From the editor: March 21, 2014

"Falling Down Before Thee"

Russian Orthodox priest Fr. Alexander Men, a Jewish convert, served three Moscow-area parishes from 1960 until 1990, when he was killed. His murder has never been solved. A number of books have appeared in English with his teachings. The latest is An Inner Step Toward God: Writings and Teachings on Prayer by Father Alexander Men, edited by April French, translated by Christa Belyaeva (Paraclete Press 2014).

Fr. Alexander Men
Fr. Alexander Men

Fr. Men was "ecumenical," which did not put him in good stead with Orthodox "traditionalists." He was in the same category as Alexander Schmemann in that regard; but I have appreciated the openness to other Christians of such men, along with their commitment to the dogmas of the Faith, both of which aspects are central to the work of the Fellowship of St. James.

In a somewhat ecumenical vein, Fr. Men tells this story:

In the late 1950s, I went to a Baptist service in Siberia. There, the accountant at our agricultural institute preached and told a story that would seem not to fit Baptist practice, since icons are not used in their worship. In the story, a man stood before a remarkable icon—the work of an ancient master—depicting the Crucifixion. The man said, "What's so great about this icon? Maybe the paint is wonderful, and the artist shows mastery, but I do not feel any spiritual power." Then a girl standing nearby whispered to him, "Stand on your knees." And he was so moved by her comment that he did get down on his knees before the image. Suddenly, everything was transfigured....

Our bodies can affect our inner attitude: try singing "Holy, holy, holy" while slouching down in a pew, hands in pockets, turning to look at who walked in late--on second thought, don't!) Whether we worship today "standing on our knees" or not, someday "every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord." Doing so now is one way to anticipate (and practice for!) the blessed return of the King and that Day when our natural posture will be on our knees in worship.

True Christians reverence Christ as Lord in their hearts and long for the day of his return. Not only will the lion lie down with the lamb, but (for example) the Orthodox will kneel down with the Baptist and the Lutheran! All shall cry, "Alleluia!"

—James M. Kushiner


© The Fellowship of St. James. 2014

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