Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Obese Clergy- The Elephant In The Room-TWO

In the recent JTO post, Obese Clergy- The Elephant In The Room, I raised the question: "Why are there so many obese clergy?" I stated that I was at a loss and asked the JTO readers to write the article for me in the comment section. There were three takers. Here is what we wrote:

Anonymous 9:51 AM
I think there are two important factors that contribute. First is the level of physical activity. Our clergy is typically not doing physically demanding work and their schedules may not allow time for an exercise program. second is the social aspect - many parishioners love their priest and express that love through food. Whether it's inviting them to dinner, scheduling meetings over lunch or baking their favorite dessert for coffee hour after Liturgy, it's how many show their appreciation. Let's face it, baklava is not a weight loss food. So even with regular fasting, I can see where it's hard to stay thin. And should clergy worry too much about their appearance? Is that not vanity?

Of course, I would rather our clergy not be obese because I pray for their health and obesity is such a terrible factor in so many health problems.

Guess that doesn't help much.


I agree, Dan.

There is no elephant in the room. I've never met a layperson who was scandalized by a fat priest. Fat priests will have to answer for their sins, just like loquacious priests will have to answer for theirs, and priests with tempers will have to answer for theirs. But there is no elephant in the room. Since we are writing the article in the comments section, I propose the article go like this:

Some people get upset when they see fat priests.

They should focus on their own sins, and move along.

Gluttony is a sin, indeed, but so is lust, anger, malice, pride, jealousy, and the rest.

Sinners need our prayers.

How sad that some priests develop diabetes or eating problems as a result of the stress of they are under.

Let's pray for each other.

Anonymous 8:54 PM
This is something I have reflected on and while I agree that we must first examine ourselves, I think there is something to this question. The truly pious among us want very little from the world and seek few, if any, of it's comforts. I think the Church and sadly, Her Clergy, have focused more on administration and their personal subsistence, rather than worship (in Spirit and in Truth, not in performance). This lack of focus on the purpose of the Church has led to excesses in the world manifested in very physical ways, gluttony and self-indulgences being two of them. I also think that rather than excuse our weaknesses, we should strive to encourage one another to be strengthened in our spiritual battles, that we might all move closer to God. - Marina

Here is what I would add to the article:

Obesity is not necessarily a sign of intentional sin in one's life. It is not necessarily a result of gluttony or of lack of self-control. More often than not, it is a sign of ignorance. My own Bishop, after reading the post and seeing the question raised, commented that clergy fast from meat and substitute starches, such as macaroni and cheese while fasting. My Bishop was on target. Obesity is a result of WHAT we eat. Is it a good spiritual exercise, then,  to fast from certain foods while eating other foods that are killing us?

As we have aged, my wife and I, like many others, found our our weight going up and our health going down. We determined to find out how we could be better stewards of the bodies that we were given- the bodies with which we serve our Lord and His Holy Church. We discovered that we are not destined to have overweight, diseased-ridden bodies the older we get. We decided to do something about it. We are still in process, but the answer we discovered is simple... 

A plant-based diet. No grains. No dairy. No meat. No refined or processed foods. Eat organic plants void of toxins and modifications. 

We do not go hungry and we get all the nutrients our bodies need.

A simple answer, yes, but the decision and understanding as to what one should eat and how one can live this lifestyle is the knowledge that is lacking. I am not content to just look to my own welfare while I see my fellow clergy dying for lack of knowledge. I would much rather weather the consternation of some who are offended that such a question would even be raised, than to keep to myself the knowledge of how to bring our bodies and minds to health, allowing us to serve our Lord longer and better. 

A plant-based diet can cure diabetes. A plant based diet can cure cancer. A plant based diet can prevent all myriads of diseases. I have posted a video here of the most profound information that will revolutionize your life... if you will do it. Forks over Knives is a documentary that is changing the lives of millions. The DVD is for sale but can be found on Netflix and other forums for free. The website is You can also download it on You Tube for $4.

If you are a clergy (or not) and suffer from disease and obesity, and know of others who suffer the same, take the time to gain the knowledge and share it with others. So, what is the elephant in the room? The elephant is not the obese clergy themselves, but, rather, the elephant is the knowledge that is so readily available to all.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Stand Fast With One Spirit, One Mind, Striving Together For The Faith Of The Gospel

"Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God. For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;...

If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others." Philippians

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Worse Of All Heresies

"Whom did you understand me as calling heretics? Those that deny the Son of God? Those that blaspheme the Holy Spirit and say that He is not God? Those that say the Father is greater than the Son? Those that confuse the Trinity into a monad or those who divide the God into three gods? Or, those who say Christ is the Son of God, but do not believe that He assumed flesh from a woman? Those who say the Father is without beginning and the Son as having a beginning and as being a creature...?

Perish the thought! I am not referring to any of these ungodly and godless persons that appeared as darkness but were overcome by the Holy Fathers who shined forth. The grace of the Holy Spirit shined through them and dissipated the darkness of those heresies, and to this day their inspired writings shine more brightly than the rays of the sun so that no one dares to speak against them.

Indeed those who observe the concordances of their Father and God are said to be deceived by demons. They blaspheme against the Holy Spirit that operates in them as at one time the Jews did to the Son of God. They saw demons being cast out by Christ by Christ and they blasphemed against His Holy Spirit, and those insolent persons shamelessly said, He cast out demons in the name of Beelzebul, prince of demons.

A heresy is to deviate from one of the established dogmas concerning our true faith, but to say that they who love God, are not sound, neither are the baptized sons of God and gods granted the privilege of receiving the Holy Spirit nor of possessing the Spirit in vision, in knowledge and in experience - such contenders who deny these things subvert the entire dispensation of God and of our Savior Jesus Christ... This is the worse heresy among all the heretics!

But I call heretics also those who say that in our own day and in our midst there is none who is able to observe the precepts of the Gospel and to become as were the holy Fathers. To begin with, the most reliable and practical consideration of all is the fact that faith is demonstrated by means of works in becoming illuminated and receiving the Holy Spirit and through the Holy Sprint beholding the Son together with the Father.

Those who contend that this is impossible are guilty of not simply one particular heresy, but of all heresies, and if one can say, exceeding and surpassing them all in ungodliness and excessiveness of blasphemy... Those who state such things, close heaven which Christ opened to us; and they obstruct the ascent to Him which He Himself initiated. Standing at the gates of heaven, bending down, seen of believers and declaring through the Gospel, He invites: Come unto me, all ye who labor and are heavy burdened and I will give you rest, while the antitheoi (God-opposing ones), or rather, the anti-christs, cry out, This is impossible! Impossible!" Saint Symeon The New Theologian

For To Me To Live Is Christ, And To Die Is Gain

But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defense of the gospel. What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretense, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. Philippians 1: 12-20

Some preach Christ even of envy and strife, and some of good will. And what this means is worthy of inquiry. Paul was under restraint, and many of the unbelievers wanted to stir up more vehemently the persecution from the emperor's wrath. This might be increased at the spread of the Gospel, and all his anger might fall on the head of Paul... Some of them through envy, that is envying my reputation and constancy, and from desire of my destruction and from the spirit of strife, work with me; or else from the expectation that they will draw to themselves some of my glory. And some of good will, that is, without hypocrisy, with all earnestness... O cruelty! O devilish instigation! They saw him in bonds and cast into prison and still they envied him... What does that I'm set for the defense of the Gospel mean? It is, They are preparing for the account which I must give to God, and assisting me... so my defense may be easy; for if many are found who have been instructed and have believed, my defense will be easy. So it is possible to do a good work from a motive that is not good. And not only is there no reward in store for such an action, but punishment. St. John Chrysostom. Homily  II on Philippians 1 

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Of Scripture, Tradition, And The Saints

"Wherefore I exhort and entreat you all, disregard what this man and that man thinks about these things, and inquire all these things from the scriptures." St. John Chrysostom. 

One will notice that, although the title is, Of Scripture, Tradition And The Saints, the first quote to appear is that of a saint. Why? Because the quote emphasizes the purpose of this truth, that the writings of the saints are worthy only in that they lead us to the truth found in Scripture and Tradition. We know that the truth of the Faith, and the practice of the living out of our faith, is found in Scripture and Tradition. We know what is Scripture, but what is Tradition?

"The roots and the foundations of this sacred tradition can be found in the Scriptures. For it is only in the Scriptures that we can see and live the presence of the three Persons of the Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit...Theologians call this teaching of the Scriptures "the Apostolic Tradition." It encompasses what the Apostles lived, saw, witnessed and later recorded in the books of the new Testament." (1)

The writings of the saints throughout the years has opened to us windows of the Faith, allowing us to see examples of how one might endeavor to live out righteous lives, and abide in the truth as found in Scripture and Tradition. To emulate their lives, and glean from their words, is a vital part of the Orthodox ethos. Although these writings speak of truth and doctrines of the Faith, the saints are not the plumb-line of our Faith. Although this may be obvious to most, there is a tendency in some to elevate the saints over Scripture and Tradition. This is illustrated in comments found on some Orthodox Blogs. One blog's comment highlights a glaring imbalance when it states,  "Everything necessary can be found in the lives of the saints."  While it is true that necessary things can be found in the lives of the saints, it is an overstatement to say "everything" necessary. Everything necessary is found in Scripture and Tradition.  This might seem to be a parsing of words except for the fact that some have a propensity to glean their doctrine and practice via their preferred saint. Also found on a blog is this statement, "Let (preferred saint) be your guide." Again, though the writings of saints can be good guidance, the better way is to say, "Let Scripture and Tradition be your guide."  Another comment found on an Orthodox blog gives credit where credit is not due, "[Preferred saint] reminds us that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church." Although that saint may have said this, he was quoting the words of Christ. Why not just say, "Christ told us that the gates of hell would not prevail against us"? Are we to go through a second party for the truth?

I have seen Orthodox Bloggers who argue a point of doctrine via, not the Scriptures and Tradition, but via the experiences of particular saints. Using this flawed method, one could devise an entire emphasis for the Christian life, that, though it may be Orthodox, is not the full Orthodox Faith. Paul the Apostle saw this propensity and warned us against it.  "For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?"

The saints would reel over the idea that anyone would place their words, thoughts, experiences over those of the Lord, whom they lived and died to serve and preach. They would be baffled that anyone would look to them as the source of a everything necessary, rather than the Scripture and Tradition of the One, holy, catholic, and apostolic church, For it is "the church of the living God" ..that is... "the pillar and ground of the truth."

1. George Bebis, Ph.D. Tradition in the Orthodox Church

Friday, October 03, 2014

Six Things You Might Want to Avoid

There are six things that the LORD strongly dislikes, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.—Proverbs 6:16–19

Give No Offence In Any Thing

2 Corinthians 6:1-10

We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.

2 (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)

3 Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed:

4 But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,

5 In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings;

6 By pureness, by knowledge, by long suffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned,

7 By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,

8 By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true;

9 As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed;

10 As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.