PROINI (N.Y.) - March 18-19, 2000
March 19th: Sunday of Orthodoxy
Pray for our church and for Archbishop Spyridon
Together we can make a difference!
On this Sunday of Orthodoxy, as we go to church to celebrate the victory of the reinstatement of the icons, over the heresy of the iconoclast movement in the ninth century, let us prayerfully contemplate also the present and future of our beloved faith.
Let us look upon the recent events in our Church and the actions of some clergy and lay people during the past three years as a solemn lesson, and let us not be quick to condemn or judge. For as Christians, we must remember the Christ's emphatic command of "Do not judge, lest you be judged". However, let us also not allow the suffering of so many priests and faithful who have the courage to condemn and speak out against ruthless interference and improprieties in church management, go in vain. Rather, let us pray, dear brethren, in the full spirit of TRUE Orthodox Christianity, as we enter our individual parishes, for God to forgive and put an end to this disgraceful stain upon our history.
The power of prayer for a common purpose is powerful, as most historically documented in our beautiful Akathist Hymn to the most blessed Virgin Mary. An all night vigil in the grand cathedral of Hagia Sophia by the devout faithful of the time, who chose to turn their hearts towards God rather than put their faith in man, managed to miraculously save the city of Constantinople from the attack of the enemy. So, let us light our candles in unison of hearts and souls, for all those who still suffer and are embattled. Let us pray for them to have the freedom to be allowed peace in their lives, and that our lives be allowed to benefit from their example. Let us also pray for the whole clergy and hierarchs whose individual weaknesses have made them an easy vessel for the evil one to work his destructive goals through. May the Holy Spirit help them find it in their hearts to hear our pain in this whole disappointing, depressing and discouraging situation.
We would humbly like to remind some of the clergy, as well as some of the laity, of the awesome responsibility and blessed position of a priest in the Orthodox church. A priest is called to be an earthly intercessor between us men and God. A priest must teach us and admonish us in right from wrong as set forth in the commandments, the new testament and the Patristic teachings. A priest is in the blessed position of consecrating the most precious body and blood of Christ into the most sacred sacrament of communion, and therefore, despite any secular feelings we may have towards that person, at the very least, we must respect him for that. Lastly, a priest carries the burden of saving each and every individual soul he is responsible for. In fact, it was once said by a saintly cleric that if he goes to hell he will have the company of his congregation, but if he goes to heaven he knows that he will then have the company of his congregation there.
That is why we are so disheartened by the indifference of some clergy and hierarchy to the fact that many faithful have ceased going to their individual parishes because of the disappointment they feel with them in this yet to be resolved situation. They must show us that they are above church politics and intrigue, as well as secular pettiness, or that in having succumbed to that pettiness and sin against their brothers, they wish to seek amends with them. They must put into practice the Orthodox ideal of Theosis, or 'divinity'. Theosis lifts up our souls to behave more like God, rather than dragging God, which in this case, is the Church, down to our secular level of earthly self-serving concerns. Finally, we want to remind of the clergy and hierarchy that we acknowledge that they are the most important human links to heaven in the Body of Christ, our Church, and that it is with Christian love and respect that we write this.
Orthodoxy is the true essence of Christianity. Christianity is felt and practiced not only through the liturgy and sacraments, but by its spirit put into practice and example. We hope therefore, that by praying for those who still hurt, that the Holy Spirit will enlighten the hearts of our leadership. We hope that our prayers will bring about repentance, resolution, and an end to this continued persecution of coercion and malice towards all those, clergy and faithful, who labored for the glory of Orthodoxy in the past three years. We hope that our prayers will stop the evil one from distorting and destroying the true path and purpose of the Body of Christ, for unless all those who bear the responsibility of Apostolic succession uphold their holy and moral calling, Greek Orthodoxy will never again flourish or shine as it rightfully should.
GREEK ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN LEADERS
[ Orthodox Truth | www.orthodox-truth.bugs3.com/a2_spyridon.html - March 18-19, 2000 ]