Born in an Orthodox country, to be baptized in infancy and memorize the creed – does it mean to be Orthodox? Whether Orthodox to convince others of the truth of his ways? And how to make it better? On these issues thinks the Archimandrite Andrei (Konnos).
- “Oh, he’s a believer, to take it from him!”
- Archimandrite Andrew (Cananas): Christianity is not stifled, they breathe
- Archimandrite Andrew (Cananas): We often wave faith like a flag
- We believe not because we have nowhere to go
- Archimandrite Andrew (Cananas): If you wanna go to heaven, do cleverly
The first gift of God on earth
Once to me the lesson of God’s Law in the senior class came to the test with a colleague from the Ministry. He told me:
– Ask the children to write and translate in modern Greek “our father”. Don’t call them, don’t put the ratings – just look at how they will cope.
At first I thought that the test will take very little time. But in fact things turned out differently and I had to sit with red pen over the works of students, there were many mistakes, a lot, and spelling, and translation. So thanks to the “job” of Ministry, I learned what level of knowledge my students.
What I want to say about this?
We go to Church, read prayers, sing “I Believe…”, but can you explain to other people what our faith means? To explain what is Orthodoxy? We don’t know what you believe; don’t understand what we read. And it is not necessary here to consider themselves better than others.
Yes, there are those who know ancient Greek, or versed in dogmatic theology, or reading of the Holy fathers – but how many? And most of us know what I believe? Know what is Orthodoxy? Who is an Orthodox man?
As I heard once:
– Of course, I’m Orthodox, and what else? Because I am Greek! Born in Greece, I was baptized… I am Orthodox!
But is that enough? No. Not enough to be called Orthodox because you were born in Greece. You didn’t choose where to be born. This is your gift from God, His first gift here on earth. God has been good to you – and there is no merit yours. Then you even understand anything I could, couldn’t bring myself to do anything in order to become an Orthodox Christian. You did the Orthodox Church when you received the sacrament of Baptism. And then the path to Orthodoxy is just beginning, and it will be accompanied by a constant struggle. Christianity is a personal, experienced Orthodoxy need to win. Because this birth is a gift of God. There is neither your desire nor merit. And you don’t know that get.
We go to Church as a Museum
And God says to you: “Behold, you have ninety years (for example), to become a truly Orthodox person.” As the Holy fathers say, to acquire faith empirically.
So it’s one thing to say: “I know the doctrines.” And the other – to truly know, to understand, to understand what we believe. It is not enough just to repeat “I Believe in one God the Father…” – although it is a rare man who can read without error, and especially, by heart, and even with the translation. The problem is that we all experience do not know this.
After all, when the Holy fathers have established the creed, they are not gathered in one day at his Desk with the words: “But let’s think about what to say about God! Let’s say this, this and this!” No. They lived by faith in God, lived what is said in the creed. To believe in God meant for them to live it, feel It. Here He is – God the Father, the Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. The Holy fathers felt God saw Him – the father, the Son and the Holy spirit. For them God was not a theory but a reality. Seeing, feeling It, they just recorded, recorded his feeling that came to us in the form of the creed. That’s what dogmatic consciousness. Saying, “I Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ,” these people have seen Christ as their Lord, God, his Deliverer. They saw how He came to earth, as were the entire human race, has been raised. For them it was the experienced knowledge.
And we all formally. We come to Church like a Museum. Now it is necessary so to turn around now is to say, to do… the System works, and the important thing is to repeat, then you are Orthodox Christian. Christian?
Once a foreigner not Greek and not Orthodox – visited mount Athos and visited the monastic Liturgy. And here at the end of the vigil asked:
– What do you think?
And the alien replied:
– I saw that there is truth and that people who live here keep and observe it. But in their faces it is not visible.
In other words, the monks do not reflect the power of the words they uttered.
Can you imagine how king David sang his Psalms? As he uttered these words: “the Lord is my rock and my refuge, my deliverer, my God” (PS.17:3)? They flowed from his heart. He believed it, lived it – and therefore sang so.
And the Church sends us his word. We read them but do not live them. Speak beautiful phrases, wonderful sentences, great of truth – all this really sounds great, but we do not live. Called themselves Orthodox, but do not enjoy the power sound of the Psalms.
What is obvious? Yes, all the same anxiety that never leaves us; as we return from the temple with a troubled heart, instead of to fly on the wings of joy, forgetting about all the problems. In addition, as we continue to murmur and complain – his wife, children, neighbors. All this shows that we do not understand as it should be.
Experience and “registration”
Orthodoxy is what we were called by the Lord. He has called us to live the Christian life, called to Church. And we – in the Church, but not experienced, and so, “the residence”. Most of us call themselves Orthodox, but not enough to indicate their religious affiliation in the questionnaire. You need to live Orthodoxy. Think of how many times you heard in Church the words “Themselves and each other and all our life to Christ the God will give!” And I how many times I uttered these words out loud… to Entrust themselves and their fellowmen to God.
When St. John Chrysostom wrote these words, they were his from the heart, he lived them – and, in isolation, undergoing persecution and suffering, saying: “Lord, I entrust to You everything. Themselves, their challenges – all commit to the Christ of God.” He spoke, and his heart was at peace. Said and believed.
And I repeat those words and almost immediately again, hesitate, worry, drowning in their problems – calling themselves Orthodox. Yes, I celebrated a lovely Liturgy, but my feelings aren’t they beautiful? If I touched myself to what was said in the Liturgy? Do now this? And you?
Sometimes I wonder how I’m Orthodox. In fact – Yes. I’m baptized in the Orthodox Church, although baptized me in Germany, the African missionary. Sometimes I review the photos from his baptism – it’s amazing: black hands held over the baptismal font on the white baby. And all this in Germany, and a priest – Orthodox African.
Yes, I was baptized by all the canons in the Orthodox Church, but Orthodox? To say “I’m Orthodox” means to take on more responsibility. It’s not in words. And especially not to boast of their Orthodoxy, condemning those who are not Orthodox. Calling himself a real Christian, are you ready to take on more responsibility, ready to great humility, ready to respond with all my heart for the love of God.
After all, what is Orthodoxy? It is the human response to God’s call. God came to earth, gave us His truth revealed to us, shone the true light, and we – the people, the Church, respond to Him by their faith, the Orthodox faith. So Christianity is accepting invitations from God. So we tell Him the Orthodox faith.
The truth screams
That is why it is important to answer yourself the question: calling themselves Orthodox, while believing in the tenets I live by them? You know, you know? Enjoy what you believe? However, all this is theoretical reasoning. But let me give a simple example from life.
Let’s say you sit in a taxi whose driver is a Protestant. Or Roman, or Jehovah’s witnesses, or Adventist, or Pentecostal, it doesn’t matter. Or, for example, on the street, you stop a Mormon, but maybe the hare Krishnas. And this man offers:
– Let’s talk?
What do you say?
– No, I’m Orthodox, I don’t want to talk to you!
Well, don’t have to talk, but to talk sooner or later anyway. We live in the era of freedom of speech. And at work you can ask the question:
– Are you Orthodox? Why?
And when you ask who by faith your colleague, he will say:
– I am – Jehovah’s witnesses, and polite smile.
– Why did you become a Jehovah’s witnesses?
And people will consistently explain their faith along the way, accusing the Church of all sins – including the deification of men, and idolatry. Well, I must add that God is not a Trinity, the virgin Mary – not the mother of God etc etc And you, Orthodox (Orthodox after all?), listening to all this and don’t know how to be: to stop the conversation (“you Know, I don’t want to talk to you. You are a heretic! Get the hell away”) – and this option is clearly not the best. Or to engage in dialogue and to tell such tales, another colleague, walked past you and hearing your arguments, simply interfering in the dispute and try to explain otherwise. And perhaps you will remain standing in front of that Jehovah’s witnesses with his mouth open, thinking: “What can I answer him? He knows so much!”
Here it is – knows so much. Very often it turns out that the Jehovah’s witnesses, Protestants, Pentecostals, and other know our faith much better than us, the Orthodox. Yes, they’re charms, they are heretics, misguided people, and someone is engaged in occult practices and contact with demons – but they know what they are doing.
They studied their faith and continue to improve – I read a lot of books, magazines, talk, participate in seminars and conferences, make reports, in General, deepen their knowledge.
And we have no idea what you believe, and I can’t give a decent answer, can’t convince anybody with a smile, without yelling and fighting. Because the truth screams, yells and fights. What would she be doing? Remember the words of the Lord: “So let your light Shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father in Heaven” (Matt.5:16). The truth just shines. Open, it shines and nothing more. And then the man simply to see you, to see the truth of your faith and to follow you – or at least think.
Translation Yelizaveta Terentyeva for the portal “Orthodoxy and the world”