January 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Christ is Born!

The celebration of God's birth in the flesh and his baptism, the revelation of the Most Holy Trinity, points us to the truth that the spiritual life is not about ethics and morals, it is about mystery. David Kudler in his introduction to Joseph Campbell's MYTHS OF LIGHT expresses this well.

You may have practical ethics and that kind ofthing, but there is no spirituality in any aspect of our Western civilization. Our religious life is ethical, not mystical. The mystery has gone and society is disintegrating as a result.

I think the Christian critics of society have got it backwards. The disintegration of morality in Western society is not due to a lack of emphasis on the traditional rights and wrongs of human behavior, but to the fact that the gaping hole in life that can only be filled by a vital, direct experience of God in the deep center of each human being has been neglected for a religion characterized by the very things Jesus criticized in the temple cult of Judaism of his time - exoteric legalism and form bereft of spirit.

You search the Scriptures because .YOU think that in .them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me. (John 5:39)

Life does not spring from form, but only from an encounter with the Living God.

Otihodoxy could well redirect and correct this, but so often we simply adopt the "religion of this age" as our own even though it is hardly "our own" and ce1iainly not the Gospel of Jesus. Accepting the agenda of others to condemn and control our neighbors, we betray the heart of the Gospel which is found in the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus. Because we have not learned how to express this kerygma to the world in which we live in the language of our time (as the Great Cappadocians did) and in a way that attracts and inspires, out of desperation we accept the agenda ofmoral extremism and patch upon it the name "Orthodox". The patch cannot hold. The truth always breaks free for it cannot be bound in such inappropriate garments.

Remember the words of Jesus to the prideful Pharisees, God can raise up children ofAbraham from these stones! If we do not learn how to sing alleluia in our time, the rocks and stones themselves will start to sing!

Fr. Elchaninov was right. The definition of Orthodoxy is this: "the element of absolute freedom." This in itself is a mystery the world cannot understand (even we often don't get it), but for which humanity longs.

The antidote is a courageous return to the Gospel of Jesus, the Gospel of unconditional love, of a commitment to intrinsic human freedom; the religion of the Cross, not of form, but of Life. It is time for us to consider what it is we need to die in order for us to preach a message that will lead to a recovery of the mystery of God, the mystery of life, and the mystery of the other.

Put simply and in other words, we must learn how to enter our closets and pray in silence. With love in the God who is Born,

Much love,
+Fr. Antony