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Archive for the ‘Theology’ Category

Discouraged

Today is one of those days where victory and defeat come simultaneously. I have to realize that the world does not understand the Orthodox faith. I do not understand the Orthodox faith as it often strikes me as too great a mystery to ever fully be known. Yet, now more than ever before, I am called to be an evangelist.

In so many ways, Orthodoxy is good news! While She does not shy away from moral instruction, She charges those in Her fold to an ever-greater pursue of Christ-likeness. Each person enters his or her own ascetic struggle within the broader ascetic struggles of the community.

Yet some people can only see the externals. They see that we have male priests and bishops; therefore, the Church must oppress women. They see that we use a Liturgy that finds its origins in the time the Apostles; therefore, the Church must be outdated. They see that we practice confession; therefore, the Church must be trying to regulate every facet of the community’s life through legal means. They see that I as a catechumen cannot partake of Holy Eucharist; therefore, the Church must be exclusionary and discriminatory.

My heart grieves.

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No Shortcuts

I went to school in Boston, and like the rest of New England, drivers find that the road they are on does not go to where they want. Often times directions start with “You know, you can’t get there from here” because first you have to go somewhere else seemingly unrelated.

Today in Liturgy, I found myself feeling embarrassed during the Great Censing. First the deacon censes the altar, then the royal doors, followed by the icons, and then censes the people. The deacon senses the people assembled because we all are made in the image of God. Moreover, we are the small “s” saints of the Church. Yet today, I got to thinking about the big “S” Saints displayed in the iconography. They ran the race with endurance and a great many of them were perfected in martyrdom. Who am I that I should be accounted among them?

“Perfected in martyrdom” is a foreign concept to most non-Orthodox. Personally, I find myself desiring a foreign nature of martyrdom because, let’s face it, martyrdom is a high bar! Surely one would expect an easier way than martyrdom and other assorted trials of the saints.

Yet, in addition to the truth that we are created in the image of God, we are also created according to His likeness. Ever since the first days of man, we have been called to assume the likeness of God. This process requires time and obedience to the command to “Subdue the Earth.” But not long after the first issuance of that command, Satan offered a different strategy to Eve: if you eat of the fruit of this tree, then you will become like God. Granted, I am certainly not a Hebrew scholar, but I think the limitations of the English translation serve me well here. Satan offered Eve an easier way to assume God’s likeness. And she, like so many of us, took the easy way out. Satan offered Eve a shortcut.

If you are driving around in a city like Boston, trying to take a shortcut only leads you into utter geographical confusion. Similarly, we have ample testimony that taking a shortcut spiritually only undercuts God’s plans. Avoiding shortcuts is a skill that can only be perfected within persistence. May we all stand firm in Christ until He comes.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.

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