Mercy Amongst Bretheren

People sin. People Struggle. People Fall and hopefully when they do they will lift themselves up off the ground and shake off their sins and continue the struggle.

I pray that I can follow these directions within my own soul. God knows I struggle and I fail rather horribly. The hard part for me is enacting mercy amongst others who are in the same (general) boat of sinfulness as I. I understand that we are to forgive others 70 times 7 when they wrong us. That I am clear on. At the same time we have been instructed to deal differently with those who obstinately fight against the teachings of the Church. What do we do with this sort?

Add another area of struggle to the mix. What do you do when said struggle is between the Church and a 18 year old soul who is BRAND NEW to the life of the Church and they come ot Her with a great struggle of self Will and self image. They see themselves and recognize and refer to themselves by their illness, their sin, and as such, through their own choosing, their struggle is between themselves and their very nature attached to a world that tells them that his sin is natural. It IS who he is and there is nothing wrong with it and he SHOULD identify himself as such because it gives him power and authority.

He is 40 days within the walls of the Church and he is talking again (for the 4th time) of leaving the enclave of Salvation because he feels that he is not understood and the struggle is too hard and no one understands and noone supports him. How can we, as Orthodox Christians, believing what we believe to be the Truth of the Faith, say that these things are acceptable and tell him that no matter what he can live this life without consequence?

How do you tell someone that does not think that anyone understands his situation that there are those that do, and that they are willing to help him? How can you get past the wall of pride that is put up in defense of his sinful nature, saying that there is nothing wrong with it all? AND, how do you do it in a manner that does not cause him to run for the door? I realize that the Scriptures gis us a pretty clear distinction on how to handle these things..

“Confront them personally, then bring a witness, and then bring it to the Church. If they do not listen to the church, treat them as you would an unbeliever.”

The thing is, that, over the course of the past year, this has been time and time again and there is a paper trail to prove it (as if one were needed.)

How do you offer healing to a soul that does not think they are sick? You cannot force feed healing to a sick person. They have to see the state of their soul and WANT the healing of the Church. What if they are not at this point? What do you do with them? Do we place the salvation of the many against the struggles of the one? Which is more important? Does that even matter? What should be done if the words of the one could cause the others to stumble?

What a life, what a struggle. Fiat voluntas tua.

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One Response to Mercy Amongst Bretheren

  1. Justinian says:

    I’ve been thinking, not just about our friend’s situation, but about people in his (or similar) circumstances and how “Christians” treat the issue recently, and, well, even the way most Christians (even Orthodox) treat it seems to me to buy into subtle heresy. “Love the sinner but hate the sin” seems to me to buy into a kind of subtle nestorianism–as if one could distinguish personal sins from the person. It is the person who is broken and needs healing; the sin is just another kind of sickness. And so, if we continue trying to treat the sin as something “other” from the person who sins, we, too, miss the mark–because it is the broken person who sins because of the brokenness. In other words, we’re still only treating the symptoms, but not looking at the cause.

    This is, of course, a little gnostic, too. There’s a sense in which we all do this, and say that we are not our sins, that they don’t define us–and yet, everyone in our society is willing to be defined by abstract mental concepts (read: gender theory), rather than by what is anatomical reality. People supporting women’s ordination make these same sorts of stupid claims, where they want to equivocate on what it means to be a person (in their case, by trying to assert that Jesus was savior of mankind, but that his being a MAN was somehow only incidental to who he is). With our young brother in the Church, there has been a combination of appallingly bad pastoral care, and poor judgment on the part of many of his elders who should have been able to see what was going on with him BEFORE they conspired to receive him–placing on him the full burden of the Cross, which he is not ready to carry (not that he isn’t CAPABLE of carrying it, but one has to be aware of what one’s cross actually is, and what it means, before one can take it up and follow).

    This is one of the problems that we’re facing, because the Church has not, by and large, has not had to deal with large numbers of adult converts in, oh, 16 centuries or so. Consequently, we’ve not done too well with a great many of them (see the 50% attrition rate of adult converts). I don’t want to see our friend become another statistic in that (or any other) column, but, he has some responsibility too. He’s got to grow up–and his refusal to even want to do so is a telling indictment getting closer to the real heart of the issue. There is a fundamental lack of maturity that marks well-nigh all people in his situation that I have ever known personally. What is to be done? That is up to God, and those responsible for his reception. It is on the heads of his godfather and his priest, if he was not ready for entrance into the Church. If our Church is to survive, we’ve got to get a handle on reception of converts; people knowing the content of the 7 Ecumenical Councils and the overall dogmatic and historical information about the Church does not equal catechism. Spiritual formation–which, yes, includes mental retraining as well as learning good Orthopraxis–must must must become more of a focus. the “catechuminute” as our dear friend, Reader John, calls is, has absolutely got to be abolished; I readily admit that I was not ready for reception when I was received, and a lot of this observation is coming not just from what I’m witnessing at large, but from my own personal experience–which I have had to learn about correcting the hard way. Thank God, I have a priest who is more concerned with being the lover of the souls of the flock entrusted to him, than about the contents of the Protoevangelion of James, the Shepard of Hermas, or whatever else (that is not essential to the teaching of THE GOSPEL). Our poor friend who is the topic of your post has not had this benefit, I think. But that, too, is only a partial excuse–and is not a reason for what is really at issue with him.

    We have all sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God; but we live in a world that justifies “normal” based on what everyone does, not on what is right. So see, if we call disease and sickness healthy and natural, it becomes good. How do you overcome 18 years of bad education and lack of moral upbringing? I confess, I do not know–and this is why I can’t deal with him anymore. At present, the best thing I can do for his is commend him to Our Lord and His all-holy and immaculate Mother.

    With my prayers,
    J

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