30 October OS 2015 – Thursday of the Twenty Fourth Week after Pentecost/6th Week of St. Luke, Holy Hieromartyr Zenobius and Martyr Zenobia
The reading from the Holy Gospel today is Luke 11: 14-23.
At that time, Jesus was casting out a devil, and it was dumb. And it came to pass, when the devil was gone out, the dumb spake; and the people wondered. But some of them said, He casteth out devils through Beelzebub the chief of the devils. And others, tempting him, sought of him a sign from heaven. But he, knowing their thoughts, said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falleth. If Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? because ye say that I cast out devils through Beelzebub. And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your sons cast them out? therefore shall they be your judges. But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you. When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils. He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth.
St. Theophan the Recluse explains thus:
“When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils.” This allegory expalins how demonic power over souls is destroyed by the Lord. While a soul is in sin, its evil spirit possesses it, although it may not always be clearly demonstrated. The evil spirit is stronger than the soul, and this is why it does not fear an uprising on the soul’s part. It rules and tyrannizes over it without resistance. But when the Lord comes to a soul, attracted by faith and repentance, He tears apart all of Satan’s bonds, casts out the demon, and deprives it of all power over this person’s soul. While this soul serves the Lord, the demons cannot prevail over it, for the soul is strong through the Lord, Who is stronger than they are. When the soul takes a false step and roams away from the Lord, the demons again attacks and overcomes it, and for the soul, the poor thing, the last state is worse than before. This is the general, unseen order of what occurs in the spiritual world. If only the eyes of our mind were opened, we would see the worldwide battle of spirits against souls: first one side, then the other overcomes, depending upon whether the soul communes with the Lord through faith, repentance, and zeal for good works, or falls back from Him through carelessness, lack of concern, and coolness towards doing good. – Thoughts for Each Day of the Year, pp. 239-240
Here we have in a nutshell the Orthodox way of looking at reality: What is really going on around us is an invisible warfare for souls. The reason we True Orthodox are so keen on preserving the confession of the Faith is that without it we do not have power from the Lord to break communion with Satan. The primary reason society today is falling apart – or, rather, is being grotesquely chopped up and sewed back together again by possessed power-freaks, Frankenstein-style, into something horrible and unrecognizable – is not to be found in visible causes but in the invisible cause: the withdrawal of God’s grace because of apostasy. When this grace is withdrawn, the demons have full access to men’s souls, and all of the insane social developments now foisted on us with mind-numbing rapidity are simply the logical outcome of this.
People ask, “With so many bad things happening in the world, why are you True Orthodox so pre-occupied with the purity of Orthodoxy and the problem of Ecumenism?”
We answer, “You have answered your own question. It is the apostasy of the recently but now formerly Orthodox bishops which has opened the floodgates of demonic possession of the entire human race. The Church is not something ‘just for us,’ a little club where we and our family and friends can feel happy. The Church is the charity of the world, the gate of grace for the whole cosmos, the true home of every human soul, the Mother and Teacher of the Nations. When Her presence in the world is obscured, when Her influence is denied, when Her witness is hard to find, then all men suffer, not only those called ‘Eastern Orthodox.’ She creates strong families and mighty nations, but when She is denied, first the nation and then the family dies, for dead souls cannot build up or sustain either the nation or the family. The Orthodox nations were the clean house purified from demons by the Lord, and they were a bulwark holding back Satan, but now they have invited seven worse – or rather a legion worse – to enter, and there will be hell to pay, not only in those nations but in the whole world, including America.”
That being said, we need not fear or be gloomy, indeed we are not allowed to be: God is with us. He holds the demons in chains even yet, by His sovereign might, for the sake of those who are faithful to Him. He gives them leave to control man only when man turns away from God. Let us then be faithful! Come what may, the Lord will never abandon us, if only we be loyal to Him!
We then need to recognize that life is indeed this invisible warfare, that the primary weapons are spiritual, and that we have to fight unto death. No other approach to life has ever really made more sense than this, but today it should be starkly obvious. So what is the plan?
- We have to start with a pure confession of Faith, unmixed with any heresy, and this is why we have to flee the lapdog bishops of the One-World establishment and place ourselves under the few truly orthodox bishops that are left. You cannot be a real Orthodox under a heretical or apostate bishop and hierarchy. There is no precedent for this, there is no sense in this, and there is no possibility for this, apart from a miracle we have no right to demand from God. Your faith IS the same as that of the hierarchy your clergy receive their ordination from, regardless of your or your spiritual father’s private opinion. No individual “good priest” or “good parish” or “holy elder” is going to save you if your chief hierarch and synod are apostates. We are not Protestants in an invisible church. We are not congregationalists or presbyterians or monastery-groupies or elder-followers or individualists. We are members of the organic, visible, continuously existing and continuously united One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.
- On the basis of a pure confession of Faith and membership in the real Church, we must build a life of Orthodox piety, with unremitting spiritual work on ourselves: fasting, prayer, spiritual reading, cutting out sinful behavior and sinful distractions, serious family life based on the Church calendar, the whole nine yards. We have to devote ourselves, sacrifice ourselves, to work with the bishops and priests we have, to build parish life and monastic life as best we can in the circumstances given us. The time for the nominal Orthodox is gone. Make no mistake, the demographic trend is undeniable: There will be fewer and fewer “customers” who treat the Church like a sacrament-dispensing service and social club, a pleasant enrichment of a comfortable worldly life, provided by someone else to “meet my needs.” Why bother? It’s looking like we are going to have a world full of out-and-out pagans, and a few real Christians here and there. Choose which you want to be.
- While all this is going on, always remember: We cannot rely on ourselves! This is God’s work! The duty is ours – the consequences are God’s. Stay the course no matter what, and place all-daring trust in Him alone! Be of good cheer, for the Lord has already overcome the world, and we have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
And to the angel of the church of Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly; hold fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.
He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches (Revelation 3:7-13).