On Applied Orthodox Dogmatics

st.-justin_popovichSt. Justin of Ćelije 1894-1979

Saints are people who live on earth by holy, eternal Divine truths. That is why the Lives of the Saints are actually applied dogmatics, for in them all the holy eternal dogmatic truths are experienced in all their life-creating and creative energies. In the Lives of the Saints it is most evidently shown that dogmas are not only ontological truths in themselves and for themselves, but that each one of them is a wellspring of eternal life and a source of holy spirituality. (Introduction to the Lives of the Saints)

On the Dialogue of Love

St. Justin Popovich 1894-1979

The “dialogue of love” — but preceded by: the dialogue of Truth. The “dialogue of love” may as well be held by devils: but then it will be the dialogue of lies. The “dialogue of love”, but speaking the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). This is that neotestamental love, Theanthropic love: which defeats sin, kills death, destroys devils, and consequently saves, deifies, theohumanizes and trinitizes man. (Notes on Ecumenism, p. 21)

On St. Justin Popovich and Communion with the Serbian Patriarch

In response to a question we received…

Bp. Athansije, retired Bishop of Zahumlje and Herzegovina

We were closely acquainted with the Blessed Father Justin and we know that he had never broke communion with any of the Orthodox Churches or a Bishop or a Patriarch, not even with the Serbian Patriarch Germanos (1958-1990)– as some zealots ‘shamelessly lie’ — not even when the Patriarch Germanos was one of the ‘presidents of the WCC’ (a formal and honorary title without any binding conditions or duties as indeed was the participation of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the WCC). As a free and responsible member of the Church of Christ, Justin prophetically reproved and, when necessary, criticized in written form (having written a couple of criticism letters to Patriarch Germanos and the Synod, inter alia, the letters pertaining to superficial western ecumenism). But on no account did he ever create a schism, but on the contrary used to say: “Schisms are easily made but they are enormously difficult to heal” (therefore he opposed the unwisely made and increasingly deepening ‘American Schism’ just as he was against ‘the Macedonian Schism’). (St. Justin Popovich, Notes on Ecumenism. Commentary on Father Justin’s Notes, pp. 36-37)

St. Justin Popovich on Orthodox Ecumenism

St. Justin Popovich 1894-1979

You have raised many questions and asked my opinion on various issues; whole books can be written on each of them; therefore, I have to be very brief, as brief as possible.

The attitude towards the non-orthodox Christian world, first and foremost, one must establish oneself in Orthodoxy with one’s mind and heart and life: in it’s Holy Mysteries and holy virtues; thereby catholicizing oneself, one’s mind and heart and life; living constantly with “all the saints” for this is only way to know divine-human depths and heights and breadth of everything belonging to Christ: to live “with all the saints” = to think “with all the saints” = to feel “with all the saints” = to pray “with all the saints” = to love “with all the saints”. Only in this way the holy and infallible criterion of Truth is provided = of the Church of Christ which invariably is the Hypostatic Truth of Christ the God-man, neither anyone or anything other than Him: “the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”

…”Ecumenisms” are in fashion. But, it seems to me, the most important thing therein is being overlooked: Ecumenism of the Theanthropic Truth is heart of Theanthropic Orthodox ecumenism, which invariably is the Hypostasis of the God-man Christ, in its cosmic, pan-cosmic, above-cosmic and all-embracing omneity as well as in its historical concreteness. On no account can man, or anything human, be a criterion, a symbol, or a concretum of ecumenism. Man, whoever he may be, can never be a criterion, for this but only and always the God-man. The entire tragedy of the West resides in its rejection of Christ’s God-manhood, both as modus vivendi and modus cognoscendi, through various kinds of hominisms and humanisms. (Letter Dec. 25, 1964)

On the Origin of the Term Pan-Heresy

Bishop Athanasius Yevtich, retired Bishop of Zahumlje and Herzegovina

…Justin designated ecumenism as pan-heresy and we remind [the reader] that the same term “pan-heresy” (Grk. panairesis) had already been used by Patriarch Germanos II of Constantinople (1222-1240 — the one who issued to Saint Sava of Serbia the Tomos of Autocephaly of the Serbian Orthodox Church) to refer to Latin delusions — heresies of his time (Letters to Cypriot Monks PG 140, 602-622). Still, one has to bear in mind that such a harsh stance of the Patriarch Germanos II had been preceded by the Fourth Crusade and occupation of the Orthodox Church in Byzantium by Latin hierarchy (except for the small Nicene Empire) as well as by holding of the papal “ruffianly” Lateran Council in 1215 (where the Latin “Patriarch of Constantinople” Thomas Morosini was elected!) And yet the Patriarch Germanos II wrote the Letter to Pope Gregory IX (1227-1241) and had dialogues with the Latins on two occasions: in Nicea and Nimfeu (1232-1234) and requested the convocation of the Joint Ecumenical Council just as it was subsequently to be requested as well by the Hesychast Fathers (Holy Patriarchs Kallistos and Philotheos; Joseph Vrienie — the disciple of Palamas and his disciple Mark of Ephesus). (Notes on Ecumenism pg. 36, Commentary on Father Justin’s Notes)

On Gethsemane

St. Justin Popovich 1894-1979

Even before Gethsemane, but especially in Gethsemane, the man-befriending Lord experienced all the torments of human nature which had rushed upon it as a result of sin. He suffered all the sufferings which human nature had suffered from Adam until His last descendant; He endured the pain of all human pains as though they were His own; He underwent all human misfortunes as though they were His own. At that moment He had before His all-seeing eyes all the millions of human souls, which as a result of sin are tormented in the embrace of death, pain, and vice… In Him, in the true God–Man, human nature wept and lamented, beholding all which she had done by falling into sin and death (Dogmatic Theology of the Orthodox Church. Belgrade, 1935. Vol. II, p. 377)

On True Orthodox Patriotism

St. Justin Popovich 1894-1979

[R]eal Orthodox can never be chauvinists. I recall once, in a conversation with me in 1926, the blessedly reposed metropolitan [A. Khrapovitsky] related to me the following: “On Athos there is a custom that a monk who does not forgive offences is punished by being made to omit the words ‘and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,’ at the reading of the Lord’s Prayer, until such a time when he has forgiven the offence committed against him. And I myself have suggested,” added the great saint, “that the chauvinist-nationalists not read the ninth article of the Symbol of Faith.”

If we were to crystallize this principle of Vladyka, it would read as follows: the Russian, Serbian, and Bulgarian nations can be great only if the goal of their existence be the collective realization of the commandments of the Gospel. Otherwise, “Serbianism”, “Russianism”, and “Bulgarianism”, are reduced to senseless and pernicious chauvinism. If “Serbianism” flourishes not by the power of evangelical podvigs and not to Orthodox catholicity, then it will choke in its own egoistic chauvinism. What is profitable for Serbdom is profitable for other nationalities as well. Nations pass, the Gospel is eternal. Only in so far as a nation is filled with the eternal evangelical truth and righteousness, does it exist, and itself becomes and remains eternal. Only such patriotism can be justified from an evangelical point of view. This is the patriotism of the holy apostles, the holy martyrs, the holy fathers. When the emperor-tormentor asked the holy martyrs Acindynus, Pegasius, and Anempodistus where they were from, they answered: “Are you asking us, O Emperor, about our homeland? Our homeland and our life is the most holy, consubstantial and undivided Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, the one God.” (On Met. Anthony Khrapovitsky)

On Trinitization and the Divine Commandments

St. Justin Popovich 1894-1979

For He is present in every commandment through His grace-filled power (“The Lord is hidden in His commandments,” writes St. Mark the Ascetic), and He helps every struggler to keep the commandments. At the same time, the evangelic principle of theanthropic cooperation is kept; the God-man collaborates with man, while man remains an independent person, even though his entire being is in the Lord Christ, even though he dwelleth in Him. In the same way, the Lord Christ dwelleth in man, and does not lose the fullness of His person. …This means the Christian is never alone; he is the dwelling place and workshop of the Thrice-Holy Godhead. Everything leads to this. Keeping the commandments Trinitizes man, because this Christianizes and Spiritualizes him. A Christian’s life is one unceasing podvig of Christianization, Spiritualization, Divinization – i.e. Trinitization. The entire Christian life is one unceasing, and indivisible struggle to become like Christ, to establish the Spirit in man: theosis = establishing the Trinity within oneself. (Commentary on the Epistles of St. John the Theologian)

On the Nature of the Church

St. Justin Popovich 1894-1979

…[T]he Orthodox Church, in its nature and its dogmatically unchanging constitution is episcopal and centred in the bishops. For the bishop and the faithful gathered around him are the expression and manifestation of the Church as the Body of Christ, especially in the Holy Liturgy: the Church is Apostolic and Catholic only by virtue of its bishops, insofar as they are the heads of true ecclesiastical units, the dioceses. At the same time, the other, historically later and variable forms of church organisation of the Orthodox Church: the metropolias, archdioceses, patriarchates, pentarchias, autocephalies, autonomies, etc., however many there may be or shall be, cannot have and do not have a determining and decisive significance in the conciliar system of the Orthodox Church. Furthermore, they may constitute an obstacle in the correct functioning of the conciliar principle if they obstruct and reject the episcopal character and structure of the Church and of the Churches. Here, undoubtedly, is to be found the primary difference between Orthodox and papal ecclesiology. (On a Summoning of the Great Council of the Orthodox Church)

On Love, Hate and the Origin of Man

St. Justin Popovich 1894-1979

If a man hates someone, he in reality hates him because he does not see him as a divine creation. He does not recognize him as a being in the image of God; he has not found the path to his soul because he does not have the true light, which would illumine the soul of his brother, whom he hates, and would show him his eternal and immortal side. In this darkness, in this ignorance about man, lives everyone who reduces man to a mortal being, or just to a body or to a descendant of an animal or just a plain animal.

According to the holy Theologian, the commandment of paradise, the proto-commandment, the commandment ap’ arche (from the beginning) is mutual love. This love indicates that man is of God, that mankind is of God, in origin and by his new, spiritual rebirth. If the love of man is lacking, then the real, ontological, and true origin of man cannot be known; and man then wanders in the dark and seeks his origin among animals, elements, and in other things of this world. (Commentary on 1st John)

On an Orthodox Education

St. Justin Popovich 1894-1979

A thoughtless faith in the omnipotence of humanistic science and education, of culture and the applied arts, as well as in the omnipotence of humanistic civilization, borders on insanity. Through the tragic influence of this thoughtless faith, European education has also created among us the confrontation between the Church and the School, or rather has exceedingly applied its principles in Orthodox countries having officially expelled God from School. This has been disastrous for our Orthodox people. Our intellectuals who have been cut off from their roots are already carrying from these centuries “the lights” of this humanism in order to “rehabilitate” the Orthodox people. The result has been to transform Orthodox countries into slaughter-houses of souls.

…There is only one way to escape final destruction. What is this way? To accept theanthropic education and to apply it completely in all schools, from the greatest to the smallest, and in all state and national institutions. Theanthropic education radiates, illuminates, enlightens with the only inextinguishable and true Light in the entire world, namely with the God-man Christ. Darkness cannot extinguish or hide this Light, not even the darkness of Europe. Only this is capable of expelling all darkness from man, from society, from the people, and from the state. This, the only true Light, illuminates every man in the nucleus of his being and reveals to each one of us our immortality, our own divine and eternal brother. It teaches us that only then can the problems of man and the problems of society, the problems of the nation and the problems of humanity, be easily understood and solved when they are examined through the God-man Christ.

The main guidelines and characteristics of theanthropic education can be formulated as follows:

1)      Man is a being who can be perfected and completed in the most ideal and real way by the God-man and in the God-man.

2)      The perfection of man by the God-man takes place with the help of the evangelical witnesses.

3)      The illuminated and educated man sees in every man his immortal and eternal brother.

4)      Every human work and action – philosophy, science, geography, art, education, culture, manual labor, etc. – receives its eternal value when it is sanctified and receives meaning from the God-man.

5)      True enlightenment and education is accomplished through a holy life according to the Gospel of Christ.

6)      The saints are the most perfect illuminators and educators; the more holy a man is the better an educator and illuminator he becomes.

7)      School is the second half of the heart of the God-man; the first is the Church.

8)      At the center of all centers and of all ideas and labors stands the God-man Christ and His theanthropic society, the Church. (Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ pp. 62-64)

On Nationalism

St. Justin Popovich 1894-1979

The Church is God-human, eternity incarnated within the boundaries of time and space. She is here in this world but she is not of this world (John 18:36). She is in the world in order to raise it on high where she herself has her origin. The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy—an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost—to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, œcumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata. “There is neither Greek nor Jew, their is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28), because “Christ is all, and in all.” The means and methods of this all-human God-human union of all in Christ have been provided by the Church, through the holy sacraments and in her God-human works (ascetic exertions, virtues). And so it is: in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist the ways of Christ and the means of uniting all people are composed and defined and integrated. Through this mystery, man is made organically one with Christ and with all the virtues: faith, prayer, fasting, love, meekness, through compassion and giving alms, a man consolidates in this union and preserves himself in its sanctity, personally experiencing Christ both as the unity of his personality and as the essence of his union with other members of the body of Christ, the Church.

The Church is the personhood of the God-human Christ, a God-human organism and not a human organization. The Church is indivisible, as is the person of the God-human, as is the body of the God-human. For this reason it is a fundamental error to have the God-human organism of the Church divided into little national organizations. In the course of their procession down through history many local Churches have limited themselves to nationalism, to national methods and aspirations, ours being among them. The Church has adapted herself to the people when it should properly be just the reverse: the people adapting themselves to the Church. This mistake has been made many times by our Church here. But we very well know that these were the “tares” of our Church life, tares which the Lord will not uproot, leaving them rather to grow with the wheat until the time of harvest (Matt. 13, 29-30). We also well know (the Lord so taught us) that these tares have their origin in our primeval enemy and enemy of Christ: the devil (Matt. 13, 25-28). But we wield this knowledge in vain if it is not transformed into prayer, the prayer that in time to come Christ will safeguard us from becoming the sowers and cultivators of such tares ourselves.

It is now high time—the twelfth hour—time for our Church representatives to cease being nothing but the servants of nationalism and for them to become bishops and priests of the One, Holy Catholic, and Apostolic Church. The mission of the Church, given by Christ and put into practice by the Holy Fathers, is this: that in the soul of our people be planted and cultivated a sense and awareness that every member of the Orthodox Church is a Catholic Person, a person who is for ever and ever, and is God-human; that each person is Christ’s, and is therefore a brother to every human being, a ministering servant to all men and all created things. This is the Christ-given objective of the Church. Any other is not an objective of Christ but of the Antichrist. For our local Church to be the Church of Christ, the Church Catholic, this objective must be brought about continuously among our people. And yet what are the means of accomplishing this God-human objective? Once again, the means are themselves God-human because a God-human objective can only be brought about exclusively by God-human means, never by human ones or by any others. It is on this point that the Church differs radically from anything which is human or of this earth. (“The Inward Mission of the Church”, Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ pp. 23-26)

What Defines Orthodoxy?

St. Justin Popovich 1894-1979

Orthodox Christians are Orthodox because they maintain a continuous sense of divine-human catholicity which they preserve and kindle through prayer and humility. They never preach about themselves; they never boast; they never remain entirely within their base human nature; they never idealize humanism. The holy Christ-bearing Apostles once and for all gave the definition of the eccelesial dimension of divine humanity: “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us.” (Acts 15:28) First, the Holy Spirit, and then, us; “us” in as much as we allow the Holy Spirit to act through us.

Included in this theanthropic apostolic definition is the entire method by which the Church carries out Her divine-human activity in the world. The holy Martyrs and Confessors, the holy Fathers and Ecumenical Synods accepted and continued this method. If someone departs from this method he deaprts from the Holy Spirit as well the holy Apostles, Martyrs, Fathers and Ecumenical Synods. Further, he deviates from the unity, holiness, catholicity, and apostolicity of the theanthropic faith of Christ, that is, he is cut off from the Lord Jesus Christ. The Orthodox Church is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic because it does not deviate from this method. The Church is Orthodox because it continuously confesses, maintains and safeguards not only the theanthropic, apostolic-catholic, ecumenical truth of Christianity but also the theanthropic, apostolic-catholic, ecumenical methodology of Christianity. The Lord Jesus is both the Truth and the Way. If one departs from the theanthropic methodology, one cannot also avoid deviating away from the theanthropic truth and the God-man Christ.

The Orthodox Church contains the complete teaching of the God-man Christ precisely because it does not deviate from the theanthropic methodology of the holy Apostles and the Ecumenical Synods. The believing individual of the Orthodox, apostolic and patristic faith both senses and understands that they are co-workers of the Holy Spirit only, and as such they constantly listen, through prayer, to what the Spirit says, do what the Spirit asks of them, and continually examine their own thoughts and words by the Spirit. Since the catholic unity of the theanthropic Truth is always present in the catholic conscience of the Orthodox Church, the holy Fathers and Teachers continuously participate in the theanthropic life of the Church through the charismatic action of the Holy Spirit. This is reflected in an encyclical issued by the Orthodox Patriarchs a few centuries ago: “We believe that the Holy Spirit instructs the Catholic Church…The Church is most certainly instructed by the life-sustaining Spirit through the holy Fathers and Teachers…We confess that it is impossible for the Catholic Church to err or to be completely mistaken or to choose falsehood instead of truth. The All-Holy Spirit, acting through faithfully serving holy Fathers and spiritual guides delivers the Church from any kind of error.” (Confession of Dositheus, Article 12) (Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ pp. 87-89: Highest Value and Last Criterion in Orthodoxy)

On Communion with Christ

St. Justin Popovich 1894-1979

Our communion with the Savior establishes the salvation; communion with Him, as Sanctifier, is the sanctification; communion with Him, as God, is the divinization; communion with Him, as Immortal, is the immortality; communion with Him, as Risen, is the resurrection; communion with Him, as Ascended, is the ascension and in the right place of God the Father (cf. 1 Cor. 1:9). (Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ pp. 211-212)

On Internal Missions and Asceticism

St. Justin Popovich 1894-1979

The Ascetics are Orthodoxy’s only missionaries. Asceticism is her only missionary school. Orthodoxy is ascetic effort and it is life, and it is thus by effort and by life that her mission is broadcast and brought about. The development of asceticism…this ought to be the inward mission of our Church amongst our people. The parish must become an ascetic focal point. But this can only be achieved by an ascetic priest. Prayer and fasting, the Church-oriented life of the parish, a life of liturgy: Orthodoxy holds these as the primary ways of effecting rebirth in its people. The parish, the parish community, must be regenerated and in Christ-like and brotherly love must minister humbly to Him and to all people, meek and lowly and in a spirit of sacrifice and self-denial. And such service must be imbued and nourished by prayer and liturgical life. This much is ground-work and indispensible. But to this end there exists one prerequisite: that our bishops, priests, and our monks become ascetics themselves. That this might be, then: let us beseech the Lord. (Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ: The Inward Mission of Our Church pp. 30-31)

St. Justin Popovich on Intercommunion

St. Justin Popovich 1894-1979

Intercommunion, that is to say participating with heretics in the Holy Sacraments, and especially in the Holy Eucharist, is the most shameless betrayal of our Lord Jesus Christ, Judas’ betrayal. It is especially the betrayal of the whole of the one and unique Church of Christ, of the Holy Tradition of the Church. One would have to rid oneself of one’s Christlike way of thinking and one’s conscience before the various sacraments, before their holy meanings, and the holy commandments in order to do this.

First of all we would have to ask ourselves on what Ecclesiology and on what Theology of the Church is “intercommunion” based? This is because all of Orthodox Theology is not founded on or based on “inter-communion,” but upon the theanthropic reality of communion, that is to say upon theanthropic Communion itself. (cf. 1 Cor. 1: 9; 10: 16-17; 2 Cor. 13: 13; Heb. 2: 14; 3: 14; Jn. 1: 3) The idea of inter-communion is contradictory in itself and totally inconceivable for the Orthodox Catholic conscience.

The second fact, indeed a sacred fact of Orthodox faith, is the following: In Orthodox teaching about the Church and the Sacraments, the single most unique mystery is the Church itself, the Body of the God-man Christ, so that she is the only source and the content of all divine Sacraments. Outside of this theanthropic and inclusive Mystery of the Church, the Pan-Mystery itself, there are no and cannot be any “mysteries”; therefore, there can be no inter-communion of Mysteries. Consequently we can only speak about Mysteries within the Context of this unique Pan-Mystery which is the Church. This is because the Orthodox Church, as the Body Christ, is the source and the foundation of the Sacraments and not the other way around. The Mysteries, Sacraments, cannot be elevated above the church, or examined outside the Body of the Church.

Because of this, in accordance with the mind of the Catholic Church of Christ, and in accordance with the whole of Orthodox Tradition, the Orthodox Church does not recognize the existence of other mysteries or sacraments outside of itself, neither does it recognize them as being mysteries, and one cannot receive the sacraments until one comes away from the heretical “Churches,” that is to say the pseudo-Churches, through repentance to the Orthodox Church of Christ. (Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ, pp. 172-174)

On Apostolic Tradition

St. Justin Popovich 1894-1979

Apostolic Succession, the apostolic heritage, is theanthropic from first to last. What is it that the holy apostles are transmitting to their successors as their heritage? The Lord Christ, the God-man Himself, with all the imperishable riches of His wondrous theanthropic Personality, Christ—the Head of the Church, her sole Head. If it does not transmit that, Apostolic Succession ceases to be apostolic, and the apostolic Tradition is lost, for there is no longer an apostolic hierarchy and an apostolic Church.

The Holy Tradition is the Gospel of the Lord Christ, and the Lord Christ Himself, Whom the Holy Spirit instills in each and every believing soul, in the entire Church. Whatever is Christ’s, by the power of the Holy Spirit becomes ours, human; but only within the body of the Church. The Holy Spirit—the soul of the Church, incorporates each believer, as a tiny cell, into the body of the Church and makes him a “co-heir” of the God-man (Eph. 3:6). In reality the Holy Spirit makes every believer into a God-man by grace. For what is life in the Church? Nothing other than the transfiguration of each believer into a God-man by grace through his personal, evangelical virtues; it is his growth in Christ, the putting on of Christ by growing in the Church and being a member of the Church. A Christian’s life is a ceaseless, Christ-centered theophany: the Holy Spirit, through the holy mysteries and the holy virtues, transmits Christ the Savior to each believer, renders him a living tradition, a living life: “Christ who is our life” (Col. 3:4). Everything Christ’s thereby becomes ours, ours for all eternity: His truth, His righteousness, His love, His life, and His entire divine Hypostasis.

Holy Tradition? It is the Lord Jesus Christ, the God-man Himself, with all the riches of his divine Hypostasis and, through Him and for His sake, those of the Holy Trinity. That is most fully given and articulated in the Holy Eucharist, wherein, for our sake and for our salvation, the Savior’s entire theanthropic economy of salvation is performed and repeated. Therein wholly resides the God-man with all His wondrous and miraculous gifts; He is there, and in the Church’s life of prayer and liturgy. Through all this, the Savior’s philanthropic proclamation ceaselessly resounds: “And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Mt. 28 20): He is with the apostles and, through the apostles, with all the faithful, world without end. This is the whole of the holy Tradition of the Orthodox Church of the apostles: life in Christ = life in the Holy Trinity; growth in Christ = growth in the Trinity (cf. Mt. 28: 19-20).

Of extraordinary importance is the following: in Christ’s Orthodox Church, the Holy Tradition, ever living and life-giving, comprises: the holy liturgy, all the divine services, all the holy mysteries, all the holy virtues, the totality of eternal truth and eternal righteousness, all love, all eternal life, the whole of the God-man, the Lord Christ, the entire Holy Trinity, and the entire theanthropic life of the Church in its theanthropic fullness, with the All-holy Theotokos and all the saints.

The personality of the Lord Christ the God-man, transfigured within the Church, immersed in the prayerful, liturgical, and boundless sea of grace, wholly contained in the Eucharist, and wholly in the Church—this is holy Tradition. This authentic good news is confessed by the holy fathers and the holy ecumenical councils. By prayer and piety holy Tradition is preserved from all human demonism and devilish humanism, and in it is preserved the entire Lord Christ, He Who is the eternal Tradition of the Church. “Great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh” (1 Tim. 3 16): He was manifest as a man, as a God-man, as the Church, and by His philanthropic act of salvation and deification of humanity He magnified and exalted man above the holy Cherubim and the most holy Seraphim. (The Attributes of the Church, originally published in Orthodox Life, vol. 31, no. 1 (Jan.-Feb., 1981), pp. 28-33)

Source: http://archangelsbooks.com/articles/church/AttributesofChurch.asp

On Fundamental Orthodox Exegesis

St. Justin Popovich 1894-1979

The Holy Fathers recommend serious preparation before reading and studying the Bible; but of what does this preparation consist?

First of all in prayer. Pray to the Lord to illuminate your mind–so that you may understand the words of the Bible–and to fill your heart with His grace–so that you may feel the truth and life of those words.

Be aware that these are God’s words, which He is speaking and saying to you personally. Prayer, together with the other virtues found in the Gospel, is the best preparation a person can have for understanding the Bible.

How should we read the Bible? Prayerfully and reverently, for in each word there is another drop of eternal truth, and all the words together make up the boundless ocean of the Eternal Truth.

The Bible is not a book but life; because its words are “spirit and life” (John 6:63). Therefore its words can be comprehended if we study them with the spirit of its spirit, and with the life of its life.

It is a book that must be read with life–by putting it into practice. One should first live it, and then understand it.

Here the words of the Saviour apply: “Whoever is willing to do it–will understand that this teaching is from God” (John 7:17). Do it, so that you may understand it. This is the fun­damental rule of Orthodox exegesis. (How to Read the Bible and Why)

Source: http://www.sv-luka.org/library/howtoread_jp.htm