Wednesday, 22 April 2009

The good news that never grows old [Vestea bună care nu îmbătrâneşte niciodată]

Christ is risen!, I am gladly saying to all those who are reading my posts written in English, assuming that most of you are Orthodox brothers in England and Scotland, who browse through my blog accidentaly or constantly, with genuine interest or only when disturbed by an annoying promotional e-mails (I’m sorry for being unable to send personal messages to anyone I’d like to) from my part.

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.

[For all the posts on this blog go to/Pentru toate postările de pe acest blog mergi la: Contents/Cuprins]


MunteanUK said...


- The first picture was taken in one of the dining rooms of the Stavropegic Monastery of St John the Baptist, Tolleshunt Knights (Maldon, Essex)

- The second photo is from the altar of the Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity, Brighton (East Sussex)

- The third image is that of an icon in the same above-mentioned church in Brighton.

Anonymous said...

Ai cumva idee cum arata o biserica dintr-un sat din Romania? Am fost in Noaptea Invierii la o biserica dintr-un asemenea sat. In curtea bisericii, chiar in fata intrarii, peste 15 persoane fumau in asteptarea slujbei. De jur inmprejurul bisericii alti cativa isi facusera nevoile pe pereti (am vazut urmele proaspete). Prin curte se mai aflau inca vreo cativa beti manga care isi pusesera cateva pet-uri de vin in boschetii de la intrarea in curtea bisericii ca sa le aibe la indemana. In interior, in asteptarea slujbei, cred ca 50% dintre cei prezenti trimiteau sms-uri, faceau poze sau vorbeau la telefon. Ce sa mai zic de femei machiate si coafate strident sau de barbati care le dadeau tarcoale. Totul pentru ca seara sa se sfarseasca apoteotic - "nu mai tinem slujba pentru ca asteptam sa ni se aduca lumina de Ierusalim si nesttind cand vor ajunge exact mai bine stam linistiti si o asteptam"!!! Au ajuns la 23.55, am luat lumina (fizic, ca spiritual...) si am plecat catre casa! Intr-unul dintre posturile tale am citit ca "UK e o Sahara spirituala"! Probabil ca asa este - am stat 2 ani la studii in UK si inteleg si ceea ce spui si ceea ce scrii. Dar nici cu credinciosii romani de la sate nu mi-e rusine!!

Gregor said...

Xristos Anesti!

How are you my friend? I've established a new blog. you'll probably see if you follow the link.

This is an interesting post. I suppose that there are some undeniable advantages of belonging to a diaspora minority; the intimacy and warmth of the community.

Also whilst I am pleased on one hand that Greece is still a largely devout country, when I see the abortion laws:

I can see that many Greeks must risk their souls if they vote for liberal abortion laws whilst participating in the church. Of course, having said that, the whole concept of 'Western Democracy' has become a joke.

Still, I am reminded of something that Fr Rafael quoted. When one Priest was asked about the 'early church', the Priest responded 'this is the early Church'. Maybe nations outside the Balkans and Eastern Europe will come to Orthodoxy. I actually have a strong feeling about Latin America, where the people seem more socially conservative than the Vatican.

And I can't help pointing out that Argentina and Chile are both Social Democracies ;-)

MunteanUK said...

@ Anonim (23 aprilie 2009 01:05)

I am fully aware that Christ's Resurrection is 'celebrated' in this despicable manner in some places in Romania. It's very sad to witness things like you saw carried out by people who have been blessed with being given the Orthodox Baptism.

The 'irreligius' (and this is no offensive word: many proudly call themselves this way!) Brits could at least say that they have been living away from the One Holy Apostolic Church for the past millenium.

Nevertheless, both those like us - who claim to be 'true believers' - and also those making a mockery of their faith need constant prayers! It's not that we are 'the saved' and they are 'the damned'...

We are all 'limbs' of the same 'One Body' of the Church, some in better health, others reeking with putrefaction. We need to pray for the healthy faithful, for the spiritually sick, as well as for the millions of 'lukewarm' Orthdox people we are living among!

There are moments (like your Pascha night) when this kind of 'prayer for the entire world' is difficult to make, however, I hope that you will soon gather your inner strentgh to forgive everyone and pray for everyone!

May Risen Christ help you do so, as there is no other way to saving our souls!

MunteanUK said...

@ Gregor (24 aprilie 2009 11:59)

Alithos Anesti, dear friend!

Even when you write little, you reach many issue worth lengthy discussion, but I can only insist now on a few ideas:

1. Now we can also 'meet' on your blog, that's good news! Only take care not to exhaust yourself with blogging, as I did when I started (Jan 2008).

I was so enthusiatic about it, that I spent many hours online, drastically reducing sleep and skipping meals. It's really not worth it!

2. The 'intimacy and warmth of the community' is a priceless treasure the Orthodox Community in Edinburgh can benefit from.

Of course that there are many monasteries in Romania with wise monks, and plenty of spiritual riches to share to the world, however, I often get the sad impression that 'true believers' are as rare in secular Romania as they are in secular UK :-(

3. Like France, today's Greece is 'plagued' with many heartless Communists and fanatical atheists who sometimes are capable of terrorist acts. Then, there's also plenty of corruption, promiscuity (do you think that the Brits are exclusively 'having fun' among themselves?), and poverty in many areas.

In spite of these, there are also many good aspects about the Greeks which give me me many hopes that they can be 'resurrected' as an Orthodox nation, not just as individuals.

4. Apart from the Greeks, and part of the Jews (but only in the end, when some of them won't accept the Antichrist's rule), I am rather skeptical about 'nations coming to Orthodoxy'. I believe only personal conversions are possible.

Obviously, I so much wish that my skeptical view could be dismissed by reality! I wish everyone could come to the Light of Christ, but I am getting surer and surer that we can only attract people to Christ through our prayers and personal example, but not 'preaching' or 'PR stunts' of any kind!

5. Well, dear friend, Chile and Argentina are so far away from us to 'asses' the effectiveness of their 'Social-Democracies' simply through the biased Western media. If God ever takes me there, I'll have the chance to investigate things a bit with my 'photoholic eye' :-)

What about New Labour? Isn't Brown a socialist? Wasn't Blair one? :-) I wish the Conservatives would change at least some of the calamities brought to Britain by New Labour, but I'm afraid they won't be able to change anything. What do you think about this?

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid you're right.
But only God knows who are his plans with us.
Remain optimistic and say that we don't know how many Orthodox will be in the future. Probably be more and more...
I want to believe this, even these days we see the opposite...