“We can only talk about Spiritual Life based on our own Experience”

Each day this week, we will publish a different response to the question posed to Russian priests: How should we preach Christ in modern society? Enjoy!

by Priest Sergei Begiyan

The most eloquent preaching is performed through deeds. These are not necessarily large-scale acts of charity. It is when you, obeying the commandment, hold your tongue or, to the contrary, say the word of truth while all the others are silent for fear; when you behave humbly and do not show off, be conceited, or hypocritically parade your faith or fasting—then you have already won by your good disposition. Faith cannot be concealed; and then, when it comes to light that such-and-such a person—upright, fair, reliable, and modest—is an Orthodox Christian, then it has a far greater effect than any shallow daily preaching and ostentatious ritualism.

The problem with modern preachers is that not all of them speak at the right time. Sometimes it would be more appropriate to wait for inspiration from the Holy Spirit before writing and publishing a couple of lines. Since today sermons are available to everyone, many preachers have been infected with verbosity, their instructions are empty and superficial, and the truths that they want to convey to readers have not been “hardened” in the “furnace” of their own spiritual experience. Readers immediately feel this artificial, bookish theology, often expressed in a florid style, and this produces rejection in them.

So, I believe we should follow several rules. Firstly, we can only talk about spiritual life based on our own experience. Secondly, we should write on abstract historical and theological subjects only if they really concern us and, as we know, concern others, and write only about the things we have studied thoroughly and do it in a balanced manner, without trying to present our own points of views as being those of the Church. By the way, this is exactly what journalism teaches us to do—to consider one or another question from all sides. And, lastly, we should write only when we simply cannot be silent anymore, otherwise 

the stones would immediately cry (Lk. 19:40).

About Fr. John A. Peck

Director of the Preachers Institute, priest in the Orthodox Church in America, award-winning graphic designer and media consultant, and non-profit administrator.
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