Monday, November 7, 2022

Met Antonios (el-Souri): The War against the Church

 Arabic original here.

The War against the Church

The devil has not and will not cease from waging war against man, or rather, the project of man in humankind because he wages war against God. The war of the evil one is dangerous because it clothes itself in the mark of civilization and human progress.

Why this war on man? Because he is the "church of God", the "temple of the Lord." The war is against Christ Jesus, the sole true man.

This war also bears the mark of exterminating humankind through wars, sicknesses and sterility. It has two aspects: one that is superficially positive but negative in essence and another that is negative in both appearance and actuality.

The devil works in direct and indirect ways. The direct way is through spreading his perverse ideas in weak souls and the indirect way is through people who have been taken captive by him, who spread his wickedness, lies and destruction through false promises of freedom, dignified life and happiness.

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The sole bulwark in the world against the devil is the Church, the Body of Christ, the Church that is orthodox in belief, life and tradition. Some think themselves orthodox while they are perverse and accuse others of perversity. This is one of the most difficult wars, because the devil leads these people to believe that they are in the right when they are wrong and they make those who are in the right to appear wrong. The devil's war within the Church is one of distortion because, as the Apostle Paul says after experience with evil spirits, "Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light" (2 Corinthians 11:14). The measure of orthodoxy in faith is love, that is, tenderness and the renunciation of judgment. One cannot stand in truth without being merciful. The war of fundamentalism against and within the Church is from the evil one who tricks the inexperienced, leading them to believe that they are spiritual because they scrupulously hold to the law to the letter without spirit, casting them into hateful Pharasaism and self-deception, while they are filled with complexes and passions. This is the war from the right.

The standard of spiritual soundness is equilibrium and equilibrium is justice and mercy, exertion and chastisement, judging the self and pardoning the sinner, total obedience to the divine commandment and bearing the other's weakness.

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Happiness among humankind is an illusion, for the Book of Ecclesiastes says, "Vanity of vanities... vanity and grasping the wind..." (Ecclesiastes 1:1 and 12). Man seeks happiness in comfort and comfort is tied to development and flourishing. Civilization claims to give man progress and joy. But the so-called civilized peoples have distorted humanity, destroyed the family and the bond of love between brothers with claims of freedom and independence.

Independence and individualism are the fantasy of a deadly freedom, because man does not exist without the bond of love with others and love is not sentiment, emotions and the titillation of feelings. Love is self-emptying, death to the ego and joy for the other in God. Civilization today constructs man on the basis of his being self-subsistent for himself. This leads people and societies to greater self-isolation and collapse, self-isolation because of the centrality of the ego and the cancellation of the other and collapse because of the objectification of the self and the other and their consumption for the sake of some pleasure. The war of the world and the "prince of this world", that is, Satan, is against the building up of man upon the Rock, that is Christ. Everything that is done to man and everything that is offered to him today is so that he will forget Christ. This is the war from the left.

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"For to me, to live is Christ" (Philippians 1:21). So declared the Apostle Paul and so he experienced after wars, struggles and persecutions. This is the essence of existence: Christ is life. He who has come to know Christ has found what he was searching for and the answers to all his existential questions and has entered into the mystery of everlasting joy and he who has rejected Him has entered into permanent suffering and infinite loss.

Let him who has ears, hear.


Metropolitan of Zahle, Baalbek and their Dependencies

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