My need to know more about Orthodoxy made me ask one day the father what he could tell me about this subject. Everytime I go to the Holy Mountain I realize that I was blessed to be born in Romania and baptized Orthodox.
`The name of Orthodoxy comes from Greek being translated correctly with the meaning of right faith. It signified the right path to follow, the one which leads you to salvation. In other words, if you follow this school, let’s call it so, the path to salvation is assured. Orthodoxy is a teaching. It is a path to follow. It is a living experience. It is a narrow path, hard to follow, not only by laymen, but by clerics as well. Many voices have been raised lately to say that the Orthodox Church is antiquated.
But can we afford to change the Holy Sacraments only for the sake of the so called evolution? Can we change the teaching according to what we like only for being in tune with today? Then we’ll change it again to be in tune with tomorrow? This would mean only banter. This so called antiquated teaching makes it possible the miracle which takes place at the holy service from the Church of Resurrection in Jerusalem when the Holy Light descends upon it. That’s a great miracle. The miracle of the coming of Light, sign of God’s mercy, of the entitlement of the Orthodox Church given by God. Maybe it is the only field where the unaltered teaching as it was initially given matters that way. And it has to remain this way because any human change of some divine laws is nothing else but an offence shown to the One who settled them, to the One due to whom we stay here and talk.
These actions would have serious consequences I am afraid to think about. Are we sure that once changed the Holy Sacraments the Holy Light will continue to come? We know the failure of some others who had the mindlessness to change the Holy Sacraments and now they only witness the event when the Light appears at the Orthodox. But although they see it, they don’t understand it, they don’t realize that the adaptation of their church to the modern society has cost them a lot. What’s worse is that they don’t want to do anything in that sense. But they want a union. Meaning to renounce at what we have been preserving unaltered for 2000 years and replace everything with a similar school, with many convergences, but lacking the Holy Spirit, with cuts or additions at the teaching left by our Lord Jesus Christ. I shudder at this thought.
I’ve listened carefully to what the father said about the unification of the churches. Seen from the outside it seems a good salutary thing which would bring the hope of a life without conflicts. But behind this appearance there are things we don’t even imagine.
`We are more and more assaulted by enlightened ecumenist spirits militating for the unification of the churches.
And we naturally wonder: But with whom? And why? The miracles are found in Orthodoxy. What to seek in another place when we have everything here? We haven’t changed anything from the received inherited teachings, nor did we take anything off it or added anything to it. Those who changed must bend their heads, confess their heresies and return to the place from where they have left. Meaning from the Mother Church, in the `One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church` as the Creed says it. Any other union is excluded. No real Orthodoc will risk to lose the apparition of the Holy Light for the sake of the applauses of the West. There will still be some more insistences, some will give in to pressures or temptations, some others have already done it.
Orthodoxy will shake itself, will remain smaller, like this bunch of keys from my hand. Although my regret is great in what regards them, the issue of salvation is a personal one.
`May Orthodoxy be wrong, father?`
`The Orthodox teaching is flawless. But the servants of Orthodoxy may commit mistakes, the clerics and the laymen as well, leaving the impression of a wrong teaching. There are priests who commit mistakes and the people criticize them. Instead of healing our pains, they aggravate them and this hurts terribly. They make the mistake of breaching the laws and canons but Orthodoxy as a path to follow cannot be accused for their errors. The Orthodox Church is a community of Christian faith. The Church doesn’t include only the clerics. The monks, the nuns, the Holy Council, the laymen, all of them belong to the Church. Only together we are the Church. One without the other we are no more a whole. What to do a priest without the salvation of the layman? He loses his salvation too. The Church doesn’t belong only to the clerics. I repeat, we all represent the Church. We all go on the path of Orthodoxy, on that of the Orthodox teaching. Even if we sometimes step on the sides we must find back the right path again.`
`Father, is it enough to be baptized Orthodox to be called Orthodox? Or is it needed more?`
`Orthodoxy, as I said, the path to follow, marks its beginning by baptism but this fades in time because of actions against the teaching. It is not enough to be baptized Orthodox for being an authentic Orthodox. You must keep the Orthodox path as it was left tom us by the Holy Fathers. The interpretation of the texts led to scission. Thus there appeared hundreds of Christian sects. Meaning that from a single teaching were derived hundreds or even thousands of variants. But what’s the best one? If the Orthodox Church leaves its path, can we still call it Orthodox?
Of course, but it will mean only a name not an essence. If some fathers leave Orthodoxy and go on another path can we still call them Orthodox? Maybe only by name.
In the same way if the laymen who are baptized Orthodox go on another path, as it would be yoga, Buddhism, Taoism and so on, can we still call them Orthodox? Only by their name. But we don’t want some formal Orthodox; we want some Orthodox to fight with the irrational passions and the flesh. We want winners. The sons of light must win the fight with the powers of the dark. We don’t want submissiveness to sin. And if we spoke about Taoism, I’d like to tell you something about the famous concept of Yin and Yang, related to balance according to whom in everything there must be an opposite in equal amounts. The power of God cannot be equaled by the satanic power. In the divine good there is no evil and the evil cannot be found in good. Renounce at the symbols of other faiths because they don’t bring anything good. We have enough helpful Christian symbols. In the past the Americans realized many experiments. But one of them is less known maybe because of its effects. The enlightened men are noticed from everywhere, even from the dark. Their simple presence in a place produces visible effects. The most visible is the change of a negative atmosphere in a state of well-being. Thus the American experiment consisted in sending some highly spiritualized men to certain zones of conflict. What was the result? In a few months the conflicts stopped. But after they left the conflicts began again. The conclusion is simple: `Grace brings peace while its absence creates conflicts. You must behave in a way in which to attract grace. Live a righteous spiritual life so that the grace may come near you and thus the conflicts around you will cease. How do we know when a man has grace? First he doesn’t judge or condemn his brother. Judging your neighbor is enough to lose grace. Once losing grace we need a great repentance to regain it. Of all the things on earth, grace is gained in the most difficult way and is lost in the easiest.
Excerpt from the book Down to earth, author Ionuț Riteș.