Sv: [orthodox-synod] Re: [paradosis] Isolation
- Then what do you do in a country
with 1 church building owned by a juristiction
who does not want to concelebrate with anybody else?
----- Original Message -----
From: Rev Mark Gilstrap <fr.mark@...>
Cc: <firstname.lastname@example.org>; <Orthodox@...>
Sent: Tuesday, April 03, 2001 11:14 PM
Subject: [orthodox-synod] Re: [paradosis] Isolation
> At 01:51 PM 4/3/01 -0700, you wrote:
> >I must admit that I have a very different view of isolation with regards to
> >being far away from Orthodox Communities and Churches where one can
> >regularly receive the Holy Gifts.
> >I believe that in almost all cases, it comes to a matter of personal
> >choice--not circumstances beyond our control.
> >This is a free society and we can choose where we wish to live. And an
> >Orthodox Christian should choose to live where there is an Orthodox Church
> >of his chosen jurisdiction.
> >An Orthodox Christian should always be willing to sacrifice for the Holy
> >Faith. If that means relocating oneself to a different area, taking a less
> >highly paying job, or being far from one's family or friends, then so be it.
> I agree completely with Fr ALexander's sentiments.
> Earlier I wrote about the "deceptive ease" of
> isolation. Do not let it persist!
> From: msg <fr.mark@s...>
> Date: Sat Oct 21, 2000 3:54am
> Subject: Isolation (was: Come on Lurkers!)
> At 05:45 PM 10/20/00 -0700, you wrote:
> >If I see something I wish to comment on that is
> >positive, don't worry, Il'l jump right in.
> >BTW, I belong to the Russian Church Abroad. It is 250
> >miles to church, so I don't make it too often.
> I see the possibility of a good thread in this.
> Last July at the Orthodox Russian Pathfinders Camp
> at Vladimirova (Lost Lake) Illinois, Fr Lubomir
> from Houston and I spoke for a long while. He was
> really quite intrigued at the lengths to which some
> (esp converts) will go to attend Church.
> We commuted 560 miles (round trip) for over seven
> years, and upon being transfered to Cincinnati, 260
> miles for another 2+ years. One year, while I was
> learning many things for the future, we exceptionally
> travelled to St Louis (House Springs) Mo, for more
> than 40 liturgies. However most of the time we
> travelled only every other week or every third week.
> I can speak from experience of the real hardships, but
> more importantly about the more critical imagined
> impediments put before us by our enemies - our sinful
> selves and demons alike. Travelling is a blessing of sorts
> since if you overcome the spiritual hinderances, there is
> a real victory. Nothing vanishes so quickly as the
> uncertainty that travelling is worth it - vanishes
> the moment you cross the threshold of the church.
> I have a parishioner now who also commutes as far as we
> once did. The temptations are similar. I have spoken with
> others too. I think there is a shared experience in overcoming
> the temptations to not go to church. It may seem more
> intense for those who commute long distances, but I believe
> that once identified (perhaps by commuting) one can see
> the same temptations working on people who have only a
> short walk or drive to church.
> Only a few times in ten years did we go 4 weeks between
> attending Liturgy. Such was sometimes necessary, but
> usually it was out of weakness. I can't definitively say
> that the cause of the weakness and temptations wasn't also
> the cause of the dissipation that arises in those month
> long absences, but by trial and error we concluded that
> we could not remain on any effective path towards the
> One Thing Needful if we didn't commute/commune at least
> every three weeks. Others have confirmed this period.
> I think that even the canons speak to this same period
> in a way.
> Not attending a parish Liturgy regularly is a doubly
> risky business. Not only do you miss out on the Grace
> of the Mysteries, but you avoid the necessity to interact
> with others, and [you also] risk becoming self-willed, self-directed,
> self-serving, etc... Mutual sacrifice within a family
> or marriage may substitute for some of what is lost by not
> being a part of a parish community, but it is in no way
> sufficient. Christ promised He is present "wherever two or
> three..." as may be gathered at a local Reader's service,
> but who will argue that this is the same as partaking of the
> Mysteries of Repentance and His Body and Blood on a regular
> basis together with brethren?
> I have a real problem with spiritual fathers who allow
> individuals or families to persist in isolation from a
> parish community life. I know of people who have gone
> literally years without communing after joining a TOC
> group. Few there are, even among monastics, who are
> blessed to live in isolation from other brethren. E-mail
> and phone calls don't substitute. Little "missions without
> mysteries" can easily become havens for cultlike behaviour
> or at least overly zealous stridency.
> I often wonder if the short patience displayed on this
> list isn't in part an artifact of the lack of practice in
> suffering one another - a result of living in isolation
> from fellow fallen orthodox strugglers.
> My spiritual father required us to figure out how to move
> closer to a church - at first - but when he saw that our
> frequent travel was making us closer to Church and in fact
> putting us in Church more frequently than some of those who
> lived in the neighborhood (and that it was an ascesis which
> was helpful), we were allowed to live where we were in
> obedience to our circumstances until circumstances made it
> impossible to ignore the impact of distance.
> We were blessed: I had a cush university job with 7+ weeks
> of vacation, plus holidays on top of that. Or maybe we
> were victims: Think of all that might have been accomplished
> if we had moved immediately into a parish environment and
> not wasted resources for so many years.
> I am not suggesting that anyone should be swayed by what we
> did, or expect that it is even possible for others to travel
> as we did (looking back, it now seems impossible) but God
> provides. I think the more prudent cure for isolation is
> to move immediately rather than to travel. But I have boldly
> said for years and years, it must be one or the other - 1) move
> or 2) travel so frequently that you are not isolated. Do not
> remain in the deceptive ease of isolation, even if you must
> remain far apart.
> I just wanted to open the subject for discussion and offer
> support and understanding to all those of you who are
> vexed by isolation and the necessity to travel. If I can
> encourage you as my spirtual father encouraged me to
> eventually give up my will and move to where there is a
> viable community, then, well... at least think about that,
> or redouble yuor efforts to build a viable community where
> you find yourself. Pray to St Xenia of Petersburg for help
> in finding a parish home, to St Nicholas for safekeeping
> while you travel, and to St John of San Francisco who
> understands this wierd 20th century life.
> In Christ,
> priest Mark Gilstrap
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