Ten Years, Three Truths
This is a repost of a little piece that came to me on the tenth anniversary of our reception into the Church. In the past month various events have made me look back on our “spiritual journey”, and this piece came to my mind.
Not long ago our family marked our tenth anniversary as Orthodox Christians. As I looked back on the past ten years, I wondered what I had to say about where I’ve come in that time. I suppose that first I’d want to say that every single day as an Orthodox Christian has been an incomparable blessing, in ways that only those in the Church could ever understand.
But in addition three ‘findings’ came to my mind that I’d want to pass along to potential converts. Here they are.
- The Body of Christ. You join Maple Grove Community Christian Fellowship; you become Orthodox. To be received into the Church is to become a new person, a member of the Body of Christ in a way that has never been true before. Probably many of us, especially if we were protestants, entered the Church thinking that we were doing something we’d done before: ‘joining’ a church, though undoubtedly a better one this time. It can take many years to experience the new reality that descends on us at the moment of our Chrismation. The experience grows slowly and, for better or worse, cannot be described.
- A marathon, not a sprint. The ‘crazy convert,’ obsessed with every fine point of fasting, rubrics, etc., is a common and often accurate stereotype. In time, most of us crazy converts calm down and find our way into the normal life of the Church. But, really, most of these crazies are only trying to follow a path trodden by many of the saints. (Think of the infant St Nicholas, who refused his mother’s milk on Wednesdays and Fridays. Legalism?) The new convert’s problem is not his zeal but his ignorance of his own weakness. He thinks that he can run a marathon in the same way that he would a 50-yard dash. In time we realize that we’re not yet saints, that Orthodoxy is something that we have to get up and practice every day for the rest of our lives, and we find a pace, a balance, that will (we pray) work for the long haul.
- Most Holy Theotokos, save us! In the past few years I’ve come to realize that heartfelt veneration of the Mother of God is a key that unlocks many of the depths of the Orthodox Faith — and that, until we have made that key our own, we hover on the surface of our own Faith. Again, this is part of the Mystery of the Church and cannot really be described, only lived. Most Holy Theotokos, save us!