Fr. George Morelli is the President of the Society of St. John Chrysostom - Western Region
A recent report released by The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life indicated that Americans are more ready than ever to change or drop their religious traditions and that many are unaware or unconcerned with doctrinal distinctions. Particularly disturbing in this report is that Catholics and Orthodox, the Churches founded by Christ Himself, tracing in unbroken succession from the Apostolic tradition, are among the groups with a low percentage of respondents who hold that they are the one true faith leading to eternal life.
However, did not Jesus Himself say: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me? (Jn 14:14) Did not St. Paul tell the first Christians: “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it?” (1 Cor 12:27) Did not St. Paul tell the Hebrews (10: 23-25): “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some...?” Did not Christ Himself warn us of the dire consequences of wasting Godly gifts when He said: “Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required?” (Lk 12:48) This is especially true for the apostolic churches who have the greatest gift of all, the Eucharist, the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord God and Savior Himself passed down to us from Christ to the apostles in an unbroken succession to our bishops. Christ did this when He ordained His apostles by saying: “Do this in remembrance of me." (Lk 22: 19). These are not relativistic statements; they are the cornerstone of the Body of Christ - the Church.
The purpose of our Society is to teach and witness the history, worship, spirituality, discipline and theology of Eastern Christianity, and to work and pray for the fullness of unity desired by Jesus Christ. The members of the SSJC-WR, similar to the first Christians, are responding to the grace of the Holy Spirit, and by their free will are self-elected. No one is a member unless they want to be a member. As committed members of the Society, we should emulate the early Christians described in the Acts of the Apostles (2: 42): “And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”
Let us, as committed members of the SSJC-WR, not despair at the relativism of nominal Christians. Instead, let us witness and zealously work to bring about the fullness of Christ’s teachings and be conformed to the mind of the Church. Authentic Christians, as St. Paul suggests (c.f. Rm 8:23-24), are the real guardians of Christian faith and morals. What we need today is growth in depth and commitment to the fullness of Christ and His Church. SSJC-WR members can lead the way so all who look at us can say, "See how they love one another" (Jn 13:34). St. Maximus the Confessor (Philokalia II), tells us: “Dispassion engenders love, hope in God engenders dispassion; and patience and dispassion engender hope in God . "
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V. Rev. Fr. George Morelli Ph.D. is a licensed Clinical Psychologist and Marriage and Family Therapist.
He is the Coordinator of the Chaplaincy and Pastoral Counseling Ministry of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese and Religion Coordinator (and Antiochian Archdiocesan Liaison) of the Orthodox Christian Association of Medicine, Psychology and Religion.
Fr. Morelli is also Assistant Pastor of St. George's Antiochian Orthodox Church, San Diego, California.
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