“Yet I certainly believe that Orthodoxy is simple Christianity—not an elaborate Byzantine ritual, but simple Christianity. When I first came in contact with the Orthodox Church, the music, the icons, the total experience of the liturgy influenced me greatly, but I did not become Orthodox because of that. I became Orthodox because I felt that it is simple Christianity.” ~ Met. Kallistos Ware
Recent discussion with non-Orthodox friends got me thinking about much of what Orthodoxy is and what it is not. They were very disapproving of the style of Orthodox worship, the use of icons in a Byzantine style, and seemed to think it was all very exclusive. I was troubled in my heart, because in Orthodox terms, the Church is exactly that. The Tradition passed down through the ages is not a burdensome mantle to be mindlessly borne, but the complete robe of Christ, whose burden and yoke is easy and light. This has been my experience within the Church for the past two years. You are permitted to go as deep as you please, and wade in the shallows for as long as you need. The depth of the Church is the very depth of Christ, for He is eternal, as the Church is from ages to ages. From the outside, I admit, it may seem that this is all simply “man-made tradition,” yet the faith we hold is in the Holy Spirit, who moves and lives throughout the unpolluted Holy Tradition.
And yet not ever tradition in the Church is Holy Tradition. Especially in the West, where Orthodoxy is a relative newcomer, the Holy Spirit must guide us in sifting through the robes of our forebears, allowing for some traditions to fall out so that others – more indigenous to our native land – can supplement and nourish us as we need.