The Dark Side Revisited

An article written for clarification

My article titled, “The Dark Side”, elicited numerous critical responses.  I therefore asked a number of trusted priest friends for their feedback. One priest had his matushka read it, and her response made me realize the necessity of my revisiting the topic, that I might clarify my thoughts.

There is nothing in the article that I did not mean, but it has become obvious after hearing some of the feedback, that there were some readers who thought I was suggesting the Christian should take blame for all the evil that can assault one within the Church. The ugly truth is that there are countless individuals who have suffered serious abuse at the hands of church leaders. Some of this abuse has taken the form of heavy handed verbal abuse, whereby the parishioner (or priest) has been subjected to condescending, verbal attacks, as though they were a lowly servant residing in a Medieval Fiefdom. In extreme cases, there are those who have been subjected to various forms of sexual abuse.

Many of us who have suffered traumatic abuse as children, are far more likely to take such abuse as adults, thinking we somehow deserve such treatment, or that we have unknowingly brought it upon ourselves, and that it is therefore our fault. As a child, I was subjected to bullying by some of my classmates, because my dyslexia made me appear different and somehow beneath my playmates. Thinking me as somehow stupid, these children felt permission to treat me as lesser then themselves. Having other children laugh at me in the classroom because I couldn’t spell a simple word, or answer the teacher’s question correctly, left me feeling like I was worth nothing. Being on high school and college debate teams ultimately provided me with the skills I needed to make it in the academic world. Yet, for many years I still suffered a lack of self-esteme, and even today sometimes find myself feeling like I deserve ill treatment at the hands of those who have authority over me.

The sad truth is that many come into the Church after having suffered forms of abuse as children. And, whether it be the extreme abuse of having had a family member, or someone with authority over them, such as a teacher, coach, or even a clergyman, abuse them, the results of this past abuse can plague them for a life-time. For such people, the desire to be obedient children of the Church should in no way be license for bishops or priests to continue the abuse that should have ended the moment the person entered into the life of the Church, which is suppose to be the Hospital of the Soul, and the very place where one is safe to progress in the spiritual life.

When I suggested in my previous article that we must all admit that we ourselves harbor the dark side, and that our own sin and fallen nature are responsible for the dark side of the Church, I in no way meant to suggest that those who have suffer abuse are responsible for the abuse themselves, and should simply continue taking abuse from others. Victimized people should not blame themselves for the abuse they’ve suffered at the hands of others, even if the abuser be their bishop or priest. To suggest they deserve such treatment would be the worst cruelty to inflict upon an injured soul, for such an approach to the Dark Side would be lacking the central image of the Church as being the Dwelling Place for the Compassionate and Loving God Who has been revealed in the Person of Jesus Christ.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Monday December 4, 2017 / November 21, 2017
27th Week after Pentecost. Tone one.
Nativity (St. Philip’s Fast). Fish Allowed

The Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple.
Venerable Columbanus of Bobbio, abbot and founder of Luxeuil Abbey (Gaul) (615) (Celtic & British).
New Martyrs Priest Alexander Khotovitsky of New York (1937), and Priest Alexis Benemansky of Tver (1937).
Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “Everlasting Hope”.

The Scripture Readings

Luke 1:39-49

Mary Visits Elizabeth

39 Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, 40 and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 45 Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.”

The Song of Mary

46 And Mary said:

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
48 For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
49 For He who is mighty has done great things for me,
And holy is His name.

Luke 1:56

56 And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her house.

Hebrews 9:1-7

The Earthly Sanctuary

9 Then indeed, even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary. 2 For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary; 3 and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All, 4 which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; 5 and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.

Limitations of the Earthly Service

6 Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services. 7 But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people’s sins committed in ignorance;

Luke 10:38-42

Mary and Martha Worship and Serve

38 Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”

41 And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. 42 But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 11:27-28

Keeping the Word

27 And it happened, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!”

28 But He said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

Abbot Tryphon

About Abbot Tryphon

The Very. Rev. Abbot Tryphon

All-Merciful Saviour Monastery on Vashon Island, Washington. The Monastery is under the omophore of The Most Rev. Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America, of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. Situated in the heart of a beautiful forest, surrounded by the Salish Sea, the monastery is reached by ferry from either Seattle, or Tacoma, Washington.

8 comments:

  1. Thank you for your words well said about such an important issue that needs to be addressed .
    Warm greetings in Christ
    Nicky harvey

  2. It takes a courageous individual to admit to himself or herself, as well those around him or her, that self-healing is the beginning of the salvific experience. May the Holy Trinity bless you and those around you.

  3. My son and I were talking about your recent article. We both agreed that people had missed your point. In the hypercritical age in which we live this happens so much. Your point was clear and never verged on Christians submitting themselves to abuse. Thank you so much for your writings, they mean so much to me. May the Lord bless your work.

  4. Sometime before meeting the Church, I came across the idea that the work of humanity’s Savior is to elevate the whole, and that none should be left behind. Concurrent with this is the understanding that all of us are responsible for the world being as it is, that war, for example is the fault and responsibility of us all, and that until we should cease to blame it on others it will always be with us.
    Now in the Church, one finds the Akathist for Those Who Have Fallen Asleep, and here again we see the necessity that whole be risen. For this, it seems, all of us must take responsibility.
    My personal experience, or rather, the experience provided me by God, is that accepting some measure of responsibility for life around me is a holisitic antidote to personal troubles. Not an insight one comes to easily, but necessary all the same.
    All of us have been blindly abused by others (and have likely done the same to others, to some measure or another), but we can’t let that abuse lead us to make worse those things that are good.

  5. So regarding the dark side, I think you are saying that we should not focus on the evil of our abusers, but rather on the evil that is within our control, the evil within our own hearts. Is that a fair restatement of your argument?

    It is still difficult to understand what you mean by “we are responsible for the evil within the Church.”

    Is it sort of a corollary to what St Seraphim said, “aquire a peaceful spirit and around you thousands will be saved,” that is, understood in a reverse sense, our evil influences others, even within the Church, just as our repentance does?

  6. Folks who know me, know that oftentimes I march to a somewhat different drummer than the majority out there. Having said that, this is what i gleaned from your original posting.

    If we do not focus on the shortcomings of others, but rather focus solely on our own shortcomings and sin, eventually, through the grace of God, we will be transformed to where we will only see the image of Christ in those around us.

    I thought it all pretty straightforward, but then again, my cadence varies from most.

    With love in Christ,
    Gideon

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