ONE, HOLY, UNIVERSAL, AND APOSTOLIC CHURCH.
Wayfarers, behold the ark! When the flood came, Noah was saved in a secure ark. The flood of madness and sin continues incessantly. Therefore, the Lover of Mankind constructed the ark of salvation. Ask for His ark, and you will soon be entering it.
Do not let yourselves be led astray by the multitude of variegated vessels, decorated and adorned on the outside. Ask about the power of the engine and about the skill of the captain. The most powerful engine and the most skillful helmsman are to be found in the ark of Christ. This is the all-seeing, all-powerful, Holy Spirit himself.
Neither let yourselves be led astray by those who invite you into their tiny and new rowboats, or those who offer you private rowboats just for yourselves. The journey is distant and the storms are dangerous.
Neither let yourselves be led astray by those who say that on the other side of the ocean there is no new land, no new world, and that there is no reason to prepare for a distant voyage. They invite you to go fishing on the shore. To such a little extent do they see or know. Truly, they are setting out for destruction, and are inviting you to destruction as well.
Do not allow yourselves to be deceived, but rather ask about His ark. Even though it may be less dazzling to the eyes than others, nevertheless it is strong and secure. Even though it does not have many variegated banners, except the sign of the cross, know that your life is safe aboard it. And on a sea voyage the first and primary concern should be that the life of the passenger is safe.
If you believe in Christ the Savior, O Christ-bearers, you also believe in His work. His work is the Church, the Ark of Salvation. Aboard it are sailing the hosts of the saved and of those being saved. The Lord founded this work of His on faith, as strong as rock. Just as He said and prophesied: "On this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matt. 16:18). And truly, up to the present day they have never prevailed, nor will they from this day forward.
The Church is called the body of Christ. "You are the body of Christ" (Rom. 15:5; 1 Cor. 12:27). Therefore, there is only one Church. For there cannot be two bodies under one head, and Christ is called the head of the Church (Col. 1:18). Therefore: one Christ, one head, one body-one Church.
If there are apostasies and heresies, why should that confuse you? This was all foreseen and foretold, just as an experienced helmsman foresees and tells travelers about the storms and troubles ahead. "For there must be heresies among you," says the apostle, "so that those who are genuine among you may be recognized" (I Cor. 11:19). If one group of passengers aboard the ark should carve a dugout for themselves and then lower themselves into the sea to drift apart, you are naturally sad-and so you should be. Their example, a desperate example of a stubborn plunge into peril, strengthens your faith in the one and only ark of salvation.
The Church is called holy. It is clear to you why she is called holy. First, because it was the Saint of saints, the Holy of holies, who founded her. Second, because the Lord transformed, redeemed, purified and strengthened her with His own holy and most pure blood. Third, because from the beginning the Holy Spirit of God has been guiding her, inspiring her, and bringing her to life. Fourth, because all her members are called to be holy, separated from everything unholy in this world, in which they are growing and through which they are journeying. Fifth, because the holy heavens are set aside for her habitation. Sixth, because in her are all the God-given means by which men become holy and prepare themselves for heavenly citizenship. Therefore, the Church is called holy.
Moreover, the Church is called universal. Why this? First, because she unites to the living God the children of all lands, all tribes, and all languages. She is not confined to a single race, nor to a single tribe, nor to a single nation. Like the man who stands at the crossroads and summons all wayfarers to the king's banquet (cf. Matt. 22:9), 50 also does the Church. So also does the holy, universal Church summon and unite all the sons and daughters of men to salvation. And she rejects no one except one who rejects her and, consequently, himself as well. This is the difference between the all-inclusive Church of the New Testament and the preparatory Church of the Old Testament, which was limited to a single people.
Furthermore, the Church is called universal because she includes both the living and those who have fallen asleep. Those who have fallen asleep in the Lord are as much her members as those who are still living on earth. Wayfarers whom the ark of salvation has transported to the new land, to the eternal kingdom as well as those who are being transported today or those who will be transported tomorrow are all members of the one, holy, universal Church.
And thus the Church is called universal because it is not limited by race, by language, by space, by time, or by death.
In addition to all this, the Church is also universal in both her teaching and in her structure.
The holy Church is called apostolic. The Church is called this first because Christ's apostles were her first members. They were the first personal witnesses of the miraculous life and work of the Son of God on earth, and His first followers. Second, because the apostles organized the structure of the Church and spread the Church across the world. Third, because the holy apostles were the first after the Lord to spill their own blood onto her foundations. Fourth, because her apostolicity has not ceased even to this day. The apostolicity of the Church is reflected today in two ways: in her apostolic mission to the world and in the apostolic succession of her hierarchy. Both in her ministry in the world and in her ministers, the true Church, the Orthodox Church, bears the ceaseless seal of apostolicity.
It is not the task of the Church as an institution to rule but to minister; to minister to the nations of God to the point of martyrdom after the manner of Christ the Lord; to illuminate the souls of men, to guide the moral life of men spiritually, to shine. It is her task not to enslave but to set free. For all men are called to the freedom of Christ, to the freedom of the sons of God. As it is written: "You are no longer a slave but a son" (Gal. 4:7). And again: "For freedom Christ has set us free" (Gal. 5:1). As the ark of salvation the Church of God transports not slaves but free children, royal children, into the immortal heavenly kingdom. There is no cargo more precious and no pier more joyful!
This is the faith of the valiant and of those who love others. The cowardly and selfish find it difficult to accept this faith. The valiant are those who have the courage to rise up against the pagan chaos in their soul and establish order in it according to the gospel. Those who love others are those who like to journey with others and who view their companions in the light of that eternal light in the distance. And they rejoice in their companions, as in their own brothers, in themselves, and in that eternal light which illuminates and embraces them all, and draws them all to itself. The valiant and those who love others like order in themselves and around themselves. They appreciate the help of others and do not refuse help to others. They like to step back in order to make way for others. Like God they burn with the desire that all men be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. Recognizing the majesty of the living God, they consider themselves as nothing great. They regard themselves as tiny organs of the mysterious and great body of the Church, whose head is Christ. They do not push or quarrel over first place. They are not afraid of this life, nor do they fear death. They praise the good works of their companions, but their own they do not make public. And so in harmony, in order, and in joy, they migrate like a flock of birds to warmer regions-to the kingdom of divine light and fatherly warmth.
This is your faith, Christ-bearers, the faith of your valiant forefathers who loved others. Let it also be the faith of your children from generation to generation, all the way to the end of the journey, to the tranquil haven. This is the salvation-bearing Orthodox faith, which has never been put to shame. In truth, this is the faith of the truly chosen people, of those who bear the image of God in themselves. On the Day of Retribution, on the great Day of God's justice, when Christ will have judged with justice, they shall be called blessed.
flood - the ark - salvation.