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:: Friday, July 02, 2004 ::

Independent Laborers: Freedom and Obedience

"One things is principles, which remain the same; but it is human nature to attach to these principles certain purely idealistic preconceptions about persons, and this is what can lead to shipwreck."

"This is above all true of bishops, the leaders of the Church. In our days of general decline in the Church, one should not expect too much of them. While giving them all due honor, respect, and obedience, one must realistically acknowledge that (save in rare cases) they are not in a position to serve as personal guides, least of all to converts."

"[St. John Maximovitch] made it a point precisely NOT to accept disciples, but rather to inspire and encourage independent labors within the Church, under the conditions of growth and mutual counsel within the Orthodox tradition."
From "Father Seraphim Rose: His Life and Works" page 297 (emphasis his).

With those last 12 words, Fr. Seraphim Rose brilliantly completes a paradox of vision and carefully nuances something I've always believed: We, as laity, must always choose what we do and how we are to live--and that includes, paradoxically, the obediences of the spiritual life.

Once we let the spiritual father or the bishop "tell us what to do" without our conscious, informed, and properly directed will being fully engaged, then the dynamism of the Church's way of life does in fact become simply "rules" and "obligations" that will result in cold-hearted phariseeism, legalism, and spiritual death.

Fr. Theodore noted in his 6/13 homily, if we find ourselves living the Orthodox life out of a sense of legalism or guilt we will confuse the means for the end. How often do we see this in our lives?

Now, as I carefully noted before, the critical place of free will in our spiritual life does *not* cheapen, neglect, or otherwise reduce the importance of the spiritual father. In fact, without obedience, accountability and community, there is no true freedom at all. Freedom is freedom for, not simply freedom from.

There is a world of difference between obedience *for its own sake* and obedience that leads to and provides the foundation for freedom in love.

:: Karl :: 8:55:00 AM [Link] ::

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