Lesson Four: The Ignorance of the World
St. Benedict Orthodox Church
Celebrating in the Western Rite
of the Antiochian Jurisdiction
“It was asserted ‘that a new-born infant, entirely covered over with flour, was presented, like
some mystic symbol of initiation,   to the knife of the proselytes, who unknowingly inflicted
many a secret and mortal wound on the innocent victim of his error; that as soon as the
cruel deed was perpetuated, the sectaries drank up the blood, greedily tore asunder the
quivering members, and pledged themselves to eternal secrecy, by a mutual consciousness
of guilt. It was confidently affirmed that this inhuman sacrifice was succeeded by a suitable
entertainment, in which intemperance served as a provocative to brutal lust; till, at the
appointed moment the lights were suddenly extinguished, shame was banished, nature was
forgotten; and as accident might direct, the darkness of the night was polluted by the
incestuous commerce of sisters and brothers, of sons and of mothers.”

This quote, derived from an 18th century work, sounds like the description of some ancient
religious cult. Actually, it is a description of a second century pagan perception of what went
on in Christian services. It is so ridiculous that one has to chuckle after reading it. How can
they possibly have considered this to be true, one has to ask?

However ridiculous this may seem, consider some of the language of the Church. During
Nativity we speak of the Incarnation and the Christ Child. There is an old Christian song that
addresses the Nativity and the crucifixion together and reminds us that “Baby Jesus is
gonna die.” It is easy to imagine that the Romans heard our talk of the “Infant” Christ and of
His being the Paschal Victim, and misunderstood it.

We Christians have always spoken of how our sins have led to Christ’s crucifixion. “WE have
crucified Him,” one popular song says.  This is not too far removed from the pagan notion
that the Christian novices “unknowingly inflicted,” wounds on the Infant.
We speak of drinking from the chalice containing the Blood of Christ. Indeed, Christ told us
that we have no life in us if we DON’T do this. One can imagine the uninformed Romans
perceiving this as some sort of sordid cultic ritual.
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The Orthodox Church is evangelical, but not Protestant.
It is orthodox, but not Jewish. It is catholic, but not Roman.
It is not non-denominational, it is pre-denominational.
It has believed, taught, preserved, defended, and died for the Faith of the Apostles
since the Day of Pentecost nearly 2000 years ago in 33 A.D.
St. Benedict of Nursia Orthodox Church
St. Benedict of Nursia Orthodox Church