Complacency is a subtle demon. It is the death of spiritual growth, the atrophy of inner vision and a vicious defender of falsity. Its foe is repentance — the life of children of the Resurrection.
Most faithful Orthodox in America see no problem with multiple jurisdictions. Being Americans, we are multi-ethnic, multi-religion, multi-gender and multi-political, so our multi-jurisdictional mentality dances in step with our unrepentant secular mindset. We have fallen from an ecclesial mind and compromised our integrity in the quagmire of jurisdictionalism.
Let us be ruthlessly honest with ourselves. Having more than one bishop of any given city is contrary to Holy Tradition. Our minds have fallen from an iconic vision. Our inner eye sees not the bishop as a universal image of Christ, the Chief Shepherd. Rather, we tend to view the Church leaders as mouthpieces for their party with all its particularities. In this uncanonical circumstance, we find ourselves in a state of sin, literally missing the mark.
One bitter fruit of our canonical ecclesiology is the absence of “local” bishops. The flocks of our episcopal shepherds are scattered for thousands of miles. Such situations lead to parochialism among the sheep, allowing wolves to move in from without, and disease to debilitate from within.
Awareness of our uncanonical status is the beginning of our repentance, a renunciation of every earthly attachment contrary to unity. Let us resolve to cast off complacency and, if we fail to incarnate the principle of “One city, one bishop, one Church,” let us at least sorrow that Orthodoxy in America has not matured into an apostolic vision. While we are still “of Paul,” “of Apollos” or “of Cephas,” we will never perceive the unity of Christ.
Published in the Fall 2019 issue of Doxa, a quarterly review serving the Orthodox Church produced by the Monastery of the Holy Archangel Michael in CAnones, New Mexico.