The icon I bought in 1992.
“This world deceives even the wise with its appearance, for at times it appears desirable. It even offers benefits and treasures for loan, but in the day of death it will take them back and give in return torment incomparably greater than our sins. for a short while will it let us sin, but as a reward it will give us eternal darkness.
Righteous art Thou, O Lord, and righteous is thy judgement that condemns the world and those who love it! therefore do I pray Thee that thy right hand which pulled Simon out of the sea might also pull me out of the waves and the tumult of this world that rise up against me. I have become mired in filth; the waters of the world are drowning me, they do not let me break loose to catch my breath. May Thy Cross, O Lord, be my staff and my support on the path along which I walk.” ~ A Spiritual Psalter from the works of our Holy Father Ephraim the Syrian
In a sense, my conversion occurred through the lens of Orthodoxy – especially via a now controversial section of “The Catechism of the Catholic Church.” Of Orthodoxy, Blessed Fr. Seraphim Rose wrote: “…[it] does not follow the philosophy of the age, because it has its own philosophy based on revelation…Our philosophy is not of this world, and it is the answer to the vain speculations of modern man!” For this very reason, critics of the Catholic Church, including many from within, have loudly, and repeatedly, said: “It’s time we dropped the unhelpful, judgmental language of intrinsic and objective disorder when respectfully trying to determine appropriate laws and policies for all people who want to support and nurture each other and their children.” Then, neo-gay Catholics, who you think would take a different stance, have argued: “The Church has to be clear with respect to ‘what is the nature of homosexuality itself,’ but can’t make a pronouncement on whether it is a mental disorder, for example.”* This reluctance to comprehend, accept, or fully acknowledge this teaching reveals a deeper problem; again, from Fr. Seraphim: “Once you accept the revelation [of the Gospel], then of course you are much more responsible than anyone else. A person who accepts the revelation of God come in the flesh and then does not live according to it – he is much worse off than any pagan priest or the like.” And, this stubbornness has everything to do with the Truth; and, I understand that especially for the young – the spiritual journey can be an arduous and fraught-filled experience, only – Fr. Seraphim wrote in his book “God’s Revelation to the Human Heart” that: “…a person must be in the religious search not for the sake of religious experiences, which can deceive, but for the sake of Truth.” Now, for whatever reason, whether it’s political, social, or intensely personal – those who deny, speak against, or even equivocate the Truth are attempting to recreate the Church (God) in their own image. I get that mentality too.
For some inexplicable reason, when I was in the very depths of the gay lifestyle and pornography – I bought an ancient Russian icon of Our Lady and the Christ Child; at the time, (around 1992) I was studying Medieval Art and strangely found icons fascinating – in an archaic sort of way. I kept it with me for many years, when I switched boyfriends on an almost weekly basis – I continued to drag it from place to place; when my life got really dark – I threw a bunch of things into a box: stuff I considered no longer important, and left it behind at my parent’s house. Only, I guess it was still important. When I thoroughly crashed and burned, I pulled it out of exile. It was a still incomprehensible image – yet it spoke to me; now, I could listen and understand. Before, I had done exactly what Fr. Seraphim had warned against: what he referred to as “chiliasm:” a warping of religion to suit the modern age in order to eventually bring about ultimate human contentment on Earth; in my own little word – I discovered my “Personal Jesus:” eventually, he turned into me, as, like Shirley MacLaine, I discovered that “I am God.” At that heady point – nothing was off limits, and I allied myself with other gods– specifically the devil. Then, I began to reform creation into my image – in 1999, the year of my conversion, through pornography – I pictured myself as a new icon. This penchant for over self-aggrandizement has been fully realized in the contemporary obsession with the selfie – hence the international celebrity of reality-star Kim Kardashian whose sole claim to fame firmly rests within an unshakable belief in her own greatness.
This sort of cult around the me-god is expected in the purely material world – but sadly it has made major inroads in the spiritual; for instance, the young Catholic man who says: “…[the Church] can’t make a pronouncement.” When we start saying what the Church can and “can’t” do – we have inserted ourselves far too thoroughly into the equation. Therefore, we are making ourselves into a god.
* From “The Compendium of the Traditional Catechism of the Catholic Church: Approved by His Excellency Bishop Fernando Areas Rifan from Campos Brazil:” “It is highly unlikely that homosexuality is acquired in an hereditary or genetic way. Homosexuality is likely a psychological disorder that very well might be accentuated with external influence and environmental factors…” The Catechism itself states: “Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained.” Make a special note: “psychological genesis.”