Christianity

Christianity 101 – The ‘elder brother’ syndrome

christianity-1012

It seems to have become the fashion these days, particularly in the US, to tell other Catholics who might disagree with one’s particular take on Catholicism that, “You are not Catholic.” The phrase, “You are not Christian,” tends to be hurled in a parallel manner by those of Protestant bent, in particular the evangelicals. Both phrases, however, are theologically incorrect, not to mention that such phrases are often used as weapons toward the ‘undesirable’ other Catholic/Christian by the ever-so-correct under the rationalization of evangelization. An analogous weapon seems to be the phrase, “You are not part of the Body of Christ.”

Leaving aside, for the moment, that the word Catholic means universal, not parochial, thus any parochialism or tribalism under the name of the Faith is to be eschewed, one becomes a Catholic Christian by being baptized with the Trinitarian formula in the Catholic Church. In a similar manner, one becomes a Christian, as the term has been appropriated and is understood by several evangelicals, by being baptized by another Christian using the Trinitarian formula. And let us not even consider here the baptism of desire and the baptism of blood.

So who is a ‘real’ Catholic? Who is a ‘real’ Christian?

Both of the above persons given as example are real Christians and the first is a Catholic Christian. This ontological change occurs no matter whether one of them professes what is either to the liking or the disliking of the other. Both of them form part of the Body of Christ, since both have been validly baptized with the Trinitarian formula – irrespective of whether the self-righteous like it or not, or if they can or cannot prop up their own egos. Whether one is a practicing Christian or a practicing Catholic, or a good/bad Christian or a good/bad Catholic, does not enter into the equation.

For Catholics, therefore, to tell other similarly baptized Catholics, “You are not Catholic,” because the former disagree with the latter, is an oxymoronic, but highly misleading, statement that is unreflective of the truth. The widespread use of these phrases also reveals what seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding on the part of the ‘phrase-throwers’ (who would ‘evangelize’ others), in relation to what and who constitutes the Church and the Body of Christ. This leaves one wondering if the situation is not one of the proverbial case of the blind leading the equally blind. The same holds true for those who consider themselves just Christians.

Can a person become evil? Correcting the inadequate catechesis of some Christians in the United States

Michael (3)A tendency has arisen and seems to be increasing these days among some Christians, Catholics included, in the United States to regard human persons and their personalities as evil in themselves. Discourses and language such as, for instance, a “distorted and evil soul” or “becoming evil” is being used more and more often to describe “evil people,” or “evil personalities,” who are regarded as “lost souls.” Apart from the fact – obvious even to children – that no Christian, no Catholic, should ever use such language these days in relation to other persons, to consider an individual or a group of individuals as evil per se does not reflect the teachings of the Church.

To give a succint example that is easily understood by the many, not even in the case of a person who is perfectly possessed by evil spirits does the Church consider that individual 100% “evil,” despite the actions he or she may have carried out while under the influence of personified evil. Let alone in the case of people who are not possessed in such a manner, or even harassed by evil or obsessed.

Hence for some Christians and Catholics to consider and describe their fellow human persons in terms of the language referenced above is to manifest inadequate catechesis in the teachings of the universal Church, including Patristics, at best. And to manifest unexpunged self-righteousness – spiritual pride – at worst. The use of such language, therefore, in relation to fellow man does not bring people closer to God. It just calls down His judgment upon oneself, since the judgment of human persons is arrogated to God alone.

Christianity is not what you are trying to make it out to be

img_0201“Arrest him/her!”

“Attention Patriots!”

“Demand action!”

“Fascists!”

These are just a tiny fraction of the calls coming out of the mouths of many Christians – in particular, nationalist-minded White Christians and Catholics – in the United States of America at present; a nation that used to pride itself on the greatness of its heart and its Judeo-Christian heritage. But Christianity is neither what you think it is, nor what you are trying to make it out to be, as Jesus Christ became incarnate to bring love, not hate, to a suffering world and the above samples of calls are nothing but examples of hate and/or incitements to hatred. Restoration, true life, and love have zero relationship to hatred.

By their fruits you shall know them (Mt 7:16).

Christianity has never been, nor is, neither will ever be about the dehumanization and scapegoating of the other – in particular, the disagreeing, the disagreeable, the non-White, the non-believing, or the differently-believing other, as God has granted free will to every human person. Violence in any way, shape, or form, and weapons are never the answer; never! Neither is attempting to restore Christianity as the order of the land through the end of a legislative barrel. God does not act like that; neither should the People of God.

Look at how much they love each other (Tertullian).

When self-identifying Christians and Catholics act or speak in the above-referenced manner, it should be noted that this is not genuine Christianity by any means, no matter what these persons may write or say they are and/or profess. That such individuals tend to do so under the name of Christianity, under the name of Catholicism even, makes it more of an abomination! Only a perversion of Christianity can produce such statements, such declarations, such calls, in accordance with the darkest desires of their hearts, not genuine Christianity illuminated by the Spirit of God. It is a deception at best.

Peace, love, charity, and unity shall not return to the land until We, the People – both left and right; Christians and non-Christians of all stripes – return to God with sincere repentance in the heart, because only Him Who Is Peace can grant the grace of true peace to the land and to the world. Only the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit can re-gather the people, the nations, into unity and fraternal love. Nothing else; no one else.

Christians in America – Am I my brother’s keeper?

With joy you call yourselves Christians and Catholics both in the public and in the private spheres. Indeed, you wear these labels proudly as an identity. You declare that you raise your children, if any, in the faith; even homeschooling them if necessary, and attend Mass in accordance with the holy days of obligation of the Catholic Church. You reportedly receive the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharistic with regularity and “do good works” whenever you can. 

But are you – Christian?

You are blind to the plight, sorrows, sufferings, and tribulations of the people in your midst including the fatherless, the orphaned, the widowed, the isolated, the lonely, the grieving, and the strangers. You speak about Catholicism with authority, especially in relation to the need to give, the need for solidarity, the hot button issues of abortion, euthanasia, same-sex unions, communion for the divorced-and-remarried, and so on and so forth. But do you know how to give your life for others? 

Do you know how to give one half of everything that you possess, like the widow with the mites and with joy in your heart, so that less fortunate others may start living in the dignity that befits all human persons? Or do you just give from your ready surplus, if even that?

You place a premium on strength as an indicator of adulthood and maturity, including spiritual maturity, considering those who are weaker, more vulnerable, as “losers” rather than “winners.” You do this all the while thanking God in your heart that you are, thanks to His grace, “not one of them.” But Christ came to eloquently anoint human weakness or human strength? How can the divine strength enter into a human person and become manifest throughout their being and actions, except in the presence of weakness, littleness, and vulnerability – the very qualities of losers according to your way of thinking?

You are deaf to the repeated pleas and cries for help from those suffering among you. You sleep at night; they do not sleep. You eat during the day; they do not eat except perhaps for the crumbs left over by the dogs. It is suggested that you actively help others who need your assistance, but you displace your responsibility to do so by responding “there are programs for that.” 

Who is a Christian?

Actions, not words, manifest the genuine Christian

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father (Mt 7:21).

It is actions, not words or official affiliations, particularly in the little necessities of everyday life, that manifest who is the true Christian at heart, because anyone can say words and a multitude of them at that. It is only he or she, however, who truly holds the Spirit of God in their heart and soul, who can genuinely act as a Christian in the true sense of the word.

Is Hell reserved only for Satan and demons?

The question was asked, “Is Hell reserved only for Satan and demons?” The answer is in the negative. Hell is also reserved for human persons who die with mortal sin/s on their souls, for which they do not feel contrite. Hell is very real and everlasting.

A question to ponder

When is the last time you have been to confession – the sacrament of Reconciliation with God? How often do you go? If infrequently or not at all, why is that? What slowly led to that? Do you think you can truly live life to the full without the sanctifying grace of God? What do you think happens to you, in your daily life, when you lose sanctifying grace and remain unwilling to regain it?

Discerning true from false teachings in relation to God

Paul, an apostle not from human beings nor through a human being, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead, and all the brothers who are with me, to the churches of Galatia: grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins that He might rescue us from the present evil age in accord with the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

I am amazed that you are so quickly forsaking the one who called you by [the] grace [of Christ] for a different gospel (not that there is another). But there are some who are disturbing you and wish to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach [to you] a gospel other than the one that we preached to you, let that one be accursed! As we have said before, and now I say again, if anyone preaches to you a gospel other than the one that you received, let that one be accursed!

Am I now currying favor with human beings or God? Or am I seeking to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ (Gal 1:1-10).

Knowing God as My Father by Fr Abraam Sleman

Almighty God is Father not mother – 2

“There never was a time when the Father was and the Son was not, but always the Father and always the Son, Who was begotten of Him, existed together. For He could not have received the name Father apart from the Son: for if He were without the Son, He could not be the Father: and if He thereafter had the Son, thereafter He became the Father, not having been the Father prior to this, and He was changed from that which was not the Father and became the Father . . . [Moreover] He is also the Father of all His creatures, for God, who brought us into being out of nothing, is in a stricter sense our Father than are our parents who have derived both being and begetting from Him” (John of Damascus, De fide orthodoxa).

The Almighty God is Father not mother – 1

As some keep asking the same question, whether willfully or out of lack of sufficient knowledge, here is the first repost of some posts on why God the first Person of the Holy Trinity is Father and not mother:

Israel has not known Me and My people have not understood Me (Is 1:3)

It has become common these days, especially among modernists and feminists, to conceive of God the first Person of the Holy Trinity as mother rather than Father, even using the term “She” rather than “He.” However, regardless of who may write it, say it or claim it, such socio-theological revisionism is not based in fact, being therefore an implicit if not explicit distortion of both doctrine and the deposit of Faith, because “the Father therefore establishes the Son in eternity by His integral self-giving, while the Son continually affirms the Father as Father from all eternity by the fact that He both accepts His own coming into existence through the Father and also gives Himself to the Father as Son” (Staniloae, D. 1994. The experience of God: Revelation and knowledge of the Triune God, p. 257).

Jesus Christ specifically referred to God the first Person as Father and even Abba throughout Scripture (e.g., Mt 6:9-13, 11:27, 25:34, 26:39-42; Mk 14:36; Lk 2:49, 10:22, 11:2-4, 22:42, 23:46, 24:49; Jn 12:27, 17:1, 17:6, 17:25, 20:17) – in Aramaic tradition, an intimate name that only a natural son or daughter would use in relation to their father. Christ also referred specifically to the Virgin Mary as Mother whom She really was. Moreover, God the first Person Himself specifically expressed His desire to be known as and called Father by His human creatures, namely “I thought you would call me, ‘my Father’ (Jer 3:19) and as confirmed by the Apostle Paul (Gal 4:6; Rom 8:15, 8:29).

More on mortal sin

For whomever does not know, has forgotten, willingly or unwillingly; or just plain does not presently care, mortal sin is:

  • a sin of grave matter;
  • committed with full knowledge;
  • committed with deliberate consent.

1) Saint Paul on what mortal sins are:

“Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal 5:19-20). Paul also tells the Corinthians, “know you not that the unjust shall not possess the kingdom of God? Do not err: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor the effeminate, nor liars with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards nor railers, nor extortioners shall possess the kingdom of God” (1 Cor 6:9-10).

2) Sins of anger, blasphemy, envy, hatred, malice, murder, neglect of Sunday obligation, sins against faith, sins against hope, and sins against love.

3) Voluntary murder (Gen 4:10); the sin of impurity, i.e., sodomy and homosexual relations (Gen 18:20); taking advantage of the poor (Ex 2:23); and defrauding the workingman of his wages (James 5:4).

4) Pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, and sloth.

Is Hell only for Satan? – Response to a question

The question was asked, “Is Hell reserved only for Satan?” The answer is in the negative. Hell is a place of pain and punishment for infinity that has been reserved not only for Satan and his demons, but also for all those of us who die in unrepented of and unabsolved mortal sin – that is why the latter is called “mortal.” You can learn more about mortal sin here and here, as well as about Hell here. You can also read about being in mortal sin and the great mercy, tenderness and love of God our Father.

In brief, when one has a mortal sin or sins on their soul, they may, to all intents and purposes, be alive in the flesh, but they are dead in the spirit. In other words, they are walking sepulchres. However, when one dies with even just a single mortal sin on the soul, they condemn themselves instantly to Hell, not Purgatory, because since the Holy Trinity is pure and immaculate, They cannot reside in and where the darkness of sin resides in full.

What the world needs – Holy Octave of Purification and Consecration to God our Father

Below is what the world really needs in our times, but Whom it keeps rejecting out of false wisdom. The Heavenly Father has promised to come and live with us and in us, restoring order in the world and granting it a period of true peace – His peace – when the world is re-consecrated to Him, to His Divine Heart. The infinitely beautiful, loving Father has been pleading for this, for years, now. And yet, so far His pleas, His cries of a Father, have fallen on deaf ears.

God Our Father-page-001

Will you please not be so hard-hearted and oblige your Father by returning to Him Who loves you? Sparing the world on your part from even more pain and suffering? What have you to lose by trying to find out Who your Eternal Father really Is? Click on the picture above or the link provided herewith to download the Holy Octave of Purification and Consecration to God our Father.

What is the divine will of God for mankind?

The question was asked, “What is the divine will of God for mankind?” A lot can be and has been said about this. But the succint answer is that none of us were created to live apart from our Heavenly Father. The Will of God is that all His children, all mankind, returns to live in His Divine Heart, so that true peace and His Kingdom can come on earth (Mt 6:10). This will fulfil Christ the Priest’s prayer to the Father, “May they all be one. Father, may they be one in Us as You are in Me and I am in You” (Jn 17:21).

Pray for the intentions of the Almighty Father

Do not pray solely for yourself and for others. Pray also for the intentions, the desires, of God the Almighty Father. It is what He wants at this time.

It is time – The relationship between the Father and the child

And everyone who has left houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, children or land for the sake of My Name will be repaid a hundred times over, and also inherit eternal life (Mt 19:29).

Give Him everything. It is time. Give Him everything without the slightest hesitation: everything you are and everything you are not; everything you have and everything you have not, down to the slightest thing. The Almighty and incomparable Father will supply and repay you like none other. He will repay you with a joy beyond description and He will give you His very own Self.

Yes, the Father will give you Himself and everything that is His in the entire universe, including His only-begotten Son in like (but not identical) manner to how He had given Him to the Virgin Mary – the coming of the Kingdom. Give yourself to the Heavenly Father, therefore, no matter who you are; no matter where you are. Give yourself to Him without fear, from the bottom of your heart. You can never lose, you can only gain.

Purification and intimacy with the Father

As darkness increases all around the world in our times, we should recall that we are presently in the period of the purification of the earth. However, after purification comes illumination and deification. Intimacy with God our Father, in the very heart of our souls, will ensue after the purification and illumination, not just for the few but for the many – for all those who will accept His mercy during the illumination of consciences and return to Him. It will be an intimacy unknown since the fall of Adam except by the comparative few and it will be accepted and lived fully by the many. It is true that, presently, we can only see and feel the increasing darkness around us. However, what is coming soon – very soon – is the era of the reign of the Divine Heart of the Father; the era of peace, the era of the Kingdom of the Divine Will on earth.

On deification – 6

Deification and theology

Theology is theoria – the vision of God (Gregory Palamas).

All truly dogmatic work has a basis in mystical experience . . . all mystical work is connected to the realm of dogma, in that it expresses and exposes the content of the experiences of divine things (Lossky, 1967/1974).

To end, deification turns man into a theologian not because he has studied theology academically and intellectually, but because he attains theoria. At this stage of the spiritual life, man

communes with the angelic powers…approaches the uncreated Light and the depths of God are revealed to him through the Spirit. This man knows many things which are hidden from others, including mysteries that exist in Holy Scripture (N. Stithatos in Vlachos, 2010).

The Father of simplicity

God our Father is all-knowing and all-powerful; omnipotent, the Almighty. Yet, in His Divine Heart, He is the Father of simplicity. He wants only one thing and one thing alone – your love. Will you love Him? Will you say ‘yes’ to Him?

Discernment – Fear vs faith, restlessness vs peace

A brief response to many writings, encounters, and questions about what is of God and what is not of God:

There is no need to worry; but if there is anything you need, pray for it, asking God for it with prayer and thanksgiving, and that peace of God which is so much greater than we can understand, will guard your hearts and your thoughts, in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:6-7).

Some in the Church, especially those who seem to adhere to a more traditionalist orientation, are presently attempting to instil fear in the people of God, knowingly or unknowingly, because of the current situation both in our world and in the Church Universal. Know that such an approach, albeit possibly correct in its technicalities, is never of God, because although the letter of the Law may be followed and propagated, it lacks the Spirit of the Law – love. And God is Love, God is Order, God is Peace.

God – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – brings peace with Him wherever He goes, wherever He is invited, wherever He resides. Never does He bring fear or restlessness; never. Fear is a thief, a killer, and a murderer of peace; and we all know who the thief and murderer is from the beginning (Jn 8:44). Do not, therefore, let anyone – no matter who they may be – steal your peace, your hope, your trust, and your love from you; all given to you by God to enjoy. Fear, restlessness, and doomsday scenarios without hope are never of God, because God is Justice but He is also Love. And His love, wisdom, compassion, and mercy are infinite, even when we think or feel otherwise. Remember, God loves and love casts out fear.

We ourselves have known and put our faith in God’s love towards ourselves. God is love and anyone who lives in love lives in God, and God lives in him. Love will come to its perfection in us when we can face the day of Judgement without fear, because even in this world we have become as He is. In love there can be no fear, but fear is driven out by perfect love: because to fear is to expect punishment, and anyone who is afraid is still imperfect in love (1 Jn 4:16-18).

On deification – 5

Deification and Theosis

Suddenly the Almighty reveals Himself in boundless humility. The vision floods our entire being and instinctively we bow in adoration…Prayer to this God of love and humility rises from the depths of our being…Brought from nothingness into life, man is drawn by His Creator into the fullness of divine life (Arch. Sophrony, 1997).

Only those found worthy of seeing the uncreated Light are able to gain true knowledge of God (Vlachos, 2010).

When deification occurs, it is not solely the soul which takes part in theoria but also the body, for man sees the divine light and hears the voice of God after both his soul and the physical senses have been transformed by divine grace (Vlachos, 2010). Theoria is defined as seeing the glory of God through union with Him and deification.  (more…)

On deification – 4

Illumination and Deification

He who enjoys illumination is greater and receives more that he who only tastes, for he has within himself the assurance of his visions (Maximus the Confessor, Hom. 7,5-6, PG 34, col.527).

The Divine One purifies the man who desires Him: by this purification, He creates men of divine character, conversing as with friends with those who have attained this state; and uniting Himself as God with gods, and making Himself known to them perhaps to the same extent that He knows those who are known to Him (Gregory of Nazianzus, Hom, XLV.3, PG XXXVI, 625C-628A).

Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God (Mt 5:8).

Union with God became discontinuous after the fall because man became imperfect. Therefore, man can become deified and attain theoria – start seeing God – only insofar as his nous has first been healed by the trials of purification and reopened by the illumination which occurs through baptism in the Holy Spirit (Vlachos, 2005, 2010). The phrase ‘baptism in the Spirit’ as used herewith refers to it as historically understood throughout Christian tradition (e.g., Kontzevich, 1989).  (more…)

How is God the Father if Jesus came from the Virgin Mary? – Response to a question

The question was asked, “How is God the Father if Jesus (Christ) came from the Virgin Mary?” The answer is simple and also refers to the previous post. Jesus Christ, the Eternal Word, was begotten by God the Father before any creature – human or otherwise – was created:

In the beginning was the Word: and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things came to be, not one thing had its being but through Him. All that came to be had life in Him and that life was the light of men (Jn 1:1-4).

Jesus was, in His divinity, in His Father’s Divine Heart before His human mother, the Virgin Mary was created in the flesh. In fact, in the very beginning there was God – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (the Holy Trinity) – and silence. Nothing else; no one else. God the Father always was, is, and will be (more…)