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The Two Spheres.


"Our Father Who Art in Heaven."

When people talk about the Church, they usually think of her worldly aspect, the Church Militant. In various countries, and throughout her history, this Church has had periods of tranquility and prosperity, and periods of persecution and abasement. At times of ordeal, people who set store by the Church start fearing for her fate and asking, whether the end has come to her existence and the world has reached its last days.

In the time of hardship of the Church, it is comforting to raise our spiritual eyes aloft, and to pray to the Lord, "Our Father which art in heaven." Through such prayerfulness, we enter into mysterious fellowship with the Omnipotent God and with the spiritual world, and the existence of our Church in her out-of-this-world glory becomes revealed to our sight. Then we start to clearly comprehend and feel that the spiritual community we belong to is in fact much greater and stronger than it has seemed. Parts of this community are the Holy Virgin Mary, Apostles, prophets, martyrs, saint monks, fools-for-Christ-sake, saints, innumerable righteous people of all times and nations, and finally, the infinite ocean of the angel world, with its glory and power above comprehension. And this grand multitude is lead by the Chief of our salvation, the Victor over the devil and Conqueror of death, our Lord Jesus Christ!

The Holy Apostle Paul comforted his compatriots, Judean Christian persecuted by non-believing Jews, by reminding them about this genuine glory of the heavenly-and-worldly Church, "But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant" (Hebrews 12:22-24). And yet in another place he compared the Church to a great building and inspired the faithful with the following words, "Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord" (Ephesians 2:19-21).

In relationship to the universal heavenly-and-worldly Church, our local, national Orthodox churches are just small cells, as though stones on a slope of a big mountain, or huts in the outskirts of a large city; and the parishes we belong to are simply microscopic.

But the seeming scarcity and even mediocrity do not mean that we have been forsaken by our glorified brothers and left for the servants of the prince of darkness. Contrarily, the more powerful the onslaught of the enemy's forces, the closer to us is help of the entire Church. If we cannot permit a bully to hurt our small brother before our eyes, then even more the saints, who have reached perfection in charity, are always ready to come to our rescue. And, in accordance with the words of the Savior, "joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance" (Luke 15:7).

Our world is like a battlefield, and maybe it is in the center of the struggle in which God and Satan fight for each and every human soul. Indeed, the front line of this war goes far beyond the boundaries of our universe, and the Heavenly Church takes very vigorous action in the struggle with the dragon and its servants. We are able to watch only a minor portion of this arduous, tense spiritual war.

In order to see this battle in a wider scale, it should be looked at through the eyes of the Holy Visionary, the Apostle John the Theologian, the writer of the Book of Revelation.

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