Orthodox Mummy

 

My dear brother, Fr. Seraphim, Abbot of the Holy Cross Monastery, said in a video, From the Little Mountain,  that when a man comes to the monastery, he soon has a very sobering experience. Now as he enters into a deeper life of prayer, he begins to see the flaws in his personality and life. Its like coming out of a dark closet. In the dark, you feel that your appearance is acceptable, but when you begin to open the door and the light pours in, you find that your clothes are dirty and you are covered with sores.   (www.youtube.com/watch?v=ooZiPrSm8sI)

I have opened my door very slowly. I’ve been Orthodox for over 20 years but I have not stepped out into the full light. There has been enough light that I find that like Lazarus, I am dressed in grave clothes.  I think that makes me an Orthodox mummy.

Jesus commanded that the grave clothes be taken off of Lazarus, and that means that mine are to be removed as well.  In other words, salvation begins with the voice of the Shepherd calling me to life, but then there must be an undressing. As St Paul said, we must put off the “old man” with all of his dirty garments so that we can put on Christ. Yet, I cannot effectively put on Christ, until I take off my grave clothes. My mom use to always chide us that we were never allowed to put clean clothes over a dirty body!

 I heard the voice calling me from the grave and I have come slowly into the light. However,  I’ve come like a mummy bound by my clothing and with a napkin covering my face.  I hear that voice again –“Remove those things”- and this removal is taking a long time. How do I undress? The main way is by confession, but I also take off my rags as I encounter the voice of the Shepherd in the Scriptures. This is what theosis is (salvation in Orthodoxy): taking off and putting on. You can’t do one without the other. You can’t put good garments over filthy rags and you cannot simply take off the rags and the be like the king who had no clothes. (Remember the party guest who did not have on the appropriate clothing. The King threw him out!)

I take comfort in the fact that Lazarus had friends and family to help undress him. I look to my Orthodox brothers and sisters to help me.

The grave clothing that binds me so tightly is my way of thinking. I find that while my heart yearns for the Lord, I have a fleshly mind. It is here that the battle is most fierce. “As a man thinks, so is he.”  Since I have a carnal mind, so am I!

Its been 20 years, and I’m still unwrapping myself. Thank God, he is patient, long-suffering and merciful!

 

 

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