Old monks and the WCC –

by

In the 60’s or 70’s, I forget which, there was a convention of the WCC – World Council of Churches – in Atlanta. I vaguely remember it being at the Pascal’s Motor Inn on Hunter Street, now Martin Luther King Boulevard. At that time many of the Orthodox Churches belonged to the WCC, even though it was acknowledged as a very liberal organization not in keeping with Orthodoxy. Why? Well, the Orthodox Churches in the Soviet Union and those countries under their influence had no other way of communicating with the West. Even the KGB had no objection, since they felt that liberal organizations would help weaken Christianity and democracies.

Anyway, the delegates were met in session and one of the members was bemoaning the current state of faith in the West. He plaintively wailed, “What we need is to learn to pray!” One of the Russian delegates, an old, very pious monk, stood up and said in a very calm manner, “This is how to learn to pray. Join the thumb and the first two fingers or the right hand – this represents the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Fold the little finger and the ring finger against the palm – this is for the two natures of our Beloved Savior. We sign ourselves on the forehead, the stomach, the right shoulder and then the left, blessing ourselves with the power of the Cross. We then humbly say “Our Father, Who art in the Heavens, …”

There was complete silence in the meeting. Now that the Soviet Union has collapsed, the Communist country Orthodox Churches no longer belong to liberal organizations.

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