1 (Fr. Seraphim Rose)
After having been a part of a "liberal" break-off church in my youth as a Seventh-Day Adventist, I am well-acquainted with the appeal of a "liberal" church. I was tired of the stodgy old guard who seemed to have nothing better to do than admonish people for eating "unclean" meat or "moving too much" during the worship service. At the time, the idea of a liberalized church where Jesus was presented as "cool" and just your average guy you could hang out and be buddies with appealed to me greatly. I wanted honesty, authenticity, and for me this meant joining the liberal group of Adventists and abandoning the conservatives who simply seemed like hypocrites and modern pharisees. In short, I get the appeal. The conservatives were about rules with no heart, the liberals were about the heart and screw the rules. Or so it seemed that way.
I am sure I do not need to preach to the choir on this - from all the many comments I have read from readers of this blog, from my experiences as a Catholic, from my conversations had with many others on all the issues facing the Catholic Church today, I have learned a lot. I've read a million rants on the state of the Church today, and written a few myself in more than a little frustration. I won't do that here.
"Where have you hidden, Beloved, and left me moaning? You fled like the stag after wounding me: I went out calling you, and you were gone."2 (St. John of the Cross) I think this can be similar, too, to how some converts might feel in the Church right now - drawn in by the beauty of the glorious history of the Bride of Christ, its liturgies, its saints, its councils, its traditions, many find themselves perplexed to see the chaos around them.
Much of this chaos seems to me to be the result of a haphazard attempt to speak the language of a world now secularized in the extreme, a world in which God has been declared dead, or at best, absent. Despite the notion that with Vatican II, its "intention [was] to heal modernity and transform modernity, and not simply to succumb to it or merge with it..."3 (Pope Benedict XVI), it seems that this has not happened according to plan. I don't know all the ins-and-outs of it all, I only have my observations and experiences.
But my point is precisely this: the message, the truth of Christianity is timeless. Different methods and ways can be adopted in promulgating this message, but the truth of Christianity, its timeless nature must remain and not be jettisoned, ignored, or modified. "Christ is the truth. Truth is a person. Truth is not limited within our apprehension of it."4 (Mother Maria of Normanby) "Because it transcends all things, truth admits of no plurality, and reveals itself as single and unique."5 (St. Maximus the Confessor)
This is what attracts those seeking the truth of Christianity, and what those who are already Christians are so desperately craving - not the changing "truth" of today, but the Truth of all time.
1 - Nihilism, pg. 25
2 - Spiritual Canticle, stanza 1
3 - Let God's Light Shine Forth, pg. 35
4 - qtd. in The Orthodox Way, pg. 113
5 - qtd. in Philokalia, Vol. 2, "Third Century on Various Texts"