How the Crisis Has Affected Me
I have not had opportunity to attend any of the Town Hall meetings, but I have been keeping abreast of the meetings via ocanews.org. Like everyone who has weighed in to this point, my heart is very heavy for the Church. By the grace of God new missions are being planted, but this present crisis at the very least makes evangelism extremely difficult; not impossible, but difficult. I still believe the Orthodox Church in America will emerge from this crisis stronger and more obviously an American church. Like many within the Orthodox Church in this country, I came back to the faith after a period of what I call “wilderness wandering.” One of the very critical elements that brought me back was the hope of greater personal, spiritual accountability. I knew there could be no spiritual growth without accountability; it is too easy for each of us to delude ourselves and rationalize away all kinds of sin. I believe that accountability will become one of the chief attributes people will use in their future discussions reference the Orthodox Church in America. This quite honestly excites me. I cannot speak from experience reference other Local Orthodox Churches, but my impression is that there is cover-up the Orthodox world over. As Americans, we cannot abide hypocrisy, lies or cover-up. We rightly expect our elected leaders to be forthright and honest. A bit naïve some would say, but not so when we speak about our leaders in the Church; those appointed by God to care for our souls.
Along with accountability I see the mechanisms in place to make the work of the national Church and subsequently the dioceses to be more transparent. This too is a wonder to behold; nothing done in the dark, but rather exposed to the light of God. Orthodox world-wide may scratch their collective heads as they see this happening in the Church in America, but it will only improve and increase our stature in the eyes of Americans seriously considering in what direction they ought to go to work out their salvation.
In short, though it is extremely unsettling to see what is happening in the Church, at the same time, I see the Holy Spirit burning off the chaff and impurities accumulated over the years. This excites me as well as it is a confirmation God has not abandoned us. May our God always humble us; may He always drive us to our knees in repentance and prayer; may He always show to us that all of us (not just hierarchs) have no hope of salvation in ourselves, but only in the mercy of God. We need to feel the pain of the present crisis in order to become the Orthodox Church in America for the salvation of all humanity, especially Americans.
I have a deep affection for the United States of America; I look at the character of Americans and it makes me smile. To be sure we have our share of warts and shortcomings – don’t get me wrong, but there is much that God can purge, redeem and Baptize in America to the glory of God. I dare say however that we don’t suffer well; we don’t like pain and affliction. I’m not a sadist, but tell me – what of any eternal or enduring value comes without the affliction of suffering. Don’t we believe that the sufferings of Christ have redeemed our sufferings to be salvation for us? We want this crisis to come to an end – got it, but I pray God it doesn’t end until it has accomplished God’s divine purpose in us.
Finally my brothers and sisters in Christ, pray for your hierarchs in a way you have never prayed for them before. They are men; like us, feet made of clay. Minister a spiritual drink of cold water to your bishop; pray God saves them together with us, not apart from us. And above all, be on your guard – with the spotlight seemingly on the hierarchs, especially His Beatitude, it will be increasingly easy for each of us to spiritually delude ourselves reference our own sins. From a purely unnatural human perspective we like it when other people are caught in the “head lights.” Sure, then no one is really noticing how sinful I am. A number of folk have expressed the need for our hierarchs to prostrate themselves before the clergy and delegates of the AAC and ask forgiveness. I hope each of us is ready to do the same before one another and before our hierarchs. Squabbling about whom has the greater sin is pointless; we are in this together. God will work in our midst in such a way that there will be no doubt in anyone’s mind that this miracle of transformation within the Orthodox Church in America was orchestrated and affected by God alone – to Him alone be all glory, honor and worship, together with His Only-begotten Son and the Most-Holy, Life-creating Spirit. Amen.
Archpriest Peter M. Dubinin