The jungle cannot bring up Newtons or Einsteins, Apostles
Pauls or reverend Seraphims. However gifted a man is, if even he is a genius,
still he cannot comprehend everything on his own but needs family and society
for his development. Even the most talented person won't become an excellent
violinist when you give him a violin and music. Someone has to teach and pass
experience to him. The visible progress of humankind, advancement of
civilization takes place due to the experience previously gained. The preceding
generations serve as a base for the intellectual growth of the following
generations. When a state or empire collapses as a result of some disaster, the
culture collapses with it. Efforts of many generations will be required
afterwards in order to restore the knowledge and experience.
For development of mental abilities and harmonious
overall progress a man needs teachers, schools and the very complex structure
of human society. Man grows, improves and becomes useful as a member of
community. Without it, man would be a savage, not adapted to life. In one word,
man was created in such a way that he cannot live outside a community.
Ideally, family and community have to form not
only the mental and applied abilities of a man, but build his spiritual self
as well. That is how God designed it. The celestial, angelic world is the
ideal community of goodness and truth, founded on the principles of divine
love, where blameless beings live not for themselves but for the sake of
each other, with a joyful praise of the Maker.
Sin intruded into the entire order of human life,
perverted the spiritual nature of man, and social life as a whole. Community,
which, by God's design, had to facilitate the correct spiritual development of
humans, has lost the capability for this in practice. Without the spiritual
checkpoints, community focused all its efforts on the development of outward
advancement, material goods, this resulting in one-sidedness of its members,
and sometimes in callousness, brutality and other things that we see daily in
the surrounding world.
Therefore, for the sake of salvation of our souls,
and for spiritual upbringing and development of man, God set up another
community: Church. "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal
priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the
praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light;
Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God"
(1 Peter 2:9:10).
The Church is a peculiar community, established
and sanctified by God. The Church is different from any other human society or
state in that she is the Kingdom of God on earth, and her goals are the moral
renewal of humans and guidance towards salvation. Christ gave the
Church everything necessary to fulfill this purpose, which can be put in just a
pair of words: grace and truth. These are her spiritual treasures
that she is called to keep, and to enrich the faithful with them. But even the
greatest jewel won't do any good to a man unless he makes use of it. That is
why it is necessary for everyone to enrich oneself from the Church's spiritual
treasury: learn the truth that she keeps, receive the sanctification through
her gifts of grace, absorb the spiritual experience of her righteous people.
A man has a body and a soul, and similarly the
Church has a visible and invisible part. Her invisible part is
the action of Christ's grace, the spiritual improvement of the faithful, and
her heavenly portion — the Church Triumphant. Church is a celestial-terrestrial
community, headed by Christ. This is why much in ecclesiastical life cannot be
subject to study. The visible part of Church is her teaching, ecclesiastic hierarchy,
ecumenical and local councils, temples, divine services, feasts and traditions,
canon laws and chapters.
Many contemporary Christians do not understand
what the Church exists for. They think that it is enough to read the Gospel and
believe in Christ. But, for one, the Gospel did not fall from the heaven.
Someone had to collect the books written by the Apostles, check them through
and incorporate them in the body of the Bible. Someone had to take away from
the Bible any false, heretical writings. The Church did it in her first three
centuries. Two, one cannot learn from books alone. Even in the very precise and
logical science of mathematics a student needs someone to explain what is not
clear to him, check on his success, give him guidance for further learning. In
the same way, man's spiritual education requires spiritual guides to explain
what is not clear and warn him against false teachers and false prophets that
have always been abundant.
Listening to the teaching of the Savior and His
Apostles, we can understand that, in accordance with the Divine plan, people
are not called for salvation haphazardly and in loneliness; oppositely, they
can be saved in their togetherness, as members of one big family. The
faithful are not only called to utilize whatever the Church gives, but also to
assist one another's salvation. Sin and selfishness are sources of
disintegration, while charity and kindness initiate integration.
No man can reach perfection in a blink of the eye.
Christian life is a process of self-improvement. It is therefore natural that
the Church consists of people on different stages of spiritual development.
Those who have reached a greater degree of perfection, should help their weaker
fellows. The Lord Himself established the order that some teach and others are
In the Church a Christian learns the truth and
receives sanctification by the grace of the Holy Ghost. In the Holy Sacrament
of Eucharist, he comes into real communion with Christ, Son of God Incarnate,
and through Him becomes a partaker of Divine nature. In this mysterious
communion with God man receives mighty spiritual powers, which help him
to grow and improve spiritually. Moral perfection is the goal of our life:
"Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is
perfect" (Matthew 5:48).
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