Archimandrite Demetrios Carellas, who served as chaplain at the Nativity of the Theotokos Monastery in Saxonburg, PA for twenty-one years, regularly sends spiritual reflections and spiritual wisdom from the Church Fathers to his flock. Fr. Demetrios shared one of his latest messages, concerning the recent conference on sex, gender, and sexuality that took place in Oxford.
My Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,
I beg your forgiveness for this interruption to the holy teachings of St. Ignaty, but I feel compelled to share my concerns with you about a recent international, “informal” Orthodox conference that took place August 16-19 in Oxford, England. It is being described as: “An international gathering of scholars, pastors, clinicians and other experts, at which contemporary issues of sex, gender and sexuality were discussed in relation to the Orthodox Church.”
Someone sent me this summary of that gathering:
Here is a comment made by one of the conference leaders, apparently directed at those of us who would disagree with this conference’s implied objective: "Predictably, the sectarians will insist that such meetings should not take place. They will question whether monastics and clerics who participate should be stripped of their positions." It saddens me, that this dear child of God seems to be isolating a portion of our common brothers and sisters—clergy, monastics and laity—who are simply struggling to incarnate the timeless and changeless Holy Tradition of Orthodoxy in the trenches of their daily lives. And in today’s society, where the traditional God-established family unit is being attacked on a number of fronts, that struggle is a most difficult one!
I believe that the primary concern, to those of us, whom the author feels are “sectarian” in our thinking, would be trying to understand why the attendees apparently feel that the Church’s teachings on such bedrock things as marriage, family and sexuality need to be revised. Also, I wonder what would the Holy Church Fathers, from any century, have to say about this conference.
Beloved sojourners in this fetid, temporal sea of life, St. John Chrysostom reminds us that anything that springs from our fallen, human reasoning is not true knowledge—in other words, knowledge that comes directly from God. That Divine knowledge is given by Him as revelation to someone whose heart is pure, or, at least, is struggling, together with God’s grace, to acquire that blessed purity. Furthermore, secular scholarship is not a requirement to have a pure heart. In fact, as was the case for Arius and Nestorios, it can be a detriment. How blessed we are that God gave His revelation of Truth into the hearts of our Church Fathers, and then they put it into words, and action, through their way of life, for us to incarnate within our own lives!
Hopefully, all Orthodox Christians, together with God’s grace, are struggling everyday to embrace the Patristic “phronema” (“mindset” is a weak description of its meaning), so that we will never compromise, change or water down His revealed truths, passed down to us through Apostolic Succession by our holy Church Fathers; so that we will all be together with Him in Paradise, rather than being in danger of stripping ourselves of our Divine birthright by choosing to allow our human reasoning to govern our words and actions in our spiritual life.
Is it possible these dear brothers and sisters in Christ are, unknowingly, being used by the “father of lies,” in his relentless efforts to bring destruction of the Church from within? The evil one, however, will fail; because “the gates of Hades shall not prevail against Her.” (cf. Mt. 16:18). May the conference attendees, and all of us, be blessed with tears of repentance, so that we all seek God’s grace to become both practitioners and defenders of the Patristic Orthodox “phronema”—given by God’s revelation to the pure hearts of our holy Church Fathers and confirmed by the blood of tens of millions of martyrs, both known and unknown!
Please forgive me, if my poor words have offended you; and pray for me!
Archimandrite Demetrios Carellas