How does Your Eminence see perspectives that lay ahead of the Orthodox Church given great challenges of increasingly changing world? Can the world see the Orthodox Church as THE Church, not only as a mere ethnic experience of the Faith? Which challenge of modernity should an Orthodox Christian be concerned with the most?
“You are quiet right to emphasize that Orthodoxy is the Church. It is the Catholic, Universal Church of Christ on Earth. We respect the other Christian bodies, but we believe that the Orthodox Church is the One True Church of Christ on Earth. Not because of our own merits, for we are sinners, but because of God’s Grace and we must not forget this. The ethnic element in Orthodoxy,the different national traditions, Serbian, Greek, Romanian, Russian, Georgian, these are very precious, but they must not obscure, the fundamental, Ecumenical and Catholic element of the Orthodox truth. We are not here as a group of ethnic associations, we are here as the church of Christ on Earth, so we need to keep this in mind. To preserve all that is good in our national heritages, but never to allow the ethnic element to obscure the catholic unity of the Church. We could use the analogy of a glass of water. The water in the glass is the life giving through of Orthodoxy. The glass that contains the water is the ethnic traditions that hold us together. To drink the water we need the help of the glass, but the glass must be transparent, not opaque. we must be able to see the thought of Orthodoxy through the glass; we must not forget that it is the drink of water that matters, not the glass.
The largest challenge of modern world surely is the presence, throughout Western society, of a deeply secular outlook. Certainly in Britain, in Western Europe, in North America, the great majority of people have lost a sense of the immediate presence of God in the world. Yes, of course, there are many people who still go to church, but they do not have an integral world view where Christ enters into every aspect of daily life. Religion has been pushed into a corner, something that we do for an hour or two on Sunday and then we get on with the rest of our life. But let us remember that the Christian is the one who where ever he or she looks, sees everywhere Christ and rejoices in Him, so this is the greatest challenge to see
Christ everywhere, to see all things in God and God in all things, to void a separation between the sacred and the secular. All things can be sacred; the presence of the Holy Spirit can be found everywhere. So this is the most important challenge in the modern world, to resist the separation between the sacred and the secular, to resist the tendency to isolate Christianity into a tiny corner, to see that Christ enters every aspect of our daily life.”
~recent interview with Metr. Kallistos Ware
hat tip: Sunday Bulletin of Holy Theophany Orthodox Church