A PSA to Catholics and Orthodox… and myself.
One need not pretend they live in the 1940’s to be an American Roman Catholic. One does not need to dress like a 17th century Russian peasant to embrace Slavonic Byzantine spirituality. Pius X is long dead, the Papal States will never return, Antioch has not existed for almost six centuries, and the current Tsar of Russia wears a suit and tie.
Christians must adapt to reality as the times change. This is principle is not “modernism”, but simple common sense. Attach yourself too deeply to a secular culture and your church is already doomed. Did the Christians who approached the Franks and Lombards remain attached to a fantasy view of Constantian Rome? Did Isaac Jogues die for the Christian faith or for a dream of Rome or France? Did Fr. de Smet instruct the Natives of North America to be followers of Christ or of Western culture? Indeed, the apostles realized early on that their task was to convert the Gentiles by not making them Jews first.
Dressing like Truman is still the American president will gain us nothing. Wearing babushkas and becoming pseudo-Russians will accomplish less. Remaining in our own closed communities will do us no good unless we are specifically following a Benedictine plan. If we must work and live in the world, then we must prepare ourselves accordingly insofar as it does not threaten our faith. There is nothing that you will accomplish by dressing unusually; the fact that your hobbies don’t include club-hopping, grinding groins (known colloquially as “dancing”), and fornicating with whoever catches your fancy will already distinguish you.
Be on your best behavior among the pagans. Do not backbite, gossip, or act in a manner unbecoming of a Christian. Simultaneously, be not unnecessarily alien. Your conduct should set you apart as it did the Christians of the Roman Empire.
Focus on the Kingdom of Heaven, not “Holy Russia”, “Eternal Rome”, the Ancien Regime, 1950’s America, or any other worldly realm. Only then can you possibly ascend those around you to God’s Kingdom.
“My kingdom is not of this world; if it were, My servants would fight to prevent My arrest by the Jews. But as it is, My kingdom is not of this world.” – John 18:36