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Σάββατο, 14 Απριλίου 2018

Internal Strife The workings of the enemy of the Church



There have always been attacks on the integrity of the Church. Sometimes these attacks have been directed head-on toward the Church, such as the invasion of Islam into Orthodox lands. At other times the Church has experienced attacks within her own walls, with divisions occurring that threatened the very integrity and unity of the Church herself.

The internal strife that has taken place during various periods in the history of the Church is tragic. Saint John Chrysostom, Saint John of San Francisco and St. Nectarios of Pentapolis, are but three examples of bishops who suffered injustice at the hands of brother bishops. Within the life of the Church there have also been moments when synods of bishops have had to make difficult, but necesary decisions, knowing some would find fault with the outcome, but being morally and spiritually pressed to move swiftly in spite of criticism.

There have been disputes between monasteries over the concept of land ownership, with some teaching that monastic communities should own no land, while other holy brotherhoods insisted that the independence afforded monasteries by land ownership was an important safety net for the longevity of the community.

The important thing for all of us to remember during periods of strife in the Church is that nothing is new. From the very beginning there has been strife and division, disagreements between members of the Church, including her clergy and bishops. Saint Paul even directed his thoughts regarding those who would say, "I am of Christ", or "I am of Paul". Like blood families, we are all part of the human condition that is the result of the Fall, and we need to remember that attacks against the unity of the Church have always been there, and will always be there, until the end of times.

Of course the root of these attacks and divisions is none other than the evil one himself. Satan hates the Church, and has been attacking every part of the Church from the very beginning. Can we really expect Lucifer to spend all his time attacking only drunks and cut throats? If he's already got them, why would he not turn most of his evil wrath against the very Church founded by Christ Himself?

During difficult times, where we see brother against brother, it is important that we do not react, do not gossip, and let peace reign in our hearts.The promise we have from the Lord Himself, is that the gates of hell shall not prevail against His Church. Divisions will come and go, strife between brothers will always be there, yet the Holy Spirit will still continue to guide the Church. We must learn to trust the Lord, leave the guidance of the Church in the hands of our bishops, and work on our own hearts. If we be of a peaceful heart, all will be well. Peace must begin with me.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Photo: The doors of the altar have remained open all of Bright Week, symbolizing the opening of the "gates" of paradise through Christ's victory over death.

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