Know it, my child, that in the last days, as the Apostle says, difficult times will come. And so, as a result of the impoverishment of piety, there will appear heresies and schisms in the churches; and in those days, as the Holy Fathers have predicted, there will be no people on the hierarchical thrones and in monasteries who would be experienced and skilled in spiritual life. Because of this, heresies will spread everywhere and shall deceive many. The enemy of the human race will act with cunning, in order to persuade the elect to heresy, if possible. He will not rudely reject the dogmas of the Holy Trinity, about the Deity of Jesus Christ, about the Mother of God, but will imperceptibly distort the Tradition of the Holy Fathers coming from the Holy Spirit - the Teaching of the Church itself.
Rev. Hieroschemamonk Anatoly Junior (Potapov, † 1922), of Optina - Excerpt from a letter to a spiritual son
A COMMENT REGARDING “PREDANIE”
“Предание” [Pryedanie] – is Sacred Tradition, the Teaching of the Church
“In Eastern Orthodox theology, sacred tradition (“predanie” in Russian) is the inspired revelation of God and catholic teaching (Greek katholikos, "according to the whole") of the Church, not an independent source of dogmatic authority to be regarded as a supplement to biblical revelation. Tradition is rather understood as the fullness of divine truth proclaimed in the scriptures, preserved by the apostolic bishops and expressed in the life of the Church through the Divine Liturgy and the Holy Mysteries (Eucharist, baptism, marriage, etc.), the Creed and other doctrinal definitions of the First seven ecumenical councils, canonical Christian iconography, and the sanctified lives of godly men and women.
According to the Christian theological understanding of these Churches, scripture is the written part of this larger tradition, recording (albeit sometimes through the work of individual authors) the community's experience of God or more specifically of Jesus. Thus, the Bible must be interpreted within the context of sacred tradition and within the community of the church. That is in contrast to many Protestant traditions, which teach that the Bible alone is a sufficient basis for all Christian teaching (a position known as sola scriptura).” [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacred_tradition]
INTRODUCTION TO ENGLISH TRANSLATION
This article was written to respond to written and verbal arguments of the resolute apologists of a new (or revived) “historically backed conclusion” of formerly bishop Ambrose rejecting the fact of the Entrance of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Holy of the Holies of the Temple.
The article is comprised of responses or statements that defend The Holy Orthodox Church view of this significant and celebrated event in the history of Salvation of Mankind, as preserved within the Church’s Sacred Tradition (“Predanie”).
The opposition’s original arguments can be easily deducted from each section’s title, however when translating into English, some comments have been added to ease this task.
We have not received a single objection or counterargument from the antagonists of the Church’s Belief. That led us to a conclusion that the article is complete and can be published in Russian and in English.
To our sincere amazement, to this day (October 2020), some of the apologists not only continue to stand firm in their heresy but have left the Orthodox Church and make attempts to convert the Faithfull by phoning them.
It is sad beyond words, especially in our poor times, to witness the wicked action of rationalistic worldly thinking against the Faith, dragging its victims, the precious human souls including many children, away from the Church ship and into the abyss of the worldly storm.
Schisms and Heresies have always prevailed over the Church, contradicting the Symbol of Faith. We live in a time of rebellion of the evil one against the ninth member of the Creed of Faith in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, that is, the belief that the Church is:
- Holy, that is, filled and nurtured by the Holy Spirit,
- Orthodox Catholic - that is, in its integrity, as a single organism, observes
- The Faith committed by the Apostles and preserved by the same Spirit through Councils (that is, meetings at which doctrinal issues are resolved) from distortions.
When the Lord was ascending, He promised to send the Spirit who will teach you everything: “But the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you everything and remind you of everything that I have told you.” [John XIV: 26] “When He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth: for He will not speak of Himself, but will speak what He hears, and will tell you the future.” [John XVI: 13]
The Holy Spirit clearly dwelt and dwells in Saints, through whom proclaims God's Wisdom and teaches the Truth since the times of prophets and of the psalmist King David. The Spirit’s thorough guidance is to the point of not allowing the Apostles to go “preach the word in Asia,” and later in Bithynia [Acts 16: 7, 8]. But at the same time, one needs to abide by the Spirit so as not to lose the opportunity to hear Him.
The denial of the continual participation of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church is not feasible for an Orthodox Christian; equally to a similar heretical denial that the Church is the keeper of Truth.
And where do distortions come from? From the enemy of our Salvation, from the evil one.
Like a virus that seizes a healthy cell using a protein key which the cell accepts for its own, thus the evil one under the guise of piety does his work, with the ultimate goal of seducing the faithful if possible, using the “good intentions” as the key; and to tear them away from The Holy Church, from Her Sacraments, from Christ, and thus to destroy his victims.
At the same time, the purpose of the Council of Bishops and the Church is to resist the poison of lies and preserve “what you have” (as St. Philaret of ROCOR has bequeathed). And the question for everyone is: “who do you trust?” (i.e. the new doctrine, or the 2000-year-old Faith accepted by the Church with its numerous testimonies through fruits of Holiness).
Grant us, o Lord, the Faith of the Holy Righteous Fathers, Forefathers, of the holy Ancestors-of-God and all Saints, which we celebrate in the Holy Church several times a year.
A schism begins with arrogance of the mind
The crafty one, who has been fighting with God for the souls of men for more than seven and a half thousand years, is skilful in using suitable hooks and lures for his catch. He will not seduce a firm righteous man using simple carnal temptations. For these kin, a worm of doubtfulness in matters from the Holy Tradition is set aside.
One of the weak sides of a modern thinking person is his self-reliance centered in his own mind. He easily forgets that “no one knows God except the Spirit of God” [1 Corinthians 2:11] and to whom God gives this knowledge through mutual interbeing (inter-abiding). The only path of acquiring the Spirit is through complete humility, to the point of disloyalty to your own mind through understanding your own limitations and denying its deceitful fruit. Where there is no humility, temptation leads to self-deception due to self-exaltation of one's mind over the Catholic mind of the Church, in other words - to delusion. And then, if one firmly accepts a logically grounded conviction that a new truth has been found, and that a fundamental rejection of it is "destructive to the soul", then, with "good intentions" to "stand in the new truth" such a person is directed onto the path of a schism.
A person who believes his own self more than the katholikos (conciliar) mind guided by the Holy Spirit and by the lives of thousands and thousands of Saints, falls into idolatry to his human mind and, in the end, cuts himself off from the God-given Saving Unity of the Church.
There is nothing new about this since the times of the Pharisees who also logically substantiated the impossibility for Jesus to be the Messiah on the basis of the Scripture: “Look and you will see that a prophet does not come from Galilee” “Did any of the rulers, or of the Pharisees, believe in Him? But these people are ignorant of the law, they are cursed. " [John 7:48, 52] “This Man is not of God, because he does not keep the Sabbath” [John 9:16].
A Russian Church example is the schism of the Old Believers which began with a dispute about whether "Hallelujah” should be sung 3 times (as usual) or 2 times only (as "it turns out to be correct") [Met. Makarios, "History of the Russian schism, known under the name of the Old Believers 1419-1667"]. This dispute has developed into a great tragedy of the Russian Orthodox Church. For instance, despite the reconciliation in the second half of the 20th century, the argument regarding the "correct two-finger - incorrect three-finger" contraposition (that is, how to properly fold fingers to make the sign of the Cross) is, sadly, still well alive.
How to block off the path to opinion-based schisms?
In order to block off the path to opinion-based schisms, Rev. Vikenty Lyrinsky (5th century), formulated the Principle of "The Fathers’ Consent" (Consensuspatrum):
“One should accept the judgments only of those Fathers who: living, teaching and abiding in Faith and in Catholic communion holy, wisely, constantly, were vouchsafed either to rest in Christ in Faith, or to die blessedly for Christ. And they should be trusted according to the following rule: we should consider as certain, true and indisputable only the teaching that either all of them, or the majority of them unanimously accepted, supported, passed on openly, often unshakably, as if by some preliminary agreement between the teachers;
while if there was something in someone’s mind, whether he was a saint or a scientist, whether a confessor or a martyr, and (if that thinking of his) did not agree with everyone or even went against the teaching of everyone, then (that thinking) should be referred to as an opinion, which is personal, secret, private, different (secretum) from the authority of a common open and popular belief; in order so that we, with the greatest danger regarding the eternal salvation, would not follow a new delusion of one person and leave the ancient truth of the universal dogma, similarly to the impious practice of heretics and schismatics."
Judgments on controversial issues were determined by Councils of the Church, and then, in their further development, were consolidated by decisions of the subsequently held Councils.
By what method did the Orthodox Church separate the truth, and why the Scripture cannot be explained solely by the Scripture itself
***This chapter was written to counter the false approach of the group that “The Holy Scripture must be explained by the Holy Scripture”. ***
Metropolitan Macarius Bulgakov writes in Dogmatic Theology that “in order to properly assimilate the teaching contained in The Holy Scripture," we must "make sure that the books of The Holy Scriptures are indeed genuine, and constitute the very canon that came out of the hands of the Holy writers, while on the other hand, that they are truly divinely inspired” and that “during the very reading of The Holy Scriptures, we could find everywhere only the true meaning of it." He goes on to say, “Who can satisfactorily fulfill both conditions for us? Wrong-minded Christians have invented three principles for this: 1) some of them point to (the mind-based) reasoning, 2) others - to The Holy Scripture itself, 3) while the third group- at an inner illumination from the Holy Spirit. "
Let us look more closely at these methodological principles of interpretation of the Bible (and of the Holy Tradition), by uncovering their internal faulty logic or by analyzing the already known outcomes of their application:
(1) FALSE METHODOLOGY 1: MIND-BASED REASONING
Dogmatic Theology denies the “Mind-based Reasoning” approach stating that “reason (alone) is not able to define the Canon of the Holy Books" for the following reasons:
• “Ancient catalogs of the Holy Books belonging not only to private teachers of the Church, but also to entire private churches, as we have seen (§ 125), do not completely agree with each other - and those books that are canonical in some catalogs are sometimes not mentioned in others, and still, others are even ranked as non-canonical. "
• For example, “Luther, who did not hesitate to exclude books from the Canon that were not mentioned in some ancient catalogs (from the New Testament it is the Letters of: James, the Second of Peter, the Second and Third of John, the Letter to the Jews of Apostle Paul, and the Apocalypse)"
• An “especially striking evidence of the validity of the (Orthodox Church’s rejection of this method) is the example of rationalists, who have finally arrived at such a point in their disputes about the canonical dignity of Holy Books that there is not a single book left that would not have been rejected by one or the other of their groups, or would be unanimously recognized by everyone as canonical. "
“The Reason alone, being applied outside the framework of subordination to any higher authority, and left only to itself, is absolutely incapable of serving us as an accurate and completely reliable interpreter of The Holy Scripture; on the contrary, in that case the opposite would (unequivocally) have to happen. "
a) “individual human minds in addition to the general principles governing them, have their own special (subjective) principles and beliefs. They often have their own special goals, to which they commit; special motives which guide them in their actions."
b) "the beliefs of individual minds very often change"
c) “finally, the mind itself can explain in one way or another, no doubt, only those certainties in the Bible that are comprehensible to it, but how will it explain the incomprehensible truths? And how can you guarantee that its explanation is correct? In reality, as the experience of the rationalists has shown, the mind will reject these incomprehensible truths, and interpret them in its own way, in the figurative sense, without allowing anything otherworldly.
We are not saying that the mind should not take any part in the interpretation of The Holy Scripture, or that its involvement is inevitably harmful. On the contrary, the mind can and should participate in this work, but only by submitting its interpretations to another, higher authority. And the participation of the mind can then not only be proper, but, at times, even necessary, especially in disputes with opponents. And (when rejecting this approach) we are talking only about the mind by itself, not subject to this highest authority, while guided in its research wholly by a principle of its own arbitrariness (liberiarbitrii): this is what we cannot accept as a sole and reliable guide in the explanation of The Holy Scriptures."
(2) FALSE METHODOLOGY 2: EXPLAINING THE HOLY SCRIPTURE BY THE HOLY SCRIPTURE
Dogmatic Theology denies the methodological approach that states that “the Word of God must be explained by the Word of God, and its darkest passages by those passages that are clear” because even the Holy Scripture itself:
a) nowhere determines either the Canon or the authenticity of the books incorporated in it;
b) The very testimonies about the divine inspiration of its books relate only to either the Old Testament alone, or to only some of the books, or even only to some individual passages of those, and do not relate clearly to the New Testament; they do not relate to the whole Scripture. In addition, being the testimony about itself, the testimony of the Holy Scriptures cannot have the proper value nor the power of complete persuasion;
c) finally, one must remember that The Holy Scripture is precisely the Scripture, and not a living creature that has hearing and a mouth. It cannot hear our questions as to how we can understand this or that place in it, nor can it answer us and resolve our perplexities. Hence, resolving any perplexities by explaining The Holy Scripture on the basis of The Holy Scriptures will be delegated back to us. And it will be up to us how we choose these or those places for that purpose, how we categorize them as the clearest, and how we then reinterpret them, as we please. Following suite, others will indicate alternative, clearer, in their opinion, places, and explain them in their own way. It is apparent that here as well, the basis of the Holy Scriptures’ interpretation will still be our mind, and not the Holy Scripture; and that the door to all kinds of abuse is thus open. We are not trying to say that, therefore, the Holy Scripture cannot and should not be explained by the Holy Scripture and, that its dark places should not be explained by its clearest ones. No, this is one of the essential, albeit separate, rules of sound biblical hermeneutics, which can have a very extensive and useful application, if only, in order to prevent abuse, this rule is subordinated to another, reliable, indisputable beginning (which we are still looking for). We affirm only, that this rule of interpretation of The Holy Scriptures cannot be recognized as the most dominant, ground rule, infallible and completely trustworthy, to which all others should be subordinated "
(3) FALSE METHODOLOGY 3: EXPLAINING THE HOLY SCRIPTURE BY THE INNER ILLUMINATION FROM THE HOLY SPIRIT
The Orthodox Dogmatic Theology denies the methodological approach that states “that the Word of God must be explained by the inner illumination from the Holy Spirit or an inner voice that resounds in the heart of each of the believers, as many sectarians teach in the depths of Protestantism.”
However The Orthodox Dogmatic Theology “does not at all deny that, both in any good deed, and in the assimilation of the revealed teaching, a Christian needs assistance, admonition and instruction from the Holy Spirit (1 John 2:27, etc.); but we only say that the inner illumination from the Holy Spirit, being taken for the exclusive methodology of hermeneutics is not sufficient for the purpose for the above reasons. "
Metropolitan Macarius concludes: “If, therefore, it is impossible to call absolutely trustworthy any of those aids that are used by the wrong-thinking Christians to assimilate the Divine revelation from the Holy Scriptures: where will we find for ourselves, as Orthodox Christians, this necessary manual? According to the teachings of the Orthodox Church, it was given to the believers by God himself, in another source of the Christian Faith, The Holy Tradition.
By The Holy Tradition, we mean, of course, the Word of God which was not included in the writings by the inspired Writers themselves, but was orally passed on to the Church, and is continuously preserved in the Church since then. ”
Metropolitan Macarius unfolds this further in the following Chapters: [129. The Holy Tradition must be recognized as the source of the Christian faith] and [131. b) Sacred Tradition was indeed preserved in its entirety and reached us.]
In principle, could there be a possibility that a doctrine that was not accepted by the Church would enter into the centuries-old Holy Tradition and be celebrated for more than 12 centuries?
*** This chapter was written to counter the argument of the group that “since apocrypha from James was not recognized by the Church, therefore the narrative of the Entry of the Mother of God into the Temple is false”. ***
From the time of the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ, it took seven centuries for the Church to elucidate the basic dogmas, and to adorn itself with a full yearly cycle of divine services.
Is it possible to imagine that the Church would of have accepted a new doctrine without careful consideration?
The Holy Tradition’s narrative of the Entry of the Mother of God into the Temple was passed down from the disciples of the Apostle John until the time came to decorate the entirety of the annual cycle of Church services with this solemn Feast for the glory of our Salvation. This was an organic establishment of the Feast on the basis of the Church’s Holy Tradition, and the fact that the apocrypha from James (dated to the 2nd half of the 2nd century) contained features of oral tradition does not at all mean that the tradition itself is incorrect. Other works that also reflect this Tradition are the Latin Gospel of the pseudo-Matthew (IX century), Minology of Basil II (end of the X century), Synaxarium of the Church of Constantinople (X century).
“The memory of The Presentation could have been preserved not only within one holy family or among contemporaries, but could also spread among Christians through St. Apostle John the Theologian, who from the mouth of the Ever-Virgin Herself could hear stories about the most important circumstances of Her Holy life. It is not surprising, therefore, that according to legend, the details of this event are also known. "
Why hasn't this holiday been celebrated before? Because prior to these times, the Church was persecuted for about 3 centuries. As soon as the Church entered into a relatively peaceful period, Divine Services began to take shape organically, starting with Matins and Vespers: "Only after the Council of Nicaea (i.e. in 326) did Queen Helen find the Cross of the Lord in Jerusalem, and then the Coffin and the Bethlehem Cave. 10 years later (September 13, 335) her son, Constantine the Great, had consecrated a huge temple above the Golgotha and the Holy Sepulcher in honor of the Resurrection of Christ (to this day, we celebrate this as the "Resurrection of the Word" on the 13/26 September). All in all, Constantine and Elena have built more than 80 churches at the holy places."
"As the Church Tradition says, the Feast of the Entry into the Temple of the Holy Theotokos was known already in the first centuries of Christianity. Equal-to-the-Apostles Empress Helen (+326) has built a temple in honor of the Presentation. And in the IV century St. Gregory of Nyssa wrote about the feast. "
Naturally, the peaceful times and the royal patronage had an impact on how the Church developed the culture of worship. ” The early Christian divine services were focused on the Eucharist, devoid of any pomp and solemnity, while upon being transferred to the magnificent state basilicas, the divine service acquires state splendor, becomes much more elaborate ... This is done partly with a special missionary goal: to attract to the churches the recently pagan masses no more united by that faith. … The main source of liturgical creativity at this stage is the imperial court ceremony. The Byzantine Liturgy is in the full sense an imperial liturgy, implying the inclusion of the imperial court in Church life. Hence these rituals of processions, a complex system of entrances and exits which make the divine service more magnificent and dramatically expressive.
Many minor liturgical elements are invented to link and bond the growing liturgical structures: countless sticheras, troparia and kondakion, prokimna, ipakoi, exapostylaria, etc. These elements will form the grandiose constructions of medieval canons and polyelic services.
Hymnography and church singing are flourishing lavishly, developing into ever more elaborate pieces. And all this leads to the elaborateness of the subject-material side of the faith. All sorts of vestments, mitras, eagles, ripidas, dikirii and trikirii appear. To justify such complexity, symbolic explanations are invented: mitra is a symbol of a crown of thorns, ripidas are signs of angelic concelebration, dikirii and trikirii have a Christological and Trinitarian meaning.
Thus, it was not a free play with forms, as hypercritics sometimes believe. Liturgical symbols illustrated Christian dogmas, which was especially important during the period of great theological disputations of the 4-8 centuries.
The rapid development of the cycle of the Great Feasts serves the same purpose. Exploring the history of the division of the Epiphany into two holidays - Christmas and the Baptism of Christ (in the second half of the 4th century), Kuhlman and Bott found that this was necessary for a better assimilation of the dogma of the Incarnation in the era of struggle against Arianism. At the end of the 4th century, the first Feast of the Mother of God (The Meeting of the Lord) emerges, and from the middle of the 5th century, the Assumption of the Theotokos is celebrated. "
"In the late 4th - early 5th centuries, a proskomedia appears in this altar, as a symbolic duplication of the Eucharist." “In the 4th century, the great Church Fathers (St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. Basil the Great, St. John Chrysostom, etc.) invest in a lot of work to streamline these local liturgical rites. And this, of course, led to an extreme differentiation of the Anaphora (especially in the East). In Abyssinia (Ethiopia) alone, 16 rites are still known. And the Jacobites and Maronites have about 65 anaphores! "
“The Feast of the Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos was established in the Church later than the other 12 main Feasts. Perhaps its inception is associated with St. Emperor Justinian the Great who built in 543 a large church dedicated to the Most Holy Theotokos on the ruins of the Jerusalem Temple (on Mount Zion, near the site where the Temple of Solomon once stood). He named it “The New Church of the Theotokos” (or Nea”) to distinguish it from the previous one, located near the Sheep Market Pool (Bethesda), opposite from the Temple (Procop. Deaedif. 5. 6). Starting from the VIII century, the feast appears in some of the menologies. The briefness of the instructions regarding the Church Service for the Feast of Presentation of the Holy Theotokos may be an indication that in the beginning it was performed with less solemnity. "
“The Feast became widespread only starting from the 9th century. Two canons of the Feast are remarkable. The first, in the 4th tone, was written by St. George of Nicomedia.
The second canon, in the 1st tone, is by the hymnographer Basil Pagariot, Archbishop of Caesarea. In addition to the canons contained in the modern printed Menology (these are the two mentioned canons of the holiday, as well as the canon of the Forefeast), other canons of the Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos have been preserved in Greek manuscripts: in the 1st tone by Joseph; in the 3rd tone, authorship of George; in the 4th tone, authorship of George; and in the 1st tone, author not indicated.”
“It should be especially noted that, in addition to translations from Greek, the original hymnographic compositions in honor of the Feast of the Entry into the Temple of the Most Holy Lady Theotokos were also known in ancient times among the Orthodox Slavs. In the end of the 9th or early 10th century, in Bulgaria, in the circle of the closest disciples of Saints Cyril and Methodius, as part of the creation of the Slavic Festive Menaion, a canon was written for the Entry, in the 4th tone (beginning with: "Receive, Oh Lady, the singing of thy Entry"). The structure of this canon was in accordance to an acrostic (anonymous) per initial letters of the troparion and special Theotokos songs: "Accept the singing of Your Entry." In order to contain the acrostic in its entirety, the author of the canon delivered the 8th canto with one additional troparion, and the 9th canto with two (while rest of cantos had only three troparions each); and later, in a number of hand written copies, scribes have considered these troparia redundant and have shortened the songs at the end of the canon to match the rest, which had distorted the acrostic structure. The canon has reached us in many manuscripts (at least 20), mainly as part of the Slavic Festive Mineon of the 13th – 15th centuries (the oldest of them are in the Skopskaya and Draganova Minea, dated the end of the 13th century). With the spread of the Jerusalem charter, this canon fell out of use (Ref: Kozhukharov S. Preslavski “Canon for the Entry of the Theotokos (The problem of acrostic - reconstruction on the basis)” // Paleobulgarica. 1991. XV. N 4. P. 28-38), however it remains an important historical evidence of the early Slavic Cyril and Methodius hymnographical tradition. There are also two homilies (a form of Christian sermon containing an interpretation of the Scripture readings) for this holiday, attributed to Patriarch Herman (+ 733), later homilies were written by Patriarch Tarasius (+ 806). "
There is nothing unusual, and this has happened many times in the history of the Church, when an ancient, previously unknown icon of the Theotokos, or of a Saint would suddenly be glorified by God! Each of those events would lead to the Church establishing Feasts honouring a newly uncovered Saint or an Icon. Gods’ glorification of the newly uncovered Saints or icons would be through granting Christians victories over the Tatars, or the relief of some pestilences. People would be instructed to ask for help by praying in front of a certain icon or to a Saint, and God would mercifully deliver them from the trouble through the intercession of the Mother of God or His Saints! This is, indeed, the Life of the Church!
If the Church Tradition about the Introduction of the Mother of God as it is Celebrated in the canons had been incorrect, then the Holy Church, moved by the Holy Spirit, would have brought these issues to one of the Councils over the past 2000 years, to the "Grace of the Holy Spirit of the Congregation." However we see that all the previous Councils in the Spirit of God did not even discuss this issue, and the ROCOR Council in September of 2019 has rejected any doubts about the fidelity of the Holy Tradition about the Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Holy of Holies, and thus “for it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us» [Acts 15:28] had confirmed the authenticity of this Celebration.
Is there evidence in the Church that the Orthodox Feast of the Entry into the Temple of the Most Holy Theotokos with all its liturgical dogmatic messages truly narrates and sings the miracle of this event?
When we tried discussing the topic of the inevitability of the divine intervention (that would of occurred in case this event would be false) with the followers of the new teachings of formerly a bishop Ambrose, they responded with objections that “people should instruct people” (and not the Triumphant Heavenly part of the Church by direct intervention to resolve the bewilderments of the Earthly Militant Church). Let's say that such a prohibition or dogma does not exist, and that such divine intervention took place many times through the history of the Church.
For example, at the 4th Ecumenical Council in Chalcedon in 449 A.D., when 630 Fathers were discussing the Monophysite heresy, the Holy Great Martyr Euphemia the All-Praiseworthy (who presented herself as a martyr to the Lord 146 years prior to this event, in the year 303 A.D.) had stretched out her hand as if she were alive and gave the king and the patriarch a scroll with the right confession (Comm. 11 July).
And the Mother of God Herself had appeared and explained to people the basics of faith or the subtleties of dogma.
For example, the Theotokos had appeared and said to Abba Kyriakos, the presbyter of the Kolomansk Lavra, “You have My enemy in your cell, how can you, 1after that, ask that I come to visit you?”. It turned out that Abba Kyriakos had a book of the blessed Jerusalem presbyter Hesychius, which he took to read, and after the appearance of the Most Pure One he found “at the end of the book two words of the wicked Nestorius, and thus he knew what kind of enemy of the Most Holy Lady was” in his cell ... [“The Spiritual Meadow”].
Another example, directly related to our topic, (including the "wrong views of St. John Chrysostom” - as declared by monk Ambrose), is described in the Life of St. Cyril, Archbishop of Alexandria (Comm. 9 June). "Saint Cyril of Jerusalem - this great saint of God ... was angry, without a reason, at John Chrysostom – one Saint at another Saint ... not only during the life of the latter, but even after his death; and Cyril did not want to commemorate him as a saint." St. Cyril realized that he was wrong “and has completely repented when he was terrified by the following vision: It seemed to him that he was in some very beautiful place full of inexplicable joy. Here he saw wonderful men - Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and other saints, both of the Old Testament and of the New Testament. At the same time, he saw there a very vast and bright Temple, the beauty of which the human language cannot depict, and heard in it the singing of mellifluous voices. Entering this Temple and amazed at its beauty and splendor, Cyril saw in it, in the radiance of glory, the Most Pure Lady Theotokos, surrounded by a multitude of angels. Among those who stood around the Mother of God was, with others in a place of honor, St. John Chrysostom, emitting a wonderful light like an angel of God and holding in his hand a book of his writings; many wonderful men surrounded him like servants. They were all armed, as if preparing for the offensive. And so, when Cyril wanted to fall at the feet of the Mother of God in order to worship Her, St. John with the squires had immediately rushed at Cyrill, forbidding him to approach the Most Pure Mother of God, and chasing him out of the wonderful Temple. Cyril, seeing John who was indignant against him, and himself being driven out of the Church, trembled inside. But suddenly he heard the Most Pure Virgin Mary, who turned to John with a petition to forgive Cyril and not to expel him from the Temple, since he sinned before him not out of malice, but out of ignorance. But John seemed not to want to forgive Cyril. Then the Most Holy Theotokos said: “Forgive him for My sake, for he labored much for My honor, - he glorified Me among people and called Me the Theotokos”.
When the Most Pure Mother of God spoke those words, John immediately took mercy and answered the Mother of God:
"According to your request, Lady, I forgive him." Then, approaching Cyril with friendliness, he hugged and kissed him, and thus they reconciled with each other in a vision.
After this vision, Saint Cyril often began to repent and condemn himself for the fact that until that time he had in vain held his anger against such a Saint of God. Then, having gathered all the Egyptian bishops, he made a solemn celebration in honor of St. John Chrysostom and included the latter in the Church books in the host of Great Saints. In this way, the stain that lay on the holy husband Cyril, who was at enmity against Saint John, was removed, and the enmity between Her slaves was scattered by the Most Pure Mother of God Herself. From that time, while Saint Cyril was alive, he has venerated Saint John Chrysostom with praiseworthy speeches.” [Lives of the Saints by St. Demetrius of Rostov].
In addition to this, The Mother of God Herself, who had appeared to people hundreds or even, perhaps, thousands of times, would proclaim Her will about the truth. After all, it is impossible even to imagine that the Mother of God would not intervene if the Holy Tradition set forth in the Service for the Feast would be incorrect, if it would contradict the Holy Scriptures and would belittle or insult Her son, the God-man Christ.
Furthermore, the Mother of God had already quite clearly expressed Her perspective of this Feast through the miraculous Icon of the Entry into the Temple in the Russian town of Serpukhov in the XIV century: “The miraculous icon “The Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Holy of Holies ”, was painted in 1377 with the blessing of St. Alexis to reflect the vision of St. Barlaam that took place even before the foundation of the monastery: : “… I saw… the prophet Zechariah, standing at the Church doors, and the Mother of God entering with Her parents; Zechariah received the Theotokos and placed Her on the third step. ". This is the epitome of the celebration of one of the 12 Great Feasts of the Annual Cycle - of the Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple. The third step means the third section of the Jerusalem Temple - the Holy of Holies, therefore the icon has a second name. As a result of this revelation, the monastery was named the Vvedensky Vladychny (Entrance of the Lady) monastery; the first Church in it was consecrated in the name of the Entry of the Virgin into the Temple, and the icon “The Introduction of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Holy of Holies” began to be revered as miraculous from the moment of its creation ”[See. more details below [Old description of the icon "The introduction of the Virgin into the Holy of Holies]].
We also know of a miraculous ICON OF THE ENTRY INTO THE TEMPLE OF THE MOTHER OF GOD FROM THE VILLAGE OF YARSKY, which appeared in the 17th century (see the description in the Notes below); and there also is “one of the most revered shrines of the Crete Island - the miraculous icon of the Entry into the Temple of the Most Holy Theotokos (which is itself a testimony of the destroyed original small temple).
Response to the objection that the Blessed Virgin could not enter the Temple, as this would be prevented by the Temple Guards
On the argument that the Blessed Virgin could not physically enter the Holy of Holies, let us ask, but how Enoch " was translated that he should not see death"(Hebrews 11:5)? And how was the Prophet Elijah taken to the Heaven alive?
And how could it be “That the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan: and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off” (Joshua 3:16) so that priests and the people could pass “over right against Jericho” with the “the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God”?
And how could the walls of the fortress in Jericho fall, when it was circled 7 times with the Ark of the Covenant, from the sound of trumpets and the cry of the people?
And could the Apostle Peter free himself from the bonds of 4 soldiers chained to him with shackles, because even the servant did not believe his voice and did not want to let him in, how do we believe this writing (Acts 12:3-19)? And are we going to doubt that ”the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more” (Acts 8:39) after the enlightenment of the Ethiopian nobleman; can this also be an allegory?
Will we now believe the legend that the clouds brought the Apostles to say goodbye to the Mother of God before her departure to her Son into the Kingdom of God?
So how can one not accept the two thousand-year-old Church belief about the joyful miracle of the Entry into the Temple of the Most Pure Lady, in order to be prepared for acceptance into Her womb from the Holy Spirit?
Did the High Priest have the right to introduce the Most Pure Lady into the Holy of Holies?
The high priest was given tremendous authority. According to the interpretation of Philo of Alexandria (an early Jewish author who expounded the symbolism of Temple ministry), the high priest was “the appointed judge and mediator” (Questions and Answers to the book of Exodus, II.13), “the second God in his earthly manifestation, ascending to the presence of God as a mediator, " "was in some way a great Archangelic mediator”.
Why the following opinion of former Bp. Ambrose is wrong: “neither Virgin Mary, neither the priest Zakhariya, the Father of the Forerunner (John the Baptist), would have dared to violate the law of the Son of God in this way”?
The fall of man took place due to the violation of the Commandment, violation of the Law of Love, which was intimately uniting Adam with God.
All the laws that God had given to man were aimed at teaching a person to distinguish good from evil, therefore the concept of a "sin" in Russian, Greek and Hebrew that means “a mistake”; “missing the mark”, “going beyond what is permitted by the law of love”. Could the High Priest have sinned?
A great gulf between God and man was delineated by a veil that separated the Holy of Holies from the second part of the Temple.
And finally, the God-Chosen Virgin was born to serve the purpose of destroying this veil. And not just a Virgin, and not “the one who gave birth to Christ”, but Theotokos. What law did she “break” when, at the command of God, she was brought in by Zechariah behind this veil? “The same one” as the Lord, when, “breaking the Sabbath”, He had healed the sick, made those born blind to see and had raised Lazarus from death. Grant us, O Lord, the heart and the mind to understand Your Scriptures precisely!
“The most complete theological interpretation of the Presentation is given by Gregory Palamas in his Word“ On the Introduction into the Temple of the Most Holy Theotokos ”. In this homily, the Saint comments on the essence of the Feast, expresses his opinion on why Mary was chosen as the Mother of Jesus Christ, and, in the conclusion, explains the reason for Her Entrance into the Holy of Holies of the Jerusalem Temple:
“…why She, from the beginning of time, was chosen from among the chosen. She Who is manifest as the Holy of Holies, Who has a body even purer than the spirits purified by virtue, is capable of receiving ... the Hypostatic Word of the Unoriginate Father. Today the Ever-Virgin Mary, like a Treasure of God, is stored in the Holy of Holies, so that in due time, (as it later came to pass) She would serve for the enrichment of, and an ornament for, all the world. Therefore, Christ God also glorifies His Mother, both before birth, and also after birth.”
“She … cognizes God, and rejoices being brought to Him; it would be better to say - She approaches by Her own impulse, as if by Her very nature inspired by the sacred and divine Love; and the beauty of this has been noticed by the High Priest: that something that was hardly achievable in the rarest of cases throughout many ancient centuries and for the very few of the elect, this something exists naturally in the Virgin from early childhood, to last throughout Her whole life, rising Her, by this talent, high above everyone; (therefore) he honoured Her more than would be permissible towards anyone else; he honored Her and placed Her in the Holy of Holies, and then persuaded everyone with love to accept this as coming true, with the assistance and support of God acting in the most just way: because She was to become His Chosen Vessel, not as the (Old Testament) arc, full of shadows and images, but filled with the Truth Itself, and destined to carry the Divine name not before kings and peoples, as Paul was tasked later (Acts 9:10), but - to carry in the womb the God Himself, “excellent is thy name” (Ps. 8: 1), and to do it in a way that would reveal the most famous Paul in place of Saul, not inferior to any of the most famous men from all ages, and worthy of carrying His Divine name with boldness. "
From another sermon: In Her manner She showed that She was not so much presented into the Temple, but that She Herself entered into the service of God of her own accord, as if she had wings, striving towards this sacred and divine love. She considered it desirable and fitting that she should enter into the Temple and dwell in the Holy of Holies.
Therefore, the High Priest, seeing that this child, more than anyone else, had divine grace within Her, wished to set Her within the Holy of Holies. He convinced everyone present to welcome this, since God had advanced it and approved it.
Homily 55: DISCUSSION ON THE INTRODUCTION TO THE HOLY OF THE HOLIES OF THE MOTHER OF GOD AND THE PRINCESS OF MARY AND ABOUT HER GODLIKE LIFESTYLE IN THIS PLACE:
"19. Therefore, if someone properly pays attention not only to the beginnings of those who have ever shone in virtue, but also to the whole field of virtue of those ascetics, as well as to the final rewards and crowns from above, he will find that they are inferior compared to the beginning of the Divine Virgin Mary, which is now celebrated by the entire human race that remembers with inexpressible joy Her translation from among people - to the very Holy of Holies.
Once upon a time, Enoch was also translated from among the people, but this did not yield a national holiday. After him, Elijah was taken in a chariot of fire, but this also did not turn into a world wide celebration; as it does not produce a comparable all-engulfing divine pleasure nor the resonate joy from the heaven for those who live on earth (as the Feast of the Presentation).
Now, a three-year-old Virgin was translated, and behold, the whole world rejoices and everything is overflowing with joy, filled with divine inspiration. Oh, what a miracle that is! What a Power This Virgin has, what a perfection of inspiration She is, what a superiority of greatness! Who is this Virgin that has "overcometh the world" (1 John 5: 4), who renewed the human race, who took away from among people the sorrow that was the result of the forefather's curse, and (instead) sowed into the earth that divine and pure joy, thereafter jointly celebrated year after year; the joy that is unfading, always abounding (or: blooming), stronger than the course of the all-destructive time? But we have gotten off the topic a little.
So Enoch, upon pleasing God, was translated (from among the people); but, on the other hand, one must remember that he had already reached the age of 365, upon living his whole life of his own free will; while the Young Virgin of whom we speak was barely three years old, when, upon getting started with the deed surpassing the human nature, the deed that became Her feat and made Her the Cause of joy on earth, She has, at that very time, instantaneously established a calling from earth to heaven, a calling that embraces everything.
But Enoch as well was translated by God; therefore, was he transferred to heaven? – Go away, such a thought! - Because, as the Gospel says: - “no man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of man” (John 3:13), for us (as a Man) Born of this Holy Virgin, He “is in heaven” (John 3:13). So, if it is written that Enoch, while on earth, was translated by God, however, of course, he was transferred to a less significant place than that which has now become the lot of the Virgin, because there was nothing more sacred on earth than the Holy of Holies. And despite such his significance, he did not help mankind in any way and did not abolish the sin, and did not contribute to righteousness; so that the Flood had occurred during the third generation after him (Genesis 6 and Genesis 7). However now, at this time, because of Her and thanks to Her, the renewal of the world was revealed, and thanks to Her, Heaven has opened the gates for us, shedding not a vigorous and dreadful rain bringing destruction to every breath, but - the dew of words of teachings of the Spirit, the shared pleasure of our souls, exceeding the mind and the great “light which no man can approach unto " (1 Tim. 6:16), " the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." (John 1: 9). "
Where should the Arc of God dwell, if not in the Holy of Holies, moreover, one time over the year of human race’s history?
And what is more - the Temple of Jerusalem, made by hand, or the Temple of the body of the Mother of God, God-created according to humanity and being prepared for consecration through a visit by God Himself? After all, “without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better” [Heb. 7: 7], as the Apostle Paul commented on Melchisedec and Abraham.
And if the river of Jordan had opened its waters before the priests who carried the Ark of the Covenant, why could not the veil separating our earthly world from the image of the heavenly one let the Ever-Virgin into the Holy of Holies, the Most Honorable Cherubim and the Most Glorious without comparison Seraphim? “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? [Romans 9:20]
And Christ himself justified David, speaking to the Jews: “Have ye not read so much as this, what David did, when himself was an hungred, and they which were with him; How he went into the house of God, and did take and eat the shewbread, and gave also to them that were with him; which it is not lawful to eat but for the priests alone” [Luke 6:3-4].
What is spiritually illogical in the fact that the ark of God, the Holy Theotokos, the crown of the Jewish nation born of it after a long history of careful nurturing by God, Herself had to undergo a gradual nearing to the Holiness by the way of Her entrance into the Holy of Holies, where she was then brought up and prepared with the heavenly bread? Isn't there a similarity with our gradual lifelong ascent to God, to the union with God, in the footsteps of the Most Holy Theotokos?
How can anyone deny that Ever-Virgin Mary needed to be gradually prepared, when we know out of experience that achieving significant transformative change requires a long period of time and a lot of effort, whether taking place in nature, in man altering the nature, or in educating someone to a high level of mastery. And if a metal is to be heated and forged in order to be prepared for fusion with another metal, what kind of a supernatural way and divine power were needed to prepare the human nature of the Virgin to receive the Fire of the Divine into Herself!
Or do the priests, bishops and clergy who read this and enter the Altar consider themselves worthy to do this, and have always been worthy? And did they always enter without a sin? No and no; that's why deacons and priests confess at the Altar Table, which means they have already entered the Altar with a sin! And how did the Church establish such a rule?
The future Mother of God was consecrated to God from birth, and the High Priest Zechariah has dedicated himself to the same, and this was not by human willfulness, but by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, in fulfillment of the promise made by God at the time of expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise. And how can the commandment or monk Ambrose’s understanding of the “teaching about the Temple” be contrasted with the fulfillment of the God's promise of the Salvation of mankind [Genesis 3:15]? “And the word of the Lord came to the prophet Jeremiah:“ O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel. " [Jeremiah 18: 5-6].
Yes, we do know that “the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the Lord unto his place, into the oracle of the house, to the most holy place, even under the wings of the cherubims” [1 Kings 8: 6] and “when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the Lord, So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord. “ [1 Kings 8:10-11] And just as the glory of the Lord did not prevent the bishop from entering once a year with the blood for sprinkling, it also did not prevent Zechariah from entering and bringing in the Virgin.
“The doors of heaven, welcome the Virgin into the Holy of Holies, the immaculate tabernacle of God the Almighty. [Stichera of the Feast at Vespers]
Why is the opinion of Bp. Ambrose, that “all the events in the Sanctuary of the earthly temple were only a reflection of what was to happen in the heavenly sanctuary” highly controversial?
Guided by human conjectures, the Pharisees and scribes could not read the Scriptures to get to the recognition of God and Christ, why would we want to follow their path in order to come to the knowledge of the spiritual principles through the construction of the Temple? That is, the method of cognition itself is chosen incorrectly, we cannot, through the shadow [Hebrews 8:5], limited by the physical world, that is, through the Temple, erect a model of cognition of the inconceivable plan of the Salvation of Mankind using limited human logic - that is, the methodological approach itself is unfitting, and this is the “stone of stumbling” [1 Peter 2:8] (“Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone that had crushed those who did not recognize the Savior. Therefore, “the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” [Matthew 7: 28-29].
Christ is the Firstborn, in the Heavenly Tabernacle according to the vision of the prophet Daniel, and Apostle Paul speaks about the Heavenly Tabernacle [Hebrews 8:1], but the earthly one is just an image [Hebrews 8:5], not a mathematical model. And if we accept this controversial opinion of Bp. Ambrose, and literally connect the Heavenly Tabernacle to the Temple on earth, then how were the repeated plunders of the First Temple (Solomon's), including Nebuchadnezzar, possible at all; and what about the robbery and desecration of the Second Temple (of Zerubbabel)? Could the Heavenly Tabernacle be subject to such desecrations? Of course not, this is absurd; so why then introduce the assignment of the dignity of the Heavenly to the earthly?
And also, we know that the early sanctuary was made as it was shown to Moses, " after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof" per [heavenly] pattern: "make them after their pattern, which was shewed thee in the mount." (Ex. 25: 9, 40; cf. Ex. 26:30; 27: 8; Num. 8: 4; Heb. 8: 5; 9: 23-24).
St. Ephrem The Syrian is commenting: “You shall make everything according to the model of the tabernacle that I will show you,” [Ex. 25: 9] he first called it a model and a temporal tabernacle to indicate that it was transitory and that it would be replaced by the church, the perfect prototype which lasts forever. And so that that the Jews would esteem it because of its likeness to the heavenly tabernacle, He is saying “And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat” [Ex. 25: 22]. So, from the top, from between the two cherubims commandment of God sounded to a priest that would enter once a year.”
The image, by definition, is incomparably smaller than the prototype, and the prototype does not depend in any way on the image. And the Old Testament images did not represent a thorough reflection of the events for the salvation of mankind.
For example, the Lord said “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up” [John 3:14]. Euthymius Zigaben: “The story of this serpent is this:
once in the wilderness, snakes killed the Israelites by biting them; therefore, God commanded Moses to make a brass serpent and set it up on a tree, so that those who were bitten would look at it and remain alive. (Numbers 21:8-9). The brazen serpent served as a foreshadow of the solid and inaccessible to sin body of Jesus Christ; this serpent, which did not have poison, served as an image of Jesus Christ, Who does not have the poison of sin; was raised to the tree in image of the One who was Crucified on the wooden Cross, giving life to those bitten by snakes and looking at them as a foreshadower of the Giver of Eternal life to those bitten by spiritual snakes and looking at Him with Faith.
Because of this similarity, the evangelist said: Moses lifted up the serpent, etc. Then he indicates the reason for this ascension. As Moses lifted up the serpent so that those who look at him might save their lives; Jesus Christ was raised so that those who look at Him, or believers, might have eternal life. There we had a serpent, because it was snakes that bit people, and here we have a Man, because people were bitten. Since there the harm was coming from serpents, it was through the serpent that healing took place, but here, since death came into the world through a man, therefore through a Man comes Life; and by way of a Man who has died, in order to put to death what kills." [Euthymius Zigaben].
And there it is, the complete story related to this image; i.e. there is no further development of this image, that is, nowhere in the Old Testament is it said, for example, that this brazen serpent should be taken down from the cross and placed into a tomb...
The archetype is free to dispose of the image as he wishes, therefore the icons stream myrrh, and even bleed, warning us of a coming trouble with those frightening signs. But a reverse authority would be strictly impossible.
"Idolization" of an image violates the law of love for the archetype and therefore offends God. This is the root of a common problem of a Faith turning into a “Belief in the Power of a Ritual" (instead of a Belief in God). The Holy of Holies (of the Temple) was an image for the people; God “dwelleth not in temples made with hands” [Acts 17:24]. God gave the commandment to serve with the High Priest as an image of Christ, but this does not mean that God thereby has limited His own omnipotence in the way He implements His plan to save humankind.
There is no dogma or logic for an image to affect the archetype, be it an icon or the Sanctuary of the Old Testament Temple. In the Gospels (Matthew 27:51; Mark 15:38; Luke 23:45) it is reported that “the veil of the temple was rent in twain from top to the bottom” [Matthew 27:51] at the moment of Christ's death, which serves as a convincing illustration of the identity of the flesh of Christ and the veil, but not vice versa.
Why the following declaration of former Bp. Ambrose is wrong: "the statement taken from the Apocryphal “Proto-Gospel of James" that the Virgin Mary had prevented the entry of Jesus into the Holy of Holies of the Tabernacle in Heavens refutes not only this entry of Jesus, but the entire narration of God's Word given in the Bible "?
1. The declaration that this "statement is taken from the Apocrypha," and not from the Church’s Holy Tradition (while being just reflected in the Apocrypha), is quite controversial and unproven, this is just Bp. Ambrose’s belief.
We accept that “The Apocrypha were rejected by the councils, but at the same time the Scriptures of the Church Fathers, liturgical texts, the lives of Saints and other texts ranked by the Catholic, Orthodox and ancient Eastern churches as Holy Tradition do not apply to the Apocrypha.”
Therefore, Bp. Ambrose’s statement, as lacking a solid historical proof, cannot be used by a scientist to substantiate his subsequent thought.
2. “the Virgin Mary had prevented the entry of Jesus into the Holy of Holies of the Tabernacle in Heavens” - this thought contains an internal contradiction. The Virgin Mary has entered the Holy of Holies of the earthly 2nd Temple, and not the heavenly tabernacle.
3. “it refutes not only this entry of Jesus” this conclusion is built on the logic of thinking that does not exist in the hermeneutic approach in Orthodox Church
4. "refutes ... all the narration of the Word of God given in the Bible." This statement lacks logical connections or references to the Patristic understanding of the Old and New Testaments within the framework of their interconnection (Bible Symphony).
God was not obliged to report the order of succession of events that reveal the fullness of the mystery of the Economy of the Salvation of mankind. On the contrary, this secret was carefully hidden from people and, first of all, from the devil, which clearly follows from the Gospel events, including the mystery of the Entry into the Temple; the mystery of the Annunciation; the mystery of the Lord's birth from the Virgin in a manger; the flight to Egypt; the temptations of the Lord by the devil in the wilderness, etc. All these events, consistent with the spirit of humility of the God-man and His life, were so inverse to the proud spirit of the devil and his spiritual followers that the long-awaited Messiah was not recognized by any of them. And, as a result, the devil seeing His humility even began to doubt the Divinity of Christ and has taught people to crucify Christ, not realizing that he was accelerating his own destruction (being "drawn out with a hook” [Job 41:1] of His incarnation [St. Gregory of Nyssa – Comments to the Book of Job]). Therefore, even the “Angels were perplexed at the sight of the Ascent” of the God-man to heaven (Stichera of the "Praise" of the Vespers of Feast of The Ascension of the Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ).
Why is the following opinion of Bp. Ambrose erroneous: “For this purpose the Holy of Holies of the earthly tabernacle was built, so that this prediction about the redemption of humanity by Jesus would be fulfilled: “ Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. ”(Hebrews 6.20)”?
If we develop this opinion that the PURPOSE of the Holy of Holies of the Temple is the FULFILLMENT of prediction, that would mean that without the Holy of Holies, human salvation is impossible...
The Apostle Paul contradicts this idea when he says to the Hebrews: “Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.” “The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.” [Hebrews 9:1; 8-10]
And now there comes a time of reformation, the tabernacle as “a figure for the time then present” is still standing, and the Most Pure Lady, by the Providence of God, is introduced into this tabernacle, thus setting the beginning of the time of reformation in the fulfillment of the promise of God.
As for the interpretation of Hebrews 6:20, one must do it in the context of the preceding text, as explained by the blessed Theodorite of Cyrus: “In chapter 6, the Apostle exhorts the Jews to strive for perfection based on faith, on the hope of God's promise, which “we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil”[ Hebrews 6:19] , that is The Apostle called heaven “the curtain”, because the Lord promised to give the Heavenly Kingdom to those who believed in Him. We hope for these good things, says the Apostle; we adhere to this hope as to a sacred anchor. For the anchor even if hidden in the depths, does not allow our souls to thresh about. But the Apostle proves the indisputability of the hope of good things in a different way. "
“Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec."[Hebrews 6:20.]".
“Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus”- for us, says the Apostle, He became a man, for our sake he gave up His body to death and, after crushing the death, has ascended into the heaven, becoming “the firstfruits of them that slept” [1 Cor. 15, 20]. He increased this confidence of ours calling Him the forerunner. For if He is our forerunner and has ascended for us, then it is necessary for us to follow Him and receive the right to ascend. This is what the Lord said to the apostles: “In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” [John 14: 2–3]. The same is said here: where Jesus is the forerunner of us. But next, the Apostle turns again to the word about the high priesthood: “made an High Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.”
This he took from the prophetic testimony. As it is said: “Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.”[Psalm 110:4]. Christ is the “High Priest for ever,” not as the one who is offering the sacrifice because he has one-time sacrificed His body, but as the Intercessor who leads the believers to the Father. For it is said: " For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father." [Ephesians 2:18]. And the Lord Himself in the Holy Gospel says: “no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” [John 14: 6]. You should know that the divine Apostle is mentioning here the oaths given to Abraham as a proof of the "immutability of God's counsel" [Hebrews 6:17]. Apostle leads us to the comprehension of the adamancy of the high priesthood according to the order of Melchizedek. For by touching upon this, he is coupling the word with the oath. This comparison that Apostle could make on many prior occasions is being used only now, firstly reminding us of the story of Melchizedek. "[Blessed Theodorite of Cyrus]
Thus, the quote (Hebrews 6:20) does not in any way serve to prove the postulate of Bp. Ambrose about the PURPOSE of the Holy of Holies for the FULFILLMENT of the prediction.
Of course, no one would argue the fact that many Old Testament events served as an image of New Testament events and sacraments. But this also is in the Will of God, and what He deigned to reveal through prototypes, he has uncovered, creating the beauty of the symphony of Scripture. And those who were waiting for the Messiah in the Letter, did not recognize him, only the prophets saw Him through the centuries in the Spirit.
St. Ephraim the Syrian:
Hebrews 9:3-5: In the inner tabernacle, which was called the Holy of Holies, under a veil ... a golden censer and an ark, both inside and outside covered with gold, and so on. But there is no need to speak now in detail and in order (about these subjects); for, although each of these objects was placed in its place for the administration of certain services, yet they were all only mysterious images of this heavenly mystery, so that when the Truth has appeared, there is no longer any need for us to turn to the shadows.
[Hebrews 9: 6] It was the outer tabernacle that the priests were entering all the time to perform their services, [Hebrews 9: 7]. However the second was entered only once a year by... the high priest - and, moreover, “not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people”[Hebrews 9:7], that is, for the sins of ignorance. In [Hebrews 9: 8] the Holy Spirit, was implying, through these images, the way of entrance into the sanctuary, that is, through the law of the entry of the High Priest into the Holy of Holies, the Holy Spirit representatively pointed at the Gospel, which was to be revealed to people.
So, the outer tabernacle was a likeness and a "parable" or a symbol that was only temporal, since [Hebrews 9:9] in it “both gifts and sacrifices” were offered such that they “could not make him” nor the people perfect, neither the "conscience” of those who performed the service, but they were by means of [Hebrews 9:10] “meats and drinks, and divers washings” of hands, and vessels, and other objects, - for "these were the statutes (concerning) the flesh" or the commandments of the priesthood, and not of the deity.
And all of this, as I said, was being fulfilled beyond the law by the weak priests, even "until the time" [Hebrews 9:10], when God had fulfilled the reformation, when Christ had come [Hebrews 9:11], the High Priest, not of the sacrifices, but of good. And He entered the tabernacle, not small and “not made with hands”, but into “a greater and more perfect“ one, which was not created by the hands of men, i.e. not of this [type of] making, because it was created out of nothingness, and not like the tabernacle that was built of the things stolen from the Egyptians (Ex. 12: 35–36, 25: 1–2).
Therefore Bp. Ambrose’s statement above is directly opposite to the Apostle’s explanation.
In matters of using brainpower (to revise the Orthodox interpretation of the Bible while disregarding the deep interconnection with the Sacred Tradition), one must remember that there is always an invisible enemy nearby, a fallen intelligent being, which, although he could not, by his own power, recognize his Vanquisher, and therefore was deprived of his strength, nevertheless, in his impotent anger, until the last day will strive to catch the “smart ones” through confusion. And we see how modern Protestants, not recognizing the One Holy Church and not believing its centuries-old treasure, the Conciliar Mind attested by the host of Saints and wonderworkers, carefully study the authenticity of both the Gospels and the Apostolic Epistles, and some, like " clouds that are carried with a tempest " [2 Peter 2:17] are even nowadays looking for evidence as to whether Christ was the God-man! The enemy sows the seeds of doubt, and reaps the harvest of unbelief.
But “with the heart man believeth unto righteousness” (Rom. 10:10), and therefore the Lord, preaching the Gospel to the world by his deeds, first chose ordinary fishermen, not the scribes, to help the Gospel; and only after His Ascension did He call on Apostle Paul to preach to “his own” and other non-common folks.
Faith is thus much higher than the mind, as the heavenly, spiritual world is higher than the visible, material world, just as the Apostle himself said “1 Cor. 13:12. For now we see through a glass, darkly. "
Intelligent beings, the fallen angels, seek companions for themselves, and trap them by the nets that are setup skilfully. And "who can avoid those webs", asked Anthony the Great, and heard in response "a voice that said:" humility." Humility before the Lord, before the Church that maintains the God-revealed Truth.
And here - not even a web, but a pit with a deadly trap - the task set by the co-questioner of this world; a question that counters the Mother of God to her Son; a question "resolved" for some Protestants, and hurting with the sharpness of a dagger an Orthodox faithful’s heart that accepts such doubts, a question that with an iron logic follows from an attempt to reduce the Sacrament of the God's Economy of Salvation to the primitivism of a "dynamic mathematical model" set up in the Holy of Holies of the Old Testament Temple.
The crafty one knows how to grasp the mind, which has become rigid in the paradigm of logical and linguistic inventions. God save us from self-confidence in such a wisdom: “But wisdom is justified of all her children” [Luke 7:35].
“It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks” [Acts 9:5]. It is scary as it is destructive for the soul to find itself outside the Church with its Sacraments of the Savior
“To those who do not believe, that the Holy Spirit make wise the prophets and Apostles and through them lead us to the true path to eternal salvation, and confirm this with miracles, and even now dwells in the hearts of faithful and true Christians and guides them into all truth: anathema.
To those who reject the Councils of the Holy Fathers and their traditions, agreeing with the Divine Revelation, and piously preserved by the Orthodox Catholic Church: anathema.”
(Text of the anathema from the rite of the Triumph of Orthodoxy)
Deacon Sergiy Agou