My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True Lord, God, and Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
On the 23rd of August, the Holy Orthodox Church Commemorates
the Holy Hieromartyr IRENAEUS, Bishop of Lyons in Gaul.
The Holy Hieromartyr Irenaeus was born in Asia Minor about the year 130 A.D., and in his youth was a disciple of Saint Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna. Saint Irenaeus was sent to Lyons in Gaul, to be a fellow laborer of Pothinas, Bishop of Lyons, who had also been a disciple of Saint Polycarp. After the Martyrdom of Saint Pothinus, Saint Irenaeus succeeded him as Bishop of Lyons. Beside the assaults of paganism, Irenaeus found himself compelled to do battle with many Gnostic heresies, against which he wrote his greatest work, A Refutation and Overthrow of Knowledge Falsely So Called. He was also a peace-maker within the Church. When Victor, Bishop of Rome, was prepared to excommunicate the Christians of Asia Minor for following a different tradition of celebrating Pascha, Irenaeus persuaded him to moderate his zeal, and mediated peace. He made Lyons an illustrious bastion of Orthodoxy and a school of piety, and sealed his confession with martyrdom about the year 202 A.D., during the reign of Septimius Severus. He is not to be confused with Saint Irenaeus, Bishop of Sirmium, also celebrated today, who was beheaded and cast into a river in 304 A.D. under Diocletian.
The Church as the Sole Depository of Apostolic Doctrine
We close with these words in which he states that the Truth is to be found nowhere else but in the Orthodox Church, THE SOLE DEPOSITORY OF APOSTOLIC DOCTRINE. This is especially pertinent to Protestants, WHO CANNOT TRACE THEIR ORIGIN TO THE APOSTLES. Thy do not have the Priesthood which has been in the Church since Apostolic times. They have, however, some 45,000 sects. They have not preserved the Mysteries (Sacraments) of Baptism, Chrismation, Confession, Eucharist, Ordination, Unction, as established by the Apostles and early Church Fathers. They do not obey the Gospel by honoring the Mother of God. They do not pray to the Saints. They do not Venerate the icons.
They think that if they call on the Lord, that their faith ALONE will save them. But our Savior said that “Not everyone who saith to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter into the Kingdom of the heavens, but the one who doeth the will of My Father in the heavens [Matthew 7:21]. Saint Paul said, “By grace are ye saved through faith, and this not of yourselves, the gift if of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” But then he said immediately thereafter, “For we are His work, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, in order that we should walk in them” [Ephesians 2:8-10]. In the Revelation of Jesus Christ [Revelation 1:1], Saint John says, “I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the Throne, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged out of those things having been written in the books, according to their works. And the seas gave up the dead, those in her; and Death and Hades gave up the dead, those in them; and they were judged, each according to their works” [Revelation 20: 12-13].
According to Saint Irenaeus, FOR SALVATION, IT IS NECESSARY TO BE A MEMBER OF CHRIST’S CHURCH, THAT IS, TO BE A MEMBER OF THAT VISIBLE COMMUNITY FOUND BY CHRIST. There is “ONE LORD, ONE FAITH, ONE BAPTISM [Ephesians 4:5]. “Christ is the head of the body, the Church” [Colossians 1:18], not of many bodies. “For even as the body IS ONE, and hath many members, and all the members of THE ONE BODY, being many, ARE ONE BODY, SO ALSO IS THE CHRIST. FOR ALSO BY ONE SPIRIT WERE WE ALL BAPTIZED INTO ONE BODY [1 Corinthians 12:12-13]. “We were baptized into one body. The Spirit does NOT DWELL IN 45,000 Denominations that “scatter” [cf. Matthew 12:30]. The Protestant sects TRACE THEIR HISTORY BACK ONLY TO MARTIN LUTHER, A SCHISMATIC FROM THE HERETICAL PAPACY, OR SOME PHILOSOPHER THEOLOGIAN, OR EVEN TO Henry VIII of the Anglican denomination, established between 1632 and 1634, with the monarch as the official head of the sect. Luther admitted that he needed to add words to the biblical text to support even his most basic dogmas. Did the whole Church lose the Gospel and did the Faith cease from the earth for fourteen hundred years, only to be resuscitated and recreated by the sudden awakening of one man in Germany in 1515? But the Church of the Living God has always been THE PILLAR AND STAY OF THE TRUTH [1 Timothy 3:15], and the “GATES OF HADES SHALL NOT PREVAIL AGAINST HER [Matthew 16:18].
Our Savior said that THERE SHALL BE ONE FLOCK AND ONE SHEPHERD [John 10:16]. It is not possible to accept the Protestant theory that the Church IS COMPOSED OF A SCATTERED SHEAF, OF FAITHS, UNGATHERED AND UNBOUND, WHICH MAN, OWING TO THE FAILURE OF CHRIST AND GOD THE FATHER TO BE ABLE TO DO SO, MUST GATHER AND BIND HIMSELF. But Saint Paul speaks of the body of Christ, the Faith, and Baptism AS ONE, IN THE SAME SENSE AS HE CALLS GOD ONE, THE LORD ONE, THE SPIRIT ONE–NOT THAT THERE ARE MANY GODS, BUT ONE UNDIVIDED–JUST SO THE Faith and Church ARE ONE, NOT MANY DISCORDANT SEPARATED churches of faiths. The Holy Spirit CANNOT DWELL WITH THOSE WHO SCATTER OR TEACH DIFFERENTLY THAN WHAT CHRIST AND HIS APOSTLES SET FORTH FROM THE BEGINNING. The True Church of Christ HAS HAD AN UNBROKEN CONTINUITY: “to Him be the glory of the Church in Christ Jesus, in all the generations of the age of the ages. Amen [Ephesians 3:21]. (Source: The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church)
“Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Divine and Glorious Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God