What do we say when people come looking for God in Orthodoxy? Do we hurry them into our “all singing, all dancing” catechumenates with their shiny Powerpoints © and inspirational testimonies from those who swam the Bosphorus / Orontes / Moskva before them, (delete as appropriate). Or, better, do we sit them down, or rather stand them up and invite them to “come and see.” There are huge transitions to negotiate in becoming Orthodox but the first and most important is to learn how to encounter the Living God in this Church and having met Him, to repent.
I was wondering just now why so some people I have chrismated over the last 12 years haven’t stayed the course. Most have but many haven’t. I think that there is a tendency buried deep in the fascination with Orthodoxy to discover spiritually “the lost treasure of the Incas.” This glittering prize has been dreamt of and lives spoilt in its pursuit over many generations. “The pearl of great price” …. “The best kept secret in (X)” … “Orthodoxy – the Real Thing!” … you know what I mean. Expectations are raised that becoming Orthodox will deliver on this great treasure. I will find my goal, my marriage will get sorted out, I will discover true peace; all this and more. Well, maybe.
Actually, becoming Orthodox is much more pedestrian than being on a treasure hunt and disillusionment lies not far behind any pedestal worship. Orthodoxy is simply being a Christian and in the most personally profound and challenging way. If you are not prepared then to change on becoming Orthodox and every day for the rest of your life then you will not find what you are looking for with us. If also you are looking for a sinless Church without any blemish then look not toward us but rather to yourself and learn first from your own heart.
Take time then to assess what you really want when you approach the Orthodox Church. There will always be a welcome for you but please, don’t fool yourself. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God, (Hebrews 10:31) and that’s what happens when you knock on that door. You don’t want to be anywhere else though believe me. The smell of sulphur is too strong. Take your medicine. Glory shines from the cross.
Source: Antioch Abouna
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