Deception has always existed, but those stronger people who opposed it always sought out, and always found, the true Church. They went to isolated monasteries and into the forests, to [seek out] elders and fools-for-Christ, to Ambrose of Optina or to Fr. John of Kronstadt, to people who possessed not only correct faith, but righteous life. In fact it is they, whether living in city or desert, who are the true Church. As Fr. Valentin Sventsitsky said, all manner of evil done by men who only consider themselves to be part of the Church is evil and sin not of the Church, but against the Church.
The Church can be neither socialist, nor capitalist, nor feudal. It can only be the Church of God, and as it ceases to be only of God, it either ceases to be the Church, or is transformed from the Church of Christ to the state church, regardless of the system or court under which it exists. It is precisely this that is the secularization of the Church—whether capitalist, socialist or feudal, cujus regio eius religio: whoever rules, his is the religion (Latin.). Secularization may be to various depths or degrees, but its essence remains the same: substituting lack of faith for faith, and sin for purity.
Our being in the Church is not by right: It is always a Miracle and an Unexpected Joy.
From Parish Life, August 2020
Russian Orthodox Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Washington, DC