Metropolitan Jeremiah of Gortina
I said it often, my Christian brothers, that the most important, the greatest thing, above all the others, is our FAITH, our ORTHODOX FAITH. That’s why in our daily prayer we must say: My Lord, strengthen my faith in You, my love for You! Only if we have a right faith and live this faith in our daily life, only then we shall achieve our salvation and we shall sanctify ourselves. Our faith, my brothers, is not a human creation, it is a divine revelation. And this revelation (discovery) was brought to us by the Son of God, our Lord, Jesus Christ.
This faith of ours was formulated by the Holy Fathers in short sentences which are called DOGMAS. And the dogmas are inspired by God, as the Holy Scripture. The Holy Fathers formulated the dogmas in the ecumenical synods, where the Holy Spirit works. The Holy Spirit buils the Church and He, the Holy Spirit works at the statement of our right dogmas of Faith, for our salvation.
Yes! The dogmas of our Faith are for our salvation. They give us the correct method for healing our souls of the sinful passions and they also show us the right path for finding and experiencing God. The heresy show a wrong way towards Gos, leads you to a different god, that is why we reject it and fight against it. „Filioque”, for instance, of the Catholics complicate our path to God. It leads us to a fake god, not to the true God of the Holy Scripture, to the One who was revealed to us by Jesus Christ.
Thus, the dogmas of our faith, my Christian brohers, are not only some theoretical truths, we must learn and cultivate, but are some truths which are ordained in our life by the Church and in our society, for proving ourselves true Christians in the world.
I said that the dogmas of our Faith were given to us for living them, since by applying them in our life, we shall gain our salvation. The Holy Fathers lived the dogmas, their entire life was Orthopraxy (righteous work_ and that is why they spoke right about ORTHODOXY.
First the Holy Fathers experienced the divine ones and from their experience they learnt the divine ones. For this reason they became means of the Holy Spirit in formulating the dogmas of our Faith. That is why we have absolute trust in them, because their entire life was a true application of the truths of our Faith, of our Orthodox dogmas.
As Saint Simeon the New Theologian says : Those Holy Fathers wrote nothing else but what they did first and by doing that, they accomplished it.
As long as the holy dogmas of our Faith are our life and our experience as Christians, this means that even before the dogmas were formulated by the Ecumanical Synods, the Christians believed and lived them. Namely that Jesus Christ is like God, the Father and the Christians knew him from the beginning, they did not learn about Him in the year 325 when it took place the first Ecumenical Synod and it was formulated clearly the dogma of the divine nature of Jesus Christ.
They did this then because the heretic Arie was saying something opposite to it and his deceit had to be fought, because it brought much damage. But even before formulating in the dogma the truth of the divine nature of Christ, this truth was believed by the Christians, he was the life of the Church. Thus when the church formulates a dogma in an Ecumenical Synod, they do not found a new faith, but because these were the developments and it was required so, they formulate clearly the truth already given of the divine revelation. Pay attention to what I tell you my brothers! Our Orthodox Church does not create new dogmas! These is done by the Catholics, who always produce new dogmas, for example their dogma about the pope’s primate and infallibility.
My brothers, our whole faith, namely the dogmas of our Orthodox Faith, are found in the liturgical books of the Church, in those you hear here in our church from the priest and psalter. Thus when we gather here in the church for worshipping God by what we say from the liturgical books, we confess our Faith. And thus it must be done. In order to make our prayer be heard by God, it must be addressed to the true God. My beloved Christians, for learning the Orthodox faith, I recommend you to come to the Church and take heed at the words and chants sung by the priest and psalter, because there is found our Creed. But you should also have liturgical books at home and read them. Any family should have a prayer book and a Horologion. And you should read from there the morning prayers, the Akathist and the Oratory of Theotokos.
These holy imnographic creations are the works of the Holy Fathers, which became nourishment of many pious souls.
Even today there are composed holy services but as it is seen, many of these entirely lack the dogmatic teaching of our Faith, which we found it abundantly in our old liturgical books. I recommend you to buy the Octoechos, for the hymns of the great dogmatist of our Church, saint John the Damascene.
In the end, to understand the dogmas of our Faith, my brothers, is not easy because they are not understood with the intellect. Not because they would be irrational, but they are above the intellect. Our faith is not understood by the intellect, it is understood by the heart. That is why it is called faith, which derives from entrusting. Meaning that I love God and entrust myself to Him. Thus in a secret divine way when we listen with love for God and piety the words of the divine cult, our heart slowly begins to taste God, rejoices in Him and thus reaches by the grace of God, the knowledge of God. And when we apply the dogmas of our faith in our life, when we live in purity, then we receive an abundance of grace from God and taste and know better our Faith. Saint Simeon the New Theologian tells us again: If you don’t acquire experience, you don’t acquire the knowledge of the dogmas either. And saint Kosmas the Etilian, talking about the dogma of the Holy Trinity and wanting to be understood by all his listeners, said in his preach:
There is another way of understanding the Most Holy Trinity. What’s that? To make a true and complete confession, to partake with fear and piety with the most holy sacraments and then the grace of the Holy Spirit shall enlighten you to understand, because by study you shall not be able to understand.
Let us receive, my beloved, the dogmas of our Faith with purity and simplicity of heart, not being dominated by rationalism as the Westerners are, who imagine that they can understand the dogmas with their powerful mind and not only these, they also revoke them and conceive some new ones. The dogmatist of the Orthodox Church, saint John the Damascene, says: Let us receive the tradition of the Church with sincerity of the heart and not with many reasonings.
With plenty of blessings,
† Jeremiah Metropolitan of Gortina and Megalopola