Hothouse approach to Orthodoxy

Below is an excerpt from the book Letters from Father Seraphim, a correspondence he kept with Fr. Alexey Young. It is from a letter dated dated over 40 years ago, February 10, 1976. Wonder what Fr. Seraphim would say about the “hothouse approach to Orthodoxy” via the internet, social media….Coincidentally, the video above is not related to the post.

“I’ve written and talked to L about this hothouse approach to Orthodoxy – filled with gossip, knowing “what’s going on”, having the “right answer” to everything according to what he “experts” say….

An example: she is horrified that T was received into the Church [from Roman Catholicism] without baptism or chrismation. “That’s wrong,” she says. But we see nothing particularly wrong with it; that is for the priest and bishop to decide, and it is not our (or even more, her) business. The rite by which he was received has long been approved by the Church out of economy, and probably in the case it was the best way, because T might have hesitated much more at being baptized. The Church’s condescension here was wise. But L would like someone “to read Vladika Anthony the decree of the Sobor” [on this subject]. My dear, he was there, composing the decree, which explicitly gives the bishop permission to use economy when he wishes! We don’t like this attitude at all, because it introduces totally unnecessary disturbance into the church atmosphere. And if she is going to tell T now that he is not “really” a member of the Orthodox Church, she could do untold harm to a soul.

Another example: L was very pleased that Q was baptized [after having been a member of the Russian Church Abroad already for several years]: Finally he did it “right”! But we are not pleased at all, seeing in this a sign of great spiritual immaturity on his part and a narrow fanaticism on the part of those who approve. Saint Basil the Great refused to baptize a man who doubted the validity of his baptism, precisely because he had already received communion for many years and it was too late to doubt then that he was a member of Christ’s Church! In the case of our converts, it’s obvious that those who insist or are talked into receiving baptism after already being members of the Church are trying, out of a feeling of insecurity, to receive something which the Sacrament dot not give: psychological security, a making up for their past failures while already Orthodox, a belonging to the “club” of those who are “right”, an automatic spiritual “correctness”. But this acts casts doubt on the Church and her ministers. If the priest or bishop who received such people were wrong (and so wrong that the whole act of reception must be done over again!), a sort of Church within the Church is created, a clique which, by contrast to “most bishops and priests”, is always “right”. And of course, that is our big problem today – and even more in the days ahead. It is very difficult to fight this, because they offer “clear and simple” answers to every question, and our insecure converts find this the answer to their needs. “

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The Two Daughters

jesus_woman2In anticipation of the twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost which is this coming Sunday, the reading is from one of my favorite gospel stories: the raising of the daughter of Jairus.

It deals with two women: one with the 12 year issuance of blood and Jairus’ 12 year old daughter. Nonetheless, the leading roles are a woman and a man (Jairus). One falls at the Lord’s feet in front of Him, publicly; the other behind Him, in secret. One is a religious leader, the other an outcast. One He healed knowingly (He tells Jairus He’s going to his house), the other one unknowingly (He asks “Who touched Me”). Jairus called the 12 year old girl “daughter”, Jesus calls the outcast woman “daughter”. One of them interprets and upholds the Law, the other one was an outcast according to the Law. One of them had to see to believe (they even “made fun” of Jesus when He said she was sleeping), the other knew by faith that she would be healed.

And in the end, what was the result? Was one healed and not the other? Or was Christ merciful to the one and the other? According to our human logic it would only seem fair- especially taking into consideration that Jesus was made fun of – that one would be deprived of God’s blessings due to their lack of faith. But God was merciful to both just as He rewards all of us if we approach Him with the smallest, minutest amount of faith and love.

Do you know what day it is?

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Tomorrow we celebrate the Dedication of the Church of St. George in Lydia, known among the Serbian people as Djurdjic or Little St. George’s Day. I had the great honor of visiting this church and praying at the tomb of St. George.

The Lord says, As they persecuted Me they will persecute you…. Oftentimes we think we will be praised for our faith, because we go to church or quote Scripture or do good in the name of Christ, forgetting that there are also persecutions and hatred of Christians worldwide. During these most difficult times we are called to take up our cross and remain faithful to Christ. This is what the Saints did and the holy martyrs that we celebrate throughout the church year, including one of the most well known martyrs St. George the Great Martyr.

According to Wikipedia (here): In the book Dracula by Bram Stoker evil things are said to occur on St. George’s Day, beginning at midnight. The date of St. George’s Day presented in the book, 5 May  is St. George’s Day as observed by the Eastern Orthodox churches of that era.

“Do you know what day it is?” I answered that it was the fourth of May. She shook her head as she said again: “Oh, yes! I know that, I know that! but do you know what day it is?” On my saying that I did not understand, she went on: “It is the eve of St. George’s Day. Do you not know that tonight, when the clock strikes midnight, all the evil things in the world will have full sway?”

I don’t want to go to hell

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“Today’s gospel reading of the saving of the demon possessed men which the Lord performs when He expels the demons from them, and they beg Him to not command them to go to the abyss but that they enter into the herd of swine, shows us what terrors awaits us in hell that not even the demons don’t want to go there. …”

Bishop Milutin of Valjevo

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