Friday, March 20, 2020

The Healing of Northern Ireland

It has recently been said about Dixie’s kinsmen in Northern Ireland,

Patrick, who ministered to violent tribes, would have had a heart for modern Belfast, parts of which are still plagued by hatred, drug abuse, and broken families. But how if Patrick returned today, how would his message of Christ be received? Pastor Jack McKee has tried carrying the cross on St. Patrick's Day in Belfast and has felt the hostility. 

"And as I'm walking past [St. Patrick's Day revelers] with the cross, one of them shouted, 'You're an f-ing idiot,'" McKee said, "And I thought to myself, that's so ironic that on St Patrick's Day, the idiot is the one carrying the cross."

So, like parts of the new, peaceful, Northern Ireland, Patrick still waits to be rehabilitated, to become meaningful not only to Catholics but to Protestants, as well.

"As far as I'm concerned, Patrick was fully committed follower of Jesus Christ," Jack McKee said, "Whether we call him 'Evangelical,' whether we call him 'born again,' Patrick was a totally committed follower of Jesus Christ, and promoted Jesus as Savior for all humanity."

How will St Patrick be rehabilitated in Northern Ireland?  How will he become meaningful to Roman Catholics and Protestants?  How will Christianity ever be able to flourish there again? 

The answer:  When those in that land recognize the catastrophe that happened when Western Europe was forcibly taken from the Orthodox Church and placed under the new religious institution created by the apostate bishops/popes of Rome.

When Ireland was within the safe embrace of the Orthodox Church, she understood that there was more to being a Christian than appeasing God’s anger and living a moral life.  There was real union with God, the experience of which far surpasses the mental speculations and emotional feelings of the Roman Catholics and Protestants:

I am in awe at the Orthodox Church. It’s beauty, its grace. The mystical silence and stillness, which abides here. I am in awe at the purity of the Church’s teachings. The Lives of the Saints and Martyrs, the prayers and hymns of the Church, the Protection of the Panagia. The humility and sanctity of the Holy Mountain. The Icons and writings of the Fathers of the Church. The mercy of the Sacraments, the Christ-like humility of the Priesthood.

Orthodoxy is not a religion. It is Life. It is not a list of rules. It is Mystical Communion with the Holy Trinity. It is actual communion with God and man. In the Orthodox Church there exists the grace of Theosis, Deification and Transfiguration. Icons drip myrrh, relics miraculously heal, Saints are filled with Divine Light, infants receive Holy Communion, Priests confess their own unworthiness as they pray over the penitent before them, the mentally handicapped can be theologians too, because they can pray with purity of heart. The whole world is a Sacrament, for the Spirit of Truth “art everywhere present and fillest all things.”

In the Orthodox Church I found a Hospital for the Sick, whereby our wounds, sins and delusions are healed through communion with the Holy Trinity and the “Cloud of Witnesses”, (the communion of saints) which radiate the love and truth of God.

Everything can be found here, in the mystic Church; all of the scattered pieces of truth come together in the mysterious joy of communion with God. Nothing has been added to the Holy Tradition and nothing has been taken away. The Church is God-Breathed.

 . . .

Orthodoxy is the Way of Love. Religion without love is an offense to God. We don’t pray and fast and give alms and attend vigils to impress God or appease His anger, as if He were some kind of tyrannical pagan deity.

We do these things out of love! We do these things because it draws our hearts closer to Christ. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.  . . .

Orthodoxy is divine therapy. It is the true healing offered by Christ Himself. It is His love that heals us. We, as God’s beloved patients, need only receive the medicine of the Great Physician and trust Him with our whole being—this is salvation. If He says the most important thing is to “Love God with all of your heart, mind soul and strength and love your neighbor as yourself” than we should follow that holy prescription! If he says, “Take, eat; this is my body…” And also, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Then we should do that very thing. He is the Physician; He knows how to cure us! Why should we try to invent other ways to be healed? Could there be anything more profound than to receive the Body and Blood of Christ? Could there be anything more sacred and mysterious?

Orthodoxy is healing, it is our response to Grace and our participation in the Love of the Holy Trinity. It is the Way of Love.

On the one hand, man was destined from the beginning for deification; on the other hand, through his ascetic efforts man corrects in himself what he does that is sinful, as a grandson of Adam. He purifies himself, conquers his passions, uproots his bad thoughts, enlightens his mind, simplifies it, “brings it to the One”, and as the supreme measure of enlightenment of the mind, becomes a “seer of supreme things”.

“In this way man becomes a vessel that is capable of receiving divine grace, which, as must continually be remembered, is not given for something, or in some measure proportional to our ascetic labors, but for the sake of something else, only out of God’s measureless love for us. There is no correlation between our ascetic labors and God’s grace.

“Human nature is capable of deification, and man was presented from eternity for unification with God.  . . .”

--Archimandrite Cyprian Kern,

Both Roman Catholics and Protestants have chased away the Grace of God described in these word-sharings, have banished God from His creation, and turned the Church into a banal, this-worldly, desacralized institution, leaving it wide open to the fallen passions of men.  Thus, the heart-breaking condition of Northern Ireland today, and all of formerly Orthodox Western Europe. 

However, all hope is not lost.  A return to the Orthodox Church is always possible.  Remember the past and honor it, and it will live again in the present and the future:

It is imperative, withal, to steer clear of false paths and dead ends, however fair and comely they may look to the eye:

It will not be by these flashy charismatics that the True Faith returns to Ireland, Dixie, and the rest of the West, but by the poor, the little, the humble:


Holy Ælfred the Great, King of England, South Patron, pray for us sinners at the Souð, unworthy though we are!

Anathema to the Union!

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