“The Price is Right”?

(Editorial By Hieromonk Titos, with the blessing of Archimandrite Epiphanios, Abbot of the Holy Monastery of the Divine Apocalypses)

When I was a young man in seminary, when Holy Cross Theological Seminary was run by the late Archbishop Iakovos of North and South America, there were a number of men that watched “The Price is Right”, the TV show. I vaguely remember the show, however the host would have women show the viewers various items to bid on. If you were correct, you won the prize (and the IRS spoke to you after the show to see if you could afford the taxes incurred upon “winning” cars, boats, etc.). One of the seminarians won a boat, among other things of worthless spiritual value. When the IRS man told him how much he would have to pay in taxes to keep the boat, he sold it and bought himself some elegant priest vestments. I must write, they were very extraordinarily made by the finest tailors in Greece.

I spoke to the former seminarian not long ago, as he wondered if I had “kept the faith”. I replied, “Of course, have you?” He replied, “Not a chance. Iakovos wanted $400,000 to consecrate me a bishop!” I replied, unstunned, “Oh.” He replied, “Father, aren’t you the least bit interested in what happened to the vestments I bought with the money I won from that show?” Since he mentioned it, I acknowledged him by stated, “Did you ever wear them?” He replied, “No. I sold them to a priest for more money than I paid for them and used the money for the honeymoon after my first marriage.” I replied, “Oh, I see.” I replied, “And what marriage are you on now, my son?” He replied, “Well, you know, things in the church change and by economia, I am wed to my third wife.” Sadly, I acknowledged what I heard over the phone by saying, “You do understand that the Church of Christ does not change…” waiting for his answer. He replied, “You Old Calendarists are all the same! You are strict on yourselves and for what? What will you gain?” I replied, smiling, “Salvation.” He seemed stunned as if I spoke heresy. He closed the phone abruptly by saying, “Good for you! Good day!”

As for those I went to seminary with, I am one of the few that went on to understand that the Church of Christ has no price. It cannot be bought with silver and gold, and certainly not money. It does not change dogmatically, as some may think. The only change that I see before my eyes is the great sorrow in the eyes of what is left of the faithful. They are not rich in human wealth, they do not thrive on earthly matters, but go about their day as if they were monastics themselves, desperately trying to live an Orthodox life. As for the former seminarian I went to school with, I pray for him and his salvation. I feel his heart is heavy and pray that the Lord shows him the “Way of the Pilgrim” and not the way of the rich man.

The way of salvation is not paved by silver and gold, but by the sweat of one’s brow, spiritually. Cling on to Christ, my brothers and sisters. Never surrender, never back down, and never fail to remember our mission on this earth is to gain spiritual wealth in Heaven.

Through the Prayers of our holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ, Have Mercy Upon Us and Save Us! Amen.