Monday, December 26, 2011

A solution to a problem (which is probably a pipe dream)

Nativity has come and gone. It is bittersweet. On the one hand, the hustle and bustle and delusions of Christmas with parties, gifts and family get togethers are finished. But, on the other hand, the solemn feast and the preparing fast only seemed worthy to merit an asterisk.

Though the Nativity Fast is a relaxed one and most Orthodox parishes do not have the rigorous cycle of services that are commonplace in Great Lent or even the Dormition fast, it was very difficult to pray and to stay focused on the coming of our Lord in the flesh. Even when the fast becomes more strict beginning on the 20th, that same day seems to be when every other thing associated with the Christmas season (e.g. parties, shopping, etc.) comes into full swing. Rather than given time for sufficient time to contemplate and meditate on why the Lord is coming in the flesh, I am given to other pursuits.

So, what is the solution? It's not that I didn't make an effort. I attended the weekday services at my parish; I prayed as much as I was able; I observed the fast pretty stringently. But there was always something to take me away from it. Here's my solution--and it's one that I've put forth before and I know will probably be disappointed: Return to the celebration of the Feast of the Nativity on January 7 (December 25, Julian Calendar). That's right, return to the Old Calendar.

Now, one might say: just go to a Russian or a Serbian church since they're on the Old Calendar. No. I'm a Greek Christian. I follow the Typicon of the Great Church of Christ. I read and speak the language and I comprehend the Orthodox faith through that language, the jewel of all philosophical languages. I chant according to the Byzantine method and find the Russian typewriter chant to be both silly and a bore (my opinion only). I have no desire to be a Russian or a Serb. There is no reason that I cannot be a Greek Christian and NOT celebrate the Great Feast of Nativity on January 7. After all, the Greek churches on Mount Athos still celebrate it that way. Why can't the rest of us.

This will solve a lot of issues. The bustle of the "secular" Christmas season will be gone and we can turn our thoughts more purposefully to prayer and worship. Also, and forgive me for being such an anti-ecumenist, but it will also help to destroy the illusion that Orthodox and the heterodox celebrate the same thing on December 25. Besides, why is it so important for us to celebrate our Lord's Pascha with all our Orthodox brethren, but every other movable feast not considered important? I'm sure it has to do with the ecumenical mindset of many of our hierarchs who always seem to beg for scraps from the ecumenical table in return for political and monetary favors.

I'm hopeful that there will be a Great Council convened sometime within the next decade or two. One of the issues that must, absolutely must, be discussed is that of the calendar. We cannot be one Orthodox communion on two calendars. It's schizophrenic. And Orthodox hierarchs should do everything possible to resist the ecumencist pleadings of prelates from the Roman Catholic communion who desire nothing more than us to be subservient to their papacy. Returning to the Old Calendar will help to divorce us from the heresies and schisms propagated by the Western Churches.

It's also been proven, many times over, that the more churches return to their tradition, they bring more people into the fold. For example, when the Pope Benedict XVI allowed for greater freedom of the use of the extraordinary Rite, many former catholics returned home. The development of the Novus Ordo (which is essentially a Protestant service; it was designed by 6 Protestants from Germany) pushed many people away. The evangelical churches are losing people in droves because that awful praise-band, anthropocentric, egocentric "worship" is driving people away and they are slowly recognizing that. Even my former church, the LCMS, Lutheran Church Missouri-Synod, has begun to purge itself of this same thing and people are coming back.

So, if returning to our roots and traditional praxis is good for the sake of the growth and stability of the Church, let's do it. Return to the Old Calendar! And keep us on it. Resist any attempts to find "common dates" of Pascha with the heterodox confessions! Dare to be Orthodox! Orthodoxia i thanatos!

No comments:

Post a Comment