I am often embarrassed by Orthodox failures, just as I am by my own, and for the same reason. However, I believe our failures are uniquely unmasked by the sublime reality of the sacraments, and the perfection of the gift we have been given.
The mystery of our freedom is found in the condescending love of God. The exercise of our freedom, particularly when used for evil ends, inevitably makes God appear weak or non-existent. We rarely consider the fact that it makes Him look like an equal, and an equal who loves us.
Regardless of how we view the chances of returning the West to the Christian faith we at least must acknowledge that this world is not our true home. Our true home is the heavenly Jerusalem, the Kingdom of God, and at our baptism we took up citizenship in that Kingdom.
“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7). But it is the irony of the Cross: Love enduring all things. If you know the Cross and the Love that is crucified there, then the verse likely needs no explanation. Christ is His own exegesis.
Scientifically each person was created by the work of mommy and daddy; theologically each person was created by the love of God. And this means that each person bears a tremendous weight of dignity and value, since each person is the handiwork of the Trinity, and (as someone once said) God does not make junk.
The unchurched, non-sacramental evolution of contemporary Christianity follows the track of modern culture’s portrayal of human beings as atomistic individuals. Catholics and Orthodox frequently hear others assert, “I don’t need a priest. I can go straight to God.”
At the core of a narcissistic disorder is shame. Strangely, the ability to bear shame is essential in the experience of God. God does not try to shame us or make us feel bad about ourselves. Shame is simply an objective reality in His presence.
The Christian faith is apocalyptic. It reveals that which is hidden. The Church is the revelation of reality (or it is nothing). To live its life is to live as a revelation of that which is. All of creation agrees with that revelation and utters its yearning “Amen.”
To behold God face-to-face necessarily means that we behold Him without shame. Thus, this experience holds within it the promise of complete forgiveness and healing from the damage of sin.
This is not a slogan for anyone’s political agenda. It is nothing other than the proclamation of the Kingdom of God. It is inaugurated (already) in the hearts and lives of faithful believers, manifest in the lives of the saints. Thousands of souls around us stand weary and hungry for salvation. Acquire the Spirit of Peace.
We live in a liberal democracy, where open political debate is allowed and encouraged. This includes the freedom to gather and protest peacefully. This is very good, and can help to build a healthy society. But building a better society is not the Church’s primary task, and never was, even in Byzantium.
For some people, fidelity to the Fathers seems to mean effectively junking the idea of a scholarly reading the Scriptures in their original context. It also means participating in their spirit and reading with the same trembling respect that we bring to our exegesis.