Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Death, post 3

One of my children entering into the baptismal waters.
Okay I've opted not to talk about baptism.   The purpose of this blog is not to be about "apologetics", and since there are many varying beliefs about baptism within the spectrum of Christianity I really don't feel like getting into it at this point. However, I will say this...the traditional belief held by Orthodox Christians and Roman Catholics is that baptism is not a mere symbol.  It is holy.  It is sober.  It is *grace-filled.  It is entrance into the Church and her life. A person is born again through baptism, becomes dead to the humanity we have inherited in being descendants of Adam and ultimately raised up into the life of divinity in the new Adam, Jesus Christ.  The journey after baptism is narrow and difficult, because the old Adam (with his passions) doesn't give up so easily.  The propensity to break the commandments is still there. However the Church is a place of healing and love, and through her sacraments like confession and partaking of communion, we are aided in our journey to become more and more like Christ.  The Orthodox Church has been preaching this since 33 AD and if you read the lives of the saints from the 1st to the 21st century they all witness to this truth.  It works.  Men and women become more like Christ.  The wonders performed by Christ in the Gospel are also manifested in these people, and then some.  However, it really isn't about the wonders and miracles, it's about the humility and complete love that these people have acquired.  Boundless love.  Love without limits.  Love to the point of complete self-sacrifice, love to the point of death.  That is REAL Christian love. That is the love of Christ.  And it all begins in baptism.

Well for someone who wasn't going to talk about baptism, it looks like I did.  Next post will be about these people, the saints who were all martyrs of one sort or another. (And by martyrs I don't mean people that strap a bomb to their chest and jump onto a bus.  The word martyr has been usurped and perverted.) No, these men and women were dead to the pleasures and deceits of this world and lived their lives with the end in mind, that is, physical death followed by eternal life.  

See you soon!

*a note on grace. Grace, when used in the Orthodox Church, does not mean "good favor". It specifically refers to the actual divine energy of God.  It is an infusion of God's energy through the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Holy Trinity.  Here's an official definition of grace from the book  The Incarnate God, Volume I:

Grace: it is love, the gift of God, which bestows his divinity on us through his energies, in order to make us partakers of divine nature (2 Peter 1:4).  The Fathers of the Church insist on the fact that God bestows his grace, but it is up to man to receive it and make it operative. (page 181) 

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