Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Moderator's Note: printed with the author's permission.
To the Church Militant and my response to +His Grace Metropolitan Isaiah,
It is difficult to accept what a hierarch has stated. It is always difficult to listen to any spiritual father in confession because he may instruct us about something we just do not want to do. Our personal will appear to take over our +Lord’s will. And our +Lord will still love us, as I hope the disenfranchised parishioners will love people like myself who firmly stand behind independent churches. Apparently the parish council and others have witnessed the oil streams from the icon. Also, after the service yesterday more streams of holy oil came from the Icon of +Christ with more witnesses. A couple of comments to fellow Orthodox Christians:
1. Weeping icons of myrrh, oil, tears, blood and water are for the faithful – meaning the people who believe in the resurrected +Jesus Christ. These miracles are NOT for non-believers. Our very own parishioners who mock this icon are currently carrying out acts from the evil one. These acts are similar to the evil acts by people who spit on +Christ during +His march to the cross. The Holy Icon with oil is proof that our +Lord is present among us. It is not by coincidence that this happened on October 17th 2010. It happened when our +Lord decided to anoint the faithful with +His very own oil. It is simple. You believe in the icon with holy oil or you don’t. There is no lab test, no scientific explanation, no reason for the Metropolitan to fly in town for confirmation, just pure faith.
2. You can argue what the Metropolitan interpreted about the icon, but who in this community is better qualified or experienced or has greater authority than the Metropolitan. He appears harsh in his letters but he is a good man. Let lawyers be lawyers and spiritual leaders be spiritual leaders. The sadness is that mud flinging (like “Talaban” or “he is your Metropolitan, not mine” or “Just let me know, my gun is ready” or “The Metropolitan is a tyrant” or “Liar”) is fueling vengeance among parishioners (current lawsuits and more lawsuits to come). We are all unified in the church Militant. There is no need to be dependant churches for unity.
Let’s get real. What is the big deal about two independent churches? The argument that our forefathers created it this way, and we need to stick together as one. This does not work for me. We are not American history. We are not just Greek. We are not living under a tyrant who prevents us going to church. We are Orthodox Christians. Many years have past, our church size is growing, and we can not successfully manage ourselves as we did in the past. A church body has two arms, two legs but NOT TWO heads. The current mess in our community is a direct result of two churches. Face it. We the people of this community do not accept responsibility for our own problems, but blame ONE priest and ONE hierarch.
From my experience these last few months here in Salt Lake City, there are more bitter feelings, bad mouth talk, than examples of genuine Christian love. Many years have past and the needs between two churches are very different. No “Pantocrataro” at Prophet Elias for 6 years. This is a good example that we just can’t get the job done. It is either because we need to spend a huge amount of money to show off, or we can be practical and provide a simple inexpensive solution that glorifies +Christ. This is shameful for all of us.
In my personal opinion, John Saltas in his magazine article has a lot of balls to write:
“Besides the fact that the icon resides beneath an oil lamp; and besides that, at least one observer of the wet icon considered it an oil spill (exuding?); and besides that, others were told it was a spillage—the official message to the local parish is clear: The “miracle” is an answer to prayers that the local parish should become independent. You lose! God’s on our side! On the count of three: Laugh at the Greeks.”
I did not see Mr. Saltas at the church yesterday evening as a witness for himself. Either because of his lack of faith or that he was embarrassed to stand in church with the silent majority who he is slandering. Maybe it is because he is too impatient to discover the truth. I expect that type of reporting from the “Xenee”, but not a parishioner.
The bottom line is that Metropolitan Isaiah is in a position to decide that two independent parishes are for the betterment of our church in the long run. Ultimately the final decision is his and he made it clear. I respect that and I stand in support of his decision. It does not change any of my personal relationships with people from Holy Trinity or Prophet Elias. With or without the split, all of us can be unified through partakers of the divine sacraments (includes confession). The Metropolitan’s decision is purely an ADMINSTRATIVE DECISION. If we all ACT like Christians then we will get along just fine. We will be able to work out any difference. It will all be okay. STOP THE LAW SUITS.
PS The audit report is very clear about the community problems. This is proof that one community can NOT manage two churches. The contested 87% statistic of dependant church supporters is almost 4 years ago. The entire WORLD has changed in 4 years (including President Bush). Let us move on. The good news is that the Metropolitan and Synod of bishops will not reverse the decision for independent churches.
My love is the same for the supporters of the Metropolitan as well as the ones who call him a liar. +Lord Have Mercy on all of us,
- Mihali Zervos