Word Magazine February 1964 Page 9-10
THE CHALLENGE OF CHANGES
By Very Rev. Father Michael Baroudy, Pastor Emeritus,
The twentieth century will probably go down in history as a period of progress, scientific discoveries and drastic changes in every phase of our lives. The tenure and complexion of our world is being transformed though we might not be altogether aware of what is actually taking place. We are in the midst of a revolutionary trend which is affecting our whole scheme of living. We are slowly, but surely being carried on a tidal wave which is pulling us away from our traditional moorings. The spirit of the time is of such character that a person, who does not relish its mood and partakes of its flavor and shares of its spirit, is not considered desirable. He is out of step with the time having become archaic, outmoded and old-fashioned, if not an old fogey. Everything and everyone seems to be changing fast. There are experts in every field of endeavor who are ever devising means and methods of producing something new without any regard to the cost involved.
The Church of Jesus Christ finds itself hard to keep step with the present-day demands. We are so modern, you see, that the church is unable to keep up with the trend of the times. What with the movie, the radio, the television, the automobile and the hundreds of other diversions which takes the average person away from the house of God and makes him neglect his sacred duties toward his Maker. There is no harm in using these instruments at a time when they don’t conflict with our primary duties to life’s higher values. There is no harm in using them as long as we are not mastered by them. Yes, the challenges of changes are so colossal that a person whether a
,.~ priest or a parent feels called upon to devise means and methods of keeping himself and those with whose care he or she is entrusted, from going to pieces, from breaking up and so losing out completely.
While it is a pleasure to live in this modern age and enjoy its marvelous inventions it is rather difficult to maintain your balance, morally speaking, because of the strong pull of worldly influences, tugging at you always to throw you off your track. Be it ever remembered in this connection that living a life at its best has always been difficult. This is particularly true of the time in which we live. I readily agree with anyone who tells me that the time is unpredictable, and that drastic changes are occurring daily. But these, may I remind us, are due to be changed, shaken and removed. But there are things which no one dares to molest or change. There are realities which are as enduring and as permanent as the mountains, and woe to anyone who dares to tamper with them. These realities are invisible; you can’t see them with your physical eyes, but you can feel their power in your life if you but be willing to make the experiment.
There are spiritual laws implanted in the very heart of this universe which if you obey them you feel amply and abundantly rewarded. But if you break them you will feel miserable within. Why? They are instituted by God whose nature and attributes are made known to us by those whose lives are tuned to the Divine will and who have spoken to us of their own experience. They were real to the men of God throughout all history; they found them to be sound, real and enjoyable.
In the nineteenth Psalm we come across some of these spiritual laws recorded by a man who seems to have relished the experience of having tested, tried and proved them and so set them forth for our consideration. Said he, “The law of the Lord is perfect converting the soul, the
testimony of the Lord is sure making wise the simple.”
Thus in these words we are told how these laws work, and what is their function. He tells us that these laws will effect changes not material, not external, but changes on the inside of a person, they convert the soul, and make a person wise where he is simple.
The Sacred Writer could truly vouch that God’s laws are perfect because they had made their impact upon his soul; they changed his inner vision and made him wise unto salvation. His world was undergoing a change, but he was not concerned with that as he was with the change that occurred within him. Whoever will read the nineteenth Psalm will discover that it is a song of victory, of triumph, of hilarity and utter sincerity. No one could actually give such a testimony without being under the spell of the eternal spirit. Not only are these laws right, pure, righteous and sure but they are “more to be desired than gold, yea, than much fine gold, sweeter also than honey and the honey comb.”
We call ourselves Orthodox, rightly believing, a people proud of our heritage and of our faith. We boast that we are so set in our ways that we are not subject to any change, not even a change for the better. Well, every person should be proud of his heritage and of the principles and traditions that are ours. But what about some of the habits, behaviors and practices which are unorthodox? What about the example we are setting for our children to whom we are responsible to raise in the fear and the admonition of the Lord? What kind of a future are we going to have if we are to continue our willful, proud and wrong demeanor? We should be careful about the habits we are indulging in which will eventually occasion material as well as spiritual losses. Habits which we know in our souls are wrong but we are not willing to cast aside. What kind of reputation are we developing — are we proud or are we actually ashamed?
It pays to be good: it pays not in material coins but in coins that are godly. It is better to be good than to be evil. Better to be obedient than to be rebellious, to be considerate and kind rather than being harsh, better to love than to hate.
The conclusion of the whole matter is the fact that pride, rebellion and presumption are traits that we should be careful to rid ourselves of. “Who can understand his errors?” asks the man of God, then follows out with this prayer. “Cleanse thou me from secret faults, keep me from presumptuous sins, let them not have dominion over me, then shall I be upright and shall be innocent from the great transgression.” Secret faults and presumptuous sins are those habits which we contracted and which, while they are as harmful as deadly poison, we persist in saying there is no harm in them. The sin of pride is the root principle of all, and the deadliest of all sins. It is to presume that one’s conduct is right when he knows in his soul it is wrong.
We realize however that it doesn’t matter what changes may occur in this material world of ours, how different modes of living may become, and what complexities of life we may encounter, one thing is absolutely and unequivocally certain, that God remains faithful, His mercy abides forever and that He ever watches over His flock. It matters not in what part of the world they are.
May the prayer of the Psalmist find lodgment in every heart. “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord my strength and my redeemer.”