Thursday, 6 August 2009

A crossroads of the Orthodox World (4) [O răscruce a Lumii Ortodoxe]

As another summer is steadily coming to its end, and we are awaiting the Dormition of the Theotokos, today’s Great Feast – the Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ – gives me the chance to send my good thoughts to dear people around the world by offering them another picture of an icon that remained in my heart.

Again, the image I’m sharing with the world is that of a paper icon taken from the Patriarchal Stavropegic Monastery of St John The Baptist in Essex. I’ve already given this icon (carried many miles throughout Europe before it got from Tolleshunt Knights to Romania) to someone dear to me, but not before taking some pictures of it.

Of all the riches of meanings that the Orthodox faith brings into our life – especially in a world so full of deceptive choices, elusive opportunities, omnipresent illusions – today is one of the most fascinating for me.

I assume I’m not wrong to call the Transfiguration one of the least understood moments in Christ’s life, while actually being one of the most important. Even many Orthodox believers couldn’t tell what that moment really meant.

For the unbeliever, this may be nothing more than one of the weirdest biblical tales. But for those of us who, in spite of our unworthiness, have been blessed to know WHO is the TRUTH, and MEANING of everything, today’s Feast brings one of the most categorical evidence about the divinity of our Saviour.

It’s amazing how St Peter, and the other two Apostles were so irresistibly attracted to the glory of Christ. All of us would, if we ever got so close understanding His true nature of God-Man. In order to ever do that, it is us the ones who need to be transfigured, so that we’d be able to percieve Him in His Glory.

If everything that happened to the Apostles after the Ressurection offered a proof that Christ is the only One worth dying for, in my humble view, St Peter’s reaction facing the Transfiguration proves that He is also the only One worth living with.

People around us couldn’t ever be truly loved unless we knew Him, and unless He (often throught His Saints) weren’t showing us what love is. Without Him, absolutely nothing would make sense, and we'd be completely purposeless without Him.

Without knowing Him, all the ‘inertial motivations’ of being alive (things done just because others of my ‘species’ did them every day) drove me crazy… Why sleep, eat, learn, work, dream, yearn, speak & listen, like & dislike, love & hate, and then… just die… WHY???

Living like most of the religiously indifferent people around me, and like the absolute majority of Brits do, I was thinking of suicide at least 20 times a day. Nothing – neither joy, nor suffering – made any sense to me.

So many things got on my nerves without Him, and it seemed that life was but a neverneding bad dream, with no beginning and no end. What was it to me if it lasted a day, a century or forever?

The bad dream stopped only when I was blessed with discovering the true purpose of human life, which is Theosis, that is personal communion with God ‘face to face’.

With Him, I’ve got the certitude that everything happens for a reason. If I were to remember how I was on the Day of Transfiguration ten years ago, all I can say now is that I am a completely different person.

I am not shouting that I am sinless, nor could I claim that spared of suffering, and – to my utmost disappontment – I can’t say I am a better person. But I am definitely – albeit in an unseen way – transfigured. Instead of being trapped in a meaningless existence, I have a destination, and Christ’s presence in my life is as crystal clear as gravitation to me.

I’m not sure whether the Earth circles around the Sun and not viceversa, I’m not sure whether the Americans really set foot on the Moon… Actually, I’m not sure of anything deemed right, correct or desirable ever since secularism took hold of history, as I mistrust the logic, reason and moral intuition that secular ethics is based upon.

I’m not sure of countless other prefabricated truths forced down our throat by the humanist society we’re living in, while I’m 100% certain that some of these truths are satanic deceits like global warming hysteria, overpopulation, inborn homosexuality etc.

Nevertheless, what I am surest of in this world is that everything about or Lord Jesus Christ is just as He told us, and His only One Church keeps telling us. How I wish that more and more of the certainly unhappy people around me wouldn’t refuse refuse their curiosity about Christ, the only One worth being curious about!

There’s no doubt for me that, one day, we shall all see the One Who the Apostles saw on Mount Tabor almost 2,000 years ago. May we, for the prayers of the Most Holy Theotokos, share the enchantment of St Peter, therefore have the proper wedding garment on us, and not be clad in the darkness brought upon us by having led a meanigless life away from Him!

[For all the episodes of this series, and all the posts on this blog go to/Pentru toate episoadele din această serie şi toate postările de pe acest blog mergi la: Contents/Cuprins]


Gregor said...

Dear Bogdan

This is a very beautiful post about the meaning of this important feast. Whenever I come across a Roman Catholic blog, I can usually tell if it is written by a convert because of their ‘zeal’; yet it seems that my younger Orthodox friends have all had similar experiences to mine of an unhappy, sceptical youth and coming towards the light; not knowing why we have received the incomparable and undeserved gift.

Yet I also disagree with your later comments. As a Brit said in the days when we were famous for common sense ;-) we should not multiply entities meaninglessly. There is nothing in the Bible about global warming so how is that ‘satanic’? We are explicitly called to live in peace yet many of the same Christians who are self-righteous about global warming are also the strongest supporters of unnecessary military actions.

It seems to me that politics is the devil’s greatest trick on humanity. People will say ‘I don’t like what tribe X are doing, which supports shedding blood, so I am with tribe Y’ whilst others will say ‘I don’t like what tribe Y are doing, which supports shedding blood, so I am with tribe X’.

I am myself fairly ambivalent about anthropogenic global warming, yet I do not see why it should be a theological issue.

I was planning a trip to Edinburgh but Fr Marcel will be staying with us in Abriachan. Did you have an opportunity to meet this priest? He is very full of enthusiasm and is a great blessing for us.

May you have a blessed Theophany my friend

MunteanUK said...

Dear Gregor,

I can't figure it out why exactly, but Blogger has been forbidding me to post any comment here for the past five days :-( Let us see if this little 'complaint' will appear.

MunteanUK said...

Wow, it seems to be finally working, so let me publish my long comment in 'series' :-), although, in spite of it's length, it had bellow the maximal number on characters accepted...

Dear Gregor,

It seems that disagreeing is some kind of 'curse' of mankind, and we can truly be united only in Christ; however, it's good that any diffence of opinion leaves room for 'clarifications', and let us try to profit from them! Taking this into account, here are some points I'd like to make:

1. Global warming - be it true or not, as there are others warning about 'global cooling' - is, of course, a natural phenomenon. I agree that we can't label that 'satanic'.

My mistake is that I didn't clarify that what I'm refering to is the 'global warming hysteria'. Any mass obsessions, any fanatical beliefs, any ideology forced on people are Satan's work. It has always been the case, and so it is now.

MunteanUK said...

@ Gregor

2. The moral quality of people supporting or objecting an idea has nothing to do with the rightfulness of that idea. Why should we care that some people who diagree that global warming is 'man made' are those supporting George W. Bush's reckless policies?

Don't some of these people also support anti-abortion measures? The fact that abortion is, indeed, murder, doesn't make Saints out of those who oppose it.

We shouldn't put ethical labels on the supporters of various views. Wasn't Judas one of Christ's Apostles, yet He didn't rise up to that gift? Aren't there so many sinful Orthodox believers, plus hierarchs who discredited everything Christs stood for? In spite of all these, the Truth remained One & the same throughout human generations!

On the other hand though, the ones who support 'abortion rights' are the ones and the same people...
- frightening the world about the risk of 'overpopulation';
- establishing a surveillance society in the UK;
- imposing 'political correctness' as a new world wide religion;
- scaring us with this 'pig flu', so that pharmaceutical companies could get even richer;

...and - undoubtedly in my view - the same people, who say that 'having fewer children saves the planet', are the ones driving us crazy with the threat of global warming!

Whether this phenomenon really happens (and accounts are still very contradictory) should remain an issue open for debate. But they (the UN, your 'Tony Bliar' & 'Gordon Clown', Barack Obama, the Big Brother in Brussels etc) have already DECIDED - allegedly based on 'scientific' evidence - that global warming is anthropogenic.

Based on what 'science'? Can't you see, my friend, that Science, as well as Justice or Democracy are not God-given 'values' but DECIDED by humans? The same people who support 'abortion rights', and those who invented 'carbon trading'.

If there were a 0,00001% chance for me to believe that 'they may be right' (and global warming was, truly, man-made), that chance would be completely obliterated when I realized what a big business global warming is supposed to be through these 'carbon trading schemes'.

Abortion is a big business, carbon trading is a big business, and so is this 'mexican/pig/new' flu...

And could you imagine that it's mere 'coincidence' the fact that country most obsessed with this pandemic is the UK? It's really sad for me to witness that the Brits are the perfect 'lab rats' for many masonic experiments that will eventually be tried on the whole mankind.

The Brits have been brainwashed for years with the need of CCTV surveillance, with the need of fighting global warming, with the need of 'tolerance' (in order to secure a more 'prosperous' world), thus the UK is the ‘perfect’ place to be hit by the new pandemic.

MunteanUK said...

@ Gregor

3. What we eat on certain days, what we work, what we speak, what we read, how we behave & how we think are 'theological issues'. Our every freely expressed thought in this passing life can influence our afterlife, how can there be anything non-teological???

The Bible is a 'guideline', offering us 'tools' to identify satanic deceits. Plus, besides the Holy Scriptures, we also have the Holy Tradition, and the continous guidance of Holy Fathers...

Therefore, I don't think we should exclusively stick to the ills of human nature, sins & abominations described in the Book of Books, turning a blind eye to what is not 'expressly mentioned' there.


4. Since you wish me a 'blessed Theophany', does this mean that you're no planning to check my blog until next January? :-)

Anyway, you are partially right, as the Transfiguration is considered by Holy Fathers a 'Second Theophany' - the Holy Trinity revealed Itself on Mount Tabor just like on the day Jesus was recognised as Son of God by John the Baptist in the river Jordan.

Lucian Lature said...

Frumos, frumos...

Ai pregatire teologica cumva?...Nu ca ar conta, dar as vrea sa ajung si eu la manastire acolo, poate imi dai niste indicatii ceva.
Ar insemna mult pentru mine sa vizitez comunitatea infiintata de arhimandritul Sofronie.

MunteanUK said...

@ Lucian Lature

1. No, I don't have any 'theological' studies. As you said, I don't see why this should be relevant for keeping a blog like mine...

I'm only trying to present places I've been to in the UK from an Orthodox outlook, not to 'preach' to people. Those who really want to know the meaning of life will be found by the Truth Himself.

2. I'd certainly be willing to help you with an address, people to contact, practical pieces of advice etc.

But I am not willing to disclose such information in a comment, which is completely open to anyone.

Browse a bit through this blog [start with the Contents or with the very first post of the blog!], and I am sure you'll find a way to reach me!

3. May the Lord bless your wish to visit this wonderful monastery!