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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Into Orthodoxy: The Long Journey Home - Fr. Lawrence Farley, Canada


CANADA OF MY HEART


Into Orthodoxy: The Long Journey Home

Fr. Lawrence Farley, Canada

Source:

http://journeytoorthodoxy.com

http://journeytoorthodoxy.com/2013/04/22/into-orthodoxy-the-long-journey-home/

JOURNEY TO ORTHODOXY

In my journey home to Orthodoxy, I took the long way around.  I was born into suburban respectability in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and therefore attended Protestant Sunday School like all the other respectable kids my age.  Since Christian Faith in my home was more nominal than real, when Sunday School became boring (the ultimate indictment), I stopped attending and soon sunk into agnostic adolescent mediocrity.  I didn’t give ultimate questions much thought; I was more interested in girls.  (Sadly, they were little interested in me.)

But around midway through my teenage years I thought that life must consist of something more than a meaningless dance of atoms, and so I went back to my United Church looking for answers.  There I encountered a few people my age who introduced me to the Jesus Movement (it was 1970), and in the Jesus Movement I encountered the Lord Jesus.  It was a very high-voltage part of the Jesus Movement, replete with speaking in tongues, prophesying, and effervescent evangelism, characterized by a direct experience of the overwhelming love of God and the power of the Spirit.

One thing that was missing, however, from my United Church, was any historical memory.  The United Church of my upbringing was created in 1925 and my mom was created in 1921, and I intuited that one’s Church should at least be older than one’s mother.  I began looking for a sense of history in my church experience, along with beauty in worship, and an affirmation of the realities I had experienced in the Jesus Movement.  The liberal United Church could not supply these, so I started to look elsewhere.

Being a Protestant, I of course did not fish outside the Protestant pool.  I became an Anglican, and thereafter, an Anglican priest.

I had lousy timing.  The Anglican Church of Canada was then energetically engaged in throwing overboard just those things in her theology and liturgy that I joined her to experience.  For the longest time I tried to pretend that the Anglican church was not just another species of liberal Protestantism.  But reality is a relentless thing, and eventually I had to admit that the Anglican Church I joined was largely like the United Church I left.  So, where to go? Then, providentially, I discovered Orthodoxy.

I always considered the Fathers paradigmatic (which is why Roman Catholicism was never “on the table” for me).  Too bad the Orthodox didn’t speak English.  When I soon discovered that they did speak English, I was hooked.  I found in Orthodoxy the convergence of the two things I had come to value above all in the Church:  an experience of the Holy Spirit and of patristic continuity.  Conversion for me meant coming home and resolving the tensions between the charismatic and the historical.  In becoming Orthodox I was not conscious of renouncing any of the things I found precious in my past, but rather fulfilling them, and being able to enjoy them in their proper places.

I am grateful to God both for all the places I have been, and for where I now am.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Conclusion of a Homily on Death - Saint Ignaty Brianchaninov, Bishop of Caucasus & Black Sea, Russia (+1867)


SAINTS OF MY HEART


Conclusion of a Homily on Death

Saint Ignaty Brianchaninov, 
Bishop of Caucasus & Black Sea, Russia (+1867)

Let us arouse in ourselves the remembrance of death by visiting cemeteries, visiting the sick, being present at the death and burial of our close ones, by frequently examining and renewing in our memories various contemporary deaths which we have heard of or seen.... Having understood the shortness of our earthly life and the vanity of all earthly acquisitions and advantages; having understood the frightful future that awaits those who have disdained the Redeemer and redemption and have offered themselves entirely as a sacrifice to sin and corruption—let us turn our mental eyes away from their steady gazing at the deceptive and enchanting beauty of the world which easily catches the weak human heart and forces it to love and serve it; let us turn them to the fearful but saving spectacle of the death that awaits us. Let us weep over ourselves while there is time; let us wash, let us cleanse with tears and confession our sins which are written in the books of the Sovereign of the world. Let us acquire the grace of the Holy Spirit—this seal, this sign of election and salvation; it is indispensable for a free passage through the spaces of the air and for entrance into the heavenly gates and mansions.... O ye who have been banished from Paradise! It is not for enjoyments, not for festivity, not for playing that we find ourselves on earth—but in order that by faith, repentance, and the Cross we might kill the death which has killed us and restore to ourselves the lost Paradise! May the merciful Lord grant the readers of this Homily, and him who has composed it, to remember death during this earthly life, and by the remembrance of it, by the mortification of oneself to everything vain, and by a life lived for eternity, to banish from oneself the fierceness of death when its hour shall come, and through it to enter into the blessed, eternal, true life. Amen.

Source:

Saint Ignaty Brianchaninov, Collected Works, Vol. III