MARY of EGYPT (445-522AD) This past Sunday in the Orthodox Church is not Palm Sunday (which is next week), but the Sunday of Mary of Egypt. Mary’s life story is fascinating. At the age of 12, she ran away to Alexandria and proceeded to live the life of a sex addict, not even accepting money from the men she slept with so as to sleep with as many men as possible.
Around 475AD, she learned of a pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the feast of the Holy Cross, and the thought of all those men in one place became all too enticing. Paying for her passage in sexual favours, she sailed to Jerusalem, continued her dissolute behaviour while there. However, on the day of the feast, she was miraculously barred entry to the Church of the Resurrection. After her third attempt to enter, she saw an icon of the Theotokos on the wall and began seeking her intercession to enter and forgiveness from God of her sins. It was only after this that she was able to enter, venerate the Cross, and receive the Eucharist.
Leaving her former life behind, Mary took three loaves of bread and wandered out into the Jordanian desert away from other human beings and all external temptation. By her own account, it took her seventeen years of struggle before she was able to overcome her lusts and desires, after which she continued to remain in the desert another thirty years. When she was finally discovered – by Zosima of Palestine not long before her repose – she had reached levels of holiness such that she had the spiritual gift of foreknowledge and was able to levitate and walk on water. She had gone from being the basest of whores, to a virginal and holy being – an example of what great humility, prayer and struggle can accomplish by God’s grace.
TIKHON of MOSCOW (1865-1925AD, 25th March) Tikhon, born Vasily Ivanovich Bellavin, is remembered as a great Bishop and martyr of the Church. Consecrated at a young age, he was quickly appointed Archbishop of Alaska, and by extension, all North America. Becoming an American citizen, he oversaw a period of great growth in the Orthodox Church in the United States, and translated many of the Church’s services into English for the first time. He also approved what is now known as the Liturgy of Saint Tikhon, an Orthodox adaption of the Anglican Mass used to this day in many Western Rite Orthodox churches and former Anglican parishes.
Recalled to Russia in 1907, he continued to impress as Archbishop of Yaroslav and of Vilnius, such that, following the abdication of the Czar, the Russian Church revived the position of Patriarch of Moscow (which Peter the Great had abolished) and elected Tikhon to serve. He wasted no time in being a vocal critic of the new Bolshevik regime, for which he was placed under arrest and officially “deposed” by the Soviets (though this is not recognised by the Church). He is widely regarded to have been poisoned by them as the cause of his death in 1925.
Here you go all you Anti-synthetic cannabis wowzers!
Read the TV1 article below!!!
When will you learn that Banning things does not remove the hazzards but drives them underground and makes them profitable to unscrupulous criminals who are *more likely* to sell them to minors… than when you have a legal market which has a self interest to self impose an R 18 restrictions?
And also it is funny that all your hysteria disappeared when you got your tyrannical laws… and all the reports about chaos and deaths in hospitals evaporated…. yet the reality is that the drugs themselves never went anywhere… but have been quietly consumed…. without fuss.
This Proves that all the so called ‘dangers of synthetics’ were nothing more than a ‘witch craze’ hysteria….
Just as they are with Regards to Cannabis, BZP, and even P.
That’s how prohibition works!
Upon Lies which generate panic amongst the Masses of Morons whom are governed by fear and terrified of anything novel… or fun… etc.
The reality is Prohibitions actually increase the dangers of drugs on society both directly by putting them into the hands of criminals, and indirectly because of the massive injustice the war on drugs imposes… the wrongful imprisonments, the social alienation, etc etc.
Wasting Police resources on an unjust war that cant be won.
“Police raiding a Christchurch property for drugs were approached by a member of the public asking to buy synthetic cannabis.
Police say they executed a search warrant at a rented residential address in Linwood at about 7am today after information was received relating to synthetic cannabis being sold from the address.
A cordon was established in the vicinity while the armed offenders squad cleared the address as the information suggested there may have been firearms at the property. The cordon was removed around 8am.
While Police Specialist Search and a police dog and handler searched the property, a member of the public arrived at the address and told plain-clothed officers they wanted to buy synthetic cannabis, Detective Sergeant Richard Quested says.
The property is divided into two flats and there were seven people at the property including a small child, he says. Some of the occupants are members of a local gang, Mr Quested says.
A quantity of methamphetamine worth $2,000 was seized by police along with a number of bags of synthetic cannabis which appeared to be packaged for sale and over $2,000 cash.
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
The Pharisees challenged him, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.”
Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. But if I do judge, my decisions are true, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is true. I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.”
Then they asked him, “Where is your father?”
“You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” He spoke these words while teaching in the temple courts near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized him, because his hour had not yet come.
Once more Jesus said to them, “I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.”
This made the Jews ask, “Will he kill himself? Is that why he says, ‘Where I go, you cannot come’?”
But he continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.”
“Who are you?” they asked.
“Just what I have been telling you from the beginning,” Jesus replied. “I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is trustworthy, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.”
They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father. So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.” Even as he spoke, many believed in him. (NIV)
Does Jesus contradict himself?
Very well, then, he contradicts himself. (He has loaves and fishes, he feeds multitudes.)
Several things today have stimulated me to write this post, the second being that Meme above which was posted to my Facebook page by an Atheist friend.
She commented that she actually likes ‘this Pope’, and from this meme it is easy to see why he has impressed unbelievers, and Heretics/Protestants.
On face value…. in the ordinary sense as a Protestant Libertarian I’m impressed too by the simple fact that it is a far cry from the sort of Tyrannical dogma the world has come to expect from Pontiffs, and thus it appears such moderation is a good thing for peace and harmony between The Catholic church, and the rest of us.
Yet on another very important level these Liberal sentiments which appeal to my atheist friend betray some of the most important spiritual truths which are fundamental to understanding The Lord, which leads onto the central topic of my post… The seriousness of Sin.
This Meme is true…. using a yardstick of ‘comparative goodness’.
There are/have been…. comparatively speaking…. many Good atheists, and many Evil doers whom have called themselves followers of Christ.
Eg Dawkins may say with confidence to me “I’m holier than thou!”… and indeed this may be completely true.
I have done many wicked deeds to which Dawkins may have not even come close… I know not his secrets.
Yet ultimately this rationale is a deadly trap!
Because it is using *the wrong measure*.
The true measure of Goodness in this Universe is not out shining our peers… but is Absolute Holiness… of which we all fall short.
This True measure means *We all* need the Salvation of God which is in Christ.
By God’s perfect standard… “There is none righteous… no not one…”
“For all have sinned and come short of the Glory of God”.
Thankfully God is Rich in mercy and has made away for us to be saved from the righteous judgement of our wicked deeds, yet which still satisfies the demands of Justice, and allows us ourselves the liberty to choose redemption or reject it.
“For God commendeth his love towards us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
“…whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved…”
I have written on this train of thought before and you can read a more expanded veiw here>>> Hell is for the Self Righteous, Heaven is for Sinners.<<<
Of course it is a very peculiar thing for atheists to claim to be 'Good' given their world view denies the veracity of ethics!
This is a testament to the fact that many many atheists have not the Steel to countenance the depressing 'reality' of their own Amoral Cosmology.
The hardest, most real of them look at the chaos and misery which befalls humanity and say it is a testament to the truth of their assertions... "there can be no God in such a world"... there is no right or wrong... either in Earthquakes, or Rape, or genocide.... any such feelings of injustice have no objective reality... they are merely the pathetic wimpers of Soul-less machines who have no more intrinsic value... or rights... than the stardust of which they are composed.
Many simply believe you may as well Kill yourself... return to the painless meaningless nothing that you are.
These ideas are the subject of my first blog post in this series ‘How can a Good God exist when there is so much evil in the world? (part1) Atheist Nihilism.’… Click >>>Here<<< to read more.
Yet it is the less consistent portion of the Atheists whom I seek to call out tonight.
The ones who think their own moral virtues exonerate them from any possibility that even if they are wrong.... and it turns out that there is a god... that it is morally unthinkable that they might face damnation for their sins.
As mentioned earlier via the Self righteous Rationale that comparatively speaking, they deem themselves to be not morally inferior beings, but in fact far more moral, and enlightened, and tolerant, than the great horde of savages whom have flocked into churches over the millennia.
Having already pointed out the grievous error of such comparisons (first 1/2 doz paragraphs above), I would like to progress further into these disastrous rationalisms, and lay out some more Objective facts about sin, and atheist inconsistency.
Setting aside the fact that Atheism is fundamentally an Amoral world view, and that therefore atheists have no 'higher ground' upon which to stand to pass down condemnation upon God and his followers... we all know that this does not faze the bulk of them from proceeding to do precisely that!
Their hypocrisy goes much deeper.
With one breath they will play down the seriousness of their own moral short comings as 'trivial', yet with the next shake their fists at Heaven decrying the weightiness of the manifold evils of everyone else... and curse God for his inaction!
While they think nothing of their own blotches on creation, They boldly declare that no Good God would allow Hitler to rampage across Europe... as if their own existence could not be an affront to morality... yet Hitler's evils... they are God's fault!
God is a Bastard on Hitler's account... but not on theirs... they are better than God, they have the right to Judge God, they conciser themselves the innocent victims of God's Amoral inaction.
It matters not that all Hitler's actions stemmed from his atheistic world view.
They busy themselves trying to make out Hitler was a Christian!...(a topic for another time and an interesting psychological behaviour in itself).
Having said all that I may now get down to my main points…. Our personal culpability, and the seriousness of sin.
You see the reality of things is quite different from what these atheists assert… esp the idea that God does not give a toss about the evils of humanity.
God takes sin very very very seriously!
Way more seriously than all these self-righteous God hating atheists do!
Just because God has set up the world in such a way that we human beings have moral responsibility for our own actions… which means he has left us free to act with extreme goodness or extreme Evil *does not mean* he does not care, or intends evil doers to escape Scott free.
God has declared that in his time he will balance the scales and reward everyone their due.
Hitler has not escaped judgement by fleeing to Argentina!
So these notions that God does not care, are simply false.
He has good, valid, righteous reasons, for allowing Humanity to ‘act out their own vain imaginations.
That we are freewill moral agents living in a moral universe, means that our deeds have *moral weight*…. both for good, or ill… and when we do evil… innocent people suffer… that is what it means to live in a moral universe… It is in fact impossible to claim any goodness in a reality in which evil is impossible.
That is why Robots are amoral beings… whether they perform surgeries which save lives or slaughter thousands… they have no choice in their deeds.
The moral responsibility for the actions of Robots falls back on their free-will creators who made them, and so too would God be responsible for all Hitler’s evils… if Hitler was a robot… yet he was not a robot.
In all his deeds Hitler exercised his own freewill.
Thus it is absurd to blame God for Hitler’s deeds.
I have written more on this topic… ‘We are not Robots Ayn Rand. We are Moral Agents.’ Click >>Here<<
and another... 'Monism: Evolutionary Psychology and the Death of Morality, Reason and Freewill.' click >>>here<<<
So it is folly to suggest that Human evils are evidence against the existence or goodness of God.
When Adam sinned, God took that with such seriousness that he separated himself from Mankind, and condemned us all to death!
You see Adam's sin... had great moral weight.... affecting countless billions... though many will not be able to appreciate the mechanics of it... how what they see as a small act of disobedience by one man could bring such calamity upon posterity.
Yet that is how serious the consequences of Sin are!
They upset the entire hierarchy of reality... When Adam disobeyed God, not only did he loose faith in God's Good Character, he was dethroning God and establishing himself and his will above Gods!
a little leven leveneth the whole lump!
Humanity has been doing that ever since.
This is part of the reason why... the pragmatic portion... of why The Standard for Goodness is 100% Holiness... not comparative goodness... not a 'statistical mean/ scale of goodness'
The other portion is simply because God himself is Holy.
He sets the *Ideal Goodness*.
Yet God has sworn eternal Judgement upon sin!
Despite what the liberal Bible doubters say... there is a hell!
There is eternal damnation.
Yet everyone who ends up Damned, will be damned by their own Hatred of God, their pride, and rejection of God's mercy.
God has seen every act of evil we all have committed and is reserving his judgement.
Yet still God is loving, compassionate, and merciful.
We may say “It’s not fair that I was born into this cursed world!”… and indeed if we were born without hope… then this may in fact be a legitimate accusation against God’s character… yet he has not utterly abandoned us to Damnation, but instead immediately set in motion his plan to redeem us… and his modus opperandi reflects his absolute justice, The seriousness with which he condemns sin, and his love and mercy…. all displayed in the crucifixion of his sinless son Jesus Christ.
In Christ’s crucifixion we see God himself suffering a grotesque fate at the hands of evil men… he is not, nor has ever been completely insulated from the sufferings of evil himself.
That God deemed such a grotesque means was necessary for the payment for sin shows just how extremely seriously he takes sin to be, and how he will not allow his love to violate the principle of Justice… an eye for an eye… tooth for tooth…. The wages of sin is Death… Jesus took the full penalty of our sins upon himself.
He was not guilty of any sin himself and thus he was not subject to the penalty of death… for his own sins.
When Christ rose from the Dead, this was a testament to his victory over sin and death, and his resurrection altered the course of human history!
To receive Christ a person must appreciate the gravity of their own sins.
By it’s very nature the proud will reject the crucifixion as un-necessarily barbarous.
And the greatest sin anyone can commit is to *reject the sacrifice of Christ!*
For all their fuming against God, they prove they themselves dont take sin seriously… deeming themselves to be not guilty before God.
It is a hypocritical folly of the highest order.
Yes folks it is appointed unto us once to die and after this, the judgement!
At an appointed time the dead will stand before his judgement seat, and all whose names are not found
written in the book of life shall be cast into the lake of fire… with their Father Satan… to spend eternity where they chose to be…. separated from God.
The reality of hell is a clear demonstration of how weighty a matter God considers sin to be.
In the light of these facts we see the tables turned on the atheist… the reality is *they dont consider sin to be anywhere near as serious a matter as God does….for all their accusations… it is they themselves whom are found wanting in ‘the righteous indignation department’.
Yet millions of sinners like myself will enter paradise… not because we are more righteous than our atheist friends and family, but because we simply received the Gift of God… he placed our sin upon Christ, and clothed us in Christ’s holiness.
And we will see God face to face and sing God’s praises for eternity.
Ditch your foolish pride my neighbours, my friends… my family!
get a grip that you are a creation of God… a Moral agent.
Choose Christ and join us in the love of our Holy Heavenly Father!
End note: I decided to tag this post onto the end of a series I started several years ago entitled ‘How can a Good God exist when there is so much evil in the world?’
I wrote those in fairly quick succession, so that there is to my mind a progression of thought.
I always meant to carry on with the series as there is no way that they can be considered to have exhausted such an important subject, yet because of procrastination I have fumbled the ball somewhat, and so this post may not fit very tidily.
That being said I think it is a topic worthy of inclusion and hopefully I shall not be so long in adding the next one.
The world’s most famous monastery is the one on Mt Sinai in modern Egypt – Saint Catherine’s. And its most famous resident and Abbot was undoubtedly Saint John Climacus, or John of the Ladder – named as such for his famous book The Ladder of Divine Ascent. This Sunday we celebrated his memory.
Climacus is one of the greatest minds the world has ever known, a sort of mediaeval Tony Robbins. The Ladder is the first, and maybe even the only, book you will ever need on living the Christian life. With it, he practically invented the “self help” book, and it to this day probably still remains the greatest “self help” book ever written. Much Christian thought and dialogue is based on the person of Christ and His acts, which is as it should be, but too little is expended on the human response – how should we live with this knowledge of Christ’s gospel – His nika – His victory? The Ladder, while primarily written for monks, provides us with answers in this regard, of how we unite ourselves to that victory, in a set of thirty “steps”, which Climacus likens to a “ladder” which we ascend to meet Christ. This is not, of course, “works based salvation”, but Orthodox synergia – a daily putting on of Christ and humbling ourselves. It is salvation viewed as a journey, not as a legal status, and it is a book that is realistic about human nature and the deceits that our brains run past us when we are striving to be more like Christ.
You can read, download, or print The Ladder of Divine Ascent here. Of course, the book is written for monastics, and ordinary people should not expect to work on the steps therein with the same vigour, but nonetheless there is plenty that can be applied to ordinary believers “in the world”. As John himself says: “To admire the labours of the saints is good; to emulate them wins salvation; but to wish suddenly to imitate their life in every point is unreasonable and impossible.”
PATRICK of IRELAND (390-461AD, 17th March)
Saint Patrick is probably familiar to most of us. Sold into slavery in Ireland, he managed to escape to France, before returning later on, this time as a Bishop and as a missionary.
Patrick, while not the first Christian missionary to visit Ireland, is definitely the most important. He founded many monastaries and converted many of the pagan Irish to Christ. The legend that he drove the snakes from Ireland probably refers to the pagan druids that many a village made redundant following Patrick’s preaching.
In the Orthodox Church, Patrick is known as the Enlightener of Ireland, and is commemorated as such. Far more than just some mythical man that liked shamrocks and green beer, he is a real Saint of the Church who did great things for Christ in Ireland.
While Christianity had officially been legalized in 313AD, the Eastern Emperor Licinius continued to cause trouble for Christians, most famously in Sebaste (in central modern Turkey) where he had forty of his soldiers stripped naked and frozen to death on a lake. The story goes that, while one of the soldiers acquiesced and renounced his faith, another soldier, on seeing this, confessed Christ, threw off his clothes, and joined the other 39 on the ice. While their bodies were burned the next day and the ashes scattered, Christians gathered as much of their relics as they were able.
The bravery of these forty men soon became renowned, and there are many churches now dedicated to them, including a chapel in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. They are even mentioned in the modern Orthodox wedding service as examples of how a couple must sacrifice for one another!
SYMEON the NEW THEOLOGIAN (949-1022AD, 12th March)
Symeon, a monastic of Constantinople in the Roman Empire, is one of only three Saints to be given the title “Theologian” by the Church (the others being the Apostle John, and Gregory Nazianzus, an Archbishop of Constantinople). A controversial figure whose unconventional ways as a monk and abbot often put him offside with his brethren, his major themes were the direct experience of God through the ascetic life (not academic knowledge or learning), God as Divine Light, and the importance for every Christian of having a spiritual father – a more senior figure to whom one could be accountable in one’s walk and seek guidance from.
Saint Symeon, more than any other Saint, is probably the embodiment of the “mystical East” in terms of what sets Orthodoxy apart. I am hoping to read some of his work and familiarize myself with him more in future.
GREGORY the GREAT (540-604AD, 12th March)
Gregory, along with Leo a century and a half earlier, is probably the most revered of all the canonical Roman Popes, presiding during a period when Rome had been reunited with the empire bearing its name. He is famous for sending the missionary Augustine of Canterbury to re-evangelise Britain after the settlement of English tribes there. He also is famous as a liturgist, having composed the bulk of what is now, in the Orthodox Church, the weekday lenten Eucharistic service (the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts). Gregorian chant is attributed to him. Ironically, given the nature of the modern papacy, he defended the equality of the Bishops against the Bishop of Constantinople, who had recently taken the title “Ecumenical”.
On a personal level, Gregory was renowned for his pious monastic way of life, and his generosity towards the poor. During his reign, the Byzantine holdings on the Italian peninsula began to shift more and more under Papal, rather than imperial command, spurred by necessity from Lombard incursion and a lack of leadership from the East.