When I entered the office yesterday, my greeting was answered with a typical atheist joke: “How do you know? Did you check from two sources?”. Moreover, ever since the wonderful night of Pascha, I have encountered many Romanians (part of a so-called Orthodox nation :-( utterly indifferent to this truth, that is to Him – the Truth.
Heart-breakingly indifferent I’d say… It really hurts to witness how far apart from the Light we have grown as a nation, and how irreversible this process seems to be. It may be sure that, for the time being, secularism, moral relativity, and the devastating effects of a fanatical atheist outlook on life are not as strong as in the UK. However, consumerism, materialism, and promiscuity are growing at least as fast as in Britain.
Sometimes I’m realizing that Orthodoxy is becoming a sect (like during the Holy Apostles times) in Romania, and I’m feeling (without having any strong evidence***) that this is the case also in Russia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Georgia, Ukraine… everywhere, in fact. I’m afraid that not even Greece is an exception.
The percentage of Orthodox people taking part in the Divine Liturgy regulary is less than 10% in any of these once-called Orthodox nations, dropping to around 4% in Romania or 2% in Russia.
I am sorry to say this – and I wish my readers would disagree with me, and try to convince me of the opposite!!! – but I tend to believe that there are no Orthodox nations anymore. It’s just the universal New Israel (the worldwide Orthodox nation, the One Church that will never perish), but I’m not seeing any Orthodox (ethnical) nation left intact in our age of Apostasy.
It’s not worth looking at statistics which hierarchs or civil authorities may boast with, about millions of Orthodox believers! After all, when did numbers as such had any value for the Lord? Only our atheist contemporaries – and especially the Brits; click here to see how many famous British scientists are or were atheists :-( – is obsessed with figures, scores, charts, statistics; the Lord doesn’t need all these, because He knows each of our hearts!
The sad truth is that true believers (and I don’t want to claim that a true believer is necessarily less of a sinner, let’s not confuse the terms!) are rarer and rarer… And one doesn’t need statistics as evidence for that; it’s enough to look around in the world, and see how cold people’s hearts have become, how many fellow human beings are suffering, and the whole Creation (the ‘environment’, the forests, the seas, the animals etc) along with them!
I admit that I may be writing under the influence of being a little exhausted with witnessing so many religiously indiferent people around (some easier to love, as they are ‘nice people’; others harder to bear), and that’s why I may sound so pesimistic. However, what part of the sad reality around can take aware from me the joy of being aware of Christ’s Resurrection?
Indeed, I miss Scotland where I could hang around only with people whom I wanted to spend my time with, those sharing the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ! However – in order to express my joy, and praise the Lord –, I am dedicating to my fellow Orthodox brothers, as well as to all people who may browse though my blog, the following text.
It’s surely the most extensive quotation I’ve been posting on my blog so far, and I really hope everyone will feel it was worth reading it:
“It is striking that the disciples did not recognize Christ when He was next to them. Their physical eyes did not help them to see the risen God. But with the inner eyes of their soul they recognized Him. As soon as they knew this, He became invisible to them, for physical sight is not necessary when the heart is alive with faith.
That is what happened and happens to Christians when they come to believe in God. They have not seen Him, but their hearts are aflame with love for Him. Christ spoke about such people when He said: ‘Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe’ (Jn. 20:29). They are blessed, for they did not seek logical proofs, but the fire which God places in people’s hearts.
We believe in the resurrection of Christ not because somebody convinced us of it, but because we ourselves have come to know the Risen Christ through our inner experience. We have come to believe not because we saw God, but because we have felt His real presence in our hearts.
The skeptical mind of contemporary man says: ‘Unless I see I will not believe’. But we say: ‘I believe even though I do not see’. If everything in religion were visible, tangible and provable, why and in what would we need to believe? If there were not any mysteries in religion, how would it be different from everything else in our earthly life?
When we begin our lives as Christians, we challenge the world around us which demands from us a logical justification of our faith. Moreover, we challenge our own reasoning, which often doubts the existence of God. Setting sail on the ship of Christian faith, we put much at risk.”
For anyone interested, and patient enough to read this whole sermon (which is not too long, I promise! :-), please click on this link. Anyone interested in knowing more about the author, please click here: Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev.
*** NOTE: I don’t know how relevant they are, but I found two links with statistics about worldwide church attendance, which I assume are using the same statistical research: here and here.
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