My dear readers, during this most beautiful week of the Cross, in the middle of the Great Fast, I wanted to share with you the words of the holy Archbishop Averky. They are from his work, “The Kingdom of God on earth – progress or the Cross?” Which is a chapter is a greater work called, “True Orthodoxy and the Modern World.” We are reminded that our hope is in Christ the Lord. It is Him, His life that is continually revealed on earth, that we are called to seek with all our heart, mind, and soul. Everything of this world is passing away, only that which is of Christ the Lord remains forever. So, we are reminded not to place our hearts and hopes in this passing world, in which we are but wayfaring strangers, but through the power of the Cross to dig deep into the rock of Christ. The things of this world will be shaken. Only the rock of Jesus Christ will remain unmoved. May you find edification in the Orthodox teaching below from the pen of Archbishop Averky of blessed memory. (The blog title is my own for the purposes of this blog.)
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There is a profound inner meaning hidden in this celebration of the Lord’s Cross: our thoughtful Mother Church wants to draw our particular attention to this great and saving sign, against which there has always been, and in our days is, a deliberate and persistent struggle on the part of “the world that lies under evil,” a world that is now so clearly turning away from Christ and preparing itself for the adoration of the Antichrist.
How dare he call himself a Christian if he closes his eyes to all the horrors of the world today, and lulls his conscience and those around him with the assurance that all this is an accidental, temporary phenomenon, but that the world is headed for “progress,” the establishment of “God’s Kingdom on earth”?
It is frightening to think that we hear such assurances more and more often nowadays, not only from unbelievers, not only from sectarians who profess “chiliasm” with its “millennial kingdom on earth,” but even from some Orthodox clergymen, up to and including those who hold high hierarchical ranks!
What these people, who seem to be called to instruct people in the pure teaching of the Word of God and the Holy Fathers of the Church, think, and why they are so intent on keeping pace with sectarians and, sometimes, with “progressives” who do not believe in God and Christ, it is difficult to say. Either they are extremely naïve and are not at all familiar with the clear teaching of the Word of God and the Holy Fathers, or they themselves do not believe in anything, but say what their masters “breadwinners” demand of them, to whom they faithfully serve for fear of losing the earthly benefits they receive: money, titles, ranks, high position in society, pleasures, etc.
The Word of God not only does not give us the slightest reason to believe in the establishment of “the Kingdom of God on earth” or in any earthly progress of mankind, but on the contrary, it foretells to true followers of Christ many tribulations and “bearing their Cross”, in imitation of and following the Lord-Crusader, and to this world, lying in evil, the inevitable end. “The Kingdom of Christ on earth” is not promised in the sensual, but in the mental, in the souls of all those who truly believe in Christ, for whom the Lord is King.
For it was not in vain, in determining what the whole course of the life of a true Christian on earth should be, that Christ the Savior said: “If he will follow me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34), and at the Last Supper, before His suffering on the cross, He warned his disciples: “you will be sorrowful in the world” (John 16:33).
Not in vain also the Apostles of Christ, in full accordance with these words of their Divine Teacher, instructed the Christians: “… by many tribulations it is fitting for us to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22), or: “And Christ suffered for us, he left us his image, that we should follow his steps” (1 Peter 2:21).
And this temporary earthly world, in which “progressives” promise people some absolutely fantastic, contrary to the sad evidence, happy “paradise” life, with the full welfare and prosperity of all people, according to the clear teaching of God’s Word, is doomed to destruction in the “day of the Lord”, when “the heaven will pass away with a noise, the elements will be destroyed, the earth and all the works on it will be destroyed” (2Pet.3:10).
Today’s brainiacs don’t want to hear about it, saying that it may happen “someday,” “after many millions of years,” but not now. By such statements they resemble those insolent scoffers, about whom the same apostle says, warning Christians against these dangerous for Christian morality: “First of all, know that in the last days there will be insolent scoffers, who act according to their own lusts and who say, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers began to die, from the beginning of creation, all things remain the same” (2 Peter 3:3-4).
It is typical to point out that those who say this are people who “act according to their own lusts”! It is these very lusts, to which they are given over, that obscure their spiritual eyes, and they see nothing, for they look at everything only from the standpoint of their lusts, which absorb all their attention and all their interests.
Meanwhile, the Lord Himself clearly taught not to put off in their thoughts the day of His Second Coming for some very distant, uncertain future – for “millions of years” – but commanded always to wait for Him, comparing His coming, by its unexpectedness for people, with the coming of the thief: “Watch therefore, as you do not know the hour when your Lord will come. Be on your guard, for if the lord had known in what watch the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not have allowed his temple to be dug up. For this reason ye also be ready, that in the next hour ye may not think that the Son of man is coming” (Matthew 24:42-44). “The faithful servant and the wise” will not say that the Second Coming will be “some time”, “in many, many years” and therefore one should not trouble oneself with this thought, for he knows that the Lord Himself forbade saying, “my master will not come soon” (Matt. 24:48).
What to say about those who not only do not think about the possible proximity of the end of the world and the Second Coming of Christ, as many signs indicate to us, but believe in some doubtful progress of mankind in the coming of general welfare and prosperity, although all modern life with its complete decay of true faith and morality, with terrible destructive, murderous inventions for man, simply cries against it – such are alien to true Christianity, even though they wear high titles and titles of Christian clergy
We must know and remember that this earthly “progress”, this imaginary welfare and prosperity of people on earth, promises to give people the enemy of Christ, Antichrist. These are his servants, preparing his enthronement in the world, are trying beforehand to confuse people accordingly, shouting and preaching everywhere about this supposedly awaiting people “paradise on earth.”
And all those who strive for this earthly “progress” forgetting the words of Christ: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. (Matt. 6:33), who run away from carrying their cross, according to the commandment of Christ, and think only about how to get along better and more comfortable, richer and more comfortable on earth, enjoying all the earthly blessings and pleasures, are in one camp with the servants of the coming Antichrist, working consciously or unconsciously for his soonest appearance and enthronement in the world.
Such are not Christ’s, but anti-Christ’s!
And we, if we are only true Christians, and not just falsely and hypocritically bearing the name of Christians, must constantly look to the Cross of Christ, this saving sign of God’s love for us, the sign of our salvation, and draw from it inexhaustible graces, “for life and godliness”, To bear our cross, as the Lord has commanded us, and to look upon this temporary life on earth only as a sojourn in the hospice, from which we must return home – to those “heavenly abodes” which the Lord has prepared for us by His suffering on the cross (Jn. 14 :2-3).
We must with the great apostle of tongues “count all things as rubbish, that we may gain Christ” (Phil. 3:8).
And to do this we must forsake all our purely earthly interests, all disputes, squabbles, quarrels and quarrels, from which there is no benefit to anyone, but only spiritual harm. “Our life is in heaven, from henceforth we also wait for a savior, our Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20) – that is what we need to constantly remember!
Soon everything will be over – this temporal, perishable, earthly world will be over. Let us not, for its sake, give in to our petty passions and lusts and lose hope of eternal life!
“Seek ye things from above,” therefore the apostle Paul exhorts us, “where Christ is at the right hand of God – seek the things of high, and not those of the earth!” (Col.3:1-2).
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