Great Anthony and contemporary ecumenism

World - Dialogues of Truth.
Great Anthony and contemporary ecumenism

By Protopriest Theodore Zissis Professor of the Theological School of the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki

To associate is not anachronistic. Similar inter-faith and inter-Christian environment.

       In our last article titled "The meeting of Bartholomew and the Pope is far from the path of the Holy Fathers", we announced that we would continue the presentation of our assessments based on the timeless conscience of the Church, as expressed in the lives of the Saints and the writings of the Holy Fathers and Teachers. Especially when Saint Spyridon the wonderworker patron of Kerkyra (Corfu), expelled the pope from his church with an impressive miracle, while today's hierarchs, invite him into their Orthodox churches, embrace him, cense him and wish him a long life, we planned to present this miracle that was preserved and commented on by Saint Athanasius of Paros, a great scholar and teacher of the Greek Nation and member of the 18th century triad of Holy Fathers of Kollyvades. This plan and precedence still applies with minor deviation due to the holiday coincidence.
The remembrance of Great Anthony in whose temple we serve already for the last 13 full years in Thessaloniki with the grace of God and the blessing of the Saint, has given us the opportunity to again rejoice in his wonderful "Life", a model of the literature of the lives of all the later Saints which was written by the disciple of Archbishop of Alexandria, the pillar of Orthodoxy, the same Great Athanasius.
The greatest part of the "Life" deals with the ascetic achievements of Saint Anthony, on his struggles against the demons and his particular teaching, such as his great feat of becoming the founder of settlements in the desert, by filling the desert with monasteries, thus becoming the founder and leader of ascetic life. "He convinced many to choose the solitary life and so happened therefore that monasteries on the mountains and in the desert were populated by monks coming out on their own and enlisting in the heavenly city".
He interrupted twice his lengthy absence from the world, in order to struggle for and contribute in the rescue of Orthodoxy, which as now, so was then, in peril from both external and more so from internal enemies. Christianity was never present in conversations and negotiations "on equal terms" with the other religions, a blasphemy asserted by today's so called Christian leaders at the inter-religious meetings of the Anti-Christ, but as the sole truth, the only way to salvation, the true light which replaced not the weaker lights but the darkness of fallacy and ignorance of God. "The people which sat in darkness saw a great light; and to them which sat in a region of the shadow of death, light sprung up" (Matt 4:16).Christ did not say "I am one way, one truth, one light among other ways, other truths, other lights, but I am the only way, the only truth, the only light. "I am the way and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but by Me" (John 14:6). I am the light of the world, he that follows Me shall not walk in the darkness but shall have the light of life (John 8:12).
This exclusivity of the Bible which some to-day characterize as marginal and fundamentalist, while slandering and dismissing anyone who consistently and with faithfulness proclaim it as the Gospel and life, for which the Holy Apostles and the Holy Martyrs paid dearly, preferring to be tortured and shed their blood rather than compromise with the so called "truths" to co-exist in the multicultural model of the inter-religious relations and meetings, supposedly for their love for others.

Teachers of inaction and hypocrisy. The all-knowing and the humble


       Before Constantine the Great, during the persecution of the Christians of Alexandria by Maximianus  in 311, Anthony the Great at 61 years of age, left for a while the desert, his asceticism and prayer, and came to Alexandria, fearless and undaunted intending with longing to bear witness and encourage those being led to martyrdom. He defiantly ignored the judge's orders for the monks to depart from the city and not be present at the courthouses. He appeared in front of the leader who was in a prominent seat at the courthouse, demonstrating the willingness of the Christians to fight and bear witness for their faith. "He stood fearless, showing us the Christian zeal; for he too wished for martyrdom as earlier told". Of course God preserved him and he was not martyred, that he be more beneficial in life, he however did not confine himself to his cell in the desert but "would usually serve the confessors as one with them in the labour of their services". When the Orthodox Faith is in danger, the first spiritual priority is for her defense, the struggle, the support of all those who battle, the willingness to shed blood and even die; all other spiritual duties are secondary. All others who act or advise against, simply cover up their excuses for their unwillingness and cowardice and become teachers and professors of inaction and hypocrisy.
Of course we are not going to present here how the Great Anthony confronted the great and educated literary men and philosophers of idolatry with indisputable argumentation, himself being illiterate, leaving them speechless and astounded. Perhaps we shall do so another time, for idolatry and paganism again appeared, backed by powerful supporters. The Saint did not know everything the way they did, he did not possess worldly knowledge, but he knew the Bible and the teachings of the Saints and above all he was God learnt and God inspired.
Faith is not an issue of great knowledge and learning but humble submission not to the prevailing knowledge but to the truth of the Church, timeless and eternal. If one does not strip oneself of self wisdom and display of self-knowledge and humbly become embodied in the spirit of Christ, of the Church, of the Saints and Church Fathers which opens the spiritual horizons, then one will always wonder and second guess the certainty of Faith and self knowledge of even the simple faithful and he will accuse them as all knowing and selfish, lacking humility. However, humility does not mean one has to accept the prevailing opinion but the knowledge of God and of the Saints because frequently many align with the lie and empower the lie with their majority. If the acceptance of the majority opinion when it disagrees with the truth constituted the acceptance criterion, then not only the Bible would have been acceptable, being supported by the few Apostles nor would the Church had survived in a flood of unfaithful and heretics.


3. The position of Saint Anthony against the heretics. A prototype for imitation for all today.

       What we wish to do now is to present the way Saint Anthony confronted the Arian heresy, which threatened the Church internally, being supported by the Emperor, leaders, patriarchs and bishops as happens in this day with the pan-heresies of Papism and Ecumenism, which are far more dangerous because they undermine almost all the dogmas of the faith and transform the divine teaching of the Bible to a common human teaching, they withdraw the God-Man Christ, the Saints and the Fathers and replace them with the infallible pope of Rome and the spread of heresies of the World Council of the so-called Churches. This presentation is very instructive even for those who pretend not to see the danger, for "serious" spiritual fathers who lead astray or put in very difficult position, their spiritual children, who see better through the eyes of the Saints and end up doubting the worthiness of their spiritual guidance. Of course the Saints are more trustworthy than any elder and spiritual guide, who does not become angry at heresy and does not fight to expose or expel it.
       So, Great Anthony, left the desert for the second time and came down to Alexandria. The Orthodox bishop and patriarch was the Great Athanasius, who was under constant persecution and a string of exiles and the orthodox flock were under the heretical Arians as at the present time under the tutelage of ecumenist and pro-ecumenist patriarchs and bishops. Great Anthony as we are taught by his "Life" and the topic of faith "he was most wonderful and reverent". He had dealings with the schismatic Meletians because from the beginning he was aware of their cunningness and apostasy. But also with the Manicheans and other heretics he was never friendly but only to advise and turn them back to be faithful Orthodox. He believed and taught that friendship and keeping company with them was damaging and could end in loss of soul. He detested the Arian heresy and admonished everybody not to draw near them nor accept their false faith. Once when some fanatical Arians paid him a visit. Having talked with them and understanding that they were unfaithful, he sent them away from the mountain where he led his asceticism, telling them their words were worse than the venom of snakes. This document we could say sets the rule which shows us with clarity, truthfully and without deception, how to conduct dialogues with the heretics and we must regulate our human and social interactions with them. At the same time it shows us that today all the boundaries that were set by the Holy Fathers are being demolished by the Ecumenists, who embrace and kiss the heretics as if they were pious and of the same faith and never consider not to send them away and keep their distance but also not even to admonish them so that they return to Orthodoxy. The dialogues are conducted on an "equal level". Leveling of lies, heresies and deceptions with truth. When conversing on "equal level", it means that you provide the possibility for lies to prevail over the truth, that you doubt the truth and you seek to find it. However the dialogue of the Saints and of the Fathers, is a dialogue of Christ with the Samaritan woman, of the Apostles with the Jews and Gentiles, of the Fathers with the heretics, an invitation and admonishment for their return to the truth, to be re-included in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church; this is the true union and peace. All the rest are false unions, false peace and false dialogues.
Because therefore this article demonstrates the way to the true union from the mouth of the great Saint and achieves the "all must be one" for which the Ecumenists labour and attempt to accomplish it "ad verbatim". In faith he is very admirable and devout. For he never communicated with the schismatic Melitians seeing from the start their cunningness and apostasy; nor did he speak in a friendly way with the Manicheans and other similar heretics, but only to admonish them to turn back to piety, leading and commissioning their friendship and dialogue is harmful and risking loss of one's soul. He similarly despised the Arian heresy and ordered everyone not to approach them nor their evil faith. Finally, when some of the Arians and Manicheans came to question him and realizing their impiety, he sent them away from the mountain, saying that their speech is worse than the poison of the snakes.

4. The dreadful vision of Saint Anthony on the heretics: Dumb beasts around the Holy Altar.

       It is truly dreadful the vision that Saint Anthony had regarding the presence of the heretics inside Orthodox churches. This vision illustrates and explains graphically the reasons why the Holy Fathers forbid with Synodal canons the entry of the heretics into consecrated places, their participation in services and liturgies, with common prayers and common worshipping.
The heretics not accepting the teachings of the Church, Apostles and Saints, are influenced by the demons and their father, the Devil, in the promotion of deluded viewpoints. That is why their teaching is "rather fruitless and absurd and their thinking is not correct, like that of dumb mules
Saint Anthony was therefore shaken and frightened, when God allowed him to see in his vision the Arians surrounding the Holy Altar as mules, kicking and defiling it. Such was his sadness and distress, that he began to cry, as saddened and tearful as also many faithful, in seeing the heretic pope entering and defiling the church of Saint George, at Fanar, the very Saint the Vatican abolished. We are certain that if the patriarchs, archbishops and bishops read and learnt of Saint Anthony's vision, of course assuming as Orthodox they continue to honour and follow the life and teaching of the Saints, they will cease the mutual liturgical hospitalities and visits, the weekly co-prayers and the sending of representatives to the anniversary celebrations. For otherwise they too will be included as conspirators in the frightful vision of Saint Anthony.
According to the Great Athanasius narration of the "Life", while Great Anthony was sitting, occupied with his handy work, he went into a trance and was breathing heavily while seeing his vision. After some time he turned to the monks present; he continued breathing heavily and to shake. He fell to his knees to pray and remained kneeling for a considerable time. When the Elder got up he was crying. Those present became very frightened and shocked; they then asked him to explain to them. As they insisted greatly and compelled him, he sighed again and said "My children it would be best for me to die before I see the things that will happen which I saw in my vision. The wrath of God will fall on the Church and she will be handed to people who are mindless beasts. I saw the Holy Altar of the church, at the main skete surrounded on all sides by mules which were kicking and jumping up and down as is natural for such dumb animals. You saw and perceived that I was earlier sighing; I did so because I heard a voice saying, "My altar will be defiled". That is what the Elder saw. Exactly two years later the Arians attacked and robbed the churches, taking the sacred vessels by force and handed them over to idolaters to hold. They forced them to attend meetings and in their presence they did whatever they wished on the Holy Altar. Then we all understood, said the Great Athanasius that the kicking of the mules foretold to Saint Anthony was what the Arians do now as animals. After the vision, the Elder felt the need to encourage and console those around him by saying: "Don't be sad my children; for just as our Lord was outraged, so would He again heal all evil. Soon the Church will recover her beauty and will shine. You will witness those who were exiled return, the pious faith will re-appear and rule everywhere. Suffice that you do not let yourselves be defiled by the Arian heresy, as it is not the teaching of the Apostles but of the demons and their father, the Devil, irrational and fruitless just like the dumb mules"



       The wrath of God has taken over the Church since many decades. Papism and Ecumenism triumph. At that time Great Athanasius and the other Holy Fathers understood the danger described in the vision of Great Anthony. We now witness the contamination of the churches and the Holy Altars by joint prayers and liturgies with the "irrational" heretics and we assist the contamination and praise it, by joining them ourselves in the kicking of the Holy of Holies". If one notes the ecumenical joint liturgies and prayers, like the one in Canberra during 7th General Council of the so-called Churches, with the frequent participation of homosexual priests who dare hold the Holy Chalice, as well as women bishops and priestesses, the view surpasses even the vision of the Great Anthony: "The only hope for our church to regain her beauty is given in the recommendation and advice of the Great Anthony :  " beware you do not contaminate yourselves with the Arians" We must beware we do not contaminate ourselves by communing with Papism and Ecumenism , and the pro-papist and pro-ecumenist Orthodox. Because so far we have not done so dynamically and resolutely, God for years now, prolongs His wrath, and captivity of the Orthodox by the pan-heresy Of Ecumenism. How much longer will bishops, monks and the laity allow the mindless beasts, the heretics, to kick and contaminate the Sacred and Holies of Orthodoxy? As long as we remain inactive and come up with different pseudo-spiritual excuses, the abomination of desolation will stand on Holy ground.        



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