Tuesday, November 4, 2008

What's behind the curtain?

What's behind the curtain?

During the Holy Qurbana this past Sunday, my 8-year old turned to me a few minutes after the curtain was closed prior to the procession of the Eucharist and asked me, "What happens behind the curtain?".

For those not familiar, the Indian Orthodox Church along with other Oriental Orthodox churches use a curtain rather than an iconostasis to separate the altar and Holy of Holies from the rest of the Church.

While silently thanking God not only because my son was asking questions but that I actually knew the answer, I watched with much humility how easily he accepted my answer.

This reminded me of Mathew 18, when Jesus says,

"I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

For many of us and for many who are unfamiliar with our Church and our Faith, it's difficult to accept several points of the doctrine such as Living Presence that don't make sense when using the standards of this world.

Hence, one of the highest priorities for all of us is to seek answers to all our own doubts and questions, thereby removing the obstacles for us to completely believe. Blessed are those who believe without questions, but definitely all the right answers exist within the Orthodox Faith for those who seek the Truth with humility and open hearts.

Kevin Allen interviewed the Dean of St Vladimir's Seminary Fr John Behr in an Illumined Heart podcast on Apostolic Succession (on which I'll post more thoughts soon).

Not surprisingly, Fr Behr gives a much better explanation of this towards the end of the podcast, i.e.,

Each person has to be responsible for themselves coming to Church and being a member of the Church. Why are you coming to this Church is what we should ask people ... just because my parents did and my parents before that did? Or is it because I believe that here I encounter the Lord of all Creation of this history, the one sitting at the right hand of the Father, tangibly .. perceptibly .. and become His Body.

And, if that's your answer, well, say that! But, if its not your answer, well then we need a further discussion.

When prompted by Kevin Allen about how to respond to Charismatic or Pentecostal believers who would argue that they "feel" the Holy Spirit during their worship, Fr Behr answered quite simply,

Well, I would ask them which Holy Spirit .. there are many gods out there, but for us there is One God the Father, One Lord Jesus Christ, the one that we know was crucified and was saved according to Scripture, whom we know through the inspiration of the Spirit by whom alone we can call upon Jesus as Lord ... all of that, with the breaking of bread that he also received and handed down to us .. this is what we know. What Christ are you talking about, and what Spirit are you talking about?

As Fr Behr said, if we don't completely believe and understand, then we need a "further discussion", and in my opinion the living Church should prioritize ensuring that all members can find both the audience as well as resources to help them find their answers.

Fr Behr summarized that this will not be easy, but he expressed hope that everyone will be challenged to "think about their Faith actively". When we strengthen our own personal Faith (for which Christ Himself advised that we "humbles himself like this child"), we in turn strengthen the living Church.

source: http://one-christ.blogspot.com/

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