1st Sunday in Lent: Uncompromising Faith6 March 2023
We’ve been living in a penitential period since last Sunday and have taken part in the first services of Holy and Great Lent (Great Compline, Presanctified, Salutations).
Today, we’re celebrating the victory of Orthodoxy. What victory? The victory of faith in Christ over all false beliefs and heresies. What does ‘Orthodoxy’ mean? Correct faith and worship. ‘But’, you’ll say to me, ‘what is faith? Why should I believe? Why should I allow God into my life?’. Faith is the motivating power in the life of each person. It’s that invisible force which helps us in our difficulties and problems.
Whenever people have difficulties and problems, God is with them. Because when you’re at rock bottom, there’s only the hand of God. In an era when humankind is marching towards catastrophe, the role of faith occupies an important and significant place in people’s lives. But faith doesn’t work wonders by itself; it must be combined with a proper Christian life.
I can’t say that I’m Orthodox yet live a very different and incompatible life. I have to make my way in an Orthodox manner. In the first place, I have to take part in the worship of the Church. Throughout the Lenten period, we have many opportunities to participate in it. Presanctified liturgies, compline every evening, the salutations every week. Let’s not waste the opportunities afforded us by the Church to be present in its worship. Through the services, we reinforce our faith in Christ.
With faith come miracles. A miracle is the presence of God in our life. A miracle isn’t only the appearance of the numinous in our life; it’s also a miracle when people who’ve been deceived return to Orthodoxy.
So, at the beginning of Lent the Church accentuates the correct faith which we need to follow, a faith where there’s no room for compromises. We mustn’t retreat; we mustn’t dilute our wine in matters of faith. The faith is that which was defended by the Holy Fathers at seven Ecumenical Synods. In an age when everything’s being demolished and tangled up together, we’re called upon to keep the faith of the Holy Fathers alive and strong, in accordance with the Synodal statement concerning the restoration of the icons:
‘As the Prophets saw, as the Apostles taught, as the Church received, as the Teachers expressed in dogma, as the inhabited world agreed with them, as grace illumined, as truth was revealed, as error was banished, as wisdom made bold to declare, as Christ assured. Thus we think, thus we speak, thus we preach Christ our true God, and his Saints, honoring in words, in writings, in concepts, in sacrifices, in churches, in icons, worshipping and revering the former as God and Lord, and honoring the latter as genuine servants of the Lord of all, rendering to them due veneration. This is the faith of the Apostles; this is the faith of the Fathers; this is the faith of the Orthodox; this is the faith which has supported the inhabited world’.