Going Against the Current Towards Christ
Fr. Hector Firoglanis
At a Goya meeting last month, we had a panel discussion with five college students from the local "Orthodox Christian Fellowship" of Millersville University and F&M college. One of the college students was asked to summarize the challenge of living one's Orthodox Faith in a college setting. The student answered very wisely that the main thing is to not adapt to your environment, but to make others adapt to you.
Of course, the goal is not to make others conform to us, but to Christ. As St. Paul said, "Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (1Cor. 11:1). It is only when we conform to Christ that we keep our souls alive and strengthened to swim against the flow of modernity and secularism towards our goal of theosis — or becoming like God.
St. Philaret of Moscow equates this struggle with a fish in the water: "A fish that is alive swims against the flow of water. One that is dead floats down with the water. A true Christian goes against the current of sinful age. A false one is swept away by its swiftness."
During the Advent period, how do we swim against the flow of an increasingly commercialized "Holiday" Season so that we are not swept away by its swiftness? The temptation is to have our thoughts constantly revolve around ourselves... When will I get my Christmas shopping done? When will I get the tree and decorate the house? When will I send out my Christmas cards? There is nothing wrong with these things in and of themselves, unless they distract us from "the one thing that is needful"... which is Christ.
In the Gospel of Matthew (chapter 6) our Lord Jesus Christ offers us the three pillars of the spiritual life to keep our focus on Him during this busy season: almsgiving, prayer, and fasting. With these three pillars as our anchor, may we avoid being swept away by the busyness of our surroundings, but continue to swim upstream along the holy path of theosis and union with our Incarnate Savior.
"God became man, so that we might become like God."