Goodness and discipline and knowledge teach Thou me, for in Thy commandments have I believed.
- Psalm 118
Amidst the confusion of our time, as we are flooded with more and more information, and less and less truth, where can we find an anchor for our troubled minds? The source of truth, as always, and therefore the starting point for understanding anything we read and hear, is the Word of God.
The “Word of God” has at least two meanings: The Word of God, the Logos, is the Son of God, the Person of the Holy Trinity Who became a man, Our Lord Jesus Christ. He is Truth Itself, the perfect revelation of Who God is. By the Word of God we also mean the Holy Scriptures, the written record of the Lord’s dealings with men, from the beginning of the world to the coming in the Flesh of the Son of God, as well as prophecy of His future coming in glory and the consummation of all things.
The Holy Fathers of the Church, who are our sure guides to true Christianity, constantly immersed their minds in the Holy Scriptures. They committed large portions to memory; many knew the entire New Testament, even the entire Bible, by heart. Combined with the enlightenment of grace, this wholehearted study created an entirely new, spiritual psychology within the saints. They became new men after the pattern of the New Adam, the Word of God, Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Orthodox are often both irritated and confounded by Protestants who “quote the Bible at them.” Yet are we not at fault for not knowing the Scriptures ourselves? Unlike these sectarians, left to their wits to understand Scripture (or, as is more often the case, left to the arbitrary teachings of the latest self-appointed “experts”), we possess the inestimable gift of the guidance of the Holy Fathers, in their teachings and in the example of their lives. We also possess the interpretation of the Scriptures abundantly woven throughout the Church services. If only we would embrace these and make them our own through active effort, we would have no problem understanding and defending the basics of our Faith.
There is a need for each of us, however, much more immediate than arguing with the heterodox, and that is the preservation of our own souls. Our minds are inundated with worldliness and falsehood every day, just by living in the world we live in. The resultant inner darkness and confusion lead to every kind of spiritual, psychological, and physical illness. We can fight back, for starters, in a very simple way: Today, pick up a copy of the Holy Gospels and begin reading them aloud. The grace of God in these divine words will almost immediately make itself felt in the clearing of the mind and the calming of the heart. The more and more we do this, the greater our thirst will grow, or, rather, we will recognize the thirst we already had, thirst for the Word of God.
Reading the Psalms, also, is a tremendous weapon against every kind of evil thought and mental confusion. Open the link on this website entitled "My Orthodox Notebook" and read the article "On the Psalms." Reading the Psalms can change your life.
For families, the reading of the Scriptures, along with the Lives of the Saints, aloud with one’s children, is one of the greatest weapons in the fight to preserve our families in the Faith and in purity of life. Take time every day to do holy reading with your children. You will be repaid a thousand-fold.
May the Lord’s holy Word dwell in us in all richness of wisdom and knowledge, unto our salvation. Amen.
The Mission of St. Cosmas Aitolos
Through his teaching he established schools everywhere, both primary and secondary, not only in towns but also in villages, in order that children might go to them and learn sacred letters gratis, and thereby become firm in the Faith and in piety, and be guided in the virtuous way of life and conduct. He persuaded the wealthy to buy over four thousand large, copper-coated baptismal basins, and dedicated them to churches, so that they may remain there permanently in memory of their donors and that the children of Christians may be baptized in the proper manner. Similarly, he persuaded the well-to-do to buy books by the Church Fathers as well as Christian handbooks, prayer-ropes, little crosses, kerchiefs, and combs. Of these, the books he distributed to those who could read and to those who promised to learn to read; the kerchiefs (over forty thousand) he distributed to the women, to cover their heads; the combs he gave away to [men] who vowed to leave their beards [uncut] and live in a virtuous and Christian manner; while the prayer-ropes and crosses (over five hundred thousand) he gave away to the common people, asking them to forgive the sins of those who had paid for them. – from St. Cosmas Aitolos by Constantine Cavarnos
The existence of many churches neither preserves nor strengthens our faith to the proper extent and in the proper manner, if those who believe in God are not enlightened by the Old and the New Testaments...Our Faith has been made secure by wise and learned Saints, who both explained the Holy Scriptures precisely and have enlightened us through their divinely inspired discourse. – St. Cosmas Aitolos, “Teachings”