Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Met. Georges Khodr on the Principles of the Orthodox Youth Movement (III)

 From 1950. Part I here. Part II here. Arabic original here.

The Second Principle: "The Movement believes that religious and moral revival is based on following religious duties and on knowledge of the Church's teachings. For this reason, it strives to spread these teachings and to strengthen the Christian faith among the people."

The Complete Christian Life

The revival is not completed through imagination, nor not through individual, emotional religiosity, nor through following a dogma that we create according to our inclinations and temperaments. It is rather based on knowledge of the beliefs and teachings of the Church, keeping the commandments, and participation in the holy mysteries and the prayers. None of these things are an end in themselves, because the goal of the Christian life is union with God, but they are necessary conditions and means to achieving this goal.

The current Christian awakening has as its goal the complete Christian life, so the awakening will not be achieved if it does not follow the path that leads to this life-- the prayers, works of mercy, and the divine mysteries. The Orthodox movement that is our making our way toward the Holy Spirit and the descent of the Holy Spirit upon us, has no meaning and no existence except in the Church and with the Church. Without her and without the means of salvation that the Church grants, the current resurrection from the dead is not possible. Our effective salvation from religious non-existence is continuously approaching the holy mysteries such as repentance and the Eucharist. The return to the fullness of the Church is the return to the divine sacrifice and participation in it just as the apostles and fathers participated in it. Our departure from the mystery of the holy body and blood of the Lord and our being satisfied with partaking once a year was invented by us and is a restriction of the freedom of the faithful who long for the Lord. Preventing them from participating in holy communion except on certain days and times of the year is an explicit contradiction of the letter and spirit of the Gospel of the clear teachings of the Fathers and of the writings of great contemporary theologians. This departure is clear proof that many of us have effectively abandoned traditional Orthodoxy and in practice lost the universal Christian spirit. What we must do now is to belong to Orthodoxy once again and follow the path that Orthodoxy wants, not the one that we want.

The time has come for us to look closely at the Bible, to seek to understand it, to be familiar with it, and to take it on as nourishment for our souls and as the seed of eternal life.

The hour has come when we must live according to the eternal Orthodox tradition and to try out the depths of knowledge that has appeared throughout Christian history from the Evangelist John to Bulgakov. The time has come to return to spirituality, to the most glorious thing to be found in our religious inheritance-- I mean to the mystics like Ephrem the Syrian, Symeon the New Theologian, Gregory Palamas, and Seraphim Sarovsky.

Witness and Mission

Through reviving religious sciences and adopting pure and untainted Christian knowledge that has been preserved in our Church from the beginning, the desired revival will come about. We cannot keep this knowledge to ourselves in pride, living alongside the spiritual agonies in which humanity is floundering. When we have acquired the truth, we must suffer for the sake of those who are lacking it. Our revival cannot be perfected except through suffering. After having suffered, we will spread the teachings to the people and transmit to others, “what we have heard from the beginning and have seen with our eyes and touched with our hands, regarding the word of life.” The revival is occurring for its sake, with spirit, heart, and hand bearing witness to it and being martyrs for it it. This is because spreading the truth is not at all compatible with special privilege and because bearing witness has always been the beginning of every great work in history. The revival is based on seeking the truth from God in the Church and on us following it as is fitting, through the Gospel and through this mission to which we were called, taking upon ourselves everything that brings us closer to purity and love, and through bearing witness to the truth in word and deed, and every day suffering martyrdom for the sake of the light. Those who realize these truths reconcile Christianity within themselves and from them it radiates out to the people because they live it within their depths and from their depths they raise it up through their constant, living connection to Christ that is rooted within them, Him to whom “every knee on heaven and on earth shall bow.”

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