Tuesday, August 31, 2010

On Zeal for "Truth"

Someone who has actually tasted truth is not contentious for truth.

Someone who is considered among men to be zealous for truth has not yet learnt what truth is really like: once he has truly learnt it, he will cease from zealousness on its behalf.

The gift of God and of knowledge of Him is not a cause for turmoil and clamor; rather this gift is entirely filled with a peace in which the Spirit, love, and humility, reside.

The following is a sign of the coming of the Spirit: the person whom the Spirit has overshadowed is made perfect in these very virtues.

God is reality. The person whose mind has become aware of God does not even possess a tongue with which to speak, but God resides in his heart with great serenity. He experiences no stirring of zeal nor argumentativeness, nor is he stirred by anger. He cannot even be aroused concerning the faith.
St. Isaac the Syrian (of Nineveh), 7th century


Elder Porphyrios [(Bairaktaris) the Kapsokalyvite (1906-1991)] would say: "I do not speak about Christ, unless others want to, unless they ask."

The Elder would say this not because of his ego, but because of his respect for the freedom of each individual.

He would further explain: "I pray for those people, I will even work miracles for them, but I do not speak to them. I want their soul to open up and to ask me."

People would say, especially the youth: "This is the first time we have seen a priest who says nothing to us about God."

When a young girl confronted him on this, the Elder responded to her: "I beg you, my child Georgia, do not misunderstand me as to why I did not speak to you about Christ. I did not do it out of disrespect, but out of respect, because I do not speak with anyone about religious matters unless I am asked."

By asking to hear something, a person willingly listens. And to these beginners the Elder would give a very light spiritual rule to follow to make sure they execute it with joy.
***Hmmmmm... what does this do to "internet Orthodoxy" and how then does one "evangelize"?
More thoughts to be posted later this week, I have work.  Yay!

H/T:  CH and CO 


Anonymous said...

The beauty of Internet Orthodox Evangelism, is that it is so "indirect". No one forces anyone else to read Orthodox blogs, rather in the vast sea of blogdom and opinion making, one must actively seek out the truth of Orthodoxy. Now, if I start randomly emailing my Orthodox thoughts to my friends, that would be crossing the line, and not living by the spirit of what you've cited in your post. As a matter of fact, had it not been for the Internet as a "quiet reference", I wouldn't have found the Orthodox Church so quickly.

Cha said...

The problem, David, is that it is the truth of Orthodoxy is so seldom found in the vast sea of blogdom.
Some of this truth can be found in the blogosphere, but you have to wade through a whole lot of garbage to find it.

Anonymous said...

The Orthodox love a good pair of ducks... er, paradox.

Ss Athanasius and Nicholas seem obvious counter examples, or any saint who picked up a sword in defense of his own country (and they did).

I'm better at accepting the paradoxes of being Orthodox (after only 2 years... I suppose I'm finally a toddler), but that doesn't mean I understand them.

See I didn't even bring up the erroneous example of Jesus in the Temple over turning the money-changers tables. I'm getting better already.

James the Thickheaded said...

Reading Elder Porphyrios -even on the internet or anywhere - is a joy. St. Isaac as well. Thank you.

orrologion said...

It should probably be noted that Elder Porphyrios was visibly religious and Orthodox - he was a monk and a priest. He didn't need to raise the issue, his presence and dress did that. If people were interested, they could broach the topic.

I think laity can take an important lesson from this. If our actions don't preach, our words won't either. We need to be known as Orthodox, but not for our Orthodoxy as 'religion'. Our faith must show forth in the rest of our lives, too, alongside our prayer, kindness, fasting, etc. Then, people can ask us about our faith and we can open up.

1 Peter 3:15 commands us to have a ready "answer", but this assumes a question has been asked. Too often Christians (them, we, me) answer the question we think others should be asking, but haven't.

The fruit needs to ripen before it's ready. We often want to force ripen or pluck fruit in our own time, but it's never the same.

Ruth said...

some people love Truth and some people love Correctness. If you were to draw a Venn diagram, how big would the overlap be?

bob said...

I wonder if too much is read in to the elder saying he didn't bring up Christ unless asked. It's not like he wore a suit and necktie; he was a little hard to mistake for anything but a monk and he wasn't appearing in Las Vegas at the time. Certainly he wasn't buttonholing people and preaching at them in a bad way, letting people approach him. A great man and a great example. I guess he's right unless something points out otherwise.

Fr. Sean Lotz said...

Oh, wow! That's good. I think maybe I have a lot to say in reply, but I have no time now at all. I don't want to get distracted and never come back to say, at least, "thank you." So, thank you. And maybe more later.

Fr Nathan Thompson said...

The thing that I missed for so many years regarding I Peter 3:15 is that it says to be prepared to give an answer (defense, apologian) for the hope that you have. It is assumed that the person I am interacting with has seen the hope and then asks about it. The verse is actually very different from the manner in which it is often used. Just my $.02.

Anonymous said...

"...how then does one 'evangelize'?"

Perhaps by being a friend to sinners as Christ was and living out the love of the Father?

Matthew 25 jumps to mind.

Just a thought.

Alexander said...

A bit more from the wisdom of Elder Porphyrios:

(…) Fanaticism has nothing to do with Christ. Be a true Christian. That way, you will never misapprehend anyone, and “your love will always shelter” [Corinthians 1, 13:7]. And to the heterodox, act Christian. In other words, show respect for him, regardless of his religion, in a polite manner. You can tend to an Ottoman (muslim) when he is in need; you can talk to him, and associate with him. There must be respect for the other’s freedom of choice. Just like Christ “stands at the door and knocks”, without forcing it to open, and instead waits outside patiently for the soul to welcome Him of its own free will, thus should we stand, before every soul.

The missionary effort must include a sensitive behavior, such that the souls will accept whatever they are offered, whether words or books, without any reaction. And something more. Fewer words. Quite often, words can reverberate in one’s ears and they will become aggravating; but prayer and acts will leave an impression. Acts will move, will revive and transform, while words will remain fruitless. The best kind of missionary work is achieved through our personal good example, our love and our meekness.

(…) Love for Christ has no limits, nor does love towards our fellow man. It should reach everywhere, to the ends of the earth. Everywhere, to all people.

I would like to go and live with the hippies at Matala* without sinning of course, so that I can tell them about Christ’s love, and how infinite it is, and how it can transform them. Love supersedes everything

Excerpts from the book: “Geron Porphyrios Kafsokalyvitis (= “Hut-Burner”) – his Life and his Words”. Published by the Holy Monastery of Chrysopege, Chania, Crete, 2003.
Chapter : «On the Love towards one’s Neighbour»

* Matala: an uninhabited, cave-riddled, barren coast of Crete, which ‘hosted’ one of the communes of the Hippie movement, where sex orgies, guru-inspired meditation, drug abuse and other debauchery took place.

Justin said...

This is to anyone:

Where on the Internet can I find some good resources on the Orthodox Church? I'm interested in learning more but don't know where to start.

orrologion said...


My personal choice of ten (and only ten) 'Must Read' books of Orthodoxy would be, in alphabetical order:

1. Eastern Orthodox Theology: A Contemporary Reader, ed. Daniel Clendenin
2. Father Arseny, 1893–1973: Priest, Prisoner, Spiritual Father by Anonymous, tr., Vera Bouteneff
3. Father Seraphim Rose: His Life and Works by Hieromonk Damascene (Christiansen)
4. Great Lent: Journey to Pascha by Fr. Alexander Schmemann
5. Saint Silouan the Athonite by Archimandrite Sophrony (Sakharov) - especially the first part of this book which was originally published as The Monk of Mount Athos: Staretz Silouan, 1866-1938.
6. Orthodox Church, The by Bishop Kallistos (Ware), formerly known as Timothy Ware, now a Metropolitan
7. Orthodox Faith, The, vols. 1 - 4, by Fr. Thomas Hopko (also known as the Rainbow Series), http://www.oca.org/OCorthfaith.asp?SID=2
8. Orthodox Way, The by Bishop Kallistos (Ware), formerly known as Timothy Ware, now a Metropolitan)
9. Way of a Pilgrim, The by Anonymous (I still like the translation by R.M. French the best)
10. Way of the Ascetics by Tito Colliander

I would also highly recommend the following periodicals:

* Road to Emmaus: A Journal of Orthodox Faith And Culture, ed. Richard Betts and Mother Nectaria McLees
* The Orthodox Word by the St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, Platina, CA

orrologion said...

Other works of importance that stand just outside of my own 'essential' 10 would include, in alphabetical order:

* Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, The, vols. 1-5, by Jaroslav Pelikan.
* Confessions, The by St. Augustine of Hippo
* Credo: Historical and Theological Guide to Creeds and Confessions of Faith in the Christian Tradition by Jaroslav Pelikan
* Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, An by St. John Damascene
* Life in Christ, The by St. Nicholas Cabasilas, tr. Carmino J. De Catanzaro
* Mary and the Fathers of the Church: The Blessed Virgin Mary in Patristic Thought by Luigi Gambero, tr. Thomas Buffer
* Theology of Icons (in two volumes) by Leonid Ouspensky
* Mystery of Christ, The by Fr. John Behr, which is a condensed version of his ongoing Formation of Christian Theology series.
* Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church, The by Vladimir Lossky
* Orthodox Alaska by Fr. Michael Oleska
* Orthodox Church in the History of Russia, The by Dimitry Pospielovsky
* Orthodox Dogmatic Theology: A Concise Exposition by Michael Pomazansky, tr. and ed., Hieromonk Seraphim Rose.
* Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit: The Lives & Counsels of Contemporary Elders of Greece by H. Middleton
* Prolog of Ohrid, The by St. Nikolai Velimirovic
* Sayings of the Desert Fathers, The translated by Benedicta Ward - related works include The Lives of the Desert Fathers: Historia Monachorum in Aegypto by Norman Russell, The Lausiac History by Palladius, The Life of Saint Antony by St. Athanasius, The Conferences and The Institutes by St. John Cassian.
* Seven Ecumenical Councils, The, vol. 14, Second Series: Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, eds. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace
* Synaxarion: The Lives of the Saints of the Orthodox Church, The by Hieromonk Makarios of Simonos Petra; translated by Christopher Hookway.
* Teachings of the Church Fathers, The, ed. John R. Willis

Others have suggested books that include:

* Being as Communion by Met. John Zizioulas
* Bread & Water, Wine & Oil: An Orthodox Christian Experience of God by Fr. Meletios Webber
* Christ in Eastern Christian Thought by Fr. John Meyendorff
* Common Ground: An Introduction to Eastern Christianity for the American Christian by Jordan Bajis (a non-canonical source but accurate regarding Orthodoxy)
* The Enlargement of the Heart by Arch. Zacchaeus Zachariou
* The Faith Series by Clark (Innocent) Carlton: The Faith: An Orthodox Catechism; The Truth: What Every Roman Catholic Should Know About the Orthodox Church; The Way: What Every Protestant Should Know About the Orthodox Church; and The Life: The Orthodox Doctrine of Salvation
* For the Life of the World by Fr. Alexander Schmemann
* Light from the Christian East by James Payton
* Mother Gavrilia: The Ascetic of Love by Nun Gavrilia
* The Mountain of Silence: A Search for Orthodox Spirituality by Kyriacos Markides and/or its sequel by the same author, Gifts of the Desert: The Forgotten Path of Christian Spirituality
* On the Incarnation of the Word by St. Athanasius the Great of Alexandria
* Orthodox Spirituality by Dumitru Staniloae

orrologion said...

The best place to start is at any local Orthodox parishes in your area. You'll be confused and lost, and that's a good place to start.

orrologion said...

A couple of other online 'catechisms':




Here's a good parish locator:


s-p said...

Hi Justin, In the left lower sidebar of this blog there is a link to "Our Life in Christ Radio Show". It has 125 hours of programs that deal with inquirer questions. Its very non-polemic and covers a LOT of topics. All downloadable and also available on i-Tunes at Ancient Faith Radio's website.

Apophatically Speaking said...


Good suggestions by Orr and S-P.

I can also highly recommend Fr. Freeman's "Glory to God for All Things" for a demonstration of the fruits of the Holy Spirit in action.

His blog is at http://fatherstephen.wordpress.com/

Justin said...

Wow, is that all? ;-)

Thanks for the recommendations, everyone!