Sunday, October 2, 2016
A childlike religion
The mystery of Orthodoxy is not what most people think. It's not arcane and secret doctrines or impossibly complex ‘byzantine’ theological dogmas. It's not the apparent rigidity of ceremonial which, for unsympathetic (or too grown-up) outsiders, seems empty and meaningless. It's not even (what appears to some as) the pomp and fussiness of worship, which combined with the Oriental chanting and the fragrant frankincense smoke filling the sanctuary, creates an almost psychedelic experience (a living, moving three-dimensional hieroglyphic, it's been called).
That's one reason, I think, why Orthodoxy isn't for everyone. It takes a child's heart, simple enough to trust that the Father is so totally caring and careful, that it doesn't just believe, it knows that nothing happens without Him knowing, and therefore, all will be well. That's also one reason why we immerse our young in every aspect of the faith, even giving communion to unknowing infants. It is this foundation that every Orthodox can fall back on, rebuilding, if need be, after suffering the damage that the world is sure to inflict.
A childlike religion, lighting candles and standing them up in sandboxes in the church, bringing flowers, even the most humble, and leaving them in front of the icons as a love gift, taking part in dozens of small ceremonies—not very different in some ways from Judaism, another childlike religion—and always asking questions, and full of wonder at the Presence of God. None of us ever really leaves our childhood behind, but not all of us will admit it. But it is to such as these that the Kingdom of Heaven belongs.
‘Suffer the little children to come unto Me…’ is a much wider invitation than most people realize, and that too is the invitation of true Orthodoxy, wherever it exists.
at 7:49 AM