The Church thrived in poor countries without a single institution, according to what the great Russian theologian Sergius Bulgakov said: “The Church is not an institution; She is life in the Holy Spirit”. As if he wanted to say that educational institutions and others do not necessarily make believers of people. It is well known that some of the avid atheists in the West did their studies at institutions run by monks. They say that in those institutions, there is a basic atmosphere of faith which might draw you to believe; this is true. And I know of some secular schools that also draw people to the faith. Recently,I have read somewhere that most of the Maronite priests of a certain Archdiocese have studied in public schools that did not offer any religious teaching.

I am afraid that the Church would feel that Her strength is in the institutions She has while Her power resides in Her holiness. During the Third Century in Jordan, The Church was called the Church of tents; that is, the members of the congregation lived in tents, the Bishopric was a tent and the Liturgy was celebrated in a tent; and there is no evidence that those who enjoyed the great Cathedrals had more piety than the Bedouin Christians. The Danish philosopher Kierkegard says: “No matter how high the walls of the monastery are, sin can still find a way to get in”. Solitude might help one in the spiritual life but not necessarily so for certain. The monks and priests and bishops might put you in a frame in which you remain and thus you do not progress spiritually. Spiritual life is not an insurance company; this life is poured on you from above and only from above. You might choose to be on fire with that life or you might remain frozen cold in your frame.

The big question you are in front of is where are your priorities and where do you expect healing to come from. You either live with the Lord and in Him and for Him and through Him or you have very little of the institutions. I have witnessed spiritual splendor in people who have been pastored by priests who have little education and I have witnessed spiritual lukewarmness in people who had a great spiritual guide. One of the poor parishes in my Archdiocese shows great compassion and care towards the needy among them. “O Man, all what there is but a ‘heart’”. And those of us on whom there is an anointing from the Holy One come from Churches that are not wealthy and bountiful but the Lord gives us the desire of our hearts.

Things in the Church run as if She does not believe that holiness in itself is effective and that there is a need for something to support Her. Everything indicates that the Church wants the language of the world and the ways of the world, and that She considers Herself as an alternative for the State; She even would not hesitate, if the State is weak or absent, to set Herself in the place of the State or to “put on Herself the garment of the State” instead of upholding it (the State) in its constitution and legitimacy.

What is not understood by those in charge of the Church is that Christ came to change the world and the logic of this world. When Jesus was standing in front of Pilate, He told him: “You do not have authority over me had it not been given to you from above”. Heaven has given you to kill me; and though it appears as if I submit to your judgment, but in reality I submit to my Father. If we do not use Christ’s logic, then automatically we are of the mind of the world; and we would adopt the ways of the world and empower ourselves with its power. With that we would be disparaging the logic of Christ (which is in reality, and is supposed to be our logic in the Church) and we would have borrowed a language from this world and believed in its efficacy and would have done away with Christ’s language in order to appear as intelligent as and more effective than our Christ.

Jesus of Nazareth came to change the language of history because He believes in the language that He made putting an end to the language of this world. We are thus in front of one question: Did Jesus come to us with a new language that revives the ear that listens to it and the heart in which it is poured or He brought us a rigid hard one? Would the reader of the Gospels realize that the meanings in there are not just a compilation of words and that the Music within is different from the tunes that mesmerize us and excite our desires?

If Christ dwells in you and works through you and is of your company, then you are an innovator. And I do not refer here to what is poetic in your words but to that which is poetic in your being; that which shakes you and shakes the world. At that you would be praying with the “Bedouins” and follow the “Bedouin” bishop to receive the Body and Blood and dispense with all man-made beauty that has been pushed on you or put in you. At that you become concerned not to betray and not to borrow the beauty of no one, or the words of no one or the uniqueness of no one except that of Jesus of Nazareth.

He incarnated in your flesh and bones – and more explicitly said, He took your being to give you His so you get transfigured even for just few moments. You would become a new human being by just touching the hem of His garment; and only such “touching” is what guides you.

You have to chose to be fully stripped of your world so that God would open for you the gates of His heaven and pour in your inside the garment of light. Those whose language (mind) has not changed would only see you as stripped and do not hear your “new language”; but you would be more splendid than all of them because you have mantled yourself with the mantle of light while they are still dressed in old rags that can cover nothing in them since they would get torn apart little by little.

Do not exchange the Lord’s language with platitudes. If you do, there will come a day when you yourself would forget the “language” of salvation and you might, thinking mistakenly, that you are supporting the Church of Christ with what you have borrowed for Her from this world. If you lose the gift of discernment you would lose everything. Discern what is Christ’s from what is not His, and dispense with the language of this world and its structures so that Heaven will make you a new ‘structure’ that seduces the mind and the heart at the same time revealing you as the icon of Christ. The icon is made with inspiration from above, totally different from human décor and design. What is important is that you avoid believing in external décor and that which is the product of human imagination only.

Christianity hails from the Holy Spirit. Take Him to your inside being so your being would come from above.

Translated by Riad Moufarrij

Original Text: “مسيحية والمؤسسات” –An Nahar- 12.11.2011