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In order to understand what the “kingdom of heaven” means, we need to look at the early days of mankind.
While I studied Biology in secondary school, I got to understand that mankind belongs to the animal kingdom.
当黎明到来的时候，东边亮起了一颗晨星，那是从未有过的一颗星，他照亮了寂静 When dawn arrived, from the east there arose a morning star, which had never been there before, and it shone tranquil in the 的星空，燃起了人们心中熄灭的灯火。这灯火使得人们不再寂寞，照亮了你也照亮了他。 starry sky, rekindling the diminished inner light of mankind’s heart.
3:5 “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” How could Lucifer raise his throne above the stars of God (mankind)?
Where post-modernism and its cousins (woe come to those who define it in any way) have seemingly provided a counter-act to the Enlightenment’s open embrace of optimism and progress (said he, with a tinge of disgust), with a relativistic approach to mankind, it doesn’t seem it has fully succeeded.
IS IT SINFUL TO EAT MEAT? ARE MARITAL RELATIONS IMPURE? In his first letter to Fr. Pedro, Bp. Kirykos writes: “Regarding the Canon, which some people refer to in order to commune without fasting beforehand, it is correct, but it must be interpreted correctly and applied to everybody. Namely, we must return to those early apostolic times, during which all of the Christians were ascetics and temperate and fasters, and only they remained until the end of the Divine Liturgy and communed. They fasted in the fine and broader sense, that is, they were worthy to commune.” In the above quote, Bp. Kirykos displays the notion that early Christians supposedly abstained from meat and from marriage, and were thus all supposedly “ascetics and temperate and fasters,” and that this is what gave them the right to commune daily. But the truth of the matter is that the majority of Christians were not ascetics, yet they did commune every day. In fact, the ascetics were the ones who lived far away from cities where Liturgy would have been available, and it was these ascetics who would commune rarely. This can be ascertained from studying the Patrologia and the ecclesiastical histories written by Holy Fathers. The theories that Bp. Kirykos entertains are also followed by those immediately surrounding him. His sister, the nun Vincentia, for instance, actually believes that people that eat meat or married couples that engaged in legal nuptial relations are supposedly sinning! She actually believes that meat and marriage are sinful and should be avoided. This theory appears much more extreme in the person of the nun Vincentia, but this notion is also found in the teachings of Bp. Kirykos, and the spirit of this error can also be found in the above quote, where he believes that only people who are “ascetics and temperate and fasters” are “worthy of communion,” as if a man who eats meat or has marital relations with his own wife is “sinful” and “unworthy.” But is this the teaching of the Orthodox Church? Certainly not! These teachings are actually found in Gnosticism, Manichaeism, Paulicianism, Bogomilism, and various “New Age” movements which arise from a mixture of Christianity with Hinduism or Buddhism, religions that consider meat and marriage to be sinful due to their erroneous belief in reincarnation. The Holy Apostle Paul warns us against these heresies. In the First Epistle to Timothy, the Apostle to the Nations writes: “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.” If all of the early Christians abstained from meat and marriage, as Bp. Kirykos dares to say, how is it that the Apostle Paul warns his disciple, Timothy, that in the future people shall “depart from the faith,” shall preach “doctrines of demons,” shall “speak lies in hypocrisy,” shall “forbid marriage” and shall “command to abstain from meats?” The heresy that the Holy Apostle Paul was prophesying about is most likely that called Manichaeism. This heresy finds its origins in a Babylonian man called Shuraik, son of Fatak Babak. Shuraik became a Mandaean Gnostic, and was thus referred to as Rabban Mana (Teacher of the Light‐Spirit). For this reason, Shuraik became commonly‐known throughout the world as Mani. His followers became known as Manicheans in order to distinguish them from the Mandaeans, and the religion he founded became known as Manichaeism. The basic doctrines and principles of this religion were as follows: The Manicheans believed that there was no omnipotent God. Instead they believed that there were two equal powers, one good and one evil. The good power was ruled by the “Prince of Light” while the evil power was led by the “Prince of Darkness.” They believed that the material world was inherently evil from its very creation, and that it was created by the Prince of Darkness. This explains why they held meat and marriage to be evil, since anything material was considered evil from its very foundation. They also believed that each human consisted of a battleground between these two opposing powers of light and darkness, where the soul endlessly battles against the body, respectively. They divided their followers into four groups: 1) monks, 2) nuns, 3) laymen, 4) laywomen. The monks and nuns abstained from meat and marriage and were therefore considered “elect” or “holy,” whereas the laymen and laywomen were considered only “hearers” and “observers” but not real “bearers of the light” due to their “sin” of eating meat and engaging in marital relations. The above principles of the Manichean religion are entirely opposed to the Orthodox Faith, on account of the following reasons: The Orthodox Church believes in one God who is eternal, uncreated, without beginning and without end, and forever good and omnipotent. Evil has never existed in the uncreated Godhead, and it shall never exist in the uncreated Godhead. The power of evil is not uncreated but it has a beginning in creation. Yet the power of evil was not created by God. Evil exists because the prince of the angels abused his free will, which caused him to fall and take followers with him. He became the devil and his followers became demons. Prior to this event there was no evil in the created world. The material world was not created by the devil, but by God Himself. By no means is the material world evil. God looked upon the world he created and said “it was very good.” For this reason partaking of meat is not evil, but God blessed Noah and all of his successors to partake of meat. For all material things in the world exist to serve man, and man exists to serve God. If there is any evil in the created world it derives from mankind’s abuse of his free will, which took place in Eden, due to the enticement of the devil. The history of mankind, both good and bad, is not a product of good or evil forces fighting one another, but every event in the history of mankind is part of God’s plan for mankind’s salvation. The devil has power over this world only forasmuch as mankind is enslaved by his own egocentrism and his desire to sin. Once mankind denies his ego and submits to the will of God, and ceases relying on his own works but rather places his hope and trust in God, mankind shall no longer follow or practice evil. But man is inherently incapable of achieving this on his own because no man is perfect or sinless. For this reason, God sent his only‐begotten Son, the Word of God, who became incarnate and was born and grew into the man known as Jesus of Nazareth. By his virginal conception; his nativity; his baptism; his fast (which he underwent himself but never forced upon his disciples); his miracles (the first of which he performed at a wedding); his teaching (which was contrary to the Pharisees); his gift of his immaculate Body and precious Blood for the eternal life of mankind; his betrayal; his crucifixion; his death; his defeating of death and hades; his Resurrection from the tomb (by which he also raised the whole human nature); his ascension and heavenly enthronement; and his sending down of the Holy Spirit which proceeds from the Father—our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ, accomplished the salvation of mankind. Among the followers of Christ are people who are married as well as people who live monastic lives. Both of these kinds of people, however, are sinners, each in their own way, and their actions, no matter how good they may be, are nothing but a menstruous rag in the eyes of God, according to the Prophet Isaiah. Whether married or unmarried, they can accomplish nothing without the saving grace of the crucified and third‐day Risen Lord. Although being a monastic allows one to spend more time devoted to prayer and with less responsibilities and earthly cares, nevertheless, being married is not at all sinful, but rather it is a blessing. Marital relations between a lawfully married couple, in moderation and at the appointed times (i.e., not on Sundays, not on Great Feasts, and outside of fasting periods) are not sinful but are rather an expression of God’s love and grace which He has bestowed upon each married man and woman, through the Mystery of Holy Matrimony. The Orthodox Church went through great extremes to oppose the heresy of Manichaeism, especially because this false religion’s devotion to fasting and monasticism enticed many people to think it was a good religion. In reality though, Manichaeism is a satanic folly. Yet over the years this folly began to seep into the fold of the faithful. Manichaeism spread wildly throughout the Middle East, and throughout Asia as far as southern China. It also spread into Africa, and even St. Aurelius Augustinus, also known as Blessed Augustine of Hippo (+28 August, 430), happened to be a Manichaean before he became an Orthodox Christian. The heresy began to spread into Western Europe, which is why various pockets in the Western Church began enforcing the celibacy of all clergy. They also began reconstructing the meaning of fasting. Instead of demanding laymen to only fast on Wednesday and Friday during a normal week, they began enforcing a strict fast on Saturday as well. The reason for this is because they no longer viewed fasting as a spiritual exercise for the sake of remembering Christ’s betrayal and his crucifixion. Instead they began viewing fasting as a method of purifying one’s body from “evil foods.” Thus they adopted the Manichean heresy that meat, dairy or eggs are supposedly evil. Thinking that these foods were evil, they demanded laymen to fast on Saturday so as to be “pure” when they receive Holy Communion on Sunday. In so doing, they cast aside the Holy Canons of the All‐famed Apostles, for the sake of following their newly‐found “tradition of men,” which is nothing but the heresy of Manichaeism. The Sixth Ecumenical Council, in its 55th Canon, strongly admonishes the Church of Rome to abandon this practice. St. Photius the Great, Patriarch of Constantinople New Rome (+6 February, 893), in his Encyclical to the Eastern Patriarchs, in his countless writings against Papism and his work against Manichaeism, clearly explains that the Roman Catholic Church has fallen into Manichaeism by demanding the fast on Saturdays and by enforcing all clergy to be celibate. Thanks to these works of St. Photius the Great, the heretical practices of the Manicheans did not prevail in the East, and the mainstream Orthodox Christians did not adopt this Manichaeism. However, the Manicheans did manage to set up their own false churches in Armenia and Bulgaria. The Manicheans in Armenia were referred to as Paulicians. Those in Bulgaria were called Bogomils. They flourished from the 9th century even until the 15th century, until the majority of them converted to Islam under Ottoman Rule. Today’s Muslim Azerbaijanis, Kurds, and various Caucasian nationalities are descendants of those who were once Paulicians. Today’s Muslim Albanians, Bosnians and Pomaks descend from those who were once Bogomils. Some Bogomils migrated to France where they established the sect known as the Albigenses, Cathars or Puritans. But several Bogomils did not convert to Islam, nor did they leave the realm of the Ottoman Empire, but instead they converted to Orthodoxy. The sad thing is, though, that they brought their Manichaeism with them. Thus from the 15th century onwards, Manichaeism began to infiltrate the Church, and this is what led to the outrageous practices of the 17th and 18th centuries, wherein hardly any laymen would ever commune, except for once, twice or three times per year. It is this error that the Holy Kollyvades Fathers fought. Various Holy Canons of the Orthodox Church condemn the notions that it is “sinful” or “impure” for one to eat meat or engage in lawful marital relations. Some of these Holy Canons and Decisions are presented below: The 51st Canon of the Holy Apostles reads: “If any bishop, or presbyter, or deacon, or anyone at all on the sacerdotal list, abstains from marriage, or meat, or wine, not as a matter of mortification, but out of abhorrence thereof, forgetting that all things are exceedingly good, and that God made male and female, and blasphemously misinterpreting God’s work of creation, either let him mend his ways or let him be deposed from office and expelled from the Church. Let a layman be treated similarly.” Thus, clergy and laymen are only permitted to abstain from these things for reasons of mortification, and such mortification is what one should apply to himself and not to others. By no means are they permitted to abstain from these things out of abhorrence towards them, in other words, out of belief that these things are disgusting, sinful or impure, or that they cause unworthiness. The 1st Canon of the Holy Council of Gangra reads: “If anyone disparages marriage, or abominates or disparages a woman sleeping with her husband, notwithstanding that she is faithful and reverent, as though she could not enter the Kingdom, let him be anathema.” Here the Holy Council anathematizes those who believe that a lawfully married husband and wife supposedly sin whenever they have nuptial relations. Note that the reference “as though she could not enter the Kingdom” can also have the interpretation “as though she could not receive Communion.” For according to the Holy Fathers, receiving Communion is an entry into the Kingdom. This is why when we are approaching Communion we chant “Remember me, O Lord, in Thy Kingdom.” Therefore, anyone who believes that a woman who lawfully sleeps with her own husband, or that a man who lawfully sleeps with his own wife, is somehow “impure,” “sinful,” or “evil,” is entertaining notions that are not Orthodox but rather Manichaean. Such a person is anathematized.
How to Make a Memory of Mankind Tablet Memory of Mankind, MOM is a project to back up Human knowledge for the future.
Sin is the reason why God prevented mankind from transforming from mortal to immortality and drove mankind into the realm of death.
The Most Controversial Quest Mankind’s greatest and most controversial quest is the quest for divine life—to become like God in the inner being.
Repent and believe the good news!” God threw open His kingdom to mankind during the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
To expand mankind’s horizons beyond Earth we must collectively commit to the proposition that there is great benefit floating above us.
At the same time, the positive role of civilization as a factor in preserving the unity of all mankind in the diversity of cultures ("unity in diversity") was also recognized.
FROM THE ANAPHORAE OF THE ANCIENT CHURCH REGARDING “WORTHINESS” OF HOLY COMMUNION This can also be demonstrated by the secret prayers within Divine Liturgy. From the early Apostolic Liturgies, right down to the various Liturgies of the Local Churches of Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople, Rome, Gallia, Hispania, Britannia, Cappadocia, Armenia, Persia, India and Ethiopia, in Liturgies that were once vibrant in the Orthodox Church, prior to the Nestorian, Monophysite and Papist schisms, as well as those Liturgies still in common use today among the Orthodox Christians (namely, the Liturgies of St. John Chrysostom, St. Basil the Great and the Presanctified Liturgy of St. Gregory the Dialogist), the message is quite clear in all the mystic prayers that the clergy and the laity are referred to as entirely unworthy, and truly they are to believe they are unworthy, and that no action of their own can make them worthy (i.e. not even fasting), but that only the Lord’s mercy and grace through the Gifts themselves will allow them to receive communion without condemnation. To demonstrate this, let us begin with the early Apostolic Liturgies, and from there work our way through as many of the oblations used throughout history, as have been found in ancient manuscripts, among them those still offered within Orthodoxy today. St. James the Brother‐of‐God (+23 October, 62), First Bishop of Jerusalem, begins his anaphora as follows: “O Sovereign Lord our God, condemn me not, defiled with a multitude of sins: for, behold, I have come to this Thy divine and heavenly mystery, not as being worthy; but looking only to Thy goodness, I direct my voice to Thee: God be merciful to me, a sinner; I have sinned against Heaven, and before Thee, and am unworthy to come into the presence of this Thy holy and spiritual table, upon which Thy only‐begotten Son, and our Lord Jesus Christ, is mystically set forth as a sacrifice for me, a sinner, and stained with every spot.” Following the creed, the following prayer is read: “God and Sovereign of all, make us, who are unworthy, worthy of this hour, lover of mankind; that being pure from all deceit and all hypocrisy, we may be united with one another by the bond of peace and love, being confirmed by the sanctification of Thy divine knowledge through Thine only‐begotten Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, with whom Thou art blessed, together with Thy all‐holy, and good, and quickening Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.” Then right before the clergy are to partake of Communion, the following is recited: “O Lord our God, the heavenly bread, the life of the universe, I have sinned against Heaven, and before Thee, and am not worthy to partake of Thy pure Mysteries; but as a merciful God, make me worthy by Thy grace, without condemnation to partake of Thy holy body and precious blood, for the remission of sins, and life everlasting.” After all the clergy and laity have received Communion, this prayer is read: “O God, who through Thy great and unspeakable love didst condescend to the weakness of Thy servants, and hast counted us worthy to partake of this heavenly table, condemn not us sinners for the participation of Thy pure Mysteries; but keep us, O good One, in the sanctification of Thy Holy Spirit, that being made holy, we may find part and inheritance with all Thy saints that have been well‐pleasing to Thee since the world began, in the light of Thy countenance, through the mercy of Thy only‐begotten Son, our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ, with whom Thou art blessed, together with Thy all‐holy, and good, and quickening Spirit: for blessed and glorified is Thy all‐precious and glorious name, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.” From these prayers is it not clear that no one is worthy of Holy Communion, whether they have fasted or not, but that it is God’s mercy that bestows worthiness upon mankind through participation in the Mystery of Confession and receiving Holy Communion? This was most certainly the belief of the early Christians of Jerusalem, quite contrary to Bp. Kirykos’ ideology of early Christians supposedly being “worthy of communion” because they supposedly “fasted in the finer and broader sense.” St. Mark the Evangelist (+25 April, 63), First Bishop of Alexandria, in his Divine Liturgy, writes: “O Sovereign and Almighty Lord, look down from heaven on Thy Church, on all Thy people, and on all Thy flock. Save us all, Thine unworthy servants, the sheep of Thy fold. Give us Thy peace, Thy help, and Thy love, and send to us the gift of Thy Holy Spirit, that with a pure heart and a good conscience we may salute one another with an holy kiss, without hypocrisy, and with no hostile purpose, but guileless and pure in one spirit, in the bond of peace and love, one body and one spirit, in one faith, even as we have been called in one hope of our calling, that we may all meet in the divine and boundless love, in Christ Jesus our Lord, with whom Thou art blessed, with Thine all‐holy, good, and life‐creating Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.” Later in the Liturgy the following is read: “Be mindful also of us, O Lord, Thy sinful and unworthy servants, and blot out our sins in Thy goodness and mercy.” Again we read: “O holy, highest, awe‐inspiring God, who dwellest among the saints, sanctify us by the word of Thy grace and by the inspiration of Thy all‐ holy Spirit; for Thou hast said, O Lord our God, Be ye holy; for I am holy. O Word of God, past finding out, consubstantial and co‐eternal with the Father and the Holy Spirit, and sharer of their sovereignty, accept the pure song which cherubim and seraphim, and the unworthy lips of Thy sinful and unworthy servant, sing aloud.” Thus it is clear that whether he had fasted or not, St. Mark and his clergy and flock still considered themselves unworthy. By no means did they ever entertain the theory that “they fasted in the finer and broader sense, that is, they were worthy of communion,” as Bp. Kirykos dares to say. On the contrary, St. Mark and the early Christians of Alexandria believed any worthiness they could achieve would be through partaking of the Holy Mysteries themselves. Thus, St. Mark wrote the following prayer to be read immediately after Communion: “O Sovereign Lord our God, we thank Thee that we have partaken of Thy holy, pure, immortal, and heavenly Mysteries, which Thou hast given for our good, and for the sanctification and salvation of our souls and bodies. We pray and beseech Thee, O Lord, to grant in Thy good mercy, that by partaking of the holy body and precious blood of Thine only‐begotten Son, we may have faith that is not ashamed, love that is unfeigned, fullness of holiness, power to eschew evil and keep Thy commandments, provision for eternal life, and an acceptable defense before the awful tribunal of Thy Christ: Through whom and with whom be glory and power to Thee, with Thine all‐holy, good, and life‐creating Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.” St. Peter the Apostle (+29 June, 67), First Bishop of Antioch, and later Bishop of Old Rome, in his Divine Liturgy, writes: “For unto Thee do I draw nigh, and, bowing my neck, I pray Thee: Turn not Thy countenance away from me, neither cast me out from among Thy children, but graciously vouchsafe that I, Thy sinful and unworthy servant, may offer unto Thee these Holy Gifts.” Again we read: “With soul defiled and lips unclean, with base hands and earthen tongue, wholly in sins, mean and unrepentant, I beseech Thee, O Lover of mankind, Saviour of the hopeless and Haven of those in danger, Who callest sinners to repentance, O Lord God, loose, remit, forgive me a sinner my transgressions, whether deliberate or unintentional, whether of word or deed, whether committed in knowledge or in ignorance.” St. Thomas the Apostle (+6 October, 72), Enlightener of Edessa, Mesopotamia, Persia, Bactria, Parthia and India, and First Bishop of Maliapor in India, in his Divine Liturgy, conveyed through his disciples, St. Thaddeus (+21 August, 66), St. Haggai (+23 December, 87), and St. Maris (+5 August, 120), delivered the following prayer in the anaphora which is to be read while kneeling: “O our Lord and God, look not on the multitude of our sins, and let not Thy dignity be turned away on account of the heinousness of our iniquities; but through Thine unspeakable grace sanctify this sacrifice of Thine, and grant through it power and capability, so that Thou mayest forget our many sins, and be merciful when Thou shalt appear at the end of time, in the man whom Thou hast assumed from among us, and we may find before Thee grace and mercy, and be rendered worthy to praise Thee with spiritual assemblies.” Upon standing, the following is read: “We thank Thee, O our Lord and God, for the abundant riches of Thy grace to us: we who were sinful and degraded, on account of the multitude of Thy clemency, Thou hast made worthy to celebrate the holy Mysteries of the body and blood of Thy Christ. We beg aid from Thee for the strengthening of our souls, that in perfect love and true faith we may administer Thy gift to us.” And again: “O our Lord and God, restrain our thoughts, that they wander not amid the vanities of this world. O Lord our God, grant that I may be united to the affection of Thy love, unworthy though I be. Glory to Thee, O Christ.” The priest then reads this prayer on behalf of the faithful: “O Lord God Almighty, accept this oblation for the whole Holy Catholic Church, and for all the pious and righteous fathers who have been pleasing to Thee, and for all the prophets and apostles, and for all the martyrs and confessors, and for all that mourn, that are in straits, and are sick, and for all that are under difficulties and trials, and for all the weak and the oppressed, and for all the dead that have gone from amongst us; then for all that ask a prayer from our weakness, and for me, a degraded and feeble sinner. O Lord our God, according to Thy mercies and the multitude of Thy favours, look upon Thy people, and on me, a feeble man, not according to my sins and my follies, but that they may become worthy of the forgiveness of their sins through this holy body, which they receive with faith, through the grace of Thy mercy, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.” The following prayer also indicates that the officiators consider themselves unworthy but look for the reception of the Holy Mysteries to give them remission of sins: “We, Thy degraded, weak, and feeble servants who are congregated in Thy name, and now stand before Thee, and have received with joy the form which is from Thee, praising, glorifying, and exalting, commemorate and celebrate this great, awful, holy, and divine mystery of the passion, death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. And may Thy Holy Spirit come, O Lord, and rest upon this oblation of Thy servants which they offer, and bless and sanctify it; and may it be unto us, O Lord, for the propitiation of our offences and the forgiveness of our sins, and for a grand hope of resurrection from the dead, and for a new life in the Kingdom of the heavens, with all who have been pleasing before Him. And on account of the whole of Thy wonderful dispensation towards us, we shall render thanks unto Thee, and glorify Thee without ceasing in Thy Church, redeemed by the precious blood of Thy Christ, with open mouths and joyful countenances: Ascribing praise, honour, thanksgiving, and adoration to Thy holy, loving, and life‐creating name, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.” Finally, the following petition indicates quite clearly the belief that the officiators and entire congregation are unworthy of receiving the Mysteries: “The clemency of Thy grace, O our Lord and God, gives us access to these renowned, holy, life‐creating, and Divine Mysteries, unworthy though we be.” St. Luke the Evangelist (+18 October, 86), Bishop of Thebes in Greece, in his Divine Liturgy, writes: “Bless, O Lord, Thy faithful people who are bowed down before Thee; deliver us from injuries and temptations; make us worthy to receive these Holy Mysteries in purity and virtue, and may we be absolved and sanctified by them. We offer Thee praise and thanksgiving and to Thine Only‐ begotten Son and to Thy Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.” St. Dionysius the Areopagite (+3 October, 96), Bishop of Athens, in his Divine Liturgy, writes: “Giver of Holiness, and distributor of every good, O Lord, Who sanctifiest every rational creature with sanctification, which is from Thee; sanctify, through Thy Holy Spirit, us Thy servants, who bow before Thee; free us from all servile passions of sin, from envy, treachery, deceit, hatred, enmities, and from him, who works the same, that we may be worthy, holily to complete the ministry of these life‐giving Mysteries, through the heavenly Master, Jesus Christ, Thine Only‐begotten Son, through Whom, and with Whom, is due to Thee, glory and honour, together with Thine All‐holy, Good and Life‐creating Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.” Thus, it is God that offers sanctification to mankind, purifies mankind from sins, and makes mankind worthy of the Mysteries. This worthiness is not achieved by fasting. In the same Anaphora we read: “Essentially existing, and from all ages; Whose nature is incomprehensible, Who art near and present to all, without any change of Thy sublimity; Whose goodness every existing thing longs for and desires; the intelligible indeed, and creature endowed with intelligence, through intelligence; those endowed with sense, through their senses; Who, although Thou art One essentially, nevertheless art present with us, and amongst us, in this hour, in which Thou hast called and led us to these Thy holy Mysteries; and hast made us worthy to stand before the sublime throne of Thy majesty, and to handle the sacred vessels of Thy ministry with our impure hands: take away from us, O Lord, the cloak of iniquity in which we are enfolded, as from Jesus, the son of Josedec the High Priest, thou didst take away the filthy garments, and adorn us with piety and justice, as Thou didst adorn him with a vestment of glory; that clothed with Thee alone, as it were with a garment, and being like temples crowned with glory, we may see Thee unveiled with a mind divinely illuminated, and may feast, whilst we, by communicating therein, enjoy this sacrifice set before us; and that we may render to Thee glory and praise, together with Thine Only‐begotten Son, and Thine All‐holy, Good and Life‐creating Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.” Once again, worthiness derives from God and not from fasting. In the same Liturgy we read: “I invoke Thee, O God the Father, have mercy upon us, and wash away, through Thy grace, the uncleanness of my evil deeds; destroy, through Thy mercy, what I have done, worthy of wrath; for I do not
The Beer that saved Mankind from Lions When someone ingests a sip of the Beer, they will sleep deeply, and will not wake up until the sun rises.
“Out of the night that covers me, Black as the pit from pole to pole, I thank whatever gods may be For my unconquerable soul.” INVICTUS Beta 0.1 Since mankind’s earliest ancestors began to roam the earth, monsters have always lurked on the edge of our periphery. From dreams and visions, the KA tempt the wills of mortals, beckoning the weak willed to open the door between the world of spirit and the world of flesh. Some KA cross over as twisted and horrific physical manifestations of terror and others hide away behind the eyes of the possessed. The worst, not satisfied with misery sewn in the waking world, steal victims away from their beds, forever trapping them in a realm of endless nightmare. The KA have no power, save that which is given to them by mankind. Each doorway opened, each body possessed, and each soul dragged screaming into the abyss has come at the hands of human agency. A ritual, a prayer, or a wish made under the veil of dream are all that is required for the influence of the KA to seep into our world. The memories of encounters with the KA oft fade as a dream upon waking. But some face the beasts of nightmare and are changed forever. These men and women not only resist the KA, but remember the creatures’ face and form. They are the Unconquered, those who live to protect mankind from the monsters which stalk them world. Invictus i s a “Parlor” style Live Action Roleplaying game which explores the supernautal horror and politics which drive secret societies of “monster hunters”. It aims to provide players with a space to tell a number of different stories. The mechanics of this game, rather than being driven by randomness, are focused on spending and managing resources. Games are designed to be four or five hours long and provide opportunities for players to explore mysteries, face deadly foes in combat, and engage in interpersonal conflict. While I nvictus strives to explore the “darkness” of what lies beyond mankind’s imagination, it steers away from real world hurt. Stories about and references to real-world discrimination, sexual assault, and tragic events are not a part of the game. Invictus is about each player having the opportunity to self-select into the types of scenes and play that are comfortable to them. To this end, Invictus u ses the “OK CHECK IN” system to allow players to communicate needs and comfort level without breaking the pace of roleplay. If a player seems upset, but you aren’t sure if it is the CHARACTER not the PLAYER that is distraught, simply flash an “OK” gesture. The “OK” gesture is a question that is responded to with a “thumbs up”, “thumbs down” or “so so” gesture. Players who signal discomfort should be allowed to leave the scene, no questions asked. Players are also encouraged to use the “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” symbols proactively to communicate their level of comfort with a scene’s intensity. The Invictus The Invictus, or The Unconquered is the organization of all men and women who resist and retain awareness of the KA. The Invictus is a loose society that is formed by many Orders. The Unconquered recognize others of their number by sight, for those whose eyes and dreams are not clouded by the KA radiate as beacons hope to those who have become supernaturally attuned. Since ancient times, the Invictus has been driven by a simple Codex that governs their activity: ❖ The Unconquered must gather, to share knowledge of the KA. ❖ The truth of the KA must be veiled from dreamers, lest the KA draw power from it. ❖ The Unconquered must not slay one another, nor interfere in the hunt. Geographically the Invictus divides itself into Cantons, large cities and the areas around them. Each Canton is led by a Synod, a governing five-member council whose members are each drawn from the Invictus’ five major Orders: The Chorus, The Orthodoxy, The League, The Shamar, and The Division. The Synod selects, by vote, a Magnate who serves as the Executive of the Canton. A Magnate settles disputes between the Orders and takes a hand in leading hunts against the KA. When an Unconquered is accused of violating the Codex, it is the Synod who decides innocence or guilt, but the Magnate who sentences and metes out punishment. The Orders The Invictus is comprised of Orders, each guided by a set of principles which guide their nightly war against the KA. Not every Invictus is a member of one of the five major Orders which comprise the Synods of each city’s Canton, but most are drawn to the support and structure that comes with membership in an Order. The Chorus of Legend - (Champions, Bards, Knights, Storytellers, Lorekeepers) Gilgamesh, Corax, Heracles, Cú Chulainn, Arthur, Sun Wukong, Ramah… each civilization has heroes whose stories echo through history. The legends of these Heroes are carried through history by the Chorus of Legend. The Chorus seeks to venerate and emulate the heroes of old and raise the Legends of new heroes through story and song. The Chorus was the first order of The Invictus, and its virtues of heroism and boon-companionship echo through the Unconquered to this day. The Orthodoxy of Staves - (Paladins, Priests, Holy Men, Inquisitors, Vampire Hunters) Faith. Devotion. Prayer. Purity. These are the virtues of the Orthodoxy of Staves. Drawing its origins from the organized religions of man, The Orthodoxy has found that acceptance of a higher power and devotion to one’s faith serve as a powerful shield against the KA. The doctrines of the Orthodoxy state that only through rigorous devotion to purity and rejection of the KA can mankind be saved. The Shamar - (Ritualists, Blood Cultists, Black-Magic Practitioners) The Shamar seek the power to defeat the KA by wielding the very power of dream and nightmare. Through pact, rite, and binding, they wrest the power of the KA for themselves. Though no one can argue with the success of the secretive and ritualistic Shamar, their methods are rarely trusted by the members of the other Orders. The League of Extranormal Inquiry - (Mad-Scientists, Dark Dabblers, Mythos seekers) Founded in the misty streets of Europe in the 1800’s, the League is comprised of those scholars, alchemists, and practitioners of pseudoscience among the Unconquered who began to experiment with extracting Phlogiston from the corpses of slain KA. With these strange sciences, the League has created powerful and dangerous technologies that empowers them to continue seeking knowledge, regardless of the cost. Division Six - (G-Men, Gadgeteers, Realists, Men In Black) Allegedly once an agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security, the agents of Division Six stands as a highly regimented and technologically empowered Order that operates throughout the world. Their mission is simple: destroy the KA and cover-up the existence of the supernatural. Rejecting all superstition and pseudoscience, the Division pursues its agenda with strict adherence to regulation and the principals of order. System Invictus’ m echanical system is driven by resource management and spending and is played by each player using a full deck of regular playing cards: 13 Hearts, 13 Clubs, 13 Diamonds, 13 Spades and Two Jokers. Each player’s cards are divided into two groups: ● The Hand - Resources at the player’s disposal that may be d iscarded to take action or activate effects. ● The Deck - Cards not available for the player to spend, but may be drawn in certain circumstances. All mechanics require players interact with their cards in one of two ways: ● Draw - Take a card of the specified suit from the deck and place it into your hand. ● Discard - Take a card of the specified suit from the hand and place it into your deck. If a player would discard a ♥ (heart), ♣ (club), or ♦ (diamond) they may choose to instead discard a ♠ (spade). Characters have four attributes or P.I.T.H. with a minimum score of o ne and a maximum of t hirteen: ● Physicality - A character’s strength, toughness, and agility [Represented by Clubs ♣) ● Influence - A character’s social and interpersonal graces (Represented by Hearts ♥) ● Thought - A character’s general wit and perceptiveness (Represented by Diamonds ♦) ● Hope - A character’s endurance in the face of horror and adversity (Represented by Spades ♠) At the beginning of each session, players will draw their starting h and based on their attributes. (For example, a character with 3 Physicality, 4 Influence, 5 Thought, and 2 Hope would draw 3 ♣, 4♥, 5♦, and 2♠ for their starting hand) The rules of Invictus do not discern between different card values, only the suit of the card drawn or discarded matters. If mechanics would have a player draw a card that is not in their deck, that player draws no card. A player may not have more than 13 of a given suit in their hand at a time. If mechanics would have a player discard a card that is not in their hand, that character becomes incapacitated. An incapacitated character immediately discards their entire hand and becomes unconscious or catatonic, and remains that way until restored by a mechanical effect. Challenges Challenges in Invictus are used to determine success or failure on difficult tasks or those which are opposed by others. There are three types of challenges: ● Physical Challenges - Some feats of physical prowess require a simple spending of ♣ . A Storyteller may ask a character attempting to leap across a gap between buildings to spend a ♣ to undertake the effort. Such challenges will be marked with the cost. Unless otherwise specified, all such static challenges may be collaborated on, but all cards must be discarded at the same time and all participants must share the resulting victory or consequence. ● Influence Challenges - When characters seek to argue, determine the truth, or socially interact with one another they may bid any number of ♥ from their hand in a small bidding war. If another character wishes to challenge the assertion of the bidder, they may attempt to contradict by bidding a h igher number of ♥. The winner must then discard a number of ♥ equal to their bid, from that point forward, all participants in the conversation must accept the winner’s assertions as truth until faced with overwhelming evidence. An influence challenge cannot cause a character to abandon a deeply held belief rooted in personal faith or ideology, but may cause a character to differently recollect events they have participated in or witnessed. Once characters have resolved a matter through an influence challenge, the issue should not be revisited between them. Example: T wo hunters are sharing a tale of glory, and one claims to have taken the killing blow in a battle against a vicious KA. Player One: “And that’s how I slew the beast” Player Two: “I seem to remember that it was me who struck the final blow - Bid One” Player One “Are you sure? I’m pretty sure the Chorus will be singing about *my* legend - Bid Two” Player Two: “ Hmm, it seems you are right, I must have misremembered” *Player one then discards two ♥ from his hand to his deck* ● Thought Challenge - When characters seek to investigate a mystery, crack a code, spot a foe hidden in the darkness they engage in a thought challenge. Most challenges are resolved through static spend amounts. (For example, a challenge envelope for characters to decypher ancient runes may be marked with “8♦”, which means a total of eight diamonds will need to have been spent to decipher the runes.). Unless otherwise specified, all static challenges may be collaborated on, but all cards must be discarded at the same time and all participants must share the resulting information or consequences of the challenge. Sometimes, contests of Thought between two characters (such as a chess match) may be resolved through bidding, in a similar fashion to influence challenges, with characters expending ♦ instead of ♥ . Combat ● At the beginning of each round of combat, all participants must declare who or what they are attacking. The storyteller will count down verbally from three, at the end of which, each particip or interacting with during the round and must point at the target of their choice. Characters who are not attacking or interacting with anything must point at themselves. A character pointing at themselves and whom no-one is pointing at may, at the end of the countdown, declare “fair escape” and leave the combat scene. ● Attacking characters must then discard a relevant card (usually ♣) and declare the Power of their attack. ○ An attack’s Power i s the P .I.T.H. associated with the attack (usually Physicality) plus a single bonus from a piece of g ear, a single bonus from a trait, and a single bonus from a marvel. ● Add up the total P ower targeting each character compare that number to each target’s toughness. ○ A character’s T oughness is the character’s Physicality plus single bonus from a piece of gear, a single bonus from a t rait, and a single bonus from a marvel. ● For each character, if the total Power attacking them in a round exceeds their Toughness, that character must discard a ♣. If the total P ower attacking a character in a round exceeds double its Toughness, the character must discard a second ♣. Triple the t oughness?A third ♣ discarded., and so on. ● If the total attacking Power on a character does not exceed the character’s T oughness, the defending character discards no cards. Abbie, Bert, and Carl are engaged in deadly combat with a powerful KA in the form of a hideous Boar. At the beginning of the round, the storyteller counts down: “3, 2, 1”. A t the end of the countdown, the Boar is pointing at Carl, Abbie and Carl are pointing at the Boar, and Bert is pointing at himself. Bert declares “fair escape” from the scene. Abbie expends a ♣, draws her gun and fires: She adds her Physicality +8 Gun [ gear] +2, and Sharpshooter [trait] +2 to her P ower for a total of 12. Carl expends a ♣, readies his his fire-emblazoned fists, adding his Physicality +5 , Brass Knuckles [gear] +1, Brawny [trait] +2, and Alchemical Fire [wonder] + 5 to his Power for a total of 13. The KA discars a ♣ and strikes Carl with a power of 1 8. Carl is targeted with 1 8 total Power, his T oughness given all bonuses is only 5 , and so must discard three ♣ . Carl only has one ♣, but a strong reserve of ♠ . Carl discards his last ♣ and two ♠ and remains on his feet The KA is targeted with 25 t otal Power, it’s T oughness is 8 , and so must discard three ♣, leaving it wounded but not yet defeated. Death Characters in Invictus m ay become i ncapacitated or otherwise physically, mentally, or socially compromised, but permanent character death can only occur as the result of a direct choice of the player. Characters who repeatedly violate the themes and social norms of the setting may face character retirement or death via storyteller intervention, but will always receive a warning and the opportunity to alter course before such intervention.
This reminds us of the bitterness of slavery in Egypt and the bitterness of mankind’s slavery to sin.
FROM THE PRAYERS OF PREPARATION FOR COMMUNION REGARDING “WORTHINESS” OF THE HOLY MYSTERIES In the prayers for preparation for Holy Communion, written by several different Holy Fathers, we find the repetition of this belief in utter unworthiness for Holy Communion, whether one has fasted or not. Note also, that among the Fathers who wrote these prayers are St. Basil the Great and St. John Chrysostom, the greatest luminaries among the Anatolian‐Cappadocian Fathers. Yet these most awesome and splendid examples of sanctity, whether they fasted “in the finer and broader sense,” as Metropolitan Kirykos calls it, by no means considered themselves “worthy to commune.” For it is not abstaining from foods that make one worthy, but rather abstaining from sins, and all men have sinned save Christ who alone is perfect, and save Theotokos who is the purest temple of the Lord from her very childhood, but was hallowed, sanctified and consecrated by God at the hour of the Annunciation. The rest of us are sinners, even the saints, but their holiness is owing to God’s mercy upon them due to their purity of life, and their theosis is owing to the grace of God that overshadowed them, as they lived every day in Christ. The fact that the saints were not worthy in and of themselves, but by the grace of God, can be well understood by reading their prayers of preparation for Holy Communion. For these prayers were written by saints who, in their shortcomings, were also sinners; and they wrote these prayers for the sake of sinners who, just like them, strive by God’s grace to become saints. Thus, in the second troparion in the preparation for Holy Communion we read: “How can I, the unworthy one, shamelessly dare to partake of Thy Holy Gifts?” In the last few troparia in the service of preparation for Holy Communion, we read: “Into the splendor of Thy Saints how shall I, the unworthy one, enter?...” and again “O Man‐befriending Master, Lord Jesus my God, let not these holy Gifts be unto me for judgment through mine unworthiness…” St. Basil the Great (+ 1 January, 397), in his first prayer of preparation for Holy Communion, writes: “… For I have sinned, O Lord, I have sinned against Heaven and before Thee, and I am not worthy to gaze upon the height of Thy glory… Wherefore, though I am unworthy of both heaven and earth, and even of this transient life…” In his second prayer we read: “I know, O Lord, that I partake of Thine immaculate Body and precious Blood unworthily, and that I am guilty, and eat and drink judgment to myself, not discerning the Body and Blood of Thee, my Christ and God…” St. John Chrysostom (+14 September, 407), in his first prayer of preparation for Holy Communion, writes: “O Lord my God, I know that I am not worthy, nor sufficient, that Thou shouldest come under the roof of the house of my soul, for all is desolate and fallen, and Thou hast not in me a place worthy to lay Thy head…” In his third prayer we read: “O Lord Jesus Christ my God, loose, remit, forgive, and pardon the failings, faults, and offences which I, Thy sinful, unprofitable, and unworthy servant have committed from my youth, up to the present day and hour…” If in any place in the prayers of preparation for Holy Communion there is a statement of worthiness within man, it is claimed that Christ and the Mysteries themselves are the source of that worthiness. By no means are mankind’s own works, such as fasting, considered to make one worthy. Thus, Blessed Chrysostom writes: “I believe, O Lord, and I confess that thou art truly the Christ, the Son of the living God, who didst come into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. And I believe that this is truly Thine own immaculate Body, and that this is truly Thine own precious Blood. Wherefore I pray thee, have mercy upon me and forgive my transgressions both voluntary and involuntary, of word and of deed, of knowledge and of ignorance; and make me worthy to partake without condemnation of Thine immaculate Mysteries, unto remission of my sins and unto life everlasting. Amen.” St. Symeon the Translator (+9 November, c. 950) writes: “…O Christ Jesus, Wisdom and Peace and Power of God, Who in Thy assumption of our nature didst suffer Thy life‐giving and saving Passion, the Cross, the Nails, the Spear, and Death, mortify all the deadly passions of my body. Thou Who in Thy burial didst spoil the dominions of hell, bury with good thoughts my evil schemes and scatter the spirits of wickedness. Thou Who by Thy life‐giving Resurrection on the third day didst raise up our fallen first Parent, raise me up who am sunk in sin and suggest to me ways of repentance. Thou Who by Thy glorious Ascension didst deify our nature which Thou hadst assumed and didst honor it by Thy session at the right hand of the Father, make me worthy by partaking of Thy holy Mysteries of a place at Thy right hand among those who are saved. Thou Who by the descent of the Spirit, the Paraclete, didst make Thy holy Disciples worthy vessels, make me also a recipient of His coming. Thou Who art to come again to judge the World with justice, grant me also to meet Thee on the clouds, my Maker and Creator, with all Thy Saints, that I may unendingly glorify and praise Thee with Thy Eternal Father and Thy all‐holy and good and life‐giving Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.” St. Symeon the New Theologian (+12 March, 1022) wrote a poem that clearly explains how a communicant must regard himself as utterly unworthy to receive the Holy Body and Blood of the Lord, and entirely hope in God’s mercy: From sullied lips, From an abominable heart, From an unclean tongue, Out of a polluted soul, Receive my prayer, O my Christ. Reject me not, Nor my words, nor my ways, Nor even my shamelessness, But give me courage to say What I desire, my Christ. And even more, teach me What to do and say. I have sinned more than the harlot… And all my sins Take from me, O God of all, That with a clean heart, Trembling mind And contrite spirit I may partake of Thy pure And all‐holy Mysteries By which all who eat and drink Thee With sincerity of heart Are quickened and deified… Therefore I fall at Thy feet And fervently cry to Thee: As Thou receivedst the Prodigal And the Harlot who drew near to Thee, So have compassion and receive me, The profligate and the prodigal, As with contrite spirit I now draw near to Thee. I know, O Saviour, that no other Has sinned against Thee as I, Nor has done the deeds That I have committed. But this again I know That not the greatness of my offences Nor the multitude of my sins Surpasses the great patience Of my God, And His extreme love for men. But with the oil of compassion Those who fervently repent Thou dost purify and enlighten And makest them children of the light, Sharers of Thy Divine Nature… St. John Damascene (+4 December, 749), in his first prayer of preparation for Holy Communion, thus writes: “O Lord and Master Jesus Christ, our God, who alone hath power to forgive the sins of men, do thou, O Good One who lovest mankind, forgive all the sins that I have committed in knowledge or in ignorance, and make me worthy to receive without condemnation thy divine, glorious, immaculate and life‐giving Mysteries; not unto punishment or unto increase of sin; but unto purification, and sanctification and a promise of thy Kingdom and the Life to come; as a protection and a help to overthrow the adversaries, and to blot out my many sins. For thou art a God of Mercy and compassion and love toward mankind, and unto Thee we ascribe glory together with the Father and the Holy Spirit; now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.” In his second prayer he writes: “I stand before the gates of thy Temple, and yet I refrain not from my evil thoughts. But do thou, O Christ my God, who didst justify the publican, and hadst mercy on the Canaanite woman, and opened the gates of Paradise to the thief; open unto me the compassion of thy love toward mankind, and receive me as I approach and touch thee, like the sinful woman and the woman with the issue of blood; for the one, by embracing thy feet received the forgiveness of her sins, and the other by but touching the hem of thy garment was healed. And I, most sinful, dare to partake of thy whole Body. Let me not be consumed but receive me as thou didst receive them, and enlighten the perceptions of my soul, consuming the accusations of my sins; through the intercessions of Her that without stain gave Thee birth, and of the heavenly Powers; for thou art blessed unto ages of ages. Amen.” While waiting in line to receive Holy Communion, the following verses of the Blessed Translator are read: Behold I approach for Divine Communion. O Creator, let me not be burnt by communicating, For Thou art Fire which burns the unworthy. But purify me from every stain. Tremble, O man, when you see the deifying Blood, For it is coal that burns the unworthy. The Body of God both deifies and nourishes; It deifies the spirit and wondrously nourishes the mind. The following troparion clearly expresses with what mindset and manner one must approach the Mysteries. Let it not be thought that a Christian is meant to state the following simply as an act of false humility. On the contrary, the Christian must truly deny any sense of his self‐worth in the eyes of Christ, and must therefore submit himself entirely to Christ’s judgment, praying that the Lord will judge according to his great mercy and not according to our sins. The troparion reads: “Of thy Mystic Supper, O Son of God, accept me today as a communicant; for I will not speak of thy Mystery to Thine enemies, neither will I give thee a kiss as did Judas; but like the thief will I confess thee: Remember me, O Lord, in Thy Kingdom. Remember me, O Master, in Thy Kingdom. Remember me, O Holy One, when Thou comest into Thy Kingdom.” After a few other troparia, the following prayer is read: “Sovereign Lover of men, Lord Jesus my God, let not these Holy Things be to me for judgment through my being unworthy, but for the purification and sanctification of my soul and body, and as a pledge of the life and kingdom to come. For it is good for me to cling to God and to place in the Lord my hope of salvation.” As one approaches the Holy Chalice, one should crosswise fold his hands over his chest, and reflect in his mind the following petition: “Neither unto judgement, nor unto condemnation be my partaking of thy Holy Mysteries, O Lord, but unto the healing of soul and body.” When the priest administers the Holy Communion he announces: “The servant of God, [name], partakes of the precious, most holy and most pure Body and Blood of our Lord, God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins and life everlasting. Amen.” Then, the communicant kisses the bottom of the chalice, thinking of himself as the harlot who kissed the feet of the Lord while anointing them with precious myrrh and her penitent tears, while contemplating the Seraphim who touched a burning coal to the mouth of Isaiah, saying: “Behold, This hath touched thy lips, and will take away thine iniquities, and will purge thy sins (Isaiah 6:7).”
BELIEF THAT ONE IS MADE “WORTHY” BY THEIR OWN WORKS RATHER THAN THE MYSTERIES IS PELAGIANISM Pelagius (c. 354‐420) was a heretic from Britain, who believed that it was possible for man to be worthy or even perfect by way of his free will, without the necessity of grace. In most cases, Pelagius reverted from this strict form and did not profess it. For this reason, many of the councils called to condemn the false teaching, only condemn the heresy of Pelagianism, but do not condemn Pelagius himself. But various councils actually do condemn Pelagius along with Pelagianism. Various Protestants have tried to disparage the Orthodox Faith by calling its beliefs Pelagian or Semipelagian. But the Orthodox Faith is neither the one, nor the other, but is entirely free from Pelagianism. The Orthodox Faith is also free from the opposite extreme, namely, Manicheanism, which believes that the world is inherently evil from its very creation. The Orthodox Faith is the Royal Path. It neither falls to the right nor to the left, but remains on the straight path, that is, “the Way.” The Orthodox Faith does indeed believe that good works are essential, but these are for the purpose of gaining God’s mercy. By no means can mankind grant himself “worthiness” and “perfection” by way of his own works. It is only through God’s uncreated grace, light, powers and energies, that mankind can truly be granted worthiness and perfection in Christ. The most commonly‐available source of God’s grace within the Church is through the Holy Mysteries, particularly the Mysteries of Baptism, Chrism, Absolution and Communion, which are necessary for salvation. Baptism can only be received once, for it is a reconciliation of the fallen man to the Risen Man, where one no longer shares in the nakedness of Adam but becomes clothed with Christ. Chrism can be repeated whenever an Orthodox Christian lapses into schism or heresy and is being reconciled to the Church. Absolution can also serve as a method of reconciliation from the sin of heresy or schism as well as from any personal sin that an Orthodox Christian may commit, and in receiving the prayer of pardon one is reconciled to the Church. For as long as an Orthodox Christian sins, he must receive this Mystery repeatedly in order to prepare himself for the next Mystery. Communion is reconciliation to the Immaculate Body and Precious Blood of Christ, allowing one to live in Christ. This is the ultimate Mystery, and must be received frequently for one to experience a life in Christ. For Orthodox Christianity is not a philosophy or a way of thought, nor is it merely a moral code, but it is the Life of Christ in man, and the way one can truly live in Christ is through Holy Communion. Pelagianism in the strictest form is the belief that mankind can achieve “worthiness” and “perfection” by way of his own free will, without the need of God’s grace or the Mysteries to be the source of that worthiness and perfection. Rather than viewing good works as a method of achieving God’s mercy, they view the good works as a method of achieving self‐worth and self‐perfection. The most common understanding of Pelagianism refers to the supposed “worthiness” of man by way of having a good will or good works prior to receiving the Mystery of Baptism. But the form of Pelagianism into which Bp. Kirykos falls in his first letter to Fr. Pedro, is in regards to the supposed “worthiness” of Christians purely by their own work of fasting. Thus, in his first letter to Fr. Pedro, Bp. Kirykos does not mention the Mystery of Confession (or Absolution) anywhere in the text as a means of receiving worthiness, but attaches the worthiness entirely to the fasting alone. Again, nowhere in the letter does he mention the Holy Communion itself as a source of perfection, but rather entertains the notion that mankind is capable of achieving such perfection prior to even receiving communion. This is the only way one can interpret his letter, especially his totally unhistorical statement regarding the early Christians, in which he claims: “They fasted in the fine and broader sense, that is, they were worthy to commune.” St. Aurelius Augustinus, otherwise known as St. Augustine of Hippo (+28 August, 430), writes: “It is not by their works, but by grace, that the doers of the law are justified… Now [the Apostle Paul] could not mean to contradict himself in saying, ‘The doers of the law shall be justified (Romans 2:13),’ as if their justification came through their works, and not through grace; since he declares that a man is justified freely by His grace without the works of the law (Romans 3:24,28) intending by the term ‘freely’ nothing else than that works do not precede justification. For in another passage he expressly says, ‘If by grace, then is it no more of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace (Romans 11:6).’ But the statement that ‘the doers of the law shall be justified (Romans 2:13)’ must be so understood, as that we may know that they are not otherwise doers of the law, unless they be justified, so that justification does not subsequently accrue to them as doers of the law, but justification precedes them as doers of the law. For what else does the phrase ‘being justified’ signify than being made righteous,—by Him, of course, who justifies the ungodly man, that he may become a godly one instead? For if we were to express a certain fact by saying, ‘The men will be liberated,’ the phrase would of course be understood as asserting that the liberation would accrue to those who were men already; but if we were to say, The men will be created, we should certainly not be understood as asserting that the creation would happen to those who were already in existence, but that they became men by the creation itself. If in like manner it were said, The doers of the law shall be honoured, we should only interpret the statement correctly if we supposed that the honour was to accrue to those who were already doers of the law: but when the allegation is, ‘The doers of the law shall be justified,’ what else does it mean than that the just shall be justified? for of course the doers of the law are just persons. And thus it amounts to the same thing as if it were said, The doers of the law shall be created,—not those who were so already, but that they may become such; in order that the Jews who were hearers of the law might hereby understand that they wanted the grace of the Justifier, in order to be able to become its doers also. Or else the term ‘They shall be justified’ is used in the sense of, They shall be deemed, or reckoned as just, as it is predicated of a certain man in the Gospel, ‘But he, willing to justify himself (Luke 10:29),’—meaning that he wished to be thought and accounted just. In like manner, we attach one meaning to the statement, ‘God sanctifies His saints,’ and another to the words, ‘Sanctified be Thy name (Matthew 6:9);’ for in the former case we suppose the words to mean that He makes those to be saints who were not saints before, and in the latter, that the prayer would have that which is always holy in itself be also regarded as holy by men,—in a word, be feared with a hallowed awe.” (Augustine of Hippo, Antipelagian Writings, Chapter 45) Thus the doers of the law are justified by God’s grace and not by their own good works. The purpose of their own good works is to obtain the mercy of God, but it is God’s grace through the Holy Mysteries that bestows the worthiness and perfection upon mankind. Blessed Augustine does not only speak of this in regards to the Mystery of Baptism, but applies it also to the Mystery of Communion. Thus he writes of both Mysteries as follows: “Now [the Pelagians] take alarm from the statement of the Lord, when He says, ‘Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3:3);’ because in His own explanation of the passage He affirms, ‘Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God (John 3:5).’ And so they try to ascribe to unbaptized infants, by the merit of their innocence, the gift of salvation and eternal life, but at the same time, owing to their being unbaptized, to exclude them from the kingdom of heaven. But how novel and astonishing is such an assumption, as if there could possibly be salvation and eternal life without heirship with Christ, without the kingdom of heaven! Of course they have their refuge, whither to escape and hide themselves, because the Lord does not say, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot have life, but—‘he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.’ If indeed He had said the other, there could have risen not a moment’s doubt. Well, then, let us remove the doubt; let us now listen to the Lord, and not to men’s notions and conjectures; let us, I say, hear what the Lord says—not indeed concerning the sacrament of the laver, but concerning the sacrament of His own holy table, to which none but a baptized person has a right to approach: ‘Except ye eat my flesh and drink my blood, ye shall have no life in you (John 6:53).’ What do we want more? What answer to this can be adduced, unless it be by that obstinacy which ever resists the constancy of manifest truth?” (op. cit., Chapter 26) Blessed Augustine continues on the same subject of how the early Orthodox Christians of Carthage perceived the Mysteries of Baptism and Communion: “The Christians of Carthage have an excellent name for the sacraments, when they say that baptism is nothing else than ‘salvation,’ and the sacrament of the body of Christ nothing else than ‘life.’ Whence, however, was this derived, but from that primitive, as I suppose, and apostolic tradition, by which the Churches of Christ maintain it to be an inherent principle, that without baptism and partaking of the supper of the Lord it is impossible for any man to attain either to the kingdom of God or to salvation and everlasting life? So much also does Scripture testify, according to the words which we already quoted. For wherein does their opinion, who designate baptism by the term salvation, differ from what is written: ‘He saved us by the washing of regeneration (Titus 3:5)?’ or from Peter’s statement: ‘The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (1 Peter 3:21)?’ And what else do they say who call the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper ‘life,’ than that which is written: ‘I am the living bread which came down from heaven (John 6:51);’ and ‘The bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world (John 6:51);’ and ‘Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye shall have no life in you (John 6:53)?’ If, therefore, as so many and such divine witnesses agree, neither salvation nor eternal life can be hoped for by any man without baptism and the Lord’s body and blood, it is vain to promise these blessings to infants without them. Moreover, if it be only sins that separate man from salvation and eternal life, there is nothing else in infants which these sacraments can be the means of removing, but the guilt of sin,—respecting which guilty nature it is written, that “no one is clean, not even if his life be only that of a day (Job 14:4).’ Whence also that exclamation of the Psalmist: ‘Behold, I was conceived in iniquity; and in sins did my mother bear me (Psalm 50:5)! This is either said in the person of our common humanity, or if of himself only David speaks, it does not imply that he was born of fornication, but in lawful wedlock. We therefore ought not to doubt that even for infants yet to be baptized was that precious blood shed, which previous to its actual effusion was so given, and applied in the sacrament, that it was said, ‘This is my blood, which shall be shed for many for the remission of sins (Matthew 26:28).’ Now they who will not allow that they are under sin, deny that there is any liberation. For what is there that men are liberated from, if they are held to be bound by no bondage of sin? (op. cit., Chapter 34) Now, what of Bp. Kirykos’ opinion that early Christians “fasted in the fine and broader sense, that is, they were worthy to commune?” Is this because they were saints? Were all of the early Christians who were frequent communicants ascetics who fasted “in the finer and broader sense” and were actual saints? Even if so, does the Orthodox Church consider the saints “worthy” by their act of fasting, or is their act of fasting only a plea for God’s mercy, while God’s grace is what delivers the worthiness? According to Bp. Kirykos, the early Christians, whether they were saints or not, “fasted in the fine and broader sense, that is, they were worthy to commune.” But is this a teaching of Orthodoxy or rather of Pelagianism? Is this what the saints believed of themselves, that they were “worthy?” And if they didn’t believe they were worthy, was that just out of humility, or did they truly consider themselves unworthy? Blessed Augustine of Hippo, one of the champions of his time against the heresy of Pelagianism, writes: “In that, indeed, in the praise of the saints, they will not drive us with the zeal of that publican (Luke 18:10‐14) to hunger and thirst after righteousness, but with the vanity of the Pharisees, as it were, to overflow with sufficiency and fulness; what does it profit them that—in opposition to the Manicheans, who do away with baptism—they say ‘that men are perfectly renewed by baptism,’ and apply the apostle’s testimony for this,—‘who testifies that, by the washing of water, the Church is made holy and spotless from the Gentiles (Ephesians 5:26),’—when, with a proud and perverse meaning, they put forth their arguments in opposition to the prayers of the Church itself. For they say this in order that the Church may be believed after holy baptism—in which is accomplished the forgiveness of all sins—to have no further sin; when, in opposition to them, from the rising of the sun even to its setting, in all its members it cries to God, ‘Forgive us our debts (Matthew 6:12).’ But if they are interrogated regarding themselves in this matter, they find not what to answer. For if they should say that they have no sin, John answers them, that ‘they deceive themselves, and the truth is not in them (1 John 1:8).’ But if they confess their sins, since they wish themselves to be members of Christ’s body, how will that body, that is, the Church, be even in this time perfectly, as they think, without spot or wrinkle, if its members without falsehood confess themselves to have sins? Wherefore in baptism all sins are forgiven, and, by that very washing of water in the word, the Church is set forth in Christ without spot or wrinkle (Ephesians 5:27); and unless it were baptized, it would fruitlessly say, ‘Forgive us our debts,’ until it be brought to glory, when there is in it absolutely no spot or wrinkle.” (op. cit., Chapter 17). Again, in his chapter called ‘The Opinion of the Saints Themselves About Themselves,’ Blessed Augustine writes: “It is to be confessed that ‘the Holy Spirit, even in the old times,’ not only ‘aided good dispositions,’ which even they allow, but that it even made them good, which they will not have. ‘That all, also, of the prophets and apostles or saints, both evangelical and ancient, to whom God gives His witness, were righteous, not in comparison with the wicked, but by the rule of virtue,’ is not doubtful. And this is opposed to the Manicheans, who blaspheme the patriarchs and prophets; but what is opposed to the Pelagians is, that all of these, when interrogated concerning themselves while they lived in the body, with one most accordant voice would answer, ‘If we should say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us (1 John 1:8).’ ‘But in the future time,’ it is not to be denied ‘that there will be a reward as well of good works as of evil, and that no one will be commanded to do the commandments there which here he has contemned,’ but that a sufficiency of perfect righteousness where sin cannot be, a righteousness which is here hungered and thirsted after by the saints, is here hoped for