Saturday, December 1, 2012

Hollow Orthodoxy

Taking Orthodoxy beyond the Self-Congratulatory

Archbishop Averky of Syracuse, of blessed memory, once said of converts, "they are like envelopes, they have a tendency to come unglued". Many a convert, once they've embraced the Orthodox Faith, mistakenly given themselves over to a zealotry that is without any form of temperance. They, in their excitement at having found "The True Faith", almost over night take on external formula that seems more "spiritual", and makes them feel they are on the fast track to sainthood.

They'll notice when another parishioner seems careless in the making of the sign of the cross, all the while demonstrating for all around them, the proper way. Making sweeping signs of the cross that are done in such a way as to be almost a caricature, they follow up with profound bows, distracting fellow worshipers in the process. They make a production of the fast periods, making sure their non-Orthodox family and friends know the seriousness of the Orthodox fasting periods. Their icon corners can be larger than the pious old woman who has been Orthodox all her life, and who is known for the sanctity of her tender care for others.

These people become spiritual gluttons, while taking their new found faith into a sensuality and pride that is miles from the holiness that comes from years of struggle. Their public displays of Orthodox, often distractions for fellow worshipers, what with all the profound bows, icon kissing, and candle lighting, can actually be diversions from the important confrontation of one's own personal sin. In their newness to Orthodoxy they throw themselves into the externals and public displays, while preventing themselves from entering into the mystery of faith that comes only with the acquisition of a humble and contrite heart.

Our longing for drama and excitement in our new found faith, can, if we let it, become a distraction, leading to spiritual pride, rather than the holiness that comes with humbly receiving the faith by following the example of holy people whose lives are often hidden from us. If our Orthodoxy is expressed primarily in the externals, we put ourselves on the fast track to becoming followers of the Pharisee, rather than imitating the humility of the Publican.

My own spiritual father, Archimandrite Dimitry of blessed memory, gave me the best of advice, when he said, "little by little". Taking little steps, with the guidance and direction that comes from one's priest or spiritual father, or by council with that pious little old lady, whose face radiates the light of Christ, we will be able to enter into the Kingdom, having gained the humility and joy that does not necessitate being extravagant with the externals.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Saturday December 1, 2012 / November 18, 2012
26th Week after Pentecost. Tone eight.
Nativity (St. Philip's Fast). Fish Allowed

Martyr Platon of Ancyra (266).
Martyr Romanus the Deacon of Caesarea and child-martyr Barulas of Antioch (303).
St. Nicholas confessor, priest (1948).
Martyrs Zacchaeus the Deacon and Alphaeus, of Caesarea in Palestine (303).
Synaxis of All Saints of Estonia.
St. Mawes, bishop in Cornwall and Brittany (5th c.) (Celtic & British).
St. Mabyn, nun of Cornwall (Celtic & British).
New Martyrs Anastasius of Epirus and Daniel (1750) (Greek).
Martyr Romanus, who suffered under Maximian (305).
St. Odo of Cluny (942) (Gaul).

You can read the life of the saint in green, by click on the name.

THANK YOU, to all of you who have been able to contribute towards the support of the monastery. These difficult times of economic hardship have impacted the monastery, and those of you who have been able to donate, have been our lifeline. May God bless you for your generosity, and kindness.
With love in Christ,  
Abbot Tryphon

Donations can be made directly to the monastery through PayPal, or you may send donations to:

All-Merciful Saviour Monastery
PO Box 2420
Vashon Island, WA 98070-2420 USA

Galatians 3:8-12

And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.

The Law Brings a Curse

10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” 11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.” 12 Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them.”

Luke 9:57-62

The Cost of Discipleship

57 Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.”
58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”
59 Then He said to another, “Follow Me.”
But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”
60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.”
61 And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.”
62 But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

1 comment:

  1. Eep! Guilty as charged.

    I have a copy of Mother Thekla's "Letter to a Convert" printed out and stuck to the wall of my office, in a position where my eyes can rest upon it daily. It is a good antidote to convertitis, which is remarkably similar to hyperdoxy in its symptoms, and can creep up without warning upon the unsuspecting Christian.