The Way of the Church

Sign of the Theotokos Icon

By: Archimandrite Sophronius Sakharov.

“It is given to our Church through the Holy Spirit to understand the mysteries of God, and she is strong in the holiness of her thought and in her patience.” – St. Silvanus of Mount Athos

The mystery of God which the Church understands in the Holy Spirit is the love of Christ.

The hallowed thought of the Church is that all men should be saved. The path she follows towards this end is the path of patience, that is, of sacrifice.

In preaching the love of Christ to the world, the Church calls all men to the fullness of divine life but many do not understand her call, and repudiate it. When she bids men keep Christ’s commandment and love their enemies the church finds herself caught between conflicting forces who naturally vent their anger upon her when she crosses their course. But the Church, actualising Christ’s mission on earth- the salvation of the whole world- purposely takes upon herself the burden of the world’s anger, just as Christ took upon Himself the sins of the world. And as Christ was persecuted in this world of sin, and had to suffer, so the true Church of Christ must be persecuted and suffer, too. The Lord Himself and the Apostles spoke of this spiritual law of life in Christ, and St. Paul gave it categorical expression when he wrote: ‘Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.’

‘Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.’

What the Lord says here is that those who preach the peace of God shall be like Him, the Only-Begotten Son of God- like Him not only in His glory and resurrection but also in His humiliation and death.

Exerpt taken from the book: The Monk of Mount Athos, by: Archimandrite Sophrony.

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The candles lit before the icons of the Theotokos are a symbol of the fact that She is the Mother of the Unapproachable Light, and also of Her most pure and burning love for God and Her love for mankind.

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