The Danger of Falling Into the Trap of Complacency

Martyr Anastasia the Roman

Martyr Anastasia the Roman

My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,

There is a saying that goes a little something like this. One of the most dangerous times in a person's life is when he has just achieved a worthwhile goal. After achieving that goal, he should then immediately replace it with another worthwhile goal. Otherwise, he'll start drifting with no direction and the attitude of "I did it. Now what?" starts to form and he becomes like a ship lost at sea. Once a person stays in a place long enough, it gets very comfortable and then it requires more energy to get out of that place and therein lies the very well disguised and placed trap of complacency.

Also, routine is inevitable and people gravitate toward it like moths to the flame and once you settle down into the daily routine of things, you end up in a cycle that has potential negative side effects, especially in the world we live in today.

Complacency tends to nip any potential for change in the bud and as a result, when change occurs, it's a big shock to ones system. Furthermore, complacency encourages the absolute minimum. Why grow when things are going good? Why push the envelope when I don't have to?

The worst enemy of any parish is complacency! The status quo in a parish is the result of complacency. Complacency is destructive not only to the physical and financial progress of a parish, but also, to the church's spiritual goals and objectives. As Orthodox Christians, we too can become dangerously complacent when it comes to temptation. We can get lulled into thinking we're above or beyond it. But Saint Paul's solemn warning to the Christians in Corinth can jolt us back to reality: "If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall" (1 Corinthians 10:12).

Saint Paul also wrote that the temptations we face in this world "are no different from what others experience" (1 Corinthians 10:13). And we can't afford to get complacent. No matter how long we've believed in Christ, how much we've matured in our faith and relationship with God, or how often we've served Jesus, not one of us is immune. If we begin to downplay temptation, we'll fall flat in our faces.

There is a degree of complacency in every Greek Orthodox parish, some less and some more, than others. However, no matter how small or great the complacency in the parish, it becomes a real problem in its growth and development. No parish can afford to entertain any form of complacency.

Sadly enough our parish is experiencing a high degree of complacency at this time. I personally find this fact very alarming and disturbing. We all need to pray that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will help us overcome this spiritual illness of complacency or to use the language of the Church, to overcome the passion of acedia.

Saint Andrew of Crete writes the following: "My soul, my soul arise! Why are you sleeping? The end is approaching and you will be confounded. Awake then, and be watchful, that you may be spared by Christ God, Who is everywhere and fills all things" (Kontakion, Great Kanon of St. Andrew of Crete).

Our Holy Orthodox Church calls us to this awakening from the sleep of sin, or from indifference, apathy, or what the Saints call acedia--a condition of spiritual complacency or unsatisfied restlessness. In the writings of Evagrius Pontus (345-399 A.D.), in his work "The Praktikos": refers to "The demon of acedia--also called the noonday demon. The ancient word acedia simply means the absence or lack of care or concern.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines acedia as "heedlessness, torpor, a non-caring state." While Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language defines it as "anxiety, grief, the deadly sin of sloth, spiritual torpor and apathy."

It is not to our benefit or that of the parish to allow this "demon of acedia" to take hold of us and our church. We can only fight this evil passion, this "demon" of acedia, through prayer and fasting. "When He (Jesus) came into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, 'Why could we not cast it out?' So He said to them, 'This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting" (St. Mark 9:28-29).

I respectfully and lovingly urge all of you to give your total support and commitment to Our Lord and to our local parish. It would not be at all responsible to continue to function in this way.

Our parish will celebrate in a few months its 90th anniversary, 90 years of service to our Lord and our Greek Orthodox Church. If we enjoy having our beautiful church today, it is because of the sacrifices of the immigrant pioneers and past generations. We must be willing to build on their legacy and their efforts. The future belongs to the children of our parish and therefore, we must be willing to invest time, talent, treasure, to secure its future.

The proof that you care about the parish will be on Sunday at the Parish Assembly. Twenty or twenty five stewards of the parish at the parish assembly (which is the required quorum to conduct the meeting) does not indicate the needed and expected concern for its future. All of the stewards of the parish must always attend and participate in the two parish assemblies held twice a year. It is not enough to express personal opinions or offer subjective criticism. The parish needs workers and Christians who are willing to make sacrifices. Be generous with your time, talent and treasure!

See you at the Parish Assembly!

With love in Christ,
+Father George