Friday, September 16, 2016

Met Saba (Esber): Maxims on the Cross

Arabic original here.

+ The cross is my life and there is no life except through the cross.

+ Jesus will continually look down with open arms because He wants my soul, for which He died, in order to embrace it.

+ The cross is not only a place of divine justice; it is also a place for love to the point of death.

+ The cross is not a fixed point upon which Jesus was hanged on a certain day. Rather, it is the basis for the movement of the Lord's heart towards all humanity.

+ In its outward appearance, the cross was an expression of the injustice of the world, but inwardly the cross is all joy, love and surrender to the Father for the salvation of the world.

+ The cross is the place of the soul's conforming to God: "with Christ you were crucified."

+ The cross is the beacon upon which Christ places the light of the world, by which we become a light for the world.

+ Fleeing the cross is equivalent to fleeing from the glory of God.

+ The cross is a school.... to flee from it is to lose the future.

+ The cross is the sole path to the resurrection... to flee from it is to enter into eternal death.

+ He who loses his cross loses his Christianity.

+ He who loses his cross has lost his path to God.

+ If one loses his cross, his life becomes cold and tepid, without cooperation with God.

+ Constant meditation on the cross of our Lord gains for the soul freedom, peace, power and forgiveness.

+ By its nature, the cross is the strongest and deepest degree of love.

+ Inasmuch as our contemplation of the cross increases, so deepens our communion and knowledge of the Lord Jesus.

+ The cross is the path of freedom from the bonds of the world and the lust of the body.

+ If one is trained to taste sweetness in the word of God and the cross, He will make the soul resent every bodily pleasure.

+ The cross is the means of liberation from the self and its crucifixion.

+ The cross is not merely a sort of beautiful spiritual meditation. It is also enduring suffering in order to stand against the sinful world.

+ The cross is our weapon during spiritual warfare.

+ Every struggle against sin in order to preserve my freedom is bearing the cross.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Fr Georges Massouh: Christ and Him Crucified

Arabic original here.

Christ and Him Crucified

The Apostle Paul does not know Jesus Christ except crucified and hanging on the wood of the cross. For him there is an identity between Christ "and Him crucified." Thus we see him making a digression in order to state this unambiguous, unblemished truth. Even when he presents a hymn about Jesus' work in the world (Philippians 2:6-11), we notice that he breaks the meter in order to add the expression "the death of the cross," affirming that Christ died upon the cross and not in any other way.

Saint Paul expresses this identity in his First Epistle to the Corinthians where he says, "I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:2). It is also noteworthy here that Paul does not point to the power of Christ that lies in His divinity and His being the only-begotten Son of God. Rather, His power lies in the cross upon which He died out of love for the world: "But we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God" (1 Corinthians 1:23-24).

In this context, St John Chrysostom says (d. 407) says, "The Greeks ask us for eloquence of speech and the precision of sophistry. But we proclaim to them the cross, which appears as weakness to the Jews and to the Greeks foolishness. We do not offer what they seek, but rather we offer the opposite of what they seek. The cross does not appear to be proof of power, but rather condemnation for weakness. It is not subject to wisdom, but rather evidence of foolishness." Indeed, the cross is proof of power, not of weakness. The courageous person is the one who accepts to bear his cross just as Christ bore His cross. The quivering coward is the one who refuses his cross. Oppressors are cowards. Martyrs, according to the Christian faith, are heroes.

There is no doubt that the entire tradition of the Church is unanimous in saying that Christianity cannot be reduced to practice of the law alone, just as it cannot be reduced to philosophical or intellectual theories alone. Christianity is either the putting into practice of the commandment of love or it does not exist. Therefore, the true Christian is the one who loves freely, just as Christ loved the world freely. Indeed, He paid with His blood upon the cross as the price for this love. This does not mean that Christianity despises the law or philosophy, but rather that it regards them as secondary next to the practice of love.

In what, then, should Christians boast? If they want to imitate the Apostle Paul who said, "Imitate me just as I also imitate Christ," then they have what the Apostle himself declares openly, "God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world" (Galatians 6:14). Paul did not boast of Christ's divinity or of the miracles that Jesus and His disciples worked... He boasted of the cross and the One placed upon it, and that alone.

Christians are called to imitate Paul as Paul imitated the Lord... so they must not boast of the cross-- made out of gold, silver, or even wood-- adorning their chest or lifted meters high upon mountains or on the domes of churches... To boast of the cross is to "bear in the body the marks of the Lord Jesus" according to the Apostle Paul (Galatians 6:17). To boast of the cross is to love the world as Christ loved it, He who gave Himself for the life of the world.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Met Antonius (el-Souri) on the Cross

Arabic original here.

On the Cross

People free from the cross in their life, thinking that it is a brutal pain. Not every pain is a cross. People err when they think that way. There is no cross outside of the relationship with Christ, because He is the one who says, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me" (Luke 9:23).

The cross comes from denying the self, from one's effort to return to worshiping God from worshiping oneself. Renouncing love of the self is the greatest pain. All other pains are easy compared to it.

The practical question is, how does one worship himself?

Perhaps most people don't see this within themselves. But the question is simple, because every action by which a person strives to affirm himself outside of God is worship of the self. This is what leads to people's struggles among themselves because they cannot accept each other. Indeed, each one wants to dominate the other in thought, in word or in deed.

So long as the other constitutes a threat to my existence, I follow the passion of my ego. When the other becomes my life and my joy, I have become a slave to God because I have been liberated from my ego. Can you love the other? Accept him? Tolerate him? Not judge him? Excuse his failings? Rejoice in sacrifice for his sake? Be broken in order to gain him? Share in his sufferings? See your failings that hurt him and try by the grace of God to change for his sake...?

The transparent answers to all these questions and more is your honest mirror which tells you whether you worship yourself or God. And so the true cross is the path of repentance and the true resurrection comes to you by way of this cross and in it because, if you truly choose your cross, it becomes the path of your salvation. He who has ears to her, let him hear.

Metropolitan of Zahle, Baalbek and their Dependencies

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Met Georges Khodr: Mercy and Love

Arabic original here.

Mercy and Love

Jesus talked a lot about the kingdom of heaven and the first thing that He proclaimed, like John the Baptist before Him, was "repent, for the kingdom of heaven has drawn near." What is the meaning of the kingdom of God? What does it mean for God to be a king over people?

The Lord said, "The kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:21). That is, it is not in a specific place and you do not have to go far to find it. Enter into yourselves and you will find the Lord there. Jesus started to speak in parables about the kingdom and to give analogies for it.

In today's Gospel reading, the Lord told the story of a servant who owed his master ten thousand talents. He went to him pleading for mercy and his master forgave his debt. When he went away happy, he came across another servant who owed him a small amount. He pleaded with him for mercy, but he did not have mercy and instead sent him to jail to pay off the debt. When the man's master learned of this, he was angry at his servant and said to him, "Should you not have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?"

Every person is our fellow servant, and every debtor is also our fellow servant. Jesus wanted there to be no relationship of master and servant between people. "There is neither slave nor free... for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28). Of course, there are people who owe other people money or other things. Jesus wants our relations to be based not only on the law, but on mercy. By the law, one person imprisons another person. By mercy, one person forgives another.

In the Old Testament, there was the law "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" and courts undertook to apply this law. But our Master said that that there is no need for courts among you, since His disciple Paul said in the First Epistle to the Corinthians, "Seat the wretched in the Church as judges" (1 Corinthians 6:4) so that none of the faithful will go to the pagans for judgment.

God treats us how we treat people. He has mercy on us if we are merciful and He punishes us if we lord over people and oppress them. If we gossip about a person, we murder him. All gossip is murder. All revealing a person's faults is murder. He who sins separates himself from people. Don't say within yourself that he has sinned, since there is someone who will hold him to account. If you love him, he will come back to God.

Each of us needs one thing in this world: for people to love us, for at least one person to love us. If there is not one person who loves us, then we are in a state of suffocation. For this reason, you who have been wronged, who have been attacked, are the one who forgives. The one who loves who is wronged might not find anyone else in the universe who loves him other than the one who wronged him.

Why do we not forgive? Because we were not expecting to be wronged by that particular person. But we must know that each person is capable of every sin. The one from whom we expected  good may disappoint us. Disappointment may come from any person, distant or close. We must understand that the people dearest to us may sin. Only ask that the Lord love them and ask for healing for them, that they may return, not to you but to their Lord.

If we are merciful in this way, then people will remain at peace. People live in peace if they are with their Lord, if others love them.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Fr Touma (Bitar) Evaluates the Crete Meeting: Conciliarity and Holiness

Arabic original here.

Conciliarity and Holiness

"Pursue.. holiness, without which no one will see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14).

A question is posed: in what sense is conciliarity connected to holiness? Every council [or "synod," the word is the same in Arabic] of bishops, whether local or ecumenical, is known as "holy", as though the word "holy" were part of its name. If we become accustomed to hearing the name "holy council," then it is necessary to wonder in turn: what is the intent of connecting the words "council" and "holy"? It is likely that the automatic "holiness" of councils is nothing more than the usual Middle Eastern custom of wordiness, aggrandizement and exaggeration. The expression is, most likely, in its reality and context, metaphorical. But is seems as though the meaning of holiness is conceived as being the presence of the Holy Spirit in conciliarity by default. Otherwise, what meaning and what real value does it have? Dealing with holy things does not necessary make the council holy! This is rather an attribute of those who act and what they do, together in the Spirit and not of the ecclesiastical matters that they deal with merely as a subject of interest! To speak of "the holy council" as a permanent body implies that there is conciliarity that exists in itself, apart from those who gather and consult each other, no matter what their conditions and their results. This gives the impression that according to their thinking, divine grace is at work in the council without regard to the quality of those there or the value of its results. If this were really possible, then there would never have been any heretical councils in history! Then if we were to accept such a belief in the inevitability of the work of the Holy Spirit of the Lord in the council, faith in the incarnation would be ripped to shreds and we would be denying that God and man cooperate in every matter in the Church, that they are in a state of synergy. Therefore, the custom of regarding every council as holy in the strict sense of the word, even before it is held, is a forced, presumptuous claim, part of the accretions left by a mentality of decline and the effects of worldly environments and thus out of place, even if it is customary.

The council-- any council-- begins as a council of bishops. Is that not enough elevation and responsibility for it?! It is not fitting to confer upon it the status of holiness a priori, lest we take holiness lightly and not regard it as being categorically joined to the Holy Spirit, as if there were no need to pray to the Lord's Spirit for inspiration! It is not fitting to regard it as holy except after there has been confirmation in the Spirit that its work was in the Spirit. Give blood and receive spirit! This occurs when the Spirit of the Lord reveals in it something new and fundamental for the soundness of the true faith. This presumes that applying the attribute of holiness to a council comes as an expression of a theanthropic reality, not of human sentimentality. Verbally employing the attribute of holiness without a real reason empties the word of its basic content, which weakens our sense of holiness and causes the Church to act as if she can deal with it without the Spirit. At that point, emotions come to be the substitute!

The fathers of the ecumenical councils are saints for us. Everyone who participated in an ecumenical council, without regard to his life story, is a saint-- this is a cause for wonder! What is the standard for sanctity, in this case? For us, an ecumenical council speaks divinely. The bishops answer it with an "amen," put it into practice, and bear witness to it. What it says is theanthropic and the response is theanthropic. The Spirit speaks and the Spirit says "amen!" "By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God" (1 John 4:2). No one says Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. I am not only talking about those in whom God speaks, but also those who hear in Him. He who speaks and he who hears, in this case, both accept the Spirit of the Lord and bear witness to Him. This causes both of them to be sanctified by the Spirit of Holiness who is active in them. Thus they are considered saints. Is sanctity fixed in those who are sanctified in the council or is it not fixed? We do not know. However, the Holy Church presents us with the fathers of the ecumenical councils as good models for the life of holiness, in specific circumstances, because they encourage us to have faith in the Lord's Spirit, to be humble before the Lord's Spirit, just as they had faith and received God's word with humbleness of heart. Of course, there are actions that we take in order to keep the faith and abide in humility and there are actions that come from the indwelling of the Spirit of God within us, but there is nothing mechanical or automatic about this! We receive the Spirit of the Lord and with Him the commandment to "go and sin no more!"

He who reposes crowning his life with holiness dies a saint  and he is in no more danger. But he who lives in holiness or, more precisely, he who pleases God at one time or another, what happens to him after that? Is he no longer subject to falling? There is not necessarily any guarantee! Your Lord knows the path of every soul. In any case, the Church is not a registry of holiness. Only, we make saints of those whom the Church has deemed worthy to announce their sanctity on account of a reason that is usually specific, whom she meant as living images worthy of imitation, living gospels! The declaration of their sainthood is with regard to us, for the purpose of education, in what they did in this situation or that, not with regard to God, which will be revealed at the judgment. The assurance in honoring the saints is not in history-- the history of these people or the details of their biography-- but in faith, our faith which calls upon the work of the Lord's Spirit in our life. In other words, in faith our souls rise to those portions of the lives of the saints that we reverently approach for edification and spiritual benefit. The Spirit of the Lord is the one who gives us that to which we aspire. The link to the saints is not human, but in the Spirit! When one seeks the Spirit of the Lord in a saint, the saint sends what he is seeking in the Spirit or, more precisely, the Spirit sends what he is seeking in the saint. I say this because even as the saint maintains his individuality, he becomes one with the Spirit. The relationship in the Spirit negates fear and doubt with regard to the historical data about the saints. We walk according to the word of the Spirit in the Church, not according to the word of history and geography, even if we do everything in our ability to put the fruits of the intellect and scholarship into the service of the Lord's Spirit. We are at ease in our relationship to the saints not if our intellect is at ease, but because we walk in faith!

We must admit and confess that, in history, there are saints whose holiness is in doubt or perhaps who never existed, but rather are the result of mythological legends. Does this affect their honor, or rather, our honoring them, if we are not clear about them, such that we do not benefit from mentioning them, but rather deal with legends? Of course not! Rather, that which we receive in simplicity of heart and faith bears fruit in the blessing of the Spirit. Even if there is doubt about the existence of a given saint, the Spirit brings us close to him as though he exists, perhaps through an angel who takes his name, if we accept him with sound intent, so that our faith will not be established on people's doubts, but on God's certainty! As for exaggerations, in any case, let us avoid them, lest we cause scandal.

Holiness is an outpouring of the work of the Spirit of the Lord within us, individually or collectively. This does not come about without us. "Come and abide in us." If conciliarity does not embody the truth, for the Spirit of God, then it is worthless and, indeed, harmful! One of the pains of Orthodoxy today is the accumulation of a certain amount of empty speech--inflated titles, honorifics and formalities-- with regard to holiness, to the point that holiness has become difficult to discern from the dense and exaggerated pagan elegies for some of those who have passed. We facilely and recklessly bestow qualities of holiness upon those whom we are inclined to praise, not to speak of the fixed characterizations of holiness that fill our books according to principles that have become protocol, expressions such as "Holy Master", "Holy Father", "His Beatitude", and even "His All-Holiness"... Is this not a state of sickness and schizophrenia that we say what we do not mean, or that we mean something but say something else, or that holy things become a talking-point for us?! I have never found the Apostle Paul asking anyone, even i passing, to apply to him a title of holiness. Even if he said of himself that he is an apostle of Jesus Christ, it is in the sense of being His servant. He meant precisely what he said without embellishment. His boasting was in his weakness and in his Lord. His slogan, as he was wont to repeat, was that Christ came to save sinners, of whom he was first.

This is our Holy One and we know none other. Him alone do we imitate and from Him alone do we receive the Spirit of holiness. He who sprouted, as Isaiah said, from dry ground, with no form or comeliness, no beauty that we should desire Him, but He bore our griefs and carried our sorrows and the pleasure of the Lord prospers in His hand.

Archimandrite Touma (Bitar)
Abbot of the Monastery of Saint Silouan the Athonite-- Douma, Lebanon
July 31, 2016

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Met Georges Khodr on Faith

Arabic original here.


The coming of the man who was born ill to the Lord was the starting-point of Christ's teaching about faith. The young man was mad, sometimes throwing himself into fire and sometimes into water. The disciples could not expel the evil spirit that was in him. Then Jesus said to them, "If you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move."

My intent here is not to give you a teaching about faith.  We cannot know faith by talking about it, by thinking about it, or by intellectual pondering. Sometimes a person thinks that he is faithful when he is the furthest person from faith. Some say, "I believe but I don't pray. I believe, but I don't fast. I don't abstain from anything. I don't refrain from committing sin. I do what I want. I defile myself, but I'm a believer." This is far from faith. 

I think that one cannot really know faith, even though there are succinct words about it in holy scripture. The Apostle Paul said, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). That is, we trust in things that are invisible as though they were visible and in things to come as though they were present. But how do we trust and how do we come to faith?

Then when His disciples asked Him why they were unable to expel the demon themselves, the Lord said of the evil spirit that possessed the youth, "This kind does not go out except with prayer and fasting." And really, not only that specific kind. The truth is that every demon, every evil in man is not eradicated except through prayer and fasting. It is as though Christ wants us to know that faith is the result of this.

Faith is that you are close to God, that you find solace in His face, and that you are at ease with His words. If you are able to become chaste in this world from the things that are in it, then you are faithful, because if you are faithful then your words are from scripture and what you say is what God says. If you say what displeases God, no matter how much what He says tears at you, then you are not faithful.

There are two kinds of people: the faithful who know themselves to be weak in faith and the unfaithful who think they are faithful. This is why the Lord said that if you pray and stand before God at all times, then you pray in humility and brokenness of heart and at that point faith sprouts up. From your prayer faith comes to you, from a heart that is being purified God receives it. If you pray today, then your faith is better than it was yesterday and if you pray tomorrow with brokenness of heart and poverty before God, then your faith tomorrow will be better than it was yesterday. The more you proceed along the ladder of prayer, the closer you are to God.

What is faith? How do you move mountains? The Lord did not give an answer to this but He said to go pray and fast so that you will become faithful. Man was not created faithful, but he becomes faithful through action, with the power to bring him closer to the Lord, not through his work, but in his prayer.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Fr Touma (Bitar) on Conciliarity and Consultation (II)

Arabic original here. Part I can be read here.

Conciliarity and the Divine Environment

Last week I wrote an essay about conciliarity and consultation. A dear reader asked how it is possible to realize conciliarity according to what I said. It seemed to him, sadly, that even if the matter was in principle clearly as I presented it, it is very far from being achieved in the state Church as we know it today. And so he seemed to be perplexed about how to deal with what was said: it should be mentioned that the brother asking the question is someone working earnestly and faithfully in the Church.

Indeed, conciliarity and consultation are impossible in the Church in human terms! They come by grace. In conciliarity and consultation, we seek to discover the work of God's Spirit in us, but only through God's Spirit! Unless we are in the Spirit and the Spirit has a way to flow into us, seeking what the Spirit is saying is impossible for us. So the issue is an issue of surroundings, of environment. What spirit do we encounter? What anxiety do we have? What is the concern among us? This does not come superficially and externally, but inwardly and existentially. This does not come from the cogitation of the brain, from the exchange of ideas and then a conclusion or agreement on points of view, persuasion, or the victory of one point of view over others; it does not even come from citations of what the fathers said or from what appears in the Bible. These things can easily be used inappropriately. We have the example of Satan in the temptation in the desert. Of course, those who seek what the Spirit is saying themselves deal with ideas and things that have been said, but in a different, interior spiritual environment. The profound sense that is at work within us is a sense that looks out to what the Spirit reveals. The verses of scripture and sayings of the fathers that they cite proceed spontaneously from what their souls seize when their inner parts move in the Spirit. Their concern is not to prove a position and so support it with proofs. This is a human approach. When the Spirit speaks, we do not know in advance in whom He will speak. If our inward parts are prepared, the Spirit, who speaks in one of us, will grant those who are ready to hear and discern Him. "This is it!" "This is what God wills!" This is accompanied by a strong certainty, profound peace, sure joy. The Spirit who is heard in us is the same who gives us this certainty, peace and joy. This is not of a rational, intellectual nature, but first of all of an existential, heartfelt nature and afterwards the intellect grasps what proceeds from the beating of the heart, to drive every thought to Christ's obedience.

But this cannot be if the heart is not upright and humble. With the upright you are upright, and with the crooked you show displeasure, said the Psalmist. Humility is the foundation of discernment. The upright is the one who faithfully walks toward God. Does a weak person sin? This is not an impediment if he unintentionally slips or if he sins and then strongly repents. The important thing is that the sin does not become a way of life for him, lest he embrace falsehood, lest he practice hypocrisy. At that moment, he becomes crooked. His intentions find ruin. God knows the hidden things of hearts. He turns away from us when we turn away from Him. He leaves us to fumble about in the darkness of our souls. But when our inner path is upright from His perspective, we walk in humility of heart because we place our sins before our eyes. We are conscious of our fragility and we realize that without Him we cannot do anything. Humility teaches us to seek what is His, not what is our own. Not to us, Lord, not to us, but to Your name give glory! The important thing is that He is right, not me. Whether Spirit speaks in me or in someone else is no longer important. The important thing is that He speaks to build up the brothers. I am aware that neither I nor anyone else encloses God. God is not in our hands, but rather we are in His hands! Therefore, the important thing is not that the Lord God speak in me: if I sought this, that would be seeking my own pride and vanity! It is enough for me that My Lord grants me to hear and that I discern His voice when He speaks and in whom He speaks. I rejoice in this. Therefore, I proceed in fasting, prayer, repentance and purity of heart so that I might at all times be ready to listen. "Speak, O Lord, Your servant listens!" "Hear, O Israel!" This is what is hoped-for. May the Lord speak in whom He wills.

There are two paths that stretch before us: the spiritual path and the merely natural [= ψυχικός] path. We blaze the spiritual path with piety, the fear of God, poverty and humility and we blaze the merely natural path with passions, prosecutions, appearances and vanity. In the first path, we pray. In the second path, we merely perform rituals. In the first path, we teach what we sincerely practice. In the second path, we trade in words. In the first path, we serve. In the second path, we lord over. Spiritual things, from where we know and where we know not, spread within us and around is as a divine air. Merely natural things, in general, without our realizing, spread within us and around us as a human, passionate air. There merely natural air inevitably spreads without God's Spirit, in what is demonic. There is absolutely no neutrality either to what is merely natural or to what is purely intellectual and mental.

There is no mixing light and darkness. Therefore, corruption cannot coexist with incorruption. To ignore corruption in the Church is to participate in it! If vices become domesticated in the Church and the feeling fades in us that we must eradicate them, then at that point we are abiding in impurity! At that point, the Spirit leaves us to wallow in the mud and veils Himself. He departs from the group. Many stumble, leave the Church, and blaspheme God's name. The passions reign and the hearts of many are alienated. At that point, God no longer speaks in communion because there is no longer a church, a communion that is heard except among a few individuals, a little flock here and there. The Church becomes something merely natural [= ψυχικός]. It flourishes on the outside but is empty within! Concern grows for human things: ideas, institutions, activities, rituals, choirs, dinners, appearances, words... and concern diminishes for seeking the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, charity, faith, meekness, chastity... When we have reached this point of not feeling, what witness do we give to the Spirit in the Church? We ourselves have cut ourselves off from God. We abide in estrangement and we pretend that we are children of His household! What is left for us to offer others? Consumerist religious trinkets? He who has nothing cannot offer anything. What we offer, we offer first of all from our spirit. The Bible, the fathers? What's the use? The Jews also taught the Bible and transmitted the fathers, but nevertheless they killed their Lord and came to be of a father, Satan. The Bible came to be a rumination for their passions and jealousies.

So how are conciliarity and consultation realized, then? Deep down, by first of all pursuing the path of the people of Nineveh because, in all frankness and transparency, we have greatly strayed! Repent to me, and I will repent to you! Lest conciliarity and consultation inevitably transform into merely natural [= ψυχικός], passionate, worldly ways of acting that do not bear witness to Christ the Lord in the Spirit, but rather for crucifying Him! Any conciliarity or consultation that is not in the fear of God and sincere repentance, is an extension of the council of Caiaphas that judged Christ to have blasphemed and called for His death! This is what happens to those who blaspheme against the Son of God! They judge Him in the remnant of those who keep faith in Him to have blasphemed! The Antichrist is not foreign to our surroundings! "Even now many antichrists have come" (1 John 2:18). Many indulge in his environment and are swept away by non-feeling. They know, but in their delusion they no longer care!

"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God" (1 John 4:1). 

Archimandrite Touma (Bitar)
Abbot of the Monastery of St Silouan-- Douma, Lebanon
July 24, 2016