What is the meaning of real religion?
Lao Tsu wrote of the de-volutionary path of human spirituality (religion) and talked of the primitive man of true virtue in time being replaced by the man who wished merely to be perceived as virtuous.
Then he talked of the man of true benevolence being replaced by the man who wished to merely be perceived as benevolent.
Then the talked about the man of true rectitude being replaced by the man who wished to merely be perceived as righteous.
It was only at that point that he talked about the man of the rites, but he said that the rites were wearing thin of loyalty and that it was the beginning of chaos.
No truer picture exists of the devolution of the spiritual man - the man originally imbued with "thanksgiving" (thanksgiving = Eucharist) thanksgiving being a picture of a human being living in the conscious presence of God, unconsciously living in virtue, than Lao Tsu pictured. You see, the man of highest virtue lived conscious of his creator, and "unconscious of his own virtue."
He said that a man of highest virtue acts, but without regard to virtue, that is why he has virtue.
Our Lord Jesus proved this, by his association with non-virtuous people. He was willing to sacrifice the "appearance" of his own virtuousness to simply do at any given moment what was right. So the virtuous establishment slammed him for his non-virtuous appearance, saying he kept company with thieves and harlots, that he was a sham and false, worthy of scorn and death. Jesus, a name not to be mentioned in polite religious society.
The religious authorities of Jesus' time proved Lao Tsu's next point. "The man of lowest virtue acts, but because of virtue. That is why he is without virtue." All religious hypocrites have is "appearance." Jesus called them "whitewashed tombs, beautiful on the outside and holding nothing but death and corruption within."
Lao Tsu also said a thousand years before Islam, that the man of the "rites" when persuasion failed, would roll up his sleeves and resort to conversion by force.
Any action that we take to be seen, to be recognized, to "appear" before men, as virtuous, benevolent and righteous, is a wasted and false action. Truly virtuous, benevolent and righteous men and women sacrifice the appearance of their virtue thousands of times in their lives simply "to do what is right, to do what love demands."
The "visually virtuous" "righteously religious" will never concede this point, since it would expose their rank hypocrisy.
Not to belabor the point, but we need to grasp that, what is true of Virtue, is true of Rectitude, is true of Benevolence, and so on. And true those dependent upon the RITES are at the bottom of the spiritual pyramid. BUT let us understand that 'the RITES' include ANY religious ritual including
the singing and "emoting"(preaching) parties of the Evangelicals,
the singing and dancing parties of the Charismatics and neo-pentecostals
the circus shows of the revivalists
the semi-liturgies of some mainline denominations as well.
And of course the diabolical servitude of those who bow to Mecca five times a day.
NO Rites, NO ritual, No worship has any reality, unless the Rites are grounded in the first cause - permeated with thanksgiving = eucharist. Without this grounding in the first cause, the rites themselves are merely an expression of religious sickness.
What is religion itself? The root meaning of "religion" is "bring back to" or "to bind fast to" what is REAL.
True religion and fantasy hold nothing in common.
True religion and dreamy spirituality hold nothing in common.True religion and trances hold nothing in common.
True religion and dreamy altered mental states hold nothing in common.
True religion and dreamy altered emotional states hold nothing in common.
True religion and being "slain in the spirit" hold nothing in common.
True religion and hysterical laughing fits hold nothing in common.
True religion and any number of counterfeit spiritualities that assault human dignity, that distort the Image of God given to every single human being hold nothing in common.
True religion and barking like a dog hold nothing in common.
True religion and hissing like a reptile hold nothing in common.
True religion and staggering and swaying, and claiming to be "drunk on the Holy Spirit" hold nothing in common.True religion and bouncing to electro-rock music until hysterical euphoria is reached, hold nothing in common.
True religion and whirling like a dervish hold nothing in common.
True religion and prostrating ones body five times a day hold nothing in common.
True religion and finding one's animal spirit guide hold nothing in common.
True religion rituals of hedonism and necromancy hold nothing in common.
Today quite a lot that bills itself as "religious" is merely diabolical, pagan and shameful. It is a cooperation with the demonic for the destruction of the soul, the demeaning of the human person and the enslavement of the human spirit and human mind.
What fosters fantasy and plays to the prideful egos of individuals,
as so much "spiritualism" does,
as so much "individual spirituality does"
as all New Ageism does,
as all Wiccanism does,
as all Satanism does,
as all Self-Help Occultism does
as all neo-pagan passionate ritualism does . . .
these are not "religion" though this pagan culture names them so. They are a parody of it, they are means of destruction, the removal of the life and mind from what is REAL, like the Black Mass removes all life and reality from the Eucharist.
For my "the just shall live by faith alone" friends, whose spirituality gets reduced to their own imaginations, or at least never escapes their ego boundaries.
James said, "Faith without works is dead."
Jesus said, "He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise. - Luke 3:11
Saint James' clear words about "pure religion" give us the deepest meaning of "religious expression" where the emphasis is not about ones own soul or acquiring spiritual power, or experience of religious "experiences" or even about virtue, but about giving away the love we have gained from our prayerful association with God, and doing this in the most materially concrete and non-symbolic ways.
It is common for both "the by faith only crowd" and the Luciferians of the present new world government to mock the work of the Catholic "religious" done in the massive Catholic Charities spread across this country and the world. Do you find it strange that two, supposedly divergent groups could find a common object of mockery? The world government attack these charities by legal and militant-cultural means, and the "free church movement movement" just mocks saying, "do they really think they can please God and work their way to heaven?"
Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
James 1:27 (King James Version)
Is not this the fast (religious service) that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?
(can we ignore the work of freeing people from oppressive governments and economic systems that enslave them? can we ignore the battle to free people from demonic addictions and sexual slavery?)
7 Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?
(in other words, you do not neglect your own family)
Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity;
10 And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday:
11 And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.
12 And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in. - Isaiah 58:6-12 (King James Version)
If we wanted to give a picture of the antithesis of this picture of "pure religion" . . . pure religion that builds pathways, opportunity and a life-engendered future, we could offer the great narcissistic confusion of American Christianism - locked as it is in the Culture of Death. 80% of Americans self-identify as Christian, YET She has cooperated with the slaughter of Christians and innocent non-christian blood, all around the world. While envisioning herself as the world's "last best hope" and her own feelings of religious superiority having never failed her, in her blindness she has blessed, financed and sanctioned for convenience, massive human slaughter.
Worship outside of this is less, and some of it purely diabolical. To view the degradation, the devolution of mere religion, one need look no further than the glowing words and intentions of the Puritans who founded Harvard College, turned Harvard University and Harvard's planned hosting of a "Black Mass," a Satanic Ritual that mocks The Eucharist, that mocks the foundation of all that is REAL. It is claimed to be done for "entertainment" and "interest." After all who can ever claim that the establishment of Harvard is not "open minded." Any reality that Harvard had, including its "divinity school" to claims of "religious foundations" is only ghosts clinging to bushes, nostalgic memories of what once may have existed but no longer does. We see the foundation to be simply pagan and religiously sick.
Archpriest Symeon Elias