March 14, 2006
The scandal of alleged mismanagement of the finances of our Church has brought to light more than the distasteful mess of internal strife, politics, and mutual grievances. It has exposed the fundamental uncertainty of our self-identification as an autocephalous Orthodox Church in America. It is not just the disgraceful conduct of certain dignitaries and hierarchs. It is not just the calls of “escaping” into the embrace of another Orthodox jurisdiction(s). It is the apparent lack of awareness of our ecclesiastical identity that fills the air.
Let us try to look beyond the politics, the personalities, and the emotions. The fact that the Church whose mission in this world is to stand up to none less than its prince and to proclaim the Truth of the Gospel, is permeated with fear and governed by the "sweeping-under-the-carpet" policies, should feel to all of us as nothing short of devastating.
We gather around the chalice to partake of the body and blood of our Savior who died for us, and yet we are afraid to publicly ask for even the most mundane truth. How did this happen? Why do we allow this to continue?
In the eyes of the world, since this scandal has already gained public exposure, how can we - collectively - claim to be witnesses to the Truth? What do we do every Sunday of every week if we – collectively if we accept the authority of the Holy Synod – are unwilling to witness to the truth in the matters that are miniscule in comparison to the issues that our Fathers, beginning with Christ Himself and the Apostles, had to witness to?
How perverted has our understanding of the truth become if the few servants of this Church who attempted to call attention to the necessity of putting our house in order are vilified and called the most terrible names - the servants of the devil – in the name of what? Unity? What kind of unity?
We should have learned from the painful example of our Roman brothers – have we?
Have we idolized “the Church” beyond the Truth? Is our belief "in one Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church" that we proclaim in the Creed equated or based on the belief in the "holiness" of personalities or an institution? Are we thus violating the Commandments? Is “the communion of the Holy Mysteries” therefore “for our judgment and condemnation”?
The Scripture has been quoted liberally on this website, and yet I will permit myself yet another quote. It is not an obscure quote – we all know this text by heart:
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”
“If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
What are we afraid of, then? It is often that we in America hear that we are a “small church”, and somehow this has instilled in many of us a complex of insignificance. Yet how could we let that happen to us? Our Church has started with twelve and then seventy. In the time of St. Athanasius the Great, the Church was at one moment a single man – St. Athanasius. Yet if we do not forget that it is the Holy Spirit that works in our Church, then our strength is not in numbers. Our strength is in our devotion to the Truth with is Jesus Christ Himself. Our desire should be for this truth only, in great things and in small. And we should have no fear because death is no more.