There’s unity where there’s love; where there’s love, God is there. If someone comes up with an idea to say something about our doctrine that diverges from the tradition of the Holy Fathers and the Ecumenical Councils, then, thinking people should ask, “For what, in the name of what purpose, do they offer a particular innovation?” If from the mouth of a man we hear invective, sometimes, we even hear dirt that afflicts the Church and its ministers, if we hear fervent appeals to struggle, for separation, to save Orthodoxy even at the cost of one’s death, when we hear them exclaim and shout, “Orthodoxy or death”… you need to be wary of these preachers.
Never did the Lord say, “My teaching or death”. None of the Apostles said, “Orthodoxy or Death”. Because Orthodoxy is life eternal, it’s joy in the Holy Spirit, it’s the joy of life, but death is decay that came because of the Fall and the devil’s action. Now, we see, from time to time, false teachers who seduce people by calling to save Christianity, to save its purity, who repeat this dangerous, sinful, and self-contradictory slogan “Orthodoxy or death”. In the eyes of these people, you won’t find love; there burns a fire of demonic pride, a desire for power, which destroys the Church’s unity. Of course, they put on a good show, they hide behind pious visages, and they enjoy adulation from a certain set of people.
What we say against heresies, is true of any other division. Sometimes, in our parishes, there are divisions amongst the clergy and believers. Often, these divisions are associated with a struggle for superiority, for a certain power in the parish. We know how sometimes congregations divide, clustering around one or another priest. The veneration of a shepherd and adulation for him… so-called division in the name of love… is sinful, because there can’t be separation where love exists.
We must keep the unity of Universal Orthodoxy not only free from any heresies and schisms, we must keep the unity of our Local Church as our foremost care, as the suffering of the Martyrs of the Church gave us the gift of being one and indivisible. We must maintain the unity of our parishes and monasteries, bearing in mind that the most important criterion for evaluation of any Christian… from the Patriarch to the simplest believer… is love. If Love is there, Christ is there! If there’s no love, there’s no Christ!
Yes, may the Lord help all of us to keep the unity of our Church, to keep it as our foremost care, taking heed of chilling and dangerous examples from the past, but at the same time being inspired by the podvigs* of the Holy Fathers of the Seven Ecumenical Councils, who protected and maintained the unity of the Church of Christ, asserting that Church life is based only on the tangible Law of God… only the law of love saves.
- Podvig: Should NEVER be “Englished”… one of the most powerful words in the Russian language. There are literally no English equivalents strong enough. Podvig has overtones of “epic”, “heroic”, “bravery”, “self-sacrifice”, “victory”, “effort”, and “triumph”. It’s best to leave it as is, and admit that English lacks the necessary material to give meaning to this word.
Sunday of Orthodoxy 2009
His Holiness Kirill Gundyaev
Patriarch of Moscow and all the Russias
8 March 2009
MP official website