Tuesday, August 01, 2006

So's Yer Mama

When vagante Pseudodox are caught pursuing their illegal or immoral ventures, as with the "monks" in Blanco, their defense mechanism is typically to point to a similar instance within canonical Orthodoxy. Blanco molested children for years? Well, "'canonical' Orthodoxy is not on a higher moral ground than 'uncanonical' Orthodoxy is, when it comes to operation of brothels, molestation of children, and such like."

This defense mechanism, whereby the accused instead engages in recrimination, is known in cultivated psychological circles by the technical term: "So's Yer Mama." It's an attempt to level the playing field, thereby erasing all differences between the two parties. "We have sinners in our movement? You do, too."

Even in the purely human administrative realm, canonical Orthodoxy is on infinitely "higher moral ground" than vagantes. To my knowledge, not a single canonical bishop presiding anywhere in North America is a convicted child molestor or criminal. Each vagante bishop is a law unto himself (or herself), with the only constraints on a felon's "ministry" being those imposed by the judiciary. At least the canonical Church has overseers who usually do the right thing when confronted with evil.

However, the intent of this blame-shifting sleight-of-hand is to place all the focus upon the Church's human nature and obscure Her divine nature. The Church, as the Body of Christ, is united with Her Head. The divine mysteries are imparted by men at various levels of rebellion and interior brokenness, so the Church in its human expression has never been without scandal and will never be. However, what sets the Church apart from such as the "monks" of Blanco is the divine pledge of the Holy Spirit's indwelling presence. St. Augustine of Hippo's triumph over Donatism affirmed that whatever the human failings of the Church's representatives, the sacraments still usher the Orthodox faithful into the life of the Trinity (energies). It is only in the holy condescension of Jesus Christ to the flesh, of the His Flesh imparted at the Last Supper, of the perpetual institution of the Eucharist in the Church, and of the sacerdotal ministry's commission until His "second and glorious advent" that the Orthodox Church may claim preeminence. Not coincidentally, all were gifts of divine grace. "What do you have that you did not receive?"

It is important that would-be converts understand this. Many, caught in the currents of denominational decline, believe they will find in Orthodoxy the earthly utopian "haven of rest," whence all personality conflicts and ecclesiastical intrigue have fled away. Alas, when they find it is not so, their faith itself is undermined. That's why, as I recently noted in the comments section, a wise seeker whom I know is exploring Orthodoxy tells his people of every human foible as it occurs. The Ochlophobist's posts are most instructive from the opposite side of the chrism. The question converts face is not whether they wish to join a church exempt from the possibility of sin, even grave sins. Unfortunately, that option is not open to us. For all we know, the fevered imaginations above (of "brothels," etc.) may be tomorrow's headlines. The question each Christian must ask is whether he wishes to remain with sinners in his own denomination -- who do not teach what he believes -- or join with fallen men in the true Church that affirms his beliefs, has a promise of divine protection, and dispenses the medicine of immortality in the sacraments.

Certainly one should take pains to avoid grave sin within Orthodoxy, particularly pedophilia, reporting it if necessary. Perhaps the only blessing to come from our sinful juridictional splintering in the West is that if one is confronted with a shady character in one Orthodox jurisdiction, he can find an honest hierarch elsewhere in the Church. Converts will want to keep both eyes wide open when studying the character and practice of various churches but fulfill their heart's desire to be united to the Church.

But apart from God's divine presence, church groups, however "smart" their leaders, are but human contrivances. Secular law enforcement acknowledged as much at Blanco. Texas media reported:

When authorities raided the monastery in 1999, they brought along a Russian Orthodox bishop from New York [Vl. GABRIEL? - BJ] in deference to the religious objects and purported sacredness of the site.

But because of findings in that case, no such accommodation was made at last week's raid.

"We didn't make any arrangements to preserve the sanctity of the church because, as far as we're concerned, it's not a church," [Blanco Co. Sherriff Bill] Elsbury said. "As far as I'm concerned, the whole place is a criminal enterprise subject to asset forfeiture."

That's precisely it. Since Blanco has only a human element, the men in robes aren't monks -- they're perverts -- and the building that once housed their fraudulent "weeping icon" isn't a church -- it's an embezzlement society and NAMBLA chapter.

The difference between Orthodox and Pseudodox is not that only one groups sins. Orthodox priests are blessed with the charism of the Spirit, and it is only because they are "endued with the grace of the priesthood" that they are able "to stand before this Thy Holy Table, and perform the sacred Mystery of Thy holy and immaculate Body and precious Blood." God has empowered Orthodoxy to overcome all sin -- clerical and lay -- with His sacraments, His Spirit, and the pledge that He will ever preserve His Body from the ravages of the world, the flesh, and the devil. We know of no such promise to the "monks" of Blanco, Texas.

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3 Comments:

Blogger JGurrea said...

You couldn't have said it better. In my blog's recent posts, I've focused on the issue of purity because we all *are* humans and sinners. However, that sinful nature doesn't have anything to do with the legitimacy of the priest. In other words, the men posing as monks in Texas were not some vagantes sect because they molested people. The fact that they engaged in such perversion only shows that they suffer from two vices- deception and perversion- instead of just one.

Lord have mercy on us all.

-Julio

11:21 AM  
Blogger Ben Johnson said...

Hi Julio,

Thanks for the kind words. You've entered into the blogosphere? Could you please provide a link?

God bless,
Ben

6:02 PM  
Blogger JGurrea said...

I already wrote back, but I guess my comment was lost in the far reaches of the blogosphere...

I'm now also sharing my random thoughts online at

http://hispaniasancta.blogspot.com

-Julio

5:59 PM  

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