Wednesday, November 25, 2020

St. Katherine of Alexandria

The Feast Day of St. Katherine of Alexandria falls on either the 24th or the 25th of November according to region. St. Katherine of Alexandria, with her wisdom surpassing the Emperor converted many to the Faith through her martyrdom. The Emperor grew jealous of her wisdom and ordered 50 of his wise men to put her to shame. Instead, her wisdom surpassed theirs. The Emperor ordered them put to death. Her prayers brought them to full conversion and repentance in their dying moments. In prison, she converted 200 others including the Empress. Her prayers caused the wheel she was being tortured on to break. Frustrated, the Emperor finally beheaded her. She is commonly depicted in iconography with the wheel upon which she was tortured.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

The Age of Regress?


We have reached not the age of progress which the liberals once promised to us but the age of regress. I commented to a friend of mine recently that in order to have a liberal democracy dissent must be allowed and permitted. Otherwise, the democracy turns into a dictatorship. But let's clarify further that the term liberal in liberal democracy only qualifies the word democracy. It does not indicate that democracy is inherently a liberal idea. The idea of liberalism has been corrupted ever since the 19th century from the idea of freedom once perpetuated to the idea of democracy. A dictatorship can certainly be just as democratic, if not more. A dictatorship is simply just the logical consequence of collectivism as a result from democracy.


Erik Ritter von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, in his article "Monarchy and War" in The Myth of National Defense places this accusation rather bluntly on democracy. Citing British Prime Minister Disraeli, "[t]he tendency of an advanced civilization is in truth Monarchy. Monarchy is indeed a government which requires a high degree of civilization for its full development. ... An educated nation recoils from the imperfect vicariate of what is called a representative government." (84) Kuehnelt-Leddihn recalls the political nature of the prosecution of Socrates under the Democratic State of Athens. Socrates was placed to death for the corruption of youth. According to Kuehnelt-Leddihn, part of that corruption was the teaching of monarchy (84). But that is not the least part where we see the brutality of democracy unfolding.

It is at the height of the French Revolution, inspired by the American Revolution, to overthrow the monarchy and establish a democratic and equal form of government where we see the full extent of this brutality. Kuehnelt-Leddihn accurately describes the Revolution as "a sadistic sex orgy in which the 'Divine Marquis' played personally and intellectually a leading role." (86-87) We tend to think of the crimes and horrors of the Revolution being an attack on the aristocracy but even the most vicious "sadistic sex orgy, pregnant women...squeezed out in fruit- and winepresses, mothers and their children...slowly roasted to death in bakers' ovens, and women's genitals...filled with gun powder and brought to explosion." (90)

For Robespierre, the goal was not just simply equality, but sameness. Even Goethe considered those who promised both equality and liberty as charlatans  (87). Robespierre not only dreamed of placing the men of France in one uniform and the women of France in another uniform, he also considered church steeples "'undemocratic' since they were taller than other buildings" (87-88). This outright barbarism of the French Revolution led to such a majoritarian rule in that "truth" was relegated to the possession of the majority (88). It is fair to say that Tucker Carlson is a stand-alone journalist who only follows where truth leads him to these days. My own mother hates the idea that only one man could possibly be telling the truth. But truth does not belong to majorities and as more and more people give themselves to demons, the lies usually remain with the majority and the truth belongs to the minority. As Our Lord even states, "broad is the path that leads to destruction, but narrow is the path that leads to eternal life" (Matt. 7:13).

It is no surprise then that Karl Marx's own ideology was drafted from the French Revolution. "Men have often made man himself into the primitive material of money, in the shape of a slave, but they have never done this with land and soil. Such an idea could only arise in a bourgeois society, and one which was already well developed. It dates from the last third of the seventeenth century, and the first attempt to implement the idea on a national scale was made a century later, during the French bourgeois revolution." (Capital, Vol. 1, Pt. 1, Ch. 2) The theories emerging from this Revolution about absolute equality and sameness do seem rather ominous of a certain set of theories emerging today. These theories exist in the form of critical race theory. Class was the focus of the French Revolution. These were why the buildings were "undemocratic". For critical race theorists, democracy is breaking apart because of this absence of equality too. Indeed, critical race theory derives heavily from Marxist thought. Critical theory always attempts to tear down the old structures, according to Paul Kengor (The Devil and Karl Marx, 392). There is a never-ending search for a new victim. The working class no longer satisfies so Black Lives Matter finds this in perpetuating a myth about extant racism in cops and then other ideas follow suit whether it is in queer theory to attack sexual normativities or in the invented concepts of "white privilege". This is cultural Marxism.


As we move further and further away from hierarchical structures, we move further and further away from a monarchial view of the family in nature, and as such in governance. We move further and further away from nature as a result. We grow the power of the government as a consequence. We become blood-thirsty for power. As Søren Kierkegaard noted, "Is it tyranny when one wants to rule leaving the rest of us others out? No, but it is tyranny when all want to rule." (in Garff, Søren Kierkegaard: A Biography, 487). The turning point for modern culture was indeed with World War I. It started as an old-fashioned territorial dispute which blossomed into a battle to defend democracy as the United States entered in 1917. "When in March 1917 the U.S.-allied Czar Nicholas II was forced to abdicate and a new democratic-republican government was established in Russia under Kerensky, [Woodrow] Wilson was elated. With the Czar gone, the war had finally become a purely ideological conflict: of good against evil." (Hoppe, Democracy: The God That Failed, x). Everything Austria represented was inherently wicked to the American Left according to Kuehnelt-Leddihn. It "inhereited many traditions of the Holy Roman Empire (double-headed eagle, black-gold colors, etc.); it had led the Counter-Reformation, headed by the Holy Alliance, fought against the Risorgimento, suppressed the Magyar rebellion under Kossuth..., and had morally supported the monarchial experiment in Mexico." (x)

Church steeples weren't just simply undemocratic to Robespierre, no. Church steeples were a sign of a monarchial culture. Thus, the age of regress naturally makes enemies with the Church and with Monarchisms throughout. For democracies, there is no greater enemy than the Church. The Church is the prize to corrupt. The Church is the prize to destroy. The Church has the greatest bounty on its head for all democracies. Is it any wonder that the Great War only became ideological upon the abdication of the Czar? Is it any wonder that Marx held religion as the opium of the masses and an obstacle to his Communist philosophy? Is it any wonder that Robespierre held the steeples as being built too high and as a subsequent obstacle to his regime of "equality"? We are in an era of regress. An era given over to a cult of demons. We should conclude here with the Bl. Alcuin, "Neither should we listen to those who say, 'The voice of the people is the voice of God,' for the tumultuousness of the masses is always closer to insanity!"

Friday, November 20, 2020

The Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple


Today, we celebrate and honor the Feast Day of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple. She is the Queen of all Heaven and the Bride of God. This feast day commemorates Sts. Joachim and Anna presenting her into the Temple of God as dedication much as St. Hannah presented the Prophet Samuel into the Temple. There is strong typology in the stories here. St. Hannah is a prefigurement of St. Anna. Both share the same name (Hannah in Greek is Anna), both women were barren, and both presented their children to God in the Temple from a young age.

The Irmos for the day reads:
"Seeing the entrance of the pure one, angels marvelled in wonder how the Virgin could enter the holy of holies. Let no hand of the profane touch God's living ark, but instead let the lips of those who are believers sing out ceaselessly in the words of the angel, crying out with great joy to the Mother of God: O pure Virgin, you are truly higher than all."

Knowing her future role as the one who would bear the Christ, the incarnate God, she ascended into the Holy of Holies, the place which in the Old Testament was reserved for only the priests and the Ark of the Covenant, and showed herself to be the Ark of the New Covenant. It is for this reason she is rightly given the title Ark of the Covenant for she has born God. The old Ark of the Covenant held God's presence in it but she has held God's flesh in her womb. What joy for us all to hold her as our Queen!

Because of the emphasis on the Ever-Virgin being the Ark of the Covenant, Easterners have also held the tradition that even after the birth of Christ St. Joseph felt himself unworthy to ever touch her and indeed did not out of the utmost fear and reverence for what had happened. This is why in our iconography we hold it inappropriate to depict the Holy Family together as Latins take liberty to do but only depicting the Christ-Child with his Mother in the image of the Directress.

God bless and happy feast day!

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Joseph "Stalin" Robinette Abiden (Whose Name in Greek is Apollyon), Jr. is scoring more Mussolinis than Trump

During Trump's presidency, the Washington Post has basically kept a track list of times that Trump was allegedly "fascist". The man has personality deficiencies, this is obvious. But he's hardly a Mussolini. That said, let's examine that particular Washington Post article and compare it to the incoming Biden regime. It certainly may not seem like a lot but there is much in there to be horrified about coming into the year of 2021 and beyond. Those who opposed Trump because they thought they thought they were opposing a fascist are soon to realize that they elected a Communist.

Hyper-Nationalism
Nationalism can take on many different forms. It can be rooted in the ethnos or in the class or in the citizenship. "The methodical suppression of all dissent and criticism by modern dictators is the result of their nervousness towards public opinion" (von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Liberty or Equality, 53). We can actually see a lot of this going on. Obviously, Biden's nationalism is more rooted in citizenship to the nation than Trump's nationalism, but it is still extant. Soon after "the Media" declared Biden the winner of the election, he actually created an "office of the 'President-elect'" taking full power, called for unity with his ideology, and demanded people accept him as 'President-elect' even in the midst of suspicious circumstances regarding how votes were being counted. For a dictatorship, you aren't allowed to ask relevant questions. This is an attack on "our sacred institutions". Notice how Biden even talks. There won't be room for dissenters in his regime. Alexandria Occasio-Cortez wants to keep lists of "Trump-enablers" and there are already "Trump Accountability" organizations emerging. This is a frightening system of collectivism Biden is bringing. This is to absorb people into one mind. "Obey!"

Militarism
There is a firm distinction between fighting a defensive war and fighting a war of expansion. Trump wanted to use the Department of Defense for exactly what it was meant. Defending. The past neo-conservative administrations, from Reagan-Obama, had used the Department of Defense for creating expansionist policies throughout Europe and the Middle East. Biden intends to bring a stronger militaristic style to the table. His foreign policy team will more than likely consist of Obama admin officials. Middle Easterners know they're screwed twice over with Biden. His intention is to establish "strength". Trump was "weak" is the typical neo-conservative anathema of a man who wants to end wars. Biden is "strong" because he'll assist the Kurds and continue the neo-conservative effort of building toward a forever global democracy.

Glorification of violence and readiness to use it in politics
While we haven't seen Biden using violence yet, you can bet there will be an "any means necessary" approach to establishing his will. If he people denounce his legitimacy, they will certainly be "re-educated". One wonders what that could mean. We already know his own attachment to neo-conservatism and his past history as Vice President serving under Obama while he contentedly allowed dropping bombs on weddings and the killings of innocent civilians. We also know his blood-lust to repeal the Hyde Amendment and work toward allowing late term abortion and cementing Roe v. Wade into law. If they can kill an infant, they can kill any one.

Fetishization of Youth

Leader cult
Immediately following the announcement of the media and even before the certification of any results, Biden established the "Office of the 'President-elect'". It's every bit as fictional as his election victory of course, but who's watching? He demands everyone submit to him, accept the results despite the legitimate questions concerning how ballots were counted and ignoring all of the voter fraud affidavits as the ballots are being counted. This kind of talk isn't allowed as it's the "attack on our sacred institutions". You'll notice how Biden-supporters are talking like this concerning politics. That to dissent from Biden, to criticize democracy, to throw skepticism at the way the process is being handled, it's either emanating from the "Narcissist in the White House" or it's a "direct attack on our sacred institutions". They have made these institutions "sacred" because that is their religion. Their god is the State. Their established cult is the State. Biden may not have the personality of Trump, but people love Biden. They adore his demeanor, they admire his triumphs, they adore the man he is. He is innocent and pure to them. But looks are deceiving.

Lost-golden-age-syndrome
For Trump it was the era of liberty. The era of freedom to dissent from the status quo. The freedom to question the things your government did. For Biden that era is the era of neo-conservativism. The era to form mass alliances and trade agreements on a global scale to usher in world-wide democracy. The era of bipartisanship in politics when Republicans and Democrats just went along with the plan.

Self-defined opposition
The Washington Post article looks at it from the racial perspective because fascism and nationalism to them are all about race. As addressed earlier, they can cover a wide variety of things. For Biden, the national ethos revolves around citizenship. His "self-defined opposition" are those who "attack our sacred institutions". Those "anti-democrats" who demand to know how the votes were counted. Those "racists" who voted for Trump. Those "dregs of society". "White supremacists" are what they are called sometimes. "Deplorables" is what Hillary Clinton called them. He defines his opposition as those who go against his vision of the State. Those who resist "Obama's legacy".

Mass mobilization and mass party
While Biden didn't form them, he has inherited a coalition of riotous freaks in the ranks of Black Lives Matter and Anti-fa who will do anything and will use force if necessary to silence opposition. Capitalists, "racists", "white supremacists", "offensive speech", etc. These groups endorse him. They go after Republicans and "enemies of the Democratic Party".

Hierarchical party structure and tendency to purge the disloyal
We'll have to ultimately see what Biden does to Black Lives Matter and Anti-fa. These will certainly be the ones that he purges first. Richard Spencer is actually onto something here though. We hear Biden even taking a different tone with the police. He knows it is the police he is going to command, not Black Lives Matter or Anti-fa.

Theatricality
We have seen the theatrics of his hiding in the basement and then going out and wearing a mask as he gathers people around the cause to fight the "pandemic of COVID-19". The theatrics are necessary to unite people to a cause. When people are united to a cause, they can be controlled much easier. We have seen it in small portions from Democratic governors. Lock yourself indoors, social distance, wear a mask, and if you don't, you're killing someone. Never mind the lack of evidence for it. This is so they can control you. It's all mere theatrics. "Look at how good I am! I wear a mask while riding a bicycle!"

Chaotic Administration
The Vice President he has declared him a rapist. He will have a man who shut down a large percentage of abortion clinics in Ohio in his administration, more than likely even as he wants to expand abortion rights. What more can be said?

Information and media policy
Biden decries information getting to the public. We saw it when the contents of Hunter Biden's laptop were released to the public. The media is far more supportive of Biden though than it is Trump. They agree with his policies so they go out of their way to protect him. The media is effectively a state media. When Obama was in the White House, Fox News was regularly disregarded from asking questions. Not the case with Trump who routinely fielded questions from all varieties of media sources. If Biden's cronies in the media shut down an article from The New York Post, what other sources will they shut down?

Consolidation of Power
One would have to see where this is going but we may never end up with resistance to the Neo-conservatism ever again. Not from the populist left or the populist right. Already, Biden supporters are calling for Trump accountability re-education camps and other means to re-educate former Trump supporters. That's third-world style garbage there. One wonders what Biden will do especially when he hasn't spoken against his supporters.

Pecuniary and institutional corruption
Well we know that Biden demanded the Ukrainian lawyer investigating his son get off the the case or he would revoke money from the Ukraine. We know that Biden does things he has investigated his political opponents for. We also know that he was deeply involved with the FBI investigation that explored "Russia collusion" and the false pretenses it was based on. He will use that power to go after his political opponents. That's why a former CIA official is calling on people questioning election results right now to be archived in a database.

Economic policy
While fascists are more belligerent, communists tend to institutionalize and take away private property. Biden will be on board with the globalist "Great Reset". "You will have no private property, and you will be happy." This is in direct contradiction to the Catholic social doctrine contained in Rerum Novarum. Private property is a fundamental right to happiness and the worker's earning. For Biden, all belongs to none. That is why he has never condemned his ally freaks in Black Lives Matter or Anti-fa.

Foreign policy
According to the Washington Post, fascists disdained alliances except with one another. That is the neo-conservative goal. Build democracies across the world. Form alliances with democracies. Promote democracies. Scorn all other forms of government as broken. If someone attacks democracy, they are attacking "our sacred institutions".

Cultural policy
Biden's cultural policy is antithetical to fascism but has similarities. I have heard it put recently, "the left wing and the right wing belong to the same bird". Biden's cultural policy is left-wing socialism. It is communism. It is the destruction of cultural monuments deemed "offensive". The erasure of history. He attempts to sway toward the Catholic Church as he professes to be one in spite of being an archheretick. He uses dupes in the Catholic Church to convince the religious-minded of the "good-nature" of his agenda. They've been erasing the liturgy so it seems fitting they'd coincide with his agenda.

Racial policy
The Washington Post looks at this because their understanding of communism and fascism are deficient. One can be a fascist and yet not a racist. One can be a communist and a racist. The goal is to move people toward a specific uniting front that makes them easier to control. Easier to herd together. Before you lock a fence around them and never let them escape. This is communism.

Biden and Camradala are already off to the most vicious start in terms of forming the most communist geo-political structure in world history. It might be even worse than Stalin. It might be worse than Stalin because Stalin had usurped power from the Tsar. This totalitarianism has been in the making from a "soft totalitarianism" for ages.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Catholic, orthodox, and the meaning of words

I was going to write a response to Mrs. Hoff's post about ecclesiology but instead, I think the better thing to do is write a response based on the meaning of words. It's rather confusing to understand her thought-process because for starters, so if I have misrepresented her at all, I would hope she would clarify. But what exactly does it mean to be Catholic and what exactly does it mean to be catholic? I certainly have no qualms about the ecclesiology laid out by Hooker. I mentioned in the comments how Hooker, had he been writing as a Catholic and making those statements about Anglicanism, would have actually been quite orthodox actually! To which, of course, it is protested by this Anglican blogger that she is Catholic.
"Hooker is writing as a Catholic because the Church of England is a Catholic Church. You are stuck in the narrow minded view that Rome alone has the power to do this. This is a view not accepted by anyone who is not a member of the Roman Church."

And herein comes to the question of definitions. I am not saying that Hooker is not a catholic or that the Church of England is not catholic. Indeed, as adherents to Nicaea, all Christians must affirm themselves as catholics or the creed makes no sense! What I am saying is that the Church of England is not Catholic. I touch on this as well in my post on the concept that comes up a lot in the East of being Orthodox in communion with Rome. The way that terms developed in the history of the Church, the Latins typically ended up using the term "Catholicos" to describe the Church and the Greeks used the term "Orthodox" to describe the Church. Until the schism, this implied no separation. Both referred to the same Church. When the schism occurred, so did confusion in terminology.

Even before the Great Schism of 1054 A.D., there was another schism between the monophysites and the Orthodox. Those Christians, ironically, also refer to themselves as Orthodox and are commonly known today as Oriental Orthodox. Of course both the Byzantine Orthodox and the Oriental Orthodox have different conceptions of what Orthodoxy is and it is perhaps every bit as confusing and puzzling to them to see these terms used like this. I pointed out, when asked by two of the deacon's daughters as to whether I was "Orthodox Catholic or Roman Catholic", how meaningless the term "Orthodox Catholic" is. Because all Catholics are certainly orthodox! Or one would hope. A Roman Catholic is every much as "Orthodox in communion with Rome" as I am!

Another analogy I can draw is when my friend heard me refer to my godmother as the "Crazy Church Lady". He protested that there were quite a number of such crazy church ladies to which my godmother insisted, "I am THE Crazy Church Lady!" Certainly the presbytera is a crazy church lady, and so is my friend's wife, maybe one of our deaconesses, etc. But overall, THE Crazy Church Lady is only one person. She is The True Crazy Church Lady. Maybe there is an essence of craziness belonging in other crazy church ladies but there is only One Crazy Church Lady.

If we are asking precisely from an Anglican perspective of what catholicity implies, there does bear fundamental differences between itself and the Catholic Church. As a High Anglican, I never referred myself as a Protestant unless it was in the context of communicating with Catholics for the sake of clarity. Being that as the Anglican Church broke away from the Catholic Church in the protest movement against the Papacy, the term "Protestant" is definitionally sound and meaningful. But in the sense that a high view of the sacraments is held, that the Eucharist is central to the Church, sacrament over word, our conceptions of tradition and scripture, the Anglican Church is quite catholic. It is via media between Rome and Protestantism, in a sense. Another one I had heard as an Anglican was "Catholic but Reformed". In the same sense, Lutheranism is also quite catholic. But from a Catholic perspective, while these hold an essence of the Church in them by their baptism, they are not The Catholic Church.

So there we have the divergency of terminology. Of course the Church is "narrow-minded" on this issue. She has declared herself Holy Mother Church, the Church of all the Faithful. If she does not hold an exclusive view, then why bother with even claiming to be Holy Mother Church? But I wonder if Mrs. Hoff would hold herself to be Orthodox if she entered into conversation with an Orthodox Christian about this topic? Certainly, she is entitled to. But again, the terminology is what needs to be defined. An Anglican is not in communion with Constantinople, nor do they share unite with a monophysite church. Thus, it is understandable that an Orthodox Christian would also seek to clarify that what an Anglican is, is orthodox.

And in the sense in which Anglicanism deviates from Tradition, the Catholic and Orthodox alike would deem those deviations heresy and thus, both orthodox and catholic claims end up flattening. From a Protestant perspective, an Anglican is quite catholic, maybe even Catholic. But from the Catholic and Orthodox perspective, it depends on the sacraments, namely that of baptism. Anglican baptism is valid so Anglicans would be catholics by virtue of baptism but they are unconfirmed, so they cannot be Catholic. This is really just a semantic war that Mrs. Hoff is engaging in here.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

My Spiritual Birthday


Earlier this month, I celebrated my carnal birthday. But man must be born again (John 3:3) in order to enter the Kingdom of God. I grew up non-denominational and then later attended an Evangelical Covenant Church so this verse was frequently wrested from its context as I grew up. We skipped right over to John 3:16 where Jesus explains those who believe in him shall not perish but have life everlasting. While this is true, believing him also means believing in the Church which is his body (Rom. 12:5) and the pillar and ground of truth (1 Tim. 3:15).

Baptism is the first pouring over of the Spiritual life. Jesus explains clearly to Nicodemos, unless one is born of water and Spirit, they cannot enter the Kingdom of God (John 3:5). I grew up believing that baptism was merely a "symbolic" act of obedience. Something you do to show God you love him because Jesus was baptized. But if Jesus didn't intend for baptism to save us, then why did he end up being baptized in the Jordan? Why was he incarnated? Why did he approach St. John the Baptist and have him baptize him? For many Evangelical Protestants, the baptism that is salvific is a "spiritual" baptism. The other baptism mentioned is just an additional work. Baptism has no salvific effect. This is not how Martin Luther or Thomas Cranmer taught. This is not how the ancient Church taught.

I began to realize how divorced the Evangelical Protestant movement was from the historic tradition of the Church midway through university. It was watered down to such an extent that it was almost deistic. Indeed, even my senior year in high school, I became so obsessed with Christian apologetics that I only thought of God as moving in creation but wondered where he went to after the Bible. I kept wondering where he was in history even as I embraced every single heresy imaginable and even explored the Occult when I was attending an Evangelical Covenant Church. After Arianism ultimately comes liberalism and then Satanism as I discussed once quite well with my Ruthenian deacon friend.

There is only one baptism for the remission of sins as The Nicene Creed teaches. St. Paul teaches that there is only one baptism (Eph. 4:4-6) so any reference to baptism in the New Testament can only be referring to this. If baptism is a mere spiritual act, and not an actual act of being poured or immersed in water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Spirit, then why did the Apostles call so many converts to be baptized following such a redundant format? Baptism ties one to the Passion of Christ by burying the Old Adam and it ties you to the Resurrection by raising you once more and washing you of the stain of original sin (Rom. 6:3-4). It is with this that St. Peter confidently testifies that "Baptism now saves you" (1 Pet. 3:21).

I realized that I needed to be baptized upon leaving Evangelicalism because I was not bound to the Church. I had not been bound to the Church as an Evangelical, and indeed, had I been baptized as an Evangelical, I still would not have been bound to the Church. A sacrament requires appropriate form, matter, and intent. It is true that the Catholic Church accepts Protestant baptisms as valid but only if they fulfill those things! Intent is lacking in Evangelicalism since the baptism's purpose is not to bring you into the Church but show that you've already been a member and are performing an additional work. I was baptized at mortuary, by a marine, in the Anglican Church in America. It was a High Anglican church with liturgically orthodox doctrines concerning the sacraments. My baptism brought me into the Church where I wasn't before. Today marks my sixth spiritual birthday.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

East Meets West in Spiritual Warfare


St. Nicodemos the Hagiorite is well-known and rightly reverenced in the Byzantine rite for several things. Sadly, he is largely become known as more legalist as he writes upon the holy canons of the ancient faith. But he was also a compiler and an editor of sacred documents. St. Nicodemos also maintained many relations with Catholic theologians who approached him for counsel on Mt. Athos. Somehow, he would end up in possession of a spiritual work from one of these Catholic theologians. That spiritual work was The Spiritual Combat by Dom Lorenzo Scupoli.

Much thinking began to emerge in the 20th century specifically on the Orthodox Church which gave this illusion that there was somehow a super-mystical nature about Orthodoxy that hadn't existed in any religion before. Many westerners began thinking about Orthodoxy in thought that made it seem almost exotic. There are indeed certain characteristics that set Orthodoxy apart from Protestantism and Catholicism but it is not a sort of super-mystical entity that is far out. It's Christianity. It's not too much drastically different from Roman Catholicism either, especially as Catholicism exists in the Tridentine Mass. But theologians go crazy over these differences. There's a lot more differences with Protestantism. But the major difference is in spirituality.


It is in The Spiritual Combat where we see the differences between East and West in their given spiritualities sharply differentiated. This is not to say the differences are major. St. Nicodemos surely would have never given an adaptation to The Spiritual Combat if he thought that! However, there are peculiarities. The peculiarities are small, perhaps trivial, and definitely nuanced, but they exist nevertheless. One can see this in the liturgy and one can see this in the prayer. For the Church, the teaching is all in the lived tradition of the saints. It is better to focus on the prayers of the Church if one wants to assess doctrine. Thus it was that St. Nicodemos the Hagiorite began to revise and construct an adaptation of The Spiritual Combat which became known to Eastern readers as The Unseen Warfare. He included notes that emphasized and corrected the teaching of the Latin and brought it to a more Orthodox understanding of spirituality.

It is indisputable among both East and West that the goal of Christianity is union with God. Abbot Moses explained to St. John Cassian as such, "The goal of our profession is the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of heaven; but our immediate aim or target is purity of heart, without which it is impossible for any one to reach that goal" (Unseen Warfare, 17). Prayer was traditionally taught in the format of simplistic expressions that were summary expositions of the entire Gospel. St. John Cassian taught the prayer, "O God, make speed to save me; O Lord, make haste to help me." The prayer that became most widespread in the East was that known as the "Jesus prayer", "Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, have mercy on me the sinner". Such was meant to bring the Christian into a state of repose with God (22-23).

Repetitive prayers are also used in the West. The West though does not make the formulae automatic and perpetual. Though the characteristic element was to bring the soul to God, the West simply did not expound on unceasing prayer. That said, "even a in the 'work' of prayer itself a 'naked intent' of the will, a 'loving and stirring beholding' of God can suffice, without the aid of a repetitive monosyllable" (27-28). In the West, there became an increased understanding of the spiritual life as participation with Christ-crucified. We become entry into the life of God by being crucified with God. The East focuses more on the resurrection. In the Byzantine liturgy, we stand, Latins kneel. (30-31). The West has the "dark knight of the soul" whereas the East has a "bright sadness". The Eastern discipline is a purgatorial experience which leads to illumination. The Western discipline is an illumination that the spiritual eyes adjust to. (31-33). The Cross, even in the West, is ultimately "a way and not a goal" (33) but is necessary to die with Christ in order to be raised. The East certainly does not neglect this and though the Byzantine rite typically stands, we even fall all the way to the ground during the Lenten presanctified liturgies.

One concept brought up in the Byzantine rite a lot about the nature of spiritual perfection is theosis. Deification or divinization. As St. Athanasius famously states, "God became man so that men might become god." This goes strongly against such Reformed views on the nature of the atonement being a mere penal substitutionary act. "Christ died, I don't have to, I affirm him as the sacrificial Lamb." I was raised to believe this teaching growing up. I didn't even realize how theologically absurd the concept of a God demanding sacrifice to cover up sins actually was. It was just a commentary that complemented the teaching I understood at my non-denominational mega-church which held that the "Sinner's Prayer" was the start of the Christian life and the essence of justification. It was about "willing" one's way to Heaven. Which is why, understandably, I never was able to have the question answered sufficiently as to whether I was saved or not.

The Church teaching on theosis gave a whole new perspective to the meaning of the incarnation, the meaning of sacraments, the meaning of prayer, it all knit fully well together. Generally, this is neglected in the West but there is a strong presence of it. Ven. Thomas à Kempis, in his Imitation speaks of grace as "the proper mark of the elect, and pledge of eternal salvation, which elevates man from the things of the earth to the love of heavenly things, and from carnal makes him spiritual" (Bk. III, ch. 54). Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange states that "Sanctifying grace deifies our souls" (Christian Perfection and Contemplation, 240). The distinction between the mere nominalism I grew up understanding was that grace was taught as a moral concept. But rather, "grace is really and formally in the divine nature precisely in so far as it is divine, a participation n the Deity, in that which makes God God, in His intimate life" (55). St. Maria Maddalena de Pazzi describes that
"After narrating your entire charity, you narrated the eternal reward you wanted to give to every single creature, according to the fruit she received from the passion [silence] I believe that you failed to narrate to him and communicate to him the deification you wanted to give to our souls by means of your passion, because, once we respond to them, all your gifts, all your graces, make us gods by participation and, moreover, with the vestment of your Blood your passion is so powerful that we, as Jacob did, are able to deceive your eternal Father." (The Probation)

Due to the course taken in the West, much of the rich spiritual tradition had been lost even as Dom Lorenzo Scupoli writes The Spiritual Combat. Thus, there was great need to edit the text to bring it into harmony with Orthodox teaching. However, with the editing of the text by St. Nicodemos and then even further by St. Theophan the Recluse, we see that there is a great unity between Byzantine spirituality and Latin spirituality. When the ancient teachings are brought back into the Church and emphasized again, we see the fervent emphasis on supernatural grace. That the Christian life is ultimately one of supernatural essence which is carried out in both Western and Eastern expressions.