Saturday, December 28, 2013

Putting on Christ
When Ethnicity becomes a Barrier

Over the years I have heard many grief stricken parents and grandparents lament the loss of their children and grandchildren from the Church. Sad as it may be, I'm not usually surprised, for over and over I've heard the sad truth behind this exodus from the Church. More often than not, hese parents did not raise their children to be practicing Orthodox Christians. They may have had their infant baptized, but the frequency of church attendance was not important, other than the need to keep those ethnic links to the "old country".

Parents, unless they are serious about their faith, often look upon baptism as the moment when their child is made Orthodox, but fail to realize the Mystery of Baptism is only the beginning of a life in Christ. These same parents know childhood inoculations against diseases are important, and they understand their child's long term health requires sound nutritional planning, exercise, and loving support for good mental health. Being loving parents, they wouldn't think good parenting ends with that one inoculation, yet they treat baptism as though it is a magical formula that assures their child is forever connected to the ethnic heritage of the family tree.

Orthodoxy can not be seen as the ethnic link to a family's history, anymore than ethnic dancing and ethnic food, makes one Orthodox. It is fine to be proud of one's ethnic heritage, and want to preserve one's ethnic language and ethnic traditions. But our ethnicity does not save us. Only Christ saves us! Being Greek or Russian will not save us, for there is no grace in one's ethnicity. It is only putting on Christ, and becoming One Body in Christ, that will bring about salvation. We must not link ethnic preservation to our Orthodox Faith, for in Christ there is "neither Greek nor Jew...", for in Christ, we are but ONE NATION.

It is always sad to witness churches that are packed with Sunday worshipers who are only there because they want their cultural hit for the week. Getting together with people who are from the "old country", and who speak the language of their former country, is not what makes one Orthodox. Knowing the traditional dances from the old country, and eating ethnic foods that connect them with the old country, is fine. Yet, if these ethnic bastions only serve up cultural hits for the week, they are in danger of becoming barriers to knowing Christ. As well, if these parishes place so much emphasis on cultural and linguistic links to the old country, they are in danger of becoming nothing more than walled citadels of ethnic purity, keeping "outsiders" from entering into the Gates of Paradise. If visitors (potential seekers) to our Orthodox parishes find themselves outsiders in their own country, Orthodoxy will be seen as an ethnic club that is close off to them.

This is the reason I so strongly believe Serbs, Greeks, Russians, Bulgarians, and all other immigrants, coming into the United States to better their economic life, should be welcomed by Orthodox parishes that instruct them in the Orthodox Faith, encourage them to worship in the language of their adopted nation, and help them to become pious American Orthodox believers.

If we are not to repeat the mistakes of the past, that led to the exodus of the children and grandchildren of the last mass immigration, we must not repeat the same mistakes. If our children and grandchildren do not understand the language of worship, the faith will not become their own. And, if their friends are not made welcome in our churches, our children and grandchildren will eventually leave the Faith of their Ancestors, and we will stand, alone, wondering why our churches are empty, yet again.

With love and blessings,
Abbot Tryphon

A footnote: The 10th Ecumenical Council, all but forgotten by much of the Orthodox world, classified ethno-phyletism as a heresy, because it is an attack on the very catholicity of the Church.

Saturday December 28, 2013 / December 15, 2013

27th Week after Pentecost. Tone one.
Nativity (St. Philip's Fast). Fish Allowed

Hieromartyr Eleutherius, bishop of Illyria, and his mother, Martyr Anthia and Martyr Corivus the Eparch (126).
Venerable Paul of Mt. Latros (956).
St. Stephen the Confessor, archbishop of Surozh in the Crimea (790).
Synaxis of All Saints of Crimea.
New Russian Hieromartyrs Joseph, metropolitan of Petrograd (1938), Hilarion (Troitsky), bishop of Verey (1929); Virgin-martyr Victorina (Diobronravova).
New Hieromartyrs Alexander, Basil, Victorinus priests (1937).
Venerable Tryphon, of Pechenga or Kola (1583), and his martyred disciple Venerable Jonah.
Synaxis of All Saints of Kolsk.
Martyr Eleutherius at Constantinople (4th c.).
Venerable Pardus, hermit of Palestine (6th c.).
Monk-martyr Bacchus of Mar Saba (8th c.).
Martyr Susanna the Deaconess of Palestine (4th c.).
Venerable Nektarius of Bitel'sk (1500).
St. Aubertus, bishop (668) (Neth.).
You can read the life of the saint by clicking on the highlighted name.

THANKS 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

The Scripture Readings for the Day

2 Timothy 1:1-2


1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus,

To Timothy, a beloved son:

Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

Galatians 5:22-6:2

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Bear and Share the Burdens

6 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Luke 14:1-11

A Man with Dropsy Healed on the Sabbath

14 Now it happened, as He went into the house of one of the rulers of the Pharisees to eat bread on the Sabbath, that they watched Him closely. And behold, there was a certain man before Him who had dropsy. And Jesus, answering, spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”
But they kept silent. And He took him and healed him, and let him go. Then He answered them, saying, “Which of you, having a donkey or an ox that has fallen into a pit, will not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?” And they could not answer Him regarding these things.

Take the Lowly Place

So He told a parable to those who were invited, when He noted how they chose the best places, saying to them: “When you are invited by anyone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the best place, lest one more honorable than you be invited by him; and he who invited you and him come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man,’ and then you begin with shame to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you. 11 For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

 I invite my readers to listen to my
Ancient Faith Radio podcasts:

No comments:

Post a Comment