Post date: Nov 3, 2013 10:09:22 PM
Peace be with you all. The priest says this at some of the few times when he is turned around, facing the congregation. “Peace be with you” are also the words with which Christ greeted His disciples following the Resurrection. We also remember that, in the Gospel according to St. John, one of the last things that Jesus did prior to His passion was to say, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world gives, give I unto you” (Jn. 14:27). The theme of peace occurs often in the writings of St. Paul and in the writings and sayings of saints through history. A famous example of more recent times, is St. Seraphim of Sarov saying that we should “acquire a spirit of peace and a thousand souls around you shall be saved.”
It seems clear that peace is an important element of the Christian life. However, I wonder sometimes if, in our own lives, we give it the importance it deserves. In a recent speech, Metropolitan Methodios of Boston said that, in America, it is easy to become cafeteria Christians, picking and choosing what parts of the faith we pay attention to. While that is not an Orthodox approach to the faith, particularly when choices are actively made, I think it is easy for some choosing to happen unconsciously. We get carried along with the things we have on our to-do lists, we become used to certain assumptions about how life should be lived that we do not question them, and the peace that should be part of our lives becomes a distant memory.
A friend of mine, Fr. Barnabas Powell, has a website called Orthodox on Purpose (orthodoxonpurpose.com), where he writes about the challenges of being Orthodox. He chose that title for the site because to be Orthodox today requires purpose. We need to think about our faith and we need to act on our faith and we need to that at all times. We need to seek God’s peace through prayer, personal and communal, and through the study of Scripture and the lives and writings of the saints. Perhaps somewhere, sometime, it was possible to be peaceful by being infused with the spirit of Orthodoxy that permeated life. That is not our case in twenty-first century America. It seems counterintuitive, but we need to work purposefully in order to be Orthodox, in order to be at peace. May our Lord guide us in this process.
With love in Christ,