Feast Day Thoughts

The local OCA parish has a temporary rector since the former priest is now officially retired.  I can’t say I am disappointed by the latter’s retirement.  He and his matushka were not the friendliest, felt free to make comments to me (a new visitor) about the lack of pay he was receiving and were unwilling to reach out to those Orthodox displaced when a tiny local OCA mission closed its doors.

The temporary guy and his matushka are positively delightful.  She barely comes up to my shoulder which isn’t saying much since I am short and she has the most pleasant, loving face.  I don’t even know her and feel like I’ve known her forever.  A priest-friend told me they are the end of the era of “really good” priest families who are wholly dedicated to the Church and serving Her in goodness and Truth.

At the conclusion of this morning’s Liturgy Father gave a very brief talk about the Cross.  “It was an ugly instrument of torture which our Lord used for the good; for our good.  Christ willingly went to it.  We have in Christ the Image of God.  We must remember that each person we look at, even if they do evil, in them is the Image of God.  We must look for that Image and raise it up in our mind’s eye so we can love that person as God loves them.”  Those are quite poignant words; ones I took to heart and held close.

In the last couple of weeks, I have witnessed a good man have his heart ripped out and trampled upon by people on the internet who do not have first hand knowledge of a difficult situation he happens to find himself embroiled in.  Nearly to a man these bloggers and commentators have condemned him.  NONE of them have any first hand information about the situation.  NONE OF THEM has called this man to offer their Christian love, prayers and support.

In the last week I have spoken to a woman who is so angry with her pastor because she feels her last 14 years of ministry have been invalidated by a decision he is making which she just so happens not to agree with.  The pastor is returning the church to the polity of their faith tradition which had been eroded by a previous pastor.  He has that responsibility as the spiritual head of the church.  But she and others disagree with him.

Another man and his wife gave a small financial gift to a sister church to help defray costs of new vestments.  He is a man of stature in his denomination.  The recipient posted the financial gift in the church’s bulletin, along with the list of others who have donated to the fund.  Do you know that a church member emailed that man to tell him she thought he gave that gift so he could look good in his hierarchy’s eyes and kiss up to them!  Can you imagine!?  I was speechless when I heard about that.

Truly we are at the end of time.  Christians are chewing up and spitting out other Christian people, priests, pastors and laity.  Sister against brother.  Father against brother.  Son against father.  And I don’t mean blood relatives either.  Today I was asked, “Philippa, do you know of a Christian church I can join?”  If you knew the person who asked me, you would fall down in a faint.

Yet what are we to do?  I reminded the questioner of their words to me not two days ago.  “We soldier on and serve the Lord.”  Just as Christ willingly went to the cross, just as Christ stood still when he was spit upon, just as Christ remained largely silent in front of Pilate, just as Christ healed the man’s ear that the Apostle cut off, so should we do the same.  It was hard for Him.  It is hard for us.  He did it.  So can we.

That is what this Feast Day is all about.

Before Thy cross, we bow down in worship, O Master; and Thy holy Resurrection we glorify.

O Lord save Thy people and bless Thine inheritance. Grant victory to Orthodox Christians over their adversaries.  And by virtue of Thy cross preserve Thy habitation.


6 thoughts on “Feast Day Thoughts

  1. I do think that when we are faced with our limitations, as you are in this situation, and as I have been in similar situations, prayer works better than we realize. Then there are the times when I wonder if my sins aren’t blocking my prayer to God – but I have faith that He sees the need of the person I’m praying for, and not the worthiness of the person praying – ’cause that worthiness ain’t there!

    I hate it when we “feed on each other’s flesh,” as St. John Chrysostom put it.

  2. Meg,

    Your words humble me. This post was written while my heart was breaking and continues to break for a particular person who is suffering right now. If only my grasp of Orthodoxy translated into heart movements, perhaps then I’d have a chance.

    By your prayers my friend, Trudy

  3. I can’t believe you didn’t get more Likes on this post – it’s one of your best. Thank you so much – I stand in awe of your grasp of Orthodoxy.

  4. Athanasia, We do indeed live in very hard times withing the church. I started reading “Remember Thy First Love” by Archimandrite Zacharias and this struck me “The Fathers of the fourth century – a time of great flowering for the Church – repeatedly said that the Christians of the last times would neither have the strength to enure ascetic hardships nor be able to perform the godly works of the Fathers of old. But they added that those who would succeed in simply keeping the faith would be more greatly glorified in heaven than those Fathers who had worked miracles and even raised the dead to life” (author’s emphasis).

    This made me cry when I read it because it has been so very hard lately just to keep the faith.

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