Wednesday, June 13, 2012

All that matters

The Orthodox Observer has a page summarizing the archdiocesan discussion on the state of youth in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. The hierarchy seems to be saying, ‘Young Adult programs are nice, but we need to focus on indoctrinating the kids early, and to do that we need to tell parents what to teach.’ They feel that kids are going to college and learning about modern philosophy and that they are coming home and challenging the beliefs of their parents. They also seem to be saying that the attempt to bring the youth ‘back to church’ by using more English is a failure. What will using less English do?

Perhaps this sheds a bit more light on what we see going on in many places: An emphasis on the primacy and prerogatives of the clergy, the suppression of participation by the laity in ceremonials that used to be reserved only to the clergy (and are again reserved to them) such as the evangelical kiss of peace at ‘Let us love one another, that with one mind we may confess…’ There also seems to be a movement to replace lay leaders with clergy, clergy family members, seminarians, and those who are in formal submission to ‘spiritual fathers.’ Trust seems to be flagging, perhaps on both sides.

Returning to the initial topic, the youth and how to keep them, it seems that a mistaken economy is being attempted, one that may produce only religious conformity, as if the health of the Church were merely esthetic. Christian life is not about doctrine, it is about love. In other words, don't indoctrinate your children, love them, and all men, and then they will want to believe and to be what you believe and are, they will be eager to learn and to join in and teach each other, again, not by indoctrination, but by love. When we do this, modern philosophy is no threat to anyone, because its limitations become obvious.

Modern philosophy is mostly empty, coming in a poor second after the true philosophy of the Son of God, but only if that philosophy has penetrated the people who pretend to own it, and transformed their lives, making heaven not a figment of faith but an ever-present reality. Instead of ikons being windows to a heaven we can't reach, let’s try to live the life of heaven on earth and become living ikons that really show the way. I have known people like that, bishops, presbyters, deacons, yes, even ordinary people, many of whom did not even appear ‘religious’ to the eye. Their lives in Christ drew me to Him.

In the end, that is all that works, and really, all that matters.

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