“Hold Fast to the Truth You Have Been Given…”
In Renaissance times, it was not unusual for sailors, and especially pirates, to have that exact phrase, “Hold Fast” tattooed on their hands. Surprise! I have no idea what the word(s) for it in the “original Greek” are, (don’t you love people who can say that and know what they are talking about? I really do admire such people!) Never mind asking me what it is in Russian or Serbian. But here it is in olde Englysh: (smile!)
23Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
What does it mean to “hold fast”? In plain, every day English I think it is safe to say that it means, to “batten down the hatches”, “lash down everything that’s not nailed down”, to secure ourselves and our loved ones, firmly in the Church, by hand-cuffing ourselves to the icon stands if necessary, when times of trouble arise. (Don’t think I won’t do it! )
Those times have come for me. They have finally come. I won’t bore anyone with the petty details but suffice to say: My faith is weak, imperfect and thoroughly objectionable on it’s own. If I died tonight (“Now I lay me down to sleep…”) I doubt I would be able to sputter an answer to the Lord’s questioning. My “faith” such as it is, would never survive His scrutiny.
And so I pray, “O, Lord, HELP MY UNBELIEF!”
Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner!
Without him, there is no hope of escaping death. There is no hope of escaping my condemnation of myself. There is no hope of escaping my accuser who is far more powerful, and far more intelligent, than I am. (He probably speaks in the “original Greek.”)
But how exactly do we “hold fast”? When we come to baptism, no one gives you a manual (except for the elegantly wrapped Orthodox Study Bible which we are told, we cannot understand without an interpreter, which is why we are getting baptized in the first place.) No one ever really “teaches” anyone how to “hold fast” and no one can really learn it from a book. It is done by doing. Even when we don’t feel like it. When we don’t think we have it in us. When we think “All is lost!” and we turn to our prayer books, frantically searching for the “right” prayer.
In the end, the final analysis, I can never hope to make it to heaven, if Orthodoxy is all about the cannons of the Church laws, and the sayings of St. So-And-So who has never been translated into English, but is only available in the “original Greek”.
Thank you Lord, for your mercy! Thank you Lord, for your salvation! We, the unwashed, hold fast to your Promise!
O, Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me, a sinner! Remember me, O Lord, in Thy Kingdom!!!
Here are three crosses. Which one is yours? Which one is mine? I don’t know.
He will have to choose for me.