“[W]e keep unchanged all the ecclesiastical traditions handed down to us, whether in writing or verbally”. [The Decree of the Holy, Great, Ecumenical Synod, the Second of Nicaea (7th Ecumenical Council)]
Tomorrow, on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, we will proclaim “Anathama!” (you are cut off) to all the self-willed heretics who put themselves before the Church of Christ, adhere to and teach false teachings about Christ, about the Mother of God and many other erroneous believes. The reason for this is because those who teach falsehood do not follow Christ and His teachings and therefore have cut themselves off (anathamized themselves) from the saving grace offered to us in the Church.
Whereas, obedience to every tradition handed down to us, whether written, verbal or pictorial is humility. Humility is perfect acceptance of all that the Holy Spirit does through the Church. Humility is remaining faithful to the Church no matter how many theologians, professors or even hierarchs teach something contrary to the traditions handed down to us. Christ is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow and what the Church taught yesterday will still be true tomorrow because what the Church teaches is the Truth. The Truth made flesh. The Truth made Man. And what that God-Man teaches us is to “follow Him” (John 1:43), as we will hear in the Gospel tomorrow. The Church in Her wisdom chose that Gospel because of the Sunday of Orthodoxy; Christ pushes out all our doubts, He tells us: Never mind what everyone around you is saying or believing. Follow Me!
And who wouldn’t want to follow Him? He, the God who chose to not only save us but to make us like Him. Who wouldn’t want to follow Him? He, Who humbled Himself and became Man so that we could become gods. “What god is as great as our God? Thou art God Who workest wonders” (Ps. 76:13), we sing on the Sunday of Orthodoxy.
Without Christ “we can do nothing” (Jon 15:5). Without the Church we do not have Christ. To follow Christ is to follow the Church. That is why we not only anathematize the iconoclasts on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, but all false teachers who teach something contrary to the “traditions handed down to us”. False teachers place themselves before the Church and say, I know better. The humble man, the publican, says, Christ, my Sweet Lord, without You I am nothing; without the Church I am lost. Save me, I will follow You even unto death! (Luke 22:33)
In obedience we fast. In obedience we feast. In obedience we accept everything in the Gospel, in our faith, and in the writings of the Church Fathers even when they are difficult for us to accept because this is humility. And humility is the greatest virtue; for it leads to perfect union with God. Let’s place our hope, our faith, and our trust in the Church, the only path to salvation (John 14:6), so that by following the Church we may better follow Christ, Who is our hope, our faith, our salvation.
“Then said Jesus to the twelve, ‘Ye do not also wish to go away, do you?’ Then Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life’ ” (John 6:67).
Memory Eternal to all our Fathers and Mothers, Saints, Martyrs, Confessors, all those known and unknown who upheld and uphold the traditions of our Fathers and teach us to do likewise! May we emulate their example!