As months go by, I’ve often wondered what else I could possibly say about our current predicament. The world has turned into a madhouse where many ask why I’m not mad. The lockdown is over, but the aftermath is worse. Masks are a must and social distancing is the norm. Small businesses are being torn apart by this ‘pandemic,’ as well as friends and families. And churches, sadly, are still suffering these worldly regulations – with many still believing there’s nothing wrong with it.
The battle is not over. It’ll probably be with us for longer. But our main responsibility is to be aware that there is a battle. None of the worldly mandates being implemented in our parishes is normal. None of it is right. It destroys our dogmas and it mocks our God. It devalues the holiness and sanctity of the Church. Many articles have come out from various priests attempting to defend these new rules. Some try to argue that since the Eucharist can get moldy, this proves it can be contaminated. This lack of faith baffles me. The Eucharist has already been sanctified through our weekly Liturgy and made holy! Is not then the mold also holy? What gives? This has never been questioned before; so, why now?
I’ve wanted to dissect these articles and expose the lies. But I’m seeing more and more that people have purposely closed their ears. They don’t want to hear the truth. They are bothered that Orthodox Christians like myself are being what they’d call ‘fatalistic.’ They ask why we don’t just listen to the bishops? It’s much less controversial than getting our hands dirty in Church tradition and theology, right? Well, guess what? Jesus was and is controversial. Do you think that when He came here as a man that He did everything the world wanted Him to do? Do you think He came to confirm what the world already knew and approved of? Jesus disturbed the norm and it made people angry! He told people to love their enemies instead of seeking revenge. Do you think they all took this message well? Many wanted a violent Messiah who would seize and conquer in a brilliant show of physical strength. Alas, Jesus came as a peacemaker. He came to teach us what we needed to hear – the truth. But many did not want to hear it. Not even the Pharisees, who were supposed to be the high and revered holy men.
Seeing that even Jesus was given flack for speaking the truth then, I’m not surprised that Jesus is still being slapped in the face now. Too many Orthodox Christians – including, yes, many bishops and priests – are only expressing a lack of faith and vigor for the truth of Christ in the face of this virus. I know these are hard words to take. But all the arguments of ‘obedience and humility’ can only go so far. And honestly, I’ve grown weary of hearing them. Because again, it’s not obedience; it’s acquiescence. In fact, obedience on its own is not truly a virtue. Look at what Fr. Alexander Schmemann says about obedience in regards to marriage (it’s still applicable to this discussion):
This response is total obedience in love; not obedience and love, but the wholeness of the one as the totality of the other. Obedience, taken in itself, is not a ‘virtue’; it is blind submission and there is no light in blindness. Only love for God, the absolute object of all love, frees obedience from blindness and makes it the joyful acceptance of that alone which is worthy of being accepted….True obedience is thus true love for God, the true response of Creation to its Creator. Humanity is fully humanity when it is this response to God, when it becomes the movement of total self-giving and obedience to Him.
Obedience on its own does little. It’s blind and has nothing to guide it. And that, I would argue, is what’s happening now, both in the world and in the Church. People blindly obey the CDC. They blindly follow the WHO. They blindly accept the rules put down by the bishops, who blindly accept the rules of the world. Did Christ call us to love the world? No. Did He call us to submit to the world? No. Then what is it we are called to? To love and obey Christ. The two go hand in hand. We can obey Christ only when we love Him. Only love makes our obedience to Christ alive and real. If this is the case, what does our obedience to the world say? It says we lack love for Christ and would prefer to trust ourselves. And that’s a sorrowful state to be in. So, is it not possible that our acquiescence to these new church mandates is just obedience without love for Christ? Would Christ want us to cover His image-bearers with masks? Would He want us to neglect communing because we’d be breaking social distancing rules?
I may be a broken record; but at least I’m consistent. Because, brothers and sisters, we cannot be silent about this. Though I have not written on this blog for some months, I’ve been fighting every day. I don’t believe this will be over any time soon. This pandemic was never meant to be a temporary event, but a means to change our society as we know it. It’s a political ploy that’s deceived many to the point of living in constant fear. If the world can be so easily swayed, we need to protect the Orthodox Church even more! We are witnessing the world trying to shimmy its way into our sanctuaries and in many ways, it already has. Yet it’s not too late to cut off the head of the serpent. And we need to do so while we still can. Refuse to follow the ‘new norm’ and stand up for Christ! Obey Him first, love Him above all else, and all will become clear. He will help us to see past this facade of fake peace. Will you stand for Christ? Or will you let the world trample and abuse you for its own gain?