This documentary explains how Orthodoxy studies the world in order to understand and speak to it, but witnesses to it by remaining true to itself. Abbot Tryphon makes the case for clerics wearing recognizable clerical garb because it allows them to image Christ to others (even if the best cultural referent people have is “wizard”!). While this is a divisive issue within Orthodoxy, the logic he describes works for both the collar and the cassock. There may well be other reasons to prefer the cassock over the collar (or наборот), but Lord have mercy … if you are an Orthodox clergyman wear something that allows people to know to recognize you as such! This world needs priests – and they need to be able to recognize them as such (I wish it could go without saying that how we act is critical, as well)!
– Fr. Anthony Perkins
Men in Black
Abbot Tryphon is the abbot of All Merciful Savior Monastery on Vashon Island, WA. He blogs at The Morning Offering and podcasts at The Morning Offering.
Julian Kollias says
That’s right, we do need priests–the Royal Priesthood, which is the laity.
The Royal Priesthood are the everyday people who study, work, struggle within their marriages or as is very common now, struggle to find someone to marry (a growing problem largely ignored by the leadership of the Church), have hopes and dreams and are simply trying to do their best. When they do come to their local parish, they hope to be able to find a slice of peace in a chaotic world. We need more of the royal priesthood to have ministries to help the poor, the sick, the sorrowful and each other–to reach out to others in their communities. Unfortunately, we have somehow concluded that only priests have the power to do anything, as if they carry some kind of special magic because they wear a stole. Sorry, but as one Holy Father put it plainly, all have the dignity of the priesthood/episcopacy, not all have the grace.
We don’t need more priests. We need our already existing priests and bishops to support their communities and strengthen the flocks they tend to forget about. They need to encourage the laity in all kinds of ways. We could learn a few things from our western counterparts; you don’t need to be a priest to organize a charity event or to knock on neighbors doors to see if they need anything.
If we have the fullness of the faith, as many Orthodox constantly brag, maybe we need to act like it.
Fr. Anthony Perkins says
This is a bit tangental to the point of the article, but I agree with you. As a director of vocations, I work to encourage laity to step up and get to work. It is also true that many priests are reluctant (we can talk about why later) to disrupt the priest-and-board-centric! cultures of our parishes in favor of a more decentralized ministry-based model. I want you to know that yours is not a voice in the wilderness! Our hierarchs recognize the need for this sort both spiritual and logistical reasons (e.g. http://www.uocofusa.org/news_141104_1.html ; don’t be misled by the word “Stewardship”! It isn’t about money – it’s about discipleship and ministry). You seem to have a passion about this – let me know if you would like to work something up for Good Guys Wear Black.
Father Deacon John Holoduek says
Jullian’s comment has many good points, yet it isn’t really to the subject.
I definitely wear clerics’ most of the time, I am generally in black, and frequently in my cassocks. IT IS A VERY IMPORTANT WITNESS TO THIS WORLD, and it is generally well-received. I can’t count how many times ministry opportunities have arisen because of my deposition. And, in turn, even when not in clerical garb, I am still frequently identified as a Cleric (even on vacation in foreign countries)! I am not embarrassed for who I am, and Believers, non-believers, and those of other Faiths and Practices have generally responded well to me. The world needs to identify US, since, as I know, the world is hungry for Faith…is searching for matters of the Spirit…and it doesn’t clearly know where to turn! BRAVO, ABBOT! And, BRAVO GGWB! This was a tremendous validation, as well as a wonderful lesson!
Fr. Deacon John,
I’m exceedingly happy for you that you feel accomplished in wearing black and being a witness.
Maybe we could all work on a separate piece detailing the subject I did elaborate on. Looking forward to hearing from you in your thoughts on this. Why don’t we come together and help make a difference.
Dear Fr. Anthony,
My apologies for the late reply. I would be happy to discuss more with you, absolutely. Please let me know what way is best to reach you.
Donad Kelpinski, Reader says
A very important message! And… YES! All Orthodox must be Christ to the everyday/ whole world! Our priest walks about in the city of Los Angeles as he goes about his work as a teacher or when he is doing his errands. Strange as it may seem, the people are of all walks of life respect him! Many ask him questions and end up coming as visitors to our small store front Church! We need to find another place to set up our Church because many people are joining!
Julian Kollias says
That’s what I’m talking about, Donald. I’m so glad to hear it!
Daria Kyweluk says
A word about “stewardship”. The two churches I attend, one a Greek Orthodox, the other Ukrainian Catholic equate stewardship with financial support. That is the bottom line and today, when I hear the word “stewardship” I cringe.
Fr. Anthony Perkins says
Alas, another wonderful word has lost part of its use (it is the same with “charity”)!
Perhaps we should stick to the word “ministry”?
I tried to reach you by email. Please follow up with me. I apologize for such a delay.