Mount Athos Regarding the Holy Synod of Crete
On this day the 17th/30th of June 2017 convened in Karyes.
No. Φ.2/32/1400 2/7
The 206th Extraordinary Double Sacred Synaxis of the Holy Mountain, consisting of twenty Extraordinary and twenty Ordinary Representatives of the Holy Community, in the wake of the many notifications made during the last period of the official texts of the Holy Mountain - both of its position regarding the Holy and Great Synod, as well as the evaluation of the final texts of the Synod - out of a feeling of loyalty and respect towards our Holy Church and the fullness of those within her, is aware of the following.
There has been an ongoing observation of a terrible agitation provoked by reactions to the decisions of the Holy and Great Synod (Crete, 2016). The walling off and the cutting off of commemorations of local bishops has been suggested.
In as much as we are recipients of these concerns, and find ourselves within the Church, we address to all the greeting of the Risen Christ: Peace be with you.
There is no cause for agitation, as long as the Risen Lord is among us.
The Synod took place after many years of preparation. Before the Synod the prepared texts were presented to the knowledge of the faithful with the possibility of expressing an opinion.
For many years the Holy Mountain has clearly presented its views regarding the dialogues that have taken place with heterodox Christians.
During the work of the Synod the hierarchs expressed their personal views. Some of them presented their objections in a modest way, without cutting off their relations to the Church. Everything is recorded.
The Church always remains "the pillar and foundation of truth." "The Church," according to Saint John Chrysostom, "is battered by storms, but does not drown; faces storms, but does not sink; receives arrows, but does not receive wounds;" it is the God-man Himself. All the Saints alive in Christ point us to the Church and give us rest.
The Holy Spirit constitutes the entire institution of the Church. He heals that which is ailing and replenishes that which is lacking. There remains in the Church the ailing who lack and the sick receive healing and health.
If we as men deviate, the grace of the Spirit brings us back to the right path. This is why all fear is unnecessary, and is a manifestation of unbelief, as long as we find ourselves to be within the Church of Christ.
Besides, the four Patriarchs of the East through their historic encyclical (1848) reassure us by confessing that "neither Patriarchs nor Synods could then have introduced novelties amongst us, because the protector of religion is the very body of the Church, even the people themselves, who desire their religious worship to be ever unchanged and of the same kind as that of their fathers." Therefore neither agitations nor rejections are justified, which lead to schisms.
We are within the Church, the Body of Christ. This Body has such health, that it always receives and assimilates the elements it accepts. Whatever it casts away it considers to be foreign.
We have trust in the love of Christ, not in individual and stale opinions, which lead outside the Church and create the chastisements of heresies.
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In all this we do not want to suggest calm indifference, but to stress the importance of vigilance and the faith. We consider it an ingratitude towards God and a lack of love towards all the brethren - those near and far - unless we stress with all boldness and clarity the riches of the Grace received by those living within the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. And this is not our special achievement but a gift of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ, Who in a unique and absolute way, speaks of Himself in the following manner:
"I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. Without Me you can do nothing."
"I am the Good Shepherd, Who sacrifices His life for His sheep."
"All who came before Me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them."
"The officers answered, 'No one ever spoke like this man!'" (Jn. 7:46)
He was not simply a man, but the God-man.
He is the only Holy One, only Lord, Jesus Christ. "For there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
He does not come to judge, but to save the world. He is crucified for the salvation of His crucifiers.
"This one bears our sins and is made powerless in our stead."
"He bears all, to save mankind."
"He came, we saw Him, we heard Him and our hands touched Him."
He suffered, He rose and ascended. He sent His Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost "and all began to speak with strange words, strange doctrines, strange teachings of the Holy Trinity."
The Church is composed of all its strange and divine comeliness. The imprisonment of time is abolished and we enter the freedom of the eschaton.
In every Divine Liturgy the grace of Pentecost shines and the God-man Lord is the offered and the one offering, Who is received and distributed for the salvation of the entire world.
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On the other hand, those who have been given authority over the nations (either religious or secular leaders) have dominion and authority over people. False shepherds do not sacrifice their lives on behalf of their sheep, but their sheep are for their spectacle. They condemn and destroy others as the cause of wickedness, in order to correct the world.
- Others they burn whom they consider to be heretics and unbelievers.
- Others [they consider] people of lower origin and race.
- Third [they see others as an] enemy of the people ...
All of them reign, but not eternally. They torment people and transgress, but they appear to relapse into the same illness.
Through the incarnation of God the Word and the coming of the Holy Spirit the Church is created. And "the dwelling place of God among men" (Acts 21:3) is inaugurated, the small flock with the divine mission.
There cannot be a Triune God one way and Ecclesiastical unity another way. "Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You, may they also be in Us" (Jn. 17:21).
The Holy Spirit always works. The revered Fathers examined things by the Divine Spirit and inspired by God they inscribed the doctrine of the divinity of the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit, as well as the bearing of God by the Ever-Virgin Mother of the Lord Jesus.
The entire living building of the Church sits on the foundation of the faith. Any alteration to the truth of her doctrines causes cracks and deficiencies in the area of life.
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By the distancing of Rome from the one and holy Church there followed the known alterations in the western world:
The Church is understood and organized as a state. Theology is cultivated as scholastic philosophy and the spiritual life as moral exercise within the temporary world through created grace.
It proposes a divorce between theology and life, priesthood and marriage. This is followed by a list of known adverse consequences.
The Orthodox Church always remains within the fullness of liturgical grace. Here theology is not considered a philosophical occupation, nor do you approach the mystery of life intellectually, but you are baptized entirely in the spring of grace.
When you persist in praying, like Saint Gregory Palamas: "Illumine my darkness," you accept divine illumination as spiritual rest, and you apprehend the commentary of the same Saint: Light through the senses is one thing while that of the nous of man is another. But when grace is spiritually distributed, when people become communicants of divine grace, then through the senses and the nous they can see all the mysteries beyond the senses and the nous, as God knows and those who suffer on its behalf.
Living in the Holy Mountain we conduct ourselves "according to the divinely inspired theology of the Saints and the pious spirit of the Church," not according to the academic theology of the intellectuals and the perceptions of each era. The communion of Saints encompasses the faithful and the pious spirit of the Church directs them.
We are considered children of the crucified and through this the glorified Great Church of Christ. By her we receive all good things. We always behold her bloodied with the multitude of her Martyrs and Venerables.
We remain appreciative and vigilant in keeping the traditions. We receive the grace of freedom of the Spirit and brotherhood in Christ within the Orthodox Church.
If the Christian Empire has become a historical event, there remains forever the empire of love, which will never fall. We find ourselves in this Paradise. We confess grace, preach mercy, and hide good deeds.
Just as the Lord is Unique, so do His disciples have a unique mission to declare the joyous message that "death has been put to death." Everything else is irrelevant and unimportant for the people.
Those who within the Church chant, because they live it: "We celebrate the death of death and the overthrow of hades, the beginning of another life which is eternal; and in exultation, we sing the praises of its source," do not represent a religious opinion, nor is it possible to encourage them to avoid proselytism, because they sacrifice their lives to proclaim to the world that "death is conquered by death."
What is precious about the Orthodox Church - and it feeds it - is the truth of the faith. And she has no other way of offering her love except through the paschal invitation: "Come all and enjoy the banquet of faith."
"If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is in vain, vain also is our faith." Then we would have to emerge towards the left and the right working with others condemned to the land of the shadow of death, seeking to improve the conditions of our misfortune.
But away with the blasphemy! "Now all things are filled with light." And everyone anticipates help "having received experience of the Resurrection." We are not alone. The Risen Lord is truly with us, let us proclaim it until the end of the age.
This joy among us of the presence of the abolishment of death is offered by the Church along with her unending line of saints, martyrs and venerables. And the Holy Mountain with its liturgical life and presence always remains a testimony of the Orthodox faith and hope for all the world.
To Christ our God Risen from the dead be glory and dominion to the ages of ages. Amen.
All the Extraordinary and Ordinary Representatives of the Extraordinary Double Sacred Synaxis of the Twenty Sacred and Holy Monasteries of the Holy Mountain of Athos.