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.
THE ORTHODOX CHURCH, THE PLACE OF THE AUTHENTIC
EXPERIENCE OF THE GRACE OF GOD
By Archimandrite George, Egoumenos (Abbot) of the Holy Monastery
of Saint Gregorios of Mt. Athos.
Our Orthodox Church is the Church of Pentecost and why is She so? Because She is the Church of the Incarnation of Christ, of His death on the Cross, of His Resurrection and of Pentecost. When, from Christ’s work, we isolate one part only, overemphasize it and interpret falsely, this is one-sidedness and heresy. Only the Church, that accepts and lives in accordance with all of Christ’s work including Pentecost, is the True Church of the Pentecost. Can there be a Resurrection without the Cross? Can man see God without crucifying himself through fasting, prayer, repentance, humility, and practice of God’s Commandments? The Cross in the life of Christ and in the Christian’s life comes first. Resurrection and Pentecost follow. On the contrary, those outside the Church want the Resurrection and spiritual gifts, WITHOUT CRUCIFYING THEMSELVES THROUGH REPENTANCE, SPIRITUAL STRUGGLE, AND OBEDIENCE TO THE CHURCH. For this reason, it is not they who constitute the Church of Pentecost.
We have Pentecost in every Divine Liturgy in our Church. How is it that the bread and the wine become the Body and Blood of Christ? Does NOT THIS HAPPEN WITH THE DESCENT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT? Behold Pentecost! Every Holy Altar of the Orthodox Church IS ALSO THE UPPER-ROOM OF Pentecost. We have the PENTECOST IN EVERY BAPTISM. With the Grace of the Holy Spirit, MAN BECOMES A CHRISTIAN AND IS EMBODIED IN THE BODY OF CHRIST, Every ORDINATION OF A DEACON OR PRIEST AND ESPECIALLY OF A BISHOP IS A NEW PENTECOST. The Holy Spirit of DESCENDS and makes man God’s minister,
Every Christian’s CONFESSION IS ALSO A Pentecost. When the Christian KNEELS IN FRONT OF HIS CONFESSOR WITH HUMILITY AND HUMILITY and confesses his sins with repentance and the confessor reads to him the absolution prayer the penitent is forgiven through the Grace of the Holy Spirit.
Every congregation and every Mystery (Sacrament) of the Church IS A CONTINUATION OF PENTECOST BECAUSE THEY ARE PERFORMED WITHIN THE PRESENCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. That is why almost all the acts, prayers and Mysteries of the Church begin with the prayer, “O heavenly King, O comforter, the Spirit of Truth.. come and abide in us,,,”. We ask for the Paraclete, the Comforter, the Holy Spirit to come and He comes. The Holy Spirit DESCENDS THERE, where the Orthodox Church, the True Church of Christ is gathered.
Every Saint of our Church is a Spirit-bearing man, FULL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT’S GIFTS, a person of Pentecost. The request of the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy Kingdom come” also means: “Come, the Grace of Thy Holy Spirit.” The Kingdom of God is the Grace of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, with the Lord’s Prayer we ask for the Holy Spirit.
The prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me the sinner,” is also practised with the Grace of the Holy Spirit because as Apostle Paul says, “…and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but in the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3). No one can call Jesus, Lord, except with the Grace of the Holy Spirit. Here then is proof that OUR CHURCH LIVES PENTECOST CONTINUOUSLY.
We have, my brethren, the blessing of having the Grace of God abide in our Holy Church. We have the possibility to become familiar with God and to receive the experience of the Grace of God, to UNITE WITH HIM. Our Orthodox Church IS A TESTED AND SAFE PATH TO SALVATION. It is the Church of the Prophets, the Apostles, the Fathers, the Martyrs, the Saints, even the Church of the more recent Saints, such as the holy and wonderworking Saint Nectarios. It is the Church that HAS KEPT THE PREACHING OF THE HOLY GOSPEL UNADULTERATED FOR ABOUT TWO THOUSAND YEARS, ALTHOUGH IT WAS PERSECUTED BY FORMIDABLE HERETICS.
Keep in mind HOW MANY HERETICS HAVE PERSECUTED OUR CHURCH THROUGHOUT THE CENTURIES. Not just enemies like the Pentecostals, but emperors with armies and worldly powers. Nevertheless, they were not able to overthrow the Church. Not even the iconoclast controversy, which lasted one hundred and thirty years, was able to overthrow Orthodoxy. Thousands are the martyrs of the Church and nevertheless the Church IS NEVER DEFEATED, although She appears to be weakened. Indeed, the more She is persecuted THE MORE SHE IS STRENGTHENED AND RENDERED ILLUSTRIOUS.
Therefore 9, the Grace of the Holy Spirit dwells in our Church. There are Saints in our Church up to this day. The bodies of many Saints are preserved intact, give forth myrrh, give fragrance, perform miracles. Where else does this happen? In which heresy and to which ‘church’ are men unburied and then their bodies are fragrant? You might have heard that the reliquaries on Mount Athos are fragrant. That is because among the bones of the fathers, are the bones of holy monks. These things occur because the Holy Spirit IS PRESENT.
Furthermore, only the Orthodox Holy Water IS PRESERVED INTACT. Those of you who have holy water at home, know that IT NEVER SPOILS AS TIME PASSES. (Source: Experiences of the Grace of God)
“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