T R U E L I F E I N G O D 8 Archbishop Aris Shirvanian, Armenian Orthodox Church, Patriarchate of Jerusalem Archbishop Seraphim, His Eminence, the Archbishop of Johannesburg and Pretoria Excerpt from the church newsletter of the Archbishop of Johannesburg and Pretoria. V assula had a typical society life- style with the usual everyday problems until, one day, in a strange and mysterious way, she heard a sweet and unknown voice that was actually a call to a mission - to testify to God’s presence among us. At first, she was mystified and had no idea what to do. God, however, helped her understand her mission and with obedience and humility and a lot of prayer, Vassula started to record the messages she received interiorly from God. At the same time, she changed and started to live her life in a different way. Loving God and praying to God became her life. Thus began her mission to bring people closer to God. In fact, if one studies with great care the messages that Vassula receives, they will realize that the messages emphasize the basic teachings of the Holy Bible and the Tradition of the Holy Fathers of our Church. All the messages refer to a spiritual preparation for repentance, to a call to live a holy, mystical, ecclesiastical and eschatological life, to alleviate the suffering of our fellow human beings, especially defenseless children, and in particular those that are killed before they are born through the fatal sin of abortion. Another important indication in the messages is the need to support the unification of the Mystical Body of Christ, in other words the unity of the Churches and, in addition, the visible strengthening of the spiritual bonds between theChurches beginningwith all Christians celebrating together on the same date the Resurrection of Christ. If one reads Vassula’s messages with care from a theological and ecclesiastical point of view and, specifically, having in mind the Orthodox dogma, it is hard to find erroneous belief. (…) The propaganda war against Vassula is so strong that whoever, with good intentions, wishes to approach her without prejudice and wishing calmly to read the messages will immediately also be accused of heresy. Lord and Virgin Mary, what a curse to fall into the hands of fanatic religious people, the contemporary fanatic Pharisees and Secretaries. In the end, at both a local and international level, through an appointed committee, our Church will have to consider Vassula’s messages with integrity and through discussion in order to formulate a responsible opinion and put a stop to this “contradictory phenomenon”. When many members of our Church and other Christians benefit spiritually, while other lay people and clergy fight Vassula and tell lies about her, if the messages are from God, they are actually fighting God. In November 2008, His Eminence introduced Vassula before a speech she made in Johannesburg: “The people who bring us closer to God, those who support the institution of the family, those who keep us away from gambling, from drugs, from wars, those who promote peace in the world are welcome in our society, these are the prophets.” Archimandrite Eugene Pappas, North American Archdiocese O nce in a long while an extraordinary event occurs that people mark in their minds and hearts and date subsequent events from this marker. Such is the experience of an open heart reading “ True Life In God ” whose messages - I am convinced - are of Divinely inspired origin and are granted to us prophetically (Acts 2:17), through Mrs. Vassula Ryden. I will not belabor the point that these writings are scripturally intact and correct. Nor will I dwell on the fact that those who approach these messages with skepticism will remain skeptics. Nor will I try to explain why God has chosen Vassula to convey to us His word, once more. No “new” Good News are being announced, yet, God’s children hear the voice of their Father and know that it is He who speaks. He speaks to remind us of His eternal truths and to explain those things of His Word that have been ignored or miscalculated. The effects of His messageand the impact ofHiswords to His children are extraordinary. They are transforming. They are rejuvenating. This is what I want to talk about -albeit briefly- in this note. I want to let everyone who reads this to know of a remarkable event. It is my experience that those that read and follow the messages of True Life In God behave as if they have been reborn into Christ! They have put on Christ as if to be enveloped by Him. They embrace their faith with a fire that is akin to that of the early neophyte Christians! They are even more attracted to their Church and follow Church Traditions and Sacramental Life with a rare devotion! From what I have observed, they live a life that is a true life in God! What else could I as a pastor want from my flock of God? If these messages make them better Christians; if as a result of their reading of True Life InGod they flock back into the Church and its Sacraments; if they not only totally themessages emphasize the basic teachings of theHolyBible and theTraditionof the Holy Fathers of our Church (Excerpt from an interview) ... to have Unity as our mission is the most important message. This is the message which Christ gave to His Apostles while He was still on earth, saying that you should be one flock with one Shepherd. Do you think that Vassula may be the echo of Christ’s wishes? In my opinion, the answer is yes. I have absolutely no doubt. I have heard her messages referring to this theme (unity) and I have read some of her books which also speak of love and unity and her messages are in accordance with the message of the Gospels.