Dear Parish Faithful,
Whether we consider ourselves living in a "modern" or "postmodern" world, it seems that we pride ourselves on being "sophisticated," "cultivated," "clever," "subtle," "nuanced," or even "ironic." In short, these are the main characteristics of being "civilized" and therefore "interesting." But perhaps "directness" and "simplicity" could serve us better if, at the same time, we are still struggling to live as Christians in an increasingly complex world. This came to mind when I recently read the following, almost anecdotal, passage which was a mere footnote in an article found at www.OrthodoxyToday.org:
The Elder Paisius relates an event from his earlier life. As a young man he resolved a spiritual crisis by replying to his own question, Who is the kindest man on earth that I have ever known or heard of? Answered himself: "Based on the fact that He [Christ] is the kindest man on earth and I haven't known anyone better, I will try to become like Him and absolutely obey everything the Gospel says."
Nothing fancy! Just right to the point. And perhaps eliminated a good deal of pyscho-babble in the process. Are we even capable of thinking in precisely this manner any longer? How and why do we talk ourselves out of being so direct and simple? Is Elder Paisius being "naive?" Is it remotely possible to "obey everything the Gospel says?" Would that not make life boring? But can we answer these questions if we have never really tried what the Elder has?
You would be surprised what you can find in the footnotes if you read them carefully. The article itself, by Fr. George Morelli, had a rather fulsome title: "Smart Parenting XVII. Love and Worship in the Domestic Church - Of Gods or Idols." The lead-in question to the article was: "Do our homes model the Church or the culture?" Now that is a good question! The article may be a bit too clever for Elder Paisius' approach, but it raises many good challenging points, and offers some good practical advice.