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Holy Scripture says that you will know a tree by its fruit. What kind of tree will the world, non-Orthodox Christians, identify us as? In other words, will we be known as Orthodox Christians? First, we may want to ask: what makes someone a Christian? Does being baptized make one an Orthodox Christian? Well, our baptism brings us into the family and unites us to the body of Christ. It is the marriage ceremony whereby we become joined to the Church; however, like a marriage, if one does not work every day to love the one they married more and more, then that union falls apart. If one is baptized, but does not practice their faith, then there is no real marriage. It would be akin to legally marrying someone, and then never seeing them again. Would one really still be married? Recall brothers and sisters, Christ says if you love me, you will keep my commandments. So again, what makes us a Christian? To be a Christian is to love Christ, but to love Christ is to keep His commandments. Therefore, we must ask: do we really keep, or attempt to keep, Christ’s commandments? Do we follow Christ’s Church, who the Apostle says is the pillar and ground of Truth?
How we going to celebrate the holidays? Holiday comes from Holy Days, Feast Days. Therefore, let us ask ourselves if we are celebrating or plan on celebrating the Holy Days with Christ and for Christ, in His house, in His Church? There are two cities: a city of God and a city of men. The Blessed St. Augustine wrote about this in his book The City of God. The point to this is to ask, where do we live? Where is our citizenship? Is it with the City of God or the City of Men? We cannot belong to both cities. For Holy Scripture tells that we cannot serve two masters. The City of Men takes what is sacred and what is holy and secularizes them, strips them of their holiness. Do not be fooled: secularism is not neutral. Secularism is not some middle ground or mean proportional between religious theism and atheism. No brothers it is from the Evil one himself. Secularism is an ideology of demons. How then are Christians convinced to renounce their citizenship in the City of God for a life in the City of Men? Through a message of deception. No one physical forces one out of the Kingdom. No one forces one to sin. It is through a false message.
Recall that Satan is depicted in the Garden with Adam and Eve as a serpent. Why? Because a serpent has no arms or legs and is impotent to physically force a person to do what is wrong. The serpent is a crawling tongue and gives man a message, a message of deception. And like all deception it uses the truth. For who would fall for what is patently false? In fact, the evil one uses religion to bring people out of the Church and into the embraces of secularism. For example, Protestants seem to always bemoan the fact that Christ has been taken out of Christmas and replaced with Santa Claus. However, it was the English Puritans who opposed the idea of a religious calendar, and who opposed Christmas and all other holidays as “pagan” and so sought to replace those holidays with secular observances. It was these Protestant Puritans who invented Father Frost, and replaced the idea of going to Church on Christmas to celebrate Christ’s birth with the family fun, games, gifts, and food observance that characterizes the common Protestant observance of Christmas. So, in their quest to get rid of the “pagan” Christian calendar of feasts, it was in fact the Protestants who developed the truly pagan secular calendar that our culture has come to know and love. Now we live in a society where we idolize holidays such as Christmas and New Year, taking God out of these Feast Days, and making the secularized holiday a god in-and-of itself. You don’t believe me? How many people are in their homes on Christmas, drinking, eating, and opening gifts given to one another versus the number of people in Church giving their hearts as gifts to God on Christmas in celebration of His birth? How many people go out and about, in the streets partying and celebrating New Year’s Eve versus being in Church commemorating St. Basil and celebrating the New Year God has so graciously given us? The numbers speak for themselves. We must look deep within ourselves and ask: what city do I belong to, the City of Man or the City of God? How do I prove to the world my true citizenship? As our Lord says, you will know a tree by its fruits. Therefore, let us take the opportunity going into the holidays (the Holy Days) to prove to the world that we are Orthodox Christians and that we belong to Christ our King, in the City of God.
Help us at Patristic Faith teach people the true meaning of the holidays as holy days. Help us to remind Christians that their citizenship is in heaven with Christ and not in the secular world! We need your constant prayers and support. Therefore, please consider supporting us in any way you can. Every penny counts and helps us continue our ministry.
About the author
Fr. Deacon Ananias Sorem, PhD is CEO, Founder, and President of Patristic Faith. Father is an Orthodox apologist and Professor of Philosophy at Fullerton College and Carroll College. He has a BA in Liberal Arts from Thomas Aquinas College, together with an MA (Honors) and PhD in Philosophy (Epistemology; Philosophy of Science; Philosophy of Mind) from University College Dublin. His current academic work focuses on philosophical theology, epistemology, and the philosophy of science. Father is the author of several articles and peer-reviewed papers, including: “Searle, Materialism, and the Mind-Body Problem,” “Gnostic Scientism and Technocratic Totalitarianism,” “An Orthodox Approach to the Dangers of Modernity and Technology,” and “An Orthodox Theory of Knowledge: The Epistemological and Apologetic Methods of the Church Fathers.” He is also known for his YouTube channel, the Norwegian Nous, where he provides content on theology, apologetics, logic, and philosophy.