July 23, 2014

Met. Methodios (GOA): Don’t be Like the Frogs in the Tub

Metropolitan Methodios of Boston (GOA)

HT: Devshime

October Archpastoral Reflection from His Eminence

The story is told about a number of frogs which were placed by scientists in a tub of water whose temperature was exactly the same as the pond from which they were taken. The scientists slowly increased the temperature and were soon astonished to see that, even though the water gradually became warmer, the frogs did not react. It was only when the temperatures were increased to a boiling point that the frogs reacted. It was too late. Before they knew it, they burned to death. Had they realized the slow increase in the water temperature, they would have reacted and thus spared their lives. The frogs grew accustomed to the slow rise in temperature and adapted. The change in water temperature occurred slowly but deliberately, and because of this process, the frogs failed to pay attention.

For us Orthodox Christians, the changes in the moral standards in our society have occurred so slowly that they have become imperceptible. We have adapted to the slow deterioration of moral life in society to the point where we have adapted to the moral decay in our midst and have taken it for granted. Sadly we live in a world of moral and ethical relativism, hedonism and selfishness; in a world in desperate need of spiritual renewal.

Sunday is no longer the day that we worship Almighty God and then sit at our dinner table to enjoy fellowship. Rarely do we read the Bible. Prayers are no longer offered in our schools. The Ten Commandments have been removed from our civil courts. Lifestyles previously kept in the closet are now championed as reputable and worthy of emulation. The other day while driving to a liturgical service, a fellow priest pointed to a decal placed prominently on the bumper of the car in front of us. It was the symbol of a new atheist group in America.

The admonition of Saint Paul addressed to the Ephesians should echo in our hearts, “no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.” (Eph.4:17) We need to re evaluate our lives and ask ourselves how the way we live differs from the way others live who have no faith. Do we differ as Orthodox Christians from our secular and oftentimes atheist neighbors? How do we live our Orthodox Faith?

I am concerned that we have become so accustomed to sin and immoral behavior, that we do not notice it. We must not accept the prevailing permissive immoral and unethical standards of modern day society which are clearly at odds with the tenets of Holy Scripture and the teachings of the Fathers of the Church.

Remember the frogs in the experiment, and be wary of their mistake of growing accustomed to an environment which eventually caused their demise.

+ Metropolitan Methodios of Boston
October 2011

Comments

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    John Panos says:

    Perhaps it would help if his eminence would speak out against the abominable practices, contrary to the Tradition, which also have become prevalent in the GOA, like Altar girls serving in the Holy Places, regular support of pro-abortion legislators, tonsure of women (and teen girls!) as Readers, and placing Greek ethnic interests before those of their flock (all of whom live in America – it is the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of AMERICA, after all).

    I applaud his statements, but until backed up with actions, they are just empty words.

    Actually, I think his eminence is self-confused about these things. He wrote,

    We need to re evaluate our lives and ask ourselves how the way we live differs from the way others live who have no faith. Do we differ as Orthodox Christians from our secular and oftentimes atheist neighbors? How do we live our Orthodox Faith?

    but evidently has no answer. Fixing the issues above would be a great start, and show ‘the flock’ that it is not anything goes at the GOA anymore.

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      Fr. Peter says:

      John,

      All of the things you mention did not happen in the Metropolis of Boston and therefore out of the reach of Metr. Methodious. I will remind you that he is the only Orthodox bishop to take a stand against the VERY non canonical situation of more than one bishop in a city and has forbiden his clergy from serving in OCA parishes until it is resolved. Prior to Bsihop Nikon’s election to the Diocese of New England that See was HQ’s in Hartford, CT. It was changed when +Nikon was elected. He has done far more than any other Orthodox bishop in the USA toward fixing our problems. Just as a note I am not part of the GOA but the Romanian Archdiocese.

      I would also clarify that although reader is a step to the priesthood many do not go on to be priests. In a parish near me they have two men who have been tonsured as reader and they are not moving toward the priesthood. I do disagree that women should not be tonsured but are you EXACTLY sure that is what happened? Just becasue that’s what is says in the caption under the picture does not mean it is actually what happened, as with the altar girl comment. I would just double check before you make statements to make sure that is what happened. If it did, I believe it to be wrong. I am not a cannonist so someone else will have to chime in with the answer.

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        Andrew says:

        Memo to Fr. Peter: Sen. Olympia Snowe is a pro-abortion politician who is part of the Metropolis of Boston.

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        John Panos says:

        Fr. Peter, I’m just going by what the picture, and Dr. Tibbs herself, has advertised publicly in many venues. She even touted her ‘tonsured reader’ status at a Metropolis of San Francisco clergy gathering!

        I have no reason to believe otherwise, and neither does anyone else.

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          alexis says:

          A Very Big Thank You Both to Mr. Panos and Andrew for speaking up and “telling it like it is.” If the parishoners aren’t hearing it on a regular basis from the hierarchy and clergy, then this epidemic silence is nothing more than aiding and abetting the opposition. And this is the problem of being “the best kept secret.” If our Founding Forefathers had adhered to this, we wouldn’t be rich Americans. So, my clarion call to all Orthodox Leaders is to “strap on a pair” and “tell it like it is” from the pulpits. Since when did Christ and the Holy Scriptures ever talk about the majority? It has always been about the radical remnant making it into Heaven and the narrow road. Or has the Church been about money, power, and donations – no different really than the American Government?! “Palm” Sunday every Sunday it seems with no good and efficient results.

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    John Panos says:

    See this page for a photo woman’s tonsure in the GOA – Dr. Eve Tibbs of St. Katherine College – I’d think twice before sending my child there. It’s about half way down the page.

    After all, “Reader is the first level of the Priesthood.” and we know where this is going.

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      Fr. George says:

      The following is not an argument “for” or “against” female Readers. That is a debate which is, in the vernacular, “above my pay grade.”

      While “reader is the first level of Priesthood” is a fairly common phrase, it is only accurate on a superficial level. There is a fairly large difference in the so-called “minor orders” (reader, chanter, subdeacon, et al.) + deaconate versus the other so-called “major orders” (priesthood and episcopacy), especially when one considers their origins. The Episcopacy comes from the Apostolic line, successors of their grace and authority. The priesthood comes from the Episcopacy, as agents of the hierarch within the local communities, manifesting the communion within the Church that flows through the bishop (St. Ignatios – “Wherever the bishop is, there is the Catholic Church”); as such, they have responsibilities delegated to them from the hierarch that flow from the hierarch’s unique role, service, and authority (i.e. celebrating most of the sacraments).

      The deaconate, on the other hand, comes from the Laity (per Acts), and shares in none of the unique Episcopal roles (sacraments, blessing, etc.). It has roles that are directly tied to lay participation (leading petitions, distributing communion, etc.), but none that are tied to Epsicopal prerogative. So, too, with the so-called “minor orders.” Thus, it seems to me to be a disingenuous “scare tactic” to imply that women as readers are somehow beginning down a slippery slope toward female priesthood. The two areas are simply so distant in role, source, authority, etc. that such a connection, in my opinion, can not and should not be made.

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    Michael Bauman says:

    John, would you also support not allowing women to act as readers? I would like to hear from some more folks about the practice of tonsuring women as readers.

    What is the connection to the priesthood–the act of reading or the laying on of hands or both. Readers do not serve in the altar (at least not to my knowledge).

    As opposed as I am to women’s ordination, I must admit I am conflicted about tonsuring women as readers.

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      Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

      “Let your women keep silence in the churches, for it is not permitted unto them to speak, but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the Law.” 1 Cor. 14:34

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        Michael Bauman says:

        Dn Brian, I take it from your Scripture quotation that you support not allowing women to perform the function of readers. Does the injunction also pertain to choir directors, parish council members, etc, etc. IOW are women to have no pro-active, visible leadership role within the commuity? A bunch of parishes would curl up and die if that were enforced. Or is the injuction limited to proclaiming the Word of God in a liturgical setting?

        Just another anthropologically based decision we have to make: In this case what does male and what does female mean existentially in the life of the Church. Touches on the homosexuality issue as well and abortion BTW.

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          Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

          In a saner, healthier world, more respect would be paid to divinely ordained sexual distinction and to the apostolic guidelines that help maintain that distinction against the modern tendency to deny and eradicate it.

          In a saner, healthier world, more men would see that taking leadership roles in the Church affirms their masculinity and thus be drawn to the Church instead of being driven away by the progressive feminization of the Church.

          And so, in a saner, healthier world, parishes would be bigger and stronger and a better witness to the world of Christian truth.

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            Rob says:

            Now that women can run for President and become essentially the most powerful chief executive and military leader in the entire world (even with the support from “conservatives” as seen by the success of women like Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin), I’m thinking it makes little sense to many why they should become mute in all things related to the Church. Modernity has allowed the fairer sex to become leaders of men and nations, and at this point, I don’t think these advances can be rolled back, although I suppose you never know.

            I’m not saying religious organizations can’t make their own rules. I’m simply suggesting that these rules no longer seem as reasonable as they may have when women could neither vote nor sign a legal contract. If you can explain why a woman should have the power to launch a military conflict but can’t read Scripture from the pulpit, you’d perhaps ease some of the dissonance many feel and that has caused splits within the denominations over these gender-role issues.

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              Michael Bauman says:

              Rob, just because women can be just as corrupt, ruthless and self-serving as men does not mean that ontologically they are suited to the sacramental office.

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              I don’t know how this thread changed to discussion of women’s ordination, but this should be a non-issue for the Orthodox, and I suspect IS a non-issue in any place that has had Orthodoxy for more than 500 years. Women, as Rob said, can be many things– Presidents, Empresses, Baseball Coaches, Corporate Executives. There is one thing a woman can never be, however, and that is a Father. The sacramental priesthood is about spiritual fatherhood. Women have held ordained religious/sacramental leadership throughout history, but never in Christianity. Christianity has always had priests, but left the priestesses to the pagan religions.

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                Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

                This issue is not just women’s ordination; it is the natural, divinely ordained relationship between the man and the woman, according to which the man has been charged with headship not just in the Church but in all things where the two are together. Our blindness to our own teaching on this matter, and our approval of the way things are today in our increasingly unChristian culture, are evidence of the very froggishness Metropolitan Methodios is warning against.

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                  Yes Father, definitely. I think we’re all confused because of the significance, for instance, of the minor orders in the Russo-Slavic tradition– where Reader is like a “rank” even over and above the function– and the minor orders within the Hellenic-Arabic tradition, where quite often the people performing the functions of a Reader are tonsured whenever the Bishop comes around. The Church’s conscience is not scandalized by women singing in choirs and reading from the Apostol (in most places, at any rate, and I’m in a VERY traditional ROCOR parish where this has been done, although it is rare). Furthermore, women are “tonsured” already in our Tradition– at baptism and in taking up the monastic yoke. Women also “teach”– even in my Russian parish women are usually teaching Sunday school.

                  I really like what Met. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos says about all this. The spiritual priesthood are all those Christians who have been purified of their passions, or who at least are in that process of purification. This spiritual priesthood is open to everyone, and perhaps this is why St. Zosimas sought St. Mary of Egypt’s blessing (although she deferred to him in her supreme humility)– he discerned the spiritual priesthood in her.

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                    Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

                    Many things are done today that ought not be done. We must at times patiently endure them, but we ought not succumb to thinking that what is wrong is right. The frogs are not scandalized by the rising temperature; it will kill them nevertheless.

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    Pete says:

    John,

    I’m not sure how this turned into a critique, but in any case–that Jacksonville parish you referenced hosted the OCF Student Advisory Board and Chaplains last fall for a weekend of meetings. When we attended the Sunday Liturgy, presided by Bishop Dimitrios of Xanthos (http://www.ocf.net/pages/bishopdimitrios.aspx), the “altar girls” were sitting in the front row of the pews on the left side. Their participation did not involve entering the Holy Altar. At the Great Entrance, they got up and held turned-on electric lanterns, joining the procession outside the North door and walking beside the servers with the candles. They did walk up to the solea and line up there, but as the celebrants entered the Sanctuary, they returned their seats. Should they have been on the solea? Probably debatable, given that I’ve seen parish councils with women in them on the solea, Nativity plays on the solea, women reading in front of the iconosts at the Akathysts, young girls in white dresses throwing flowers in and around the bier, as well as a nun giving a homily from the solea–and nobody seemed to take issue with that. Concerning the robes, when laymen are blessed to wear the sticharion for a useful purpose they may; if the girls were blessed to wear them to merely process where they’re basically already allowed to walk, that doesn’t seem to be a massive issue–if anything, it is debatable.

    I would lean to not having the girls serve their parish in this way, but that’s just my opinion. Personally, I prefer the “handmaidens” program that allows young girls to hold the antidoron or distribute the Zapivka. I’m sure this can also be debated, as well as women holding the cloth at the Chalice and a few other things. Regardless, concerning women being tonsured as readers, I have only ever heard of this being done when the woman was committed to fulfilling the role of reader in her parish when blessed to do so. I don’t like this argument because it can be abused, but I’ll say that my having become a reader at age 10 or so (I had no idea what that meant) was probably less pastorally reasonable than the case of Dr. Paraskeve Tibbs. Maybe that’s a wreckless thing to say, but I’m pretty confident in this–given I did not read from the Apostle for another seven years. The quote from the tonsuring is accurate, but I don’t know if this “is going” anywhere. The quote has that word “Priesthood” in there, but the canons rarely stipulate the same things for the presbyter (or the deacon or the bishop) as they do for the reader, acolyte, subdeacon, or any other minor orders. The deacon is the one with a foot in the laity and the clergy, and we see this in his role within and without the Divine Liturgy. The subdeacon, apparently out of historical neccessity, received some of the Deacon’s duties and “privelages” (for lack of a better term… carrying the censer for a good reason, touching the Altar Table or Proskomede Table and anything on them with good purpose). The reader is supposed to read from Scripture everyday, and should read when called on and blessed by the celebrant. If a particular woman fulfills this role and is thus tonsured for it, does this really mean our Orthodox collegiate academics in this country have taken a step backward? I’m doubtful–maybe that’s just me.

    If the simple argument is that only those with the qualifications for the priesthood can be tonsured readers, even if you take away the age and education requirements currently in effect, that still eliminates vocations for those that have been called. And I’m not talking about women or those with openly sinful life choices in any respect.

    None of us want to fall into ecclesiological heresy here (women presbyters, ordained men getting married), but some of these liturgical items (and I could add some–I’ve seen readers blessed to serve as subdeacons fulfill roles only ordained subdeacons may fulfill, I’ve seen acolytes touch the Altar Table and items on it, I’ve seen priests walk through the Beautiful Gates for reasons fully outside the typikon, I’ve seen those below subdeacon use censers in the Liturgy, I’ve seen girls blessed by a priest to walk through the far south end of the Sanctuary and through the South door to reach the Nave from the office, and I’ve seen women blessed to vacuum the Altar) are, in truth, really not very interesting at all. They are case by case issues and should be addressed as such by those with the appropriate responsibility.

    I also wanted to mention that I agree with you about who the Church supports regarding abortion–I just wanted to speak to your other point. Nevertheless, let’s take the good from the Metropolitan’s statement. Thanks.

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      John Panos says:

      Thanks Pete, for the clarification. It’s all part of the slippery slope and the ‘foot in the door’ approach that is deliberately and carefully changing what the pew sitters perceive as acceptable.

      My point is simply that if Met. Methodius really is concerned about the frogs in the tub, maybe he should actually help out by turning on the cold water.

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    George Patsourakos says:

    Most Orthodox Christians — as well as worshipers of all other faiths in our society — now prefer to enjoy material possessions much more than making any time or effort to revere or live by the Body of Christ. Unfortunately, it is very unlikely that this trend — which is becoming stronger, not weaker in our society each year — will be reversed in our lifetime, as it is being solidified and will last for at least another century.

    The insatiable desire to possess a huge new home — and at least one more home at a resort — is just one example of the “values” that our society now “worships.”

    Other examples include a brand new SUV or other motor vehicle, an annual trip to a foreign country or two, expensive jewelry and clothing, etc.

    In short, for the past 50 years, people in our society have become — for the most part — very selfish and materialistic. They claim that they don’t have time to go to church or to pray. The “me” generation that began some 35 years ago is alive and well — and growing by leaps and bounds every year.

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    John Panos says:

    I applaud Met. Methodius’ letter, but simply asking “why?” when there are host of symptoms regularly advanced in GOA parishes is kind of disingenuous to me. Yes, we have seen the rise of a selfish generation, but part of that is because they have attended worship for years, and not once understood a word of it, or once heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s an easy fix. Wringing our hands as defeated fatalists is just as disingenuous.

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    Isaac Crabtree says:

    This is great to hear from a Greek Bishop like this. I hope, though, that he can help to create some kind of “counterculture” within his flock that is zealous for living a holy life.

    Orthodoxy will fail in America. Period.

    What? How can I say this?

    Because it always fails when the “real thing”– spiritual life, loyalty to the Tradition, living the divine Gospel Commandments, and a wise application of the holy canons– is not practiced and taught to the people of God. The “Ephraimite” monasteries are flourishing, ROCOR’s got an amazing English-speaking men’s monastery on the East Coast, and many Old Calendarist groups also continue to gain members. Why? Because they have something more to offer than Gyro sales and GOYA Sundays (or Halupki sales and Fr. Alexander Schmemann books, as the case may be). Many members of the GOA are open freemasons, and most if not all now come to Communion every week with no confession, no preparation, no education. And it’s not their fault.

    “My people perish for lack of knowledge.” (Hosea 4:6)

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    Geo Michalopulos says:

    As distressed as I am by all the info given by John et al, I still want to commend HE for taking this stand. I am gratified when any Orthodox bishop takes a moral stand.

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    This is a bold call and one that we should hear more often:

    Sunday is no longer the day that we worship Almighty God and then sit at our dinner table to enjoy fellowship. Rarely do we read the Bible. Prayers are no longer offered in our schools. The Ten Commandments have been removed from our civil courts. Lifestyles previously kept in the closet are now championed as reputable and worthy of emulation. The other day while driving to a liturgical service, a fellow priest pointed to a decal placed prominently on the bumper of the car in front of us. It was the symbol of a new atheist group in America.

    The admonition of Saint Paul addressed to the Ephesians should echo in our hearts, “no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.” (Eph.4:17) We need to re evaluate our lives and ask ourselves how the way we live differs from the way others live who have no faith. Do we differ as Orthodox Christians from our secular and oftentimes atheist neighbors? How do we live our Orthodox Faith?

    And, despite the problems discussed here, I applaud Met. Methodios for making it. The deeper assumption informing his statement is true and Isaac Crabtree above articulated it well. It’s a warning against trying to meld the Church into the dominant culture, which, as the liberal Episcopalians and other mainstream organizations have shown, turns the Church into a coffin. The salt has lost its savor and becomes worthless, and is thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.

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    alexis says:

    Amen to the beautiful traditions and the steadfast practices of obedient Orthodox followers throughout the centuries. Nothing needs to be changed within the Church other than speaking out more frequently against the hedonism of this sad and depraved narcissistic culture. I commend His Eminence Metropolitan Methodius for his “frog-in-the-boling-water” analogy. How absolutely true! Bravo to Deacon Brian Patrick Mitchell for his insightful and stonewall adherence to Holy Scriptures and the time-tested practices of the One Holy Orthodox Catholic Church, a church that has survived the relentless onslaught of muslims, communism, feminism, etc. Now… what are we going to do about it?! What is the action plan?! What’s THE MISSION?!

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