Wednesday, December 06, 2017

The Legend of St. Nicholas in Liturgy and Art

What is the problem?

Sandro Magister: Orthodox Churches in Decline, Except in Ethiopia. A Survey

Too much clericalism, along with not enough Christians understanding the "universal call to holiness"? Instead, they believe erroneously that the pursuit of holiness belongs to the religious elites, the monks? Despite having what may be an aesthetically pleasing liturgy, has an authentic liturgical spirituality been lost? And has asceticism been identified too much with keeping the fast and external observances, rather than the correction of disordered self-love? And then there is the broader crisis of the laity, which is not limited to the crisis of men, but this last issue nonetheless must be addressed posthaste for any possibility of a long-lasting "solution."

It is the 21st century after the birth of our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ, and His Church, primarily the Apostolic churches, does not seem to be faring well, thanks to external enemies but also internal weaknesses.

What will address this problem? Not a modern pan-Orthodox synod that just releases documents, in imitation of Latin councils. Not a liturgical reform that aims to make liturgy relevant and relatable to modern sensibilities (as some like Nicholas Denysenko would suggest). But a renewal at all levels, with real leadership being exercised by bishops and their brother priests, and this renewal requires that the clergy repudiate all modern errors including liberalism and egalitarianism. (And the clergy also need to realize the limits of their authority.)

The Holy Mysteries provide us with the divine life, but to assimilate it through proper living we need the true doctrine of Christ. The bishops have been entrusted with teaching the primary precepts, but what is at stake and needs to be continually defended are the secondary precepts which have not been explicitly revealed but only known through reflection on the natural law and the life in and of the Church.

Sun of Justice

St Nicholas Icon