Accustomed to Tepidity

In the West, Lent begins this week with Ash Wednesday. In the Orthodox Church, we don’t begin until March 17 this year! Pascha is May 5th, more than a month after Western Easter. It seems to me this would make it convenient for you who celebrate The Resurrection of Christ the last day of March to visit an Orthodox church near you on May 5th to experience the Feast of Feasts in its glory, in a way you won’t find elsewhere. But I’ll remind you when we get closer to that date.

For now, I want to re-post from almost three years ago a long quote that seems appropriate for Lent, or for any day or hour when needed.

From Father Moses of the Holy Mount of Athos:

An offspring of [the sin of] pride is censure, which is unfortunately also a habit of many Christians, who tend to concern themselves more with others than themselves. This is a phenomenon of our time and of a society that pushes people into a continuous observation of others, and not of the self.

Modern man’s myriad occupations and activities do not want him to ever remain alone to study, to contemplate, to pray, to attain self-awareness, self critique, self-control and to be reminded of death. The so-called Mass Media are incessantly preoccupied with scandal-seeking, persistently and at length, with human passions, with sins, with others’ misdemeanors. These kinds of things provoke, impress, and, even if they do not scandalize, they nevertheless burden the soul and the mind with filth and ugliness and they actually reassure us, by making us believe that “we are better” than those advertised.

Thus, a person becomes accustomed to the mediocrity, the tepidity and the transience of superficial day-to-day life, never comparing himself to saints and heroes. This is how censure prevails in our time – by giving man the impression that he is justly imposing a kind of cleansing, by mud-slinging at others, albeit contaminating himself by generating malice, hatred, hostility, resentfulness, envy and frigidity. Saint Maximos the Confessor in fact states that the one who constantly scrutinizes others’ sins, or judges his brothers based on suspicion only, has not even begun to repent, nor has he begun any research into discovering his own sins.

Thanks to the rector of our parish for posting this passage in the church bulletin.

7 thoughts on “Accustomed to Tepidity

  1. Wow, that really describes our culture doesn't it! I have decided that this year I am going to follow the Orthodox calendar for Lent and Easter, so your post was a little nudge of encouragement for me. The two closest Orthodox churches here are Greek, and that's where I hope to be attending every Sunday over the next few months. I am looking forward to that.

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  2. thank you for the excellent post and for the suggestion to attend an orthodox church on may 5th. i'm catholic, so we'll be starting lent tomorrow. this year i am using fr. thomas hopko's 'lenten spring' as my lenten reading, so i will be getting a good dose of orthodoxy to encourage me!

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  3. “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just.” so says Thomas Jefferson. To paraphrase: I tremble for myself when I reflect that God is just.
    Gretchen, please tell Father Moses, “Most excellent!”

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  4. Really insightful commentary, GJ! I like the idea of comparing myself to saints (to whom I cannot hold a candle to) instead of the mediocrities who hold the media's attention (and to whom we can all feel superior to). Very wise advice, indeed.

    xofrances

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