Here then, beloved seminarians, is the world which you will be sent forth to serve. In the mind of secular man, there is no God, or even if He does exist, it does not matter. This is clearly the condition of a grave disease. WWhat is the medicinehat are the models of healthful words that you will supply to spiritually sick people? leading to truth that you have been given to offer?
Let me at the final part of my presentation briefly outline the nature of our Orthodox Christian response to the sickness of our contemporary world. First, we must maintain our Churchâs position as being a witness to the Truth. The absolute Truth revealed by Christ, the incarnate God. . In our post-modern world, the word âtruthâ? as something absolute is believed not to exist! But the reality is that if there is one God, there can be but one truth.
The truth to which we give testimony is not first of all a philosophical system. Truth is an experience of the living person of Jesus Christ, Who declared âI am the Truthâ? (St. John 14:6), and Who prayed that His disciples âbe consecrated in truthâ? (St. John 17:19). Truth is tasted and seen in a life that has been transformed by the touch of the unseen hand of the Great Physician of souls and bodies, our Risen Lord. Without the blessing of this transformation that comes through genuine repentance and is perfected by the grace of God, no priest or bishop is empowered to witness to the Truth. Witnessing to the truth of Christ, establishing its absolute character, constitutes a very effective and salvific medicine or antidote to the falsehood of contemporary life and the deplorable relativization of truth in a secularized world.
Secondly, we offer the true worship of God to a thirsty humanity. and we offer it through the magnificent variety of worship services provided by our Orthodox Church, in joyful accordance with what the Lord commanded: âGod is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truthâ? (St. John 4:24). If the sickness of the world is a distancing from God, the cure is a return to Him, falling down in worship of Him. Genuine worship is the chemotherapy for the cancer of secularization and existential alienation. In our Orthodox worship, we rejoice as servants before their Lord, receiving with gratitude His divine love and all its gifts. And we are eager to share the treasures of Orthodox Christian prayer and chant with all peoples, so that all may rejoice in the radiance of the presence of the Risen Christ through the experience of the Divine Liturgy.
Thirdly, we offer the true life of God in a life of love that is like the love of the heavenly Father: unlimited, unconditional, and without discrimination. Without love, without a genuine, personal, and tender concern for our neighbors, our preaching will be in vain. Actions speak louder than words, we say in America. For this reason, Saint Paul enjoins Timothy: âFollow the model of healthy words, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.â? Philanthropy is at the heart of the Christian message. You cannot be an effective witness to the Truth; you cannot be an effective healer of the suffering soul, unless you personally radiate love from a heart that is full of love received from the Lord. âWe love because He first loved usâ? says Saint John the Evangelist (1 John 4:19). Aside from that divine and self-sacrificial love, no true expression of love is possible.
Finally, what we offer as medicine for the world is not simply a model of words about Christ, but a model of words and life and faith that make Christ present in every place we go. In this way we offer the total Christ, the genuine Christ.
Archbishop Demetrios (Traketellis), primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Address to seminarians in Moscow
with thanks to Matthew Baker