement. Modern apostasy rejects all chastisement, and wishes to receive only pleasant things from the Lord’s hand; the modern Christian has rejected Job as a model for faith, and has accepted Job’s wife as the ideal pattern.
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How pitiable is the condition of one outside of God, who places his faith in and trusts only the things of this world; how can his life not be a continual struggle for these earthly goods? How can Life be anything but a vain and increasingly panic-stricken grasping for the hours of life as they inexorably slip away? Truly the Earth is a hard master, but the yoke of Christ is light, and is indeed the fountain of all blessedness.
Perhaps the degree of our faith and our repentance determines the size of the cup with which we receive God’s grace; the one outside the Church who visits and is edified takes away with him a little thimbleful of this grace, the casual but faithful parishioner a small cup, one who is mature in faith a large flagon. Then there are those few who bring a bathtub or even a swimming-pool to church with them, and out of these riches distribute blessings everywhere. In baptism, of course, we are immersed in a living sea of grace, and go around for a time as it were with divine life dripping from us and running in rivulets from pools collecting around our feet.
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St. Justin is a treasure; it’s too bad the Serbian hierarchy has chosen to distance themselves from his influence. What is your opinion of his writings on ecclesiology?
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I believe that St. Justin and his divinely inspired writings on ecclesiology are essential for the contemporary Orthodox Christian. He formulates the teachings of the Fathers on said issue in a manner of extreme importance for our times.
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