The attributes of the Church.St Justin Popovic.

St Justin Popovic (1894-1979)

The Attributes of the Church by St. Justin Popovich
The attributes of the Church are innumerable because her attributes are actually the attributes of the Lord Christ, the God-man, and, through Him, those of the Triune Godhead. However, the holy and divinely wise fathers of the Second Ecumenical Council, guided and instructed by the Holy Spirit, reduced them in the ninth article of the Symbol of Faith to four—I believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. These attributes of the Church—unity, holiness, catholicity (sobornost), and apostolicity—are derived from the very nature of the Church and of her purpose. They clearly and accurately define the character of the Orthodox Church of Christ whereby, as a theanthropic institution and community, she is distinguishable from any institution or community of the human sort.
The Unity and Uniqueness of the Church Just as the Person of Christ the God-man is one and unique, so is the Church founded by Him, in Him, and upon Him. The unity of the Church follows necessarily from the unity of the Person of the Lord Christ, the God-man. Being an organically integral and theanthropic organism unique in all the worlds, the Church, according to all the laws of Heaven and earth, is indivisible. Any division would signify her death. Immersed in the God-man, she is first and foremost a theanthropic organism, and only then a theanthropic organization. In her, everything is theanthropic: nature, faith, love, baptism, the Eucharist, all the holy mysteries and all the holy virtues, her teaching, her entire life, her immortality, her eternity, and her structure. Yes, yes, yes; in her, everything is theanthropically integral and indivisible Christification, sanctification, deification, Trinitarianism, salvation. In her everything is fused organically and by grace into a single theanthropic body, under a single Head—the God-man, the Lord Christ. All her members, though as persons always whole and inviolate, yet united by the same grace of the Holy Spirit through the holy mysteries and the holy virtues into an organic unity, comprise one body and confess the one faith, which unites them to each other and to the Lord Christ.
The Christ-bearing apostles are divinely inspired as they announce the unity and the uniqueness of the Church, based upon the unity and uniqueness of her Founder—the God-man, the Lord Christ, and His theanthropic personality: “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 3:11).
Like the holy apostles, the holy fathers and the teachers of the Church confess the unity and uniqueness of the Orthodox Church with the divine wisdom of the cherubim and the zeal of the seraphim. Understandable, therefore, is the fiery zeal which animated the holy fathers of the Church in all cases of division and falling away and the stern attitude toward heresies and schisms. In that regard, the holy ecumenical and holy local councils are preeminently important. According to their spirit and attitude, wise in those things pertaining to Christ, the Church is not only one but also unique. Just as the Lord Christ cannot have several bodies, so He cannot have several Churches. According to her
theanthropic nature, the Church is one and unique, just as Christ the God-man is one and unique.
Hence, a division, a splitting up of the Church is ontologically and essentially impossible. A division within the Church has never occurred, nor indeed can one take place, while apostasy from the Church has and will continue to occur after the manner of those voluntarily fruitless branches which, having withered, fall away from the eternally living theanthropic Vine—the Lord Christ (John 15:1-6). From time to time, heretics and schismatics have cut themselves off and have fallen away from the one and indivisible Church of Christ, whereby they ceased to be members of the Church and parts of her

theanthropic body. The first to fall away thus were the gnostics, then the Arians, then the Macedonians, then the Monophysites, then the Iconoclasts, then the Roman Catholics, then the Protestants, then the Uniates, and so on—all the other members of the legion of heretics and schismatics.
The Holiness of the Church
By her theanthropic nature, the Church is undoubtedly a unique organization in the world. All her holiness resides in her nature. Actually, she is the theanthropic workshop of human sanctification and, through men, of the sanctification of the rest of creation. She is holy as the theanthropic Body of Christ, whose eternal head is the Lord Christ Himself; and Whose immortal soul is the Holy Spirit. Wherefore everything in her is holy: her teaching, her grace, her mysteries, her virtues, all her powers, and all her instruments have been deposited in her for the sanctification of men and of all created things. Having become the Church by His incarnation out of an unparalleled love for man, our God and Lord Jesus Christ sanctified the Church by His sufferings, Resurrection, Ascension, teaching, wonder-working, prayer, fasting, mysteries, and virtues; in a word, by His entire theanthropic life. Wherefore the divinely inspired pronouncement has been rendered: “…Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:25-27).
The flow of history confirms the reality of the Gospel: the Church is filled to overflowing with sinners. Does their presence in the Church reduce, violate, or destroy her sanctity? Not in the least! For her Head—the Lord Christ, and her Soul—the Holy Spirit, and her divine teaching, her mysteries, and her virtues, are indissolubly and immutably holy. The Church tolerates sinners, shelters them, and instructs them, that they may be awakened and roused to repentance and spiritual recovery and transfiguration; but they do not hinder the Church from being holy. Only unrepentant sinners, persistent in evil and godless malice, are cut off from the Church either by the visible action of the theanthropic authority of the Church or by the invisible action of divine judgment, so that thus also the holiness of the Church may be preserved. “Put away from among yourselves that wicked person” (I Cor. 5:13).
In their writings and at the Councils, the holy fathers confessed the holiness of the church as her essential and immutable quality. The fathers of the Second Ecumenical Council defined it dogmatically in the ninth article of the Symbol of Faith. And the succeeding ecumenical councils confirmed it by the seal of their assent.
The Catholicity (Sobornost) of the Church
The theanthropic nature of the Church is inherently and all-encompassingly universal and catholic: it is theanthropically universal and theanthropically catholic. The Lord Christ, the God-man, has by Himself and in Himself most perfectly and integrally united God and Man and, through man, all the worlds and all created things to God. The fate of creation is essentially linked to that of man (cf. Romans 8:19-24). In her theanthropic organism, the Church encompasses: “all things created, that are in Heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers” (Col. 1:16). Everything is in the God-man; He is the Head of the Body of the Church (Col. 1:17-18).
In the theanthropic organism of the Church everyone lives in the fullness of his personality as a living, godlike cell. The law of theanthropic catholicity encompasses all and acts through all. All the while, the theanthropic equilibrium between the divine and the human is always duly preserved. Being members of her body, we in the Church experience the fullness of our being in all its godlike dimensions.

Furthermore: in the Church of the God-man, man experiences his own being as all-encompassing, as theanthropically all-encompassing; he experiences himself not only as complete, but also as the totality of creation. In a word: he experiences himself as a god-man by grace.
The theanthropic catholicity of the Church is actually an unceasing christification of many by grace and virtue: all is gathered in Christ the God-man, and everything is experienced through Him as one’s own, as a single indivisible theanthropic organism. For life in the Church is a theanthropic catholicization, the struggle of acquiring by grace and virtue the likeness of the God-man, christification, theosis, life in the Trinity, sanctification, transfiguration, salvation, immortality, and churchliness. Theanthropic catholicity in the Church is reflected in and achieved by the eternally living Person of Christ, the God-man Who in the most perfect way has united God to man and to all creation, which has been cleansed of sin, evil, and death by the Savior’s precious Blood (cf. Col. 1:19-22). The theanthropic Person of the Lord
Christ is the very soul of the Church’s catholicity. It is the God-man Who always preserves the theanthropic balance between the divine and the human in the catholic life of the Church. The Church is filled to overflowing with the Lord Christ, for she is “the fullness of Him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:23). Wherefore, she is universal in every person that is found within her, in each of her tiny cells. That universality, that catholicity resounds like thunder particularly through the holy apostles, through the holy fathers, through the holy ecumenical and local councils.
The Apostolicity of the Church
The holy apostles were the first god-men by grace. Like the Apostle Paul each of them, by his integral life, could have said of himself: “I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me” (Gal. 2:20). Each of them is a Christ repeated; or, to be more exact, a continuation of Christ. Everything in them is theanthropic because everything was recieved from the God-man. Apostolicity is nothing other than the God- manhood of the Lord Christ, freely assimilated through the holy struggles of the holy virtues: faith, love, hope, prayer, fasting, etc. This means that everything that is of man lives in them freely through the God-man, thinks through the God-man, feels through the God-man, acts through the God-man and wills through the God-man. For them, the historical God-man, the Lord Jesus Christ, is the supreme value and the supreme criterion. Everything in them is of the God-man, for the sake of the God-man, and in the God-man. And it is always and everywhere thus. That for them is immortality in the time and space of this world. Thereby are they even on this earth partakers of the theanthropic eternity of Christ.
This theanthropic apostolicity is integrally continued in the earthly successors of the Christ-bearing apostles: in the holy fathers. Among them, in essence, there is no difference: the same God-man Christ lives, acts, enlivens and makes them all eternal in equal measure, He Who is the same yesterday, and today, and forever (Heb. 13:8). Through the holy fathers, the holy apostles live on with all their theanthropic riches, theanthropic worlds, theanthropic holy things, theanthropic mysteries, and theanthropic virtues. The holy fathers in fact are continuously apostolizing, whether as distinct godlike personalities, or as bishops of the local churches, or as members of the holy ecumenical and holy local councils. For all of them there is but one Truth, one Transcendent Truth: the God-man, the Lord Jesus Christ. Behold, the holy ecumenical councils, from the first to the last, confess, defend, believe, announce, and vigilantly preserve but a single supreme value: the God-man, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The principal Tradition, the transcendent Tradition, of the Orthodox Church is the living God-man Christ, entire in the theanthropic Body of the Church of which He is the immortal, eternal Head. This is not merely the message, but the transcendent message of the holy apostles and the holy fathers. They know

Christ crucified, Christ resurrected, Christ ascended. They all, by their integral lives and teachings, with a single soul and a single voice, confess that Christ the God-man is wholly in His Church, as in His Body. Each of the holy fathers could rightly repeat with St. Maximus the Confessor: “In no wise am I expounding my own opinion, but that which I have been taught by the fathers, without
changing aught in their teaching.”
And from the immortal proclamation of St. John of Damascus there resounds the universal confession of all the holy fathers who were glorified by God: “Whatever has been transmitted to us through the Law, and the prophets, and the apostles, and the evangelists, we receive and know and esteem highly, and beyond that we ask nothing more… Let us be fully satisfied with it, and rest therein, removing not the ancient landmarks (Prov. 22:28), nor violating the divine Tradition.” And then, the touching, fatherly admonition of the holy Damascene, directed to all Orthodox Christians: “Wherefore, brethren, let us plant ourselves upon the rock of faith and the Tradition of the Church, removing not the landmarks set by our holy fathers, nor giving room to those who are anxious to introduce novelties and to undermine the structure of God’s holy ecumenical and apostolic Church. For if everyone were allowed a free
hand, little by little the entire Body of the Church would be destroyed.”
The holy Tradition is wholly of the God-man, wholly of the holy apostles, wholly of the holy fathers, wholly of the Church, in the Church, and by the Church. The holy fathers are nothing other than the “guardians of the apostolic tradition. ” All of them, like the holy apostles themselves, are but “witnesses” of a single and unique Truth: the transcendent Truth of Christ, the God-man. They preach and confess it without rest, they, the “golden mouths of the Word.” The God-man, the Lord Christ is one, unique, and indivisible. So also is the Church unique and indivisible, for she is the incarnation of the Theanthropos Christ, continuing through the ages and through all eternity. Being such by her nature and in her earthly history, the Church may not be divided. It is only possible to fall away from her. That unity and uniqueness of the Church is theanthropic from the very beginning and through all the ages and all eternity.
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, trough 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” (I 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 One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. By Fr John Romanides (1927-2001)From Empirical Dogmatics of the Orthodox Catholic Church Vol.2 Page 245-248.

In the Creed we confess that the Church is “One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic”. It is One because it is the Body of Christ; it is Holy because it is sanctified by its Head and all who are connected with it are sanctified; it is Catholic (Universal) because it possesses “all truth” and complete praxis, but also because it is spread throughout the world; and it is Apostolic because it is based on the Apostles, and all members of the Church have the apostolic tradition and the clergy have the apostolic succession. As mentioned earlier, the Church existed even before the incarnation, but it was unincarnate, spiritual, the uncreated glory and rule (vasileia) of the Triune God. After the incarnation of Christ and Pentecost the Church became the Body of Christ.

This uncreated glory saves the faithful, who are united with the Church through the Mysteries (Sacraments).

The Church is the Body of Christ, which is made up of those who believe in Christ, who share in the first resurrection, have the pledge of the Spirit, or even a foretaste of glorification. The first resurrection is participation in the uncreated grace of God through the holy Mysteries, while the human being is still living his biological life and is a member of the Church. The second resurrection is the experience of the glorifying energy of God after death. All who have the pledge of the Spirit and the glorified are members of the Church. Living Christians, who receive the grace of the Holy Spirit as a betrothal, and the departed saints, who experience spiritual marriage, belong to the Church. The Church, as the Body of Christ, is the dwelling-place of God’s uncreated glory. We cannot separate Christ from the Church, or the Church from Christ.

In Papal Christianity and Protestantism a clear distinction is made between the Body and the Church. Someone can partake of the Body of Christ without being a member of the Papal Church. This is impossible for the Orthodox Church. That is why there are no Churches outside the One Church, just as a member of the body cannot live when it is cut of from the whole organism of the body.

The Church is visible and invisible. The view that prevails among Protestants is that the Church is only invisible, so the Mysteries of Baptism and the Divine Eucharist are only symbolic acts, and God alone knows its real members. The Orthodox Church, by contrast, also emphasises that the Church is visible. The saints know from experience that the visible and invisible elements of the Church coexist. The appearance of many saints to living members of the Church who are glorified demonstrates this fact. For that reason all those who have personal experience have true knowledge of what the Church is. “According to the Calvinists, since the Ascension Christ lives in heaven, so it is impossible for the bread and wine to turn into the real Body and Blood of Christ. Christ is completely absent. The Papal Church stresses more or less the same thing, because through the prayers of the Priest, although Christ is not present, He now descends from heaven and becomes present. Thus Christ is absent from the Church.

In Papal Christianity there is a clear distinction between the Body of Christ, in which the Pope is Christ’s representative, and the Eucharistic Bread. This view, however, is untenable according to the patristic tradition. According to the Fathers of the Church, the Body of the Church is the same as the Eucharistic Bread. The catholicity of the Church is expressed by every local Church. Each individual part is the whole. The same happens in the Mystery of the Divine Eucharist. When we receive a particle of the Eucharistic Bread, we partake of the whole of Christ. The same is true of the Church, which is the Body of Christ. Every local Church is the whole of the Church in miniature. This means, of course, that every local Church, in order to be catholic (uni- versal), must preserve “all truth” and all the praxis that confirms the truth and leads to the experience of the truth. “In the early Church, when they spoke about the Body of Christ and about Christ as the Head of the Church, they did not mean that Christ was spread physically throughout the world and that, for instance, His head was in Rome, one hand was in the East and the other in the West, but that the whole of Christ was in every particular Church with all its members, that is to say, in all the saints and faithful in the world.

So when we celebrate the Divine Eucharist, according to the teaching of the Fathers, not only is Christ present but so are all the saints, together with all the Christians in the world. When we partake of a small portion of the Holy Bread we receive the whole of Christ within us. When Christians gather together the whole gathers together, not just a part of it. That is why in the patristic tradition the church of a Monastery is called the Katholikon.

The dogmas, as the formulation of revelational truth, are very closely linked with the Mysteries. Orthodox theology is identical with the Mysteries.

Where Orthodox dogma is absent the Church is not in a position to pronounce on the validity of the Mysteries. According to the Fathers, Orthodox dogma is never separated from spirituality. Where dogma is mistaken, spirituality is also mistaken, and vice versa. Many people separate dogma from piety. This wrong. When Christ says ‘You shall be perfect as the Father is perfect’, it implies that we ought to know the meaning of perfection. The criterion for the validity of the Mysteries for us Orthodox is Orthodox dogma, whereas for non-Orthodox it is the apostolic succession. In the Orthodox tradition it is not enough to trace back ordination to the Apostles; we must have Orthodox dogma. Piety and dogma are one and the same thing and cannot be separated. Where teaching is correct, praxis is also correct.Orthodoxy means right belief and right praxis .

The participation of the faithful in the Body of the Church and their partaking of the uncreated grace of God through the Mysteries and prayer saves them from death, the devil and sin.

Christ saves people through His Church and in any other way known to Him, but we know the way to be saved: through the Mysteries of the Church and Orthodox devotion, which means purification, illumination and glorification, or, differently stated, praxis and theoria.

There is no salvation outside the Church. Christ offers saving grace to everyone. When someone is saved outside the visible Church, this means that Christ Himself saves him. If he is a non- Orthodox member, he is saved because Christ saves him; the ‘off- shoot’ to which he belongs does not save him. His salvation is not accomplished by the ‘Church-offshoot’ to whiche belongs, because the Church that saves is one, that is, Christ.

Copyright Birth of the Theotokos Monastery

St John of Kronstdt. from My life in Christ

St John of Kronstadt “Faith in God’s existence is closely connected with faith in the existence of our own soul, as part of the spiritual world. God’s existence is as evident to the pious mind as its own existence, because every thought—good or bad—every desire, intention, word, or action of such a mind is followed by a corresponding change in the state of the heart: peace or confusion, joy or sorrow. This is the result of the action on the heart of the God of spirits and all flesh, Who is reflected in the pious mind as the sun is reflected in a drop of water. The purer the drop, the better, the clearer the reflection. The murkier the drop, the dimmer the reflection, so that in an extremely impure or darkened soul, the reflection entirely ceases, and the soul is left in a state of spiritual darkness and insensibility. In this state, a person, having eyes, sees nothing, and, having ears, hears nothing. Again, in relation to our souls, God can be compared to the outer air in relation to the mercury in a barometer, the only difference being that the expansion and contraction, rise and fall of the mercury result from the change in the pressure of the atmosphere, while God remains unchangeable, everlasting, and eternally good and just. On the other hand, the soul, changeable in its relation to God, suffers changes in itself. It inevitably expands in love and acquires consolation when it draws nearer to God through faith and good works, but inevitably contracts and becomes restless and exhausted when it withdraws itself from God through unlawful acts, weak faith, or even unbelief in God’s Truth.” page 9

28“Вера в бытие Бо тесно связана с верою в бытие собственной души, как части мира духовного. Душе благочестивой бытие Божие так же очевидно, как собственное бытие, потому что с каждою мыслию доброю или недоброю, желанием, намерением, словом или делом происходят соответствующие перемены в сердце – спокойствие или беспокойство, радости или скорби – и это вследствие действия на нее Бога духов и всякия плоти, Который отражается в благочестивой душе, как солнце в капле воды; чем чище эта капля, тем лучше, яснее отражение, чем мутнее, тем тусклее, – так что в состоянии крайней нечистоты, черноты души отражение прекращается, и душа остается в состоянии мрака духовного, в состоянии бесчувственности; человек имеет очи и не видит, имеет уши и не слышит. Еще Господь Бог в отношении к нашей душе – то же, что внешний воздух в отношении к ртути термометра, с тем различием, что расширение и стояние, повышение и понижение ртути бывает вследствие перемены в состоянии атмосферы, а там – Бог остается неизменным, вечным, вечно благим и праведным; душа же, изменяющаяся в отношениях своих к Бüогу, терпит перемены в себе, именно, она неизбежно расширяется, покоится в сердце вследствие приближения к Богу верою и добрыми делами и неизбежно сжимается, беспокоится, томится вследствие удаления своего от Бога маловерием, неверием истине Божией противозаконными .”

St John of Kronstadt . No 28 in My life in Christ.

Иоанна Кронштадтского № 28 из моей жизни во Христе.

Faith ,Nous and Spirit in the Orthodox Catholic Church. Texts compiled by Micke Stensson.

Everything on this planet is governed by laws or rules such as the law of gravity. Some we have learnt to cancel,( for ex.the law of gravity with the rule of aerodynamics)

If you are going to build a house you must learn the rules/laws about that subject. An ice hockey player must follow the rules for that game .

If he insist to have soccer shoes on the ice he will soon be aware of the different rules/laws between the two games .

If a scientist shall study a bacteria he use a microscope. And if you will astron’omise you have to use a telescope and learn a lot about that subject. If you want to play trumpet you must learn the laws for that instrument. Etc.

But if you want to know God, or wonder : who is Christ? or you have spiritual questions, then you need a completely different instrument: a pure heart , humility , Christ said ”Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.” St Matt.5:8.

Another spiritual law is the law of seed and harvest: ”Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.” St John 12:24.

We can put it in the context of the environment, everything we do got consequences. If we continually grime the nature , it hit us back .

But when it comes to religion, it is a subjective question for most people, a question of what I like best. What I want ! ! If you use the latter method when you study medicine it can be really dangerous. The same happens if you try to study spirutual things and don’t follow the spiritual rules and lacks in humility, which is one of the basic law when dealing with Christ, prayer/meditation and the spiritual world.

The word ”faith”, we rarely associate with laws /rules . Instead we associate ”faith” with something uncertain but with a little bit of hope, e,g ”I hope we got better weather tomorrow”, or: ”maybe I can visit you tomorrow but I’m not sure” .When I grew up in Sweden during the 1970th I often heard the sentnce: “Faith is something you have when you are in the Church” , with the underlying meaning : in real life we’re dealing with facts and ”faith” has nothing to do with facts. But If we read in a etymological dictionary we got a different picture of the word ”faith” (etymology is the history of words, its origin).

We search for the word ”faith”, which has its roots in Icelandic, Germanic, Greek, and ancient Slavic with meanings such as: strong, firm, hard, be firm, faithful , safe, assured, trust. Quite far from the meaning of the word in present-day .

We turn our ears to St Paul, in the epistle to the Hebrews . chapter 11:1

”Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the manifestation of realities un- seen” Translation from Vladimir Lossky : Orthodox Theology.

We have several other translations to our disposal.

” Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen .” Orthodox Study Bible .

”Now faith is the personal foundation of things hoped for , certainty about things that cannot be seen .” Eastern Orthodox Bible.

”Now, faith is the substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of things that appear not.” Douay-Rheims.

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”RSV-CE

”Now faith is the subsistence of things hoped for, a proof of things not seen.” Holy Apostles Convent , Buena Vista , Colorado .

” Now faith is the conviction of things hoped for ,the proof of things not seen .” Fr Lawrence Farley: commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews.

As we can see in the different translations is ”faith”, in a Christian Orthodox conceptual world something that is certain and is a reality that we don’t can see with our physical eyes but a “reality unseen “.

Faith is thus more a fact that comes from a deep experience of God than some sort of diffuse hope. “The proof of things not seen” ,in the translation of Fr Lawrence Farley.

If in everyday life we would try to live completely without faith then nothing would work. We just haven’t thought about it, or we have put another label on the subject. What does the word ”faith” mean in everyday life?

”Faith is the power of the soul consisting of a synergetic blend of the intellect (reason), the heart (desire) ( eager , to wish for. M.S) and the will (driving force). This is the most fundamental manifestation of all the properties of the soul, originating, directing and completing all intentions and acts. Faith is completely natural and is an inherent property of all conscious beings. Without any faith whatsoever it is impossible to function even on a most elementary level. It manifests itself as a certain trust, sureness or confidence, expectation and even love. Without this natural faith in oneself, it would be impossible to even get up from a chair and walk across the room.”

”From ”Faith and Delusion,” by Father Nikita Grigoriev.

The Russian Theologian Vladimir Lossky (1903-1958) wrote ”Before the development of Christian theology, this mystery of communion appears absent from Greek thought: it is found only in Philo, that is to say, in a partially biblical context. Theology, then, is located in a relationship of revelation where the initiative belongs to God, while implying a human response, the free response of faith and love, which the theologians of the Reformation have often forgotten. The involvement of God calls forth our involvement. The theological quest supposes therefore the prior coming of what is quested, or rather of Him Who has already come to us and is present in us: God was the first to love us and He sent us His Son, as St. John says. This coming and this presence are seized by faith which thus underlies, with priority and in all necessity, theological thought. Certainly, faith is present in all walks, in all sciences of the human spirit, but as supposition, as working hypothesis: here, the moment of faith remains burdened with an uncertainty which proof alone could clear. Christian faith, on the contrary, is adherence to a presence which confers certitude, in such a way that certitude, here, is first. ”Faith is the substnance of things hoped for, the manifestation of realities un- seen” (Heb. 11:1). What one quests is already present, precedes us, makes possible our questing itself. ”Through faith, we comprehend (we think) how the ages have been produced” (Heb. 11:3). Thus faith allows us to think, it gives us true intelligence. Knowledge is given to us by faith, that is to say, by our participatory adherence to the presence of Him Who reveals Himself. Faith is therefore not a psychological attitude, a mere fidelity. It is an ontological relationship between man and God, …….

Vladimir Lossky from Orthodox Theology -Prologue – Faith and Theology. Page 16.

Sadly this book seems out of print,but I will keep you updated if I find it

But how can man be a part of this ”ontological relationship”with God ?

Fr John Romanides (1927-2001) says in Empirical Dogmatics Vol.2 Part 1, Page 47 The Existence of God : ”The Fathers stress that the reason can only know material phenomena. Reason can only know created things; it cannot know anything uncreated. This is a fundamental dogma of the Fathers of the Church. There is no similarity between the world and God. As reason only knows created things, it cannot know what is uncreated. Human knowledge is therefore limited.

Man on his own cannot know God. Because of that, the only bridge between created and uncreated things for Orthodoxy is the glorified. The question arises of whether the idea exists in Christianity that man has the natural ability to know what is uncreated. This is completely unacceptable for the Fathers of the Church: man does not have the natural ability to know God.

Therefore, as there is no similarity at all between God and the world, between created and uncreated, we need to know what the bridge is. There has to be an epistemological bridge. (Epistemology =Episteme (Greek origin)= knowledge,and Logos = the word : Christ) And the only bridge is the glorified.” ( with “glorified” Romanides means “ participation in the glory of God” . (The same meaning as “ theosis” and “deification”)

”The human soul has the noetic faculty (energy), the nous ( St Paul use the name spirit instead of nous ), which is the appropriate organ for knowing God, once it has been illuminated and transformed by God’s energy.” Since God is revealed to glorified man and he participates in His glory, this means that the knowledge of God is spiritual: it is knowledge of the heart, not knowledge of the rational faculty (logiki). The heart does not refer to the physical heart but to the deep heart in man . It is knowledge associated with man’s glorification, and in reality it is knowledge beyond human knowledge. Knowledge of God is acquired by the nous and the heart. The reason is incapable of acquiring knowledge of God: it simply formulates it according to its ability.

Fr John Romanides.

Empirical Dogmatics Vol. 2 page 47 Knowledge of God.

Fr John Romanides Patristic Theology chap.1 What is the human nous ?

(*the great holy Fathers of the Church : the Apostolic Fathers e.g St Clement of Rome , St Ignatius of Antioch . The Cappadocian Fathers : St Basil the Great ,St Gregory the Theologian , St Gregory of Nyssa .

St John Chrysostom who by the Orthodox Church is consider to be a ”God-inspired instrument and an inexhaustible ocean of dogmas”and later St Maximos the Confessor, St John of Damascus, St Symeon the New Theologian ,St Gregory Palamas and all the philocalic Fathers that has authoritatively defined the revelatory truth.)

Below follows a more elaborated analysis of what the Fathers and the Orthodox Church teaches about the soul, nous and spirit. ( The Orthodox Catholic Church which is the original Church with an unbroken and living tradition from the 12 Apostles who followed Jesus Christ)

Fr John Romanides

What is the Human Nous?

“The chief concern of the Orthodox Church is the healing of the human soul. The Church has always considered the soul as the part of the human being that needs healing because She has seen from Hebrew tradition, from Christ Himself, and from the Apostles that in the region of the physical heart there functions something that the Fathers called the nous. In other words, the Fathers took the traditional term nous, which means both intellect (dianoia) and speech or reason (logos), and gave it a different meaning. They used nous to refer to this noetic energy that functions in the heart of every spiritually healthy person. We do not know when this change in meaning took place, because we know that some Fathers used the same word nous to refer to reason as well as to this noetic energy that descends and functions in the region of the heart.

So from this perspective, noetic activity is an activity essential to the soul. It functions in the brain as the reason; it simultaneously functions in the heart as the nous. In other words, the same organ, the nous, prays ceaselessly in the heart and simultaneously thinks about mathematical problems, for example, or anything else in the brain.

We should point out that there is a difference in terminology between St. Paul and the Fathers. What St. Paul calls the nous is the same as what the Fathers call dianoia. When the Apostle Paul says, “I will pray with the spirit,”1 he means what the Fathers mean when they say, “I will pray with the nous.” And when he says, “I will pray with the nous,” he means “I will pray with the intellect (dianoia).” When the Fathers use the word nous, the Apostle Paul uses the word ‘spirit.’ When he says “I will pray with the nous, I will pray with the spirit” or when he says “I will chant with the nous, I will chant with the spirit,” and when he says “the Spirit of God bears witness to our spirit,”2 he uses the word ‘spirit’ to mean what the Fathers refer to as the nous. And by the word nous, he means the intellect or reason.

In his phrase, “the Spirit of God bears witness to our spirit,” St. Paul speaks about two spirits: the Spirit of God and the human spirit. By some strange turn of events, what St. Paul meant by the human spirit later reappeared during the time of St. Makarios the Egyptian with the name nous, and only the words logos and dianoia continued to refer to man’s rational ability. This is how the nous came to be identified with spirit, that is, with the heart, since according to St. Paul, the heart is the place of man’s spirit.3

Thus, for the Apostle Paul reasonable or logical worship takes place by means of the nous (i.e., the reason or the intellect) while noetic prayer occurs through the spirit and is spiritual prayer or prayer of the heart.4 So when the Apostle Paul says, “I prefer to say five words with my nous in order to instruct others rather than a thousand with my tongue,”5 he means that he prefers to say five words, in other words to speak a bit, for the instruction of others rather than pray noetically. Some monks interpret what St. Paul says here as a reference to the Prayer of Jesus, which consists of five words,6 but at this point the Apostle is speaking here about the words he used in instructing others.7 For how can catechism take place with noetic prayer, since noetic prayer is a person’s inward prayer, and others around him do not hear anything? Catechism, however, takes place with teaching and worship that are cogent and reasonable. We teach and speak by using the reason, which is the usual way that people communicate with each other.8

Those who have noetic prayer in their hearts do, however, communicate with one another. In other words, they have the ability to sit together, and communicate with each other noetically, without speaking. That is, they are able to communicate spiritually. Of course, this also occurs even when such people are far apart. They also have the gifts of clairvoyance and foreknowledge. Through clairvoyance, they can sense both other people’s sins and thoughts (logismoi), while foreknowledge enables them to see and talk about subjects, deeds, and events in the future. Such charismatic people really do exist. If you go to them for confession, they know everything that you have done in your life before you open your mouth to tell them.”

Fr John Romanides from Patristic Theology .

The University Lectures of Fr. John Romanides (1927-2001)

Notes: 1. 1Corinthians 14:5.

2.   Romans 8:16.

3.   This means that the Spirit of God speaks to our spirit. In other words, God speaks within our heart by the grace of the Holy Spirit. St. Gregory Palamas in his second discourse from “In Behalf of the Sacred Hesychasts” notes that “the heart rules over the whole human organism…. For the nous and all the thoughts (logismoi) of the soul are located there.” From the context of grace-filled prayer, it is clear that the term ‘heart’ does not refer to the physical heart, but to the deep heart, while the term nous does not refer to the intellect (dianoia), but to the energy/activity of the heart, the noetic activity which wells forth from the essence of the nous (i.e., the heart). For this reason, St. Gregory adds that it is necessary for the hesychasts “to bring their nous back and enclose it within their body and particularly within that innermost body, within the body that we call the heart.” The term “spirit” is also identical with the terms nous and “heart.” Philokalia, vol. IV (London: Faber and Faber, 1995), p, 334.

4.   Cf. Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos, who notes: “Man has two centers of knowing: the nous which is the appropriate organ for receiving the revelation of God that is later put into words through the reason and the reason which knows the sensible world around us.” The Person in Orthodox Tradition, trans. Effie Mavromichali (Levadia: Monastery of the Birth of the Theotokos, 1994), p. 24.

5.   1 Corinthians 14:19.

6.   In Greek, the Prayer of Jesus consists of exactly five words in its simplest form, which in English is translated as “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me” –TRANS.

7.   “Thus as Saint John of Damascus puts it, we are led as though up a ladder to the thinking of good thoughts…. Saint Paul also indicates this when he says: ‘I had rather speak five words with my nous….’” St. Peter of Damascus, “The Third Stage of Contemplation,” in Philokalia, 3, page 42 [my translation: cf. also English Philokalia, vol. XXX, p. 120] and St. Nikitas Stithatos, as cited below.

8.   With respect to this, Venerable Nikitas Stithatos writes, “…If when you pray and psalmodize you speak in a tongue to God in private you edify yourself, as Saint Paul says. … If it is not in order to edify his flock that the shepherd seeks to be richly endowed with the grace of teaching and the knowledge of the Spirit, he lacks fervor in his quest for God’s gifts. By merely praying and psalmodizing inwardly with your tongue, that is, by praying in the soul – you edify yourself, but your nous is unproductive [cf. I Corinthians 14:14], for you do not prophesy with the language of sacred teaching or edify God’s Church. If Paul, who of all men was the most closely united with God through prayer, would have rather spoken from his fertile nous five words in the church for the instruction of others than ten thousand words of psalmody in private with a tongue [cf., I Corinthians 14:19], surely those who have responsibility for others have strayed from the path of love if they limit the shepherd’s ministry solely to psalmody and reading.” St. Nikitas Stithatos, “On Spiritual Knowledge,” in The Philokalia, vol. 4, pp. 169-170.


Considering his attack on the Orthodox Church and the havoc he has wreaked in Ukraine, it will be difficult for Patriarch Bartholomew to stand before God, believes Matushka Juliana Taborovets from the captured Holy Protection Church in the village of Bereste. 

Matushka participated in the congress of representatives of parish churches seized by the schismatics throughout Ukraine held at the Kiev Caves Lavra on February 22, where she gave extensive comments to the Union of Orthodox Journalists

Pat. Bartholomew, 81, “will soon go to God and look God in the eye. What will you say then, ‘dyadka [literally “uncle,” used for any older or unknown man—OC]?’” Matushka asks. 

“I say ‘dyadka,’ because I don’t consider him a patriarch, because he violated the canons. He himself became a schismatic once he recognized the schismatics,” Matushka Juliana explained. 

The schismatic invaders have divided all the villages in her area. “What has he done?… What will he [Pat. Bartholomew—OC] say? I have no right to judge; only actions can be condemned. But it’s scary. It’s scary how much he has done, how many tears have been shed. And blood was spilled for other churches,” Matushka said soberly. 

She also explained that the church was seized as were so many others—first by a vote of people who had no connection to the church, including Baptists, Pentecostals, and people from other villages. 

After that there were four attempts in a month to physically seize the church, but the people prayed incessantly, and the priests served numerous akathists. 

The faithful of the canonical Church would sing the Jesus Prayer and the Nicene Creed, while the schismatics would shout, “Ukraine’s not dead yet.” Her husband, Archpriest Sergei, and others were repeatedly beaten and spat upon, Matushka recalled. 

The schismatics finally managed to seize the church on April 2, 2019, as the police stood by and watched. Elderly parishioners were beaten and girls were dragged by their hair. The schismatics had gone crazy, with blank looks in their eyes, Matushka said. 

In the end, they seized the church, the parish house, and the cemetery chapel, leaving the Orthodox faithful to pray in a shack.


St John of Kronstadt quotes from My life in Christ.

Truth is the foundation and the source of the variety of all creation. Let truth be also the foundation of all your deeds (both inward and outward), especially your prayer. Let your whole life—all your works, all your thoughts, and all your desires—be established in truth.

If you have Christ in your heart, be aware that you may lose Him, and with Him the peace of your heart. It is difficult to begin anew; efforts to attach yourself to Him again after falling away will be very painful and will cost bitter tears to many. Cling to Christ with all your strength, acquire Him, and do not lose boldness before Him.

Keep a strict watch for every manifestation of pride. It appears imperceptibly, particularly in time of vexation and irritability against others for completely unimportant reasons.

The goal of our life is to unite with God, but sin completely hinders this. Therefore, flee from sin as from a terrible enemy, as from the destroyer of the soul, because to be without God is death, not life. Let us therefore understand our purpose; let us always remember that the Master of all calls us to union with Himself.

Prayer is the lifting up of the mind and heart to God.3 From this it is evident that it is quite impossible for anyone to pray if his mind and heart are attached to anything carnal, such as money or honors, or if his heart is filled with passions, such as hatred or envy for others, because passions usually bind the heart, while God fills the heart and gives it true freedom.

What is a pure heart? It is meek, humble, guileless, simple, trusting, true, unsuspicious, gentle, good, not covetous, not envious, not adulterous.