Tending our own gardens
I was so affected by today’s post on the Morning Offering blog of Abbot Tryphon of All-Merciful Saviour Monastery that I’m going to re-post the whole thing (below).
Curiosity is a big part of me, and I hope that it sometimes has an energizing effect for good in my life. But it also leads to a chronic temptation to spend time trying to be up on things, reading the news to excess, and so on. Along with the many edifying Orthodox sources we’re blessed to have online, I sometimes look in on a handful of muckraking sites that have made it their mission to expose various wrongdoings and buffoonery in high places in the Orthodox Church. I hope that the authors of these blogs mean to do good, and it’s easy to be drawn in to the feeling that in reading them we’re somehow helping to solve the Church’s “problems.” But, Abbot Tryphon reminds me, this is a self-serving delusion.
Saint Seraphim of Sarov, in his Conversation with Motovilov, gave in a few words what I increasingly think is, or should be, the Church’s entire “social action program”: “Acquire the Spirit of peace, and a thousand souls around you will be saved.”
Abbot Tryphon tells us that one thing we can “do about” our hierarchs and their problems is to pray for them. Along with our monastics, our bishops stand in the front lines of defense against the Enemy’s relentless attacks upon the Church. For any hierarch, facing these attacks is like trying to stand upright while a fire hose is aimed straight at him at close range. Sometimes they stand, sometimes they fall; always they need the help of our prayers.
Here is Abbot Tryphon’s post. Do check out his blog, daily if possible.
Letting the Church be Put in Order
Whenever we hear of problems in the Church it is our natural inclination to want to read all about it and root out all the details. Yet if we really want to benefit our soul, we should take the advice of the Elder Paisios of Mt. Athos. His advice: “If you wish to be calm do not read rebellious books or pamphlets that mention Church matters, since you are not responsible for such serious affairs. You have need of books that will assist you in your repentance. If you want to help the Church, correct yourself and immediately amendment is made to a small part of the Church. Naturally, if everyone did this, then the Church would be put in order.”
As long as we struggle against the passions and sins of this world, there will be problems in the Church. Just as nations and all human institutions suffer because of the passions of people, so does the Church. Although divinely instituted by Christ Himself, the Church is made up of sinful men and women who bring in the baggage of their sinful nature. This very place of healing, like all hospitals, houses both the healthy and the sick. If we desire to become numbered among the healthy, we must remain aloof from the din of Church politics, and leave the governance of the Body to the hierarchs.
When we witness the fallen side of human nature within the walls of the Church, we must not respond like news reporters seeking out all the details. Nor should we think knowing the inner workings of the Church will make a difference. Better that we concentrate on the nurturing of our own soul and remaining above the fray. Let those who have been called to service in the Church, the bishops, do their job. If we trust God and pray for our bishops, the Holy Spirit will guide them in their role as our shepherds, the Church will stay the course, and the “gates of hell shall not prevail against her (Matthew 16:18)”.
Love in Christ,