Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
- Matthew 5:16 -
In God have I put my trust; I will not be afraid what man can do unto me. Thy vows are upon me, O God: I will render praises unto thee. For thou hast delivered my soul from death; wilt not thou deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of living?
- Psalm 56: 11-13 -
This page is a reprint from the CSB handbook published February 18, 1995 six or seven years after we began moving into the Orthodox church. As a definition of who we are it is both authoritative and accurate. It captures more than just the form by expressing the spirit of our membership - individually and corporally.
Mission and Purpose
Christ the Saviour Brotherhood is dedicated to bringing the light and truth of Orthodox Christianity to the spiritually perishing peoples of these darkening and crucial times. Our primary purpose is to serve Christ our Lord and Saviour, and our fellow man.
As Christians we are called by Christ Himself to minister unto those who suffer and thirst for the Truth. In this anti-Christian era - a time of spiritual darkness, societal fragmentation and ecclesiastical disunity, when a multitude of souls are perishing for lack of the great gift which the Church has borne down the ages - we recognize the extreme difficulty of the Christian undertaking. Nevertheless, as Orthodox Christians we are compelled to respond to the Lord's command to all Christians: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." (Matthew 28: 18 20).
Therefore we have banded together as an avowed brotherhood - composed of both lay and monastic brothers and sisters - for mutual support, inspiration and action. Our work, both corporately and individually, is many fold in furtherance of the following goals:
To practice, teach, defend and preserve for future generations the ancient mystical and ascetic Orthodox Christian faith and way of life revealed by our Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Gospels, proclaimed by the Holy Apostles, taught by the Holy Fathers of the Church, witnessed by the martyrs and confirmed by the saints throughout the ages even unto the current time.
To inspire, develop, train, equip and support missionaries and missionary activity, with the goal of bringing souls to Christ.
To publish and promulgate the teachings of the Orthodox faith.
To enable and assist in the establishment of ministerial activities:
Orthodox Christian churches, monasteries, discipleship houses, missionary training centers, conferences, missions, Orthodox bookstores, youth guidance centers, places of shelter and heating for those in need, and other similar religious, charitable and educational works in fulfillment of our primary purpose.
Strivings of Individual Members
To fulfill the commandments of our Lord to love God with our whole heart and our neighbor as ourselves, that His promise may be fulfilled in us and His Holy Spirit may abide in us.
To practice, promote, uphold and teach, by word and example, the worship of God through the traditional Christian faith and Way of Life, within our own families and community and to those whom we meet in the context of our daily lives.
To seek, in whatever circumstances God has placed us, to serve our Lord Jesus in ministry to our fellow man, aiding the poor or needy by the active practice of Christian hospitality and charity.
To warn those wrapped in the dark delusion of our times of their peril, and to point out the narrow Way which leads to Life.
To hold what is God's in honor, and to foster the spirit of reverence for the Creator and His Creation.
To keep in mind the glory of God, to seek not our own good but that which is of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Membership in Christ the Saviour Brotherhood is available to all adult baptized Orthodox Christians who wish to dedicate themselves to Christ through the mission and spiritual striving of the Brotherhood. Membership is perceived to be carried out in practice through participation in the work and striving of the Brotherhood, and not simply by association.
Applicants for membership must be sponsored by two members of the Brotherhood who have been active for three years, and must provide evidence of instruction in the mystical theology and ascetic practice of the Orthodox Church prior to acceptance by the Brotherhood Council, taking the vow of the Brotherhood and entering into full membership. A small annual fee, due by July 24th each year, is required to establish full voting membership.
Organization and Governance
Christ the Saviour Brotherhood is a self-governing Orthodox Christian brotherhood and is coordinated and served by a council elected from the membership at large to manage its affairs. Ultimate authority resides in the membership as a whole, and this authority is exercised when any major change in policy is contemplated, either by referring the issue to a vote of the members, or by convening a representative Brotherhood Congress to review and vote on the issue in question.
As a Brotherhood we uphold the traditional point of view that the Church is to be seen in the Orthodox people as a whole, and that all members of the Church - whether clergy, monastic or lay people - are individually responsible for the defense of the Faith and the fulfillment of Christ's evangelical imperative. Administrative and organizational structures may serve Christ's Church, but do not alone comprise her. Especially this is true of the Orthodox Church in the New World, which suffers presently from the canonical irregularity of multi- jurisdictionalism and from the strong attack of ani-Christian forces.
The Brotherhood is not an ecclesiastical organization as such, and although fully willing and determined to abide as faithful members of whatever ecclesiastical jurisdiction we may find ourselves in as individuals, we cannot as a group limit the scope of our activity or membership to any one jurisdiction of the Orthodox faithful.
It is our intention and goal, however, to help solve these problems by advocating and supporting and encouraging, in every way possible, a revival of traditional Orthodox Christian life - which has always been nourished and fueled by the presence of vital monastic establishments in close contact with individual Christians and the Christian community as a whole. The dearth of such monastic establishments in the contemporary ecclesiastical landscape is another sign of the spiritual weakness that besets us in these times. In the absence of strongly established monastic other-worldliness, individual Christians who long for the saving power of Christ's Church to be in their lives can benefit from participation in grass-roots spiritual brotherhoods formed to "help fill the gap ".
It is in no way amenable to our spirit and purpose to promote the idea that membership in the Brotherhood is in any way a substitute for church membership under legitimate ecclesiastical authority. Our intent is not to form separate congregations of our own, but rather to encourage an otherworldly striving in our membership and to evangelize the unchurched from that standpoint.
We ask the blessing of all Orthodox Patriarchs, Hierarchs, righteous ones, and men and women of good will upon our strivings on behalf of the poor and the unconverted, and to Christ we dedicate ourselves as witnesses to His saving grace.
VOW OF THE BROTHERHOOD
I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people, in the courts of the house of the Lord, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem.
I, (Candidate's Name), before Christ the Saviour, this holy Gospel and these witnesses, do solemnly promise and declare my dedication to undertake the strivings of Christ the Saviour Brotherhood.
I will strive to live ever in remembrance of God and in loving service to our Lord Jesus Christ and His One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, for the salvation of souls.
I will strive at all times in thought, word and deed to be truthful, loving and morally upright, and to live in accordance with the virtues of purity, poverty, humility, service and obedience to God.
I understand this vow to be an affirmation of my baptismal promises, and my service in this Brotherhood as a means of laboring toward their fulfillment.
I promise to abide by the strivings of Christ the Saviour Brotherhood, to support the teaching and service work of the Brotherhood, and to defend and assist my brothers and sisters in Christ.
I stand before the Lord now and at the dread judgment seat with this solemn promise, and seal it by kissing the Cross and the words of Christ my Saviour.
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen
STAYING ALIVE IN THE LORD
AN INTRODUCTION TO THE SPIRITUAL STRIVING OF CHRIST THE SAVIOUR BROTHERHOOD
Members of the Brotherhood are dedicated not only to Ortho-doxy (the true teaching but also to Ortho praxis, to practicing the true teaching of the spiritual life and its disciplines for the attainment of the Christian goal, as transmitted by the Orthodox patristic tradition which speaks of the three stages of spiritual life and transformation: purification of the heart, illumination of the soul, and deification (theosis) - the vision of the Divine Uncreated Light and the regeneration of our nature through union with God. The following paragraphs are an initial attempt to express the Brotherhood's spirit and character in our approach to this striving.
As Orthodox Christians dedicated to evangelistic activity in these Godless times, we recognize the primary importance of unceasing self-evangelization and remembrance of God, to keep alive in ourselves the reality of the Gospel of Christ. For how shall we bring light to others if we fail to keep our own lamps burning? In the full Orthodox tradition, the necessity of ascesis is emphasized because in this world we face the enemy of our salvation, who is ceaselessly trying to steal from us the Grace of God. This forces upon us a conscious struggle to maintain vigilance and watchfulness.
The key to our approach in this struggle is to discern what amount and kind of daily practice will keep life and inspiration in our labors for God, and further the ongoing transformation and healing of our souls. We seek to be realistic, neither minimalists nor pharisees. As St. Seraphim of Sarov put it: "if prayer and watching gives you more of God's grace, watch and pray; if fasting gives you much of the spirit of God, fast; if almsgiving gives you more, give alms. Weigh every virtue done for Christ's sake in this manner."
A second key is maintaining the personal attitude of strictness towards ourselves, while maintaining an attitude of kindness, gentleness and compassion towards others. Our unseen warfare is within ourselves, our hearts and minds. The three areas in which a spiritual life in Christ must be defended in this struggle are: 1) our relationship as souls with God; 2) our relationship with our spiritual brothers and sisters; and 3) our relationship with the world:
1. Our Relationship as Souls with God
Spiritual life is first our relationship with God. Its traditional form of development is through prayer, church services and participation in the Holy Mysteries. We receive a prayerful spirit through participating in the daily cycle of services and the yearly cycle of fasts and feasts, which must be combined with personal prayer in which we seek to "stand before God with the mind in the heart" - the ancient practice of calling upon the name of our Lord Jesus with the whole heart within the "secret closet" of our own soul.
This also involves the traditional practice of fasting, which should be viewed from an Orthodox ascetic viewpoint - that we fast, not only from foods, but from the world: the passions and sins which kill the soul's life in God. This again is approached with the standard of the Church as a goal towards which we strive despite our weakness.
Each member recognizes that the labor of his or her mission in this brotherhood requires a daily personal effort. Each is responsible therefore to discern, with the help of his spiritual fathers, brothers and sisters, what rule of spiritual life is appropriate, and to keep it. This normally includes morning and evening prayer as well as reading of the Gospel and spiritual texts as a "daily minimum requirement" of spiritual vitamins. The Daily Prayer of Christ the Saviour Brotherhood is also offered by all members as a united petition to the Lord; this includes prayer for the whole Brotherhood: for its mission and purpose, its ministries and missionaries, and for the protection and guidance of our Lord and the Holy Mother of God upon all its members and those who have asked us to pray for them.
2. Our Relationship with our Spiritual Brothers and Sisters
The oneness of soul which is true brotherhood is, by the Lord's own definition, both the fruit and the proof of the love of God: l"A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (l John 13:34 35). And St. John the Beloved Apostle taught that "He that sayeth he is in the light and hateth his brother is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light and there is none occasion of stumbling in him" (I John 2:9).
Developing the bond of brotherhood - love and trust in God and in each other - is what makes our light shine. This is what is inspiring to ourselves and to others, and draws them to Christ. The striving towards true Christian brotherhood is where we practice the most intense spiritual warfare and is what forms us as Christians and effectual missionaries. This is at the heart of the brotherhood's spiritual practice and is only made possible by complete trust in God's providence and faithful obedience to His commandments for our soul's salvation.
In this we learn the value of having a particular spiritual friend, a brother or sister with whom we can share our struggle and from whom we can accept correction when needed. Having such a spiritual "mirror" is of tremendous help - to defend us from self-deception so it will not take root in us, and to give us encouragement in time of weakness. This relationship with a spiritual brother or sister is not a substitute for a spiritual father or elder, nor a substitute for the sacrament of confession - but it is an ancient Christian practice which goes back to the Apostles; its value in times when spiritual elders are lacking was fully demonstrated by St. Paisius Velichkovsky.
We must strive in all circumstances to cherish the precious gift of brotherhood in Christ, "endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace", and thus we must be committed to avoiding with great care the sins of the tongue.
3. Our Relationship with the World
Evangelization and almsgiving relates to the third relationship , with the world, and flows forth from our relationship with God. We are the Lord's servants and dedicated to His work. Each member of the Brotherhood participates in their own unique way in the mission of the Brotherhood, in accordance with the circumstances given by God's providence in the course of our daily lives. The key is in the intent, the willingness, to give - and in the readiness to respond to God-given opportunities. The "world" is the man or woman next door. Our Lord opened His ministry with the words of the prophet Isaiah: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord ". This clearly connects teaching and service together, the principle of activity.
Central to this is the realization of our own need, of humility before God's providence. We are commanded to give (of both our spiritual and physical substance) that we may also receive our daily bread. Thus we offer what we can to those in need, in firm trust that our Lord will also give to us in our spiritual poverty. If we cast off a beggar, the Lord would be just to cast us off. This means making a personal effort to directly minister to those in need, regardless of larger programs we may support or be involved in. "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me".
We must be willing to co-suffer with others and to be cut to the heart, quickened by a sense of urgency about the plight of the unfortunate and those lost in the darkness of unbelief. Woe unto us if we ignore Lazarus at our gate. Working for the salvation of others is vital to our own salvation and is a safeguard against spiritual complacency and self righteous comfort. "Remembrance of God is pain of heart endured in a spirit of devotion" (St. Mark the Ascetic).
DAILY PRAYER OF CHRIST THE SAVIOUR BROTHERHOOD
O All-wise and All-gracious Lord our Saviour, Who didst enlighten all the ends of the world by the radiance of Thy Coming, and Who didst call us into Thy Holy Church through the promise of the inheritance of incorruptible and eternal good! Graciously look down on us, Thy unworthy servants, and remember not our iniquities, but according to Thy infinite mercies forgive all our sins.
For though we transgress Thy holy will, we do not deny Thee, Our God and Saviour. Against Thee alone do we sin, yet Thee alone do we serve, in Thee alone do we believe, to Thee alone do we come, and Thy servants only do we wish to be. Remember the infirmity of our nature and the temptations of the adversary and the worldly enticements and seducements which surround us on all sides, and against which, according to Thy word, we can do nothing without Thy help. Cleanse us and save us!
Enlighten our minds that we may firmly believe in Thee, our only Saviour and Redeemer! Inspire our hearts that we may wholly love Thee, our only God and Creator! Direct our steps that we may walk without stumbling in the light of Thy commandments!
Yea, our Lord and Creator, show us Thy great and abundant kindness, and make us live all the days of our life in holiness and truth, that at the time of Thy glorious Second Coming we may be worthy to hear Thy gracious call into Thy Heavenly Kingdom. Grant us, Thy sinful and unprofitable servants, to receive Thy Kingdom, and that in the enjoyment of its ineffable beauty, we may ever glorify Thee, together with Thy Eternal Father and Thy Ever-living Divine Spirit to the ages of ages. Amen. (Here we pray unto the Lord in our own words, petitioning His mercy and aid for our Brotherhood, for our brothers and sisters and their Godly efforts, for any specific missions or projects We also pray for our community and city, for all Christians, for all the people of the world and for those who especially come to our mind or are on our prayer list.) Then we continue...
Sweetest Lord Jesus, strong Son of God, Who didst shed Thy precious Blood and die for love of my love, I am ready to die for love of Thy love. Sweetest Jesus, my Life and my All, I love and adore Thee. Thee only do I wish for my Spouse, as Thou dost wish me for Thy bride. I give myself to Thee. I surrender myself to Thee, O Jesus, Thou Whose heart is ever turned to me, heal my heart, that I may feel the sweetness of Thy love, that I may taste no sweetness but Thee, seek no love but Thee, love no beauty but Thee. I have no desire but to please Thee and to do Thy will.
Teach me to repent, and to take up the Cross daily and follow Thee with joy. Teach me to pray with faith and love. Thyself pray in me, that with Thee I may love my enemies and pray for them. Jesus, Thou art life in my death, strength in my weakness, light in my darkness, joy in my sorrow, courage in my faintheartedness, peace in my agitation, obedience in my prayer, glory in my dishonor, and deliverance from my dishonor. Glory and thanks to Thee, O Jesus my Saviour and Healer. Amen.(from the Jordanvllle Prayer Book, 3rd Edition, Akathist to Our Sweetest Lord Jesus Christ)
(This prayer is offered daily by all members of the Brotherhood as a united petition to the Lord. Whenever possible, in accordance with one's strength and opportunity, it should be preceded by the Akathist to our Sweetest Lord Jesus Christ or the Akathist to our Most Holy Lady Mother of God.)
THIS IS NOT AN OFFICIAL CHRIST THE SAVIOUR BROTHERHOOD WEBSITE
© Copyright 2000
All rights reserved.