Friday, May 28, 2010

There are two ways, one of life and one of death

These are the first words of a document titled, “The Didache of the Holy Apostles” which outlines some of the very earliest teachings given to the Church by the Holy Apostles of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Apostles continue: “but a great difference between the two ways.” The Didache (or teaching) is a document held with great honor in the Church because it gives us a glimpse into the ancient Church structure and way of life. There are sixteen chapters in all covering topics from how to avoid sin to how to celebrate the Eucharist.

The month of June every year is a month dedicated to the Holy Apostles. Beginning with the Monday after All Saints (this year May 31) and lasting until the Feast of the Holy Apostles on June 30 the Church asks us to fast in honor of the Holy Apostles and work they accomplished in establishing the Church of Christ after being guided “into all truth” (John 16.13) by the Holy Spirit who descended upon the Church at Pentecost.

During every Divine Liturgy we confess, “One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church” as we recite the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed. To be the Apostolic Church means that the Orthodox Church has maintained the Holy Traditions of the Apostles as handed down from Bishop to Bishop through Apostolic Succession and the physical Laying on of Hands at ordination. Saint Paul said, “Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you.” (1 Corinthians 11.2) and again he said, “Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.” (2 Thessalonians 2.15)

Jesus Christ ordained His Disciples with authority to establish the Church when He ascended to His Throne. “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28.18-20)

Jesus commanded the Holy Apostles to teach us. The Holy Spirit guided them into all truth. They have passed on “the way of life” to us through the Church. We follow Saint Paul’s commanded to keep those traditions. This is what it means to be One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church….to follow on the way of life.

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