Collectively, Australians speak over 200 languages. Other than English, the most common languages spoken today are Chinese, Italian, Greek and Arabic. So many cultures and so many beliefs! Christianity is the most commonly reported religion (52.1% of the population). The Islamic population with 2.6% of the total population is the second largest religion, closely followed by Buddhism (2.4%). However, as many as 30% of Australians reported that they had ‘no religion’. How can we preserve our Orthodox Christian Faith in such a multicultural society?
In a MONOcultural society, where everyone adheres to one culture, one language and one religion, it is much easier to just do what the others do, to believe what the others believe and to be one of the group. In a monocultural society you may even be an outcast if you do not follow the main group and its beliefs. In some ways, it is like being a boat, safe in a protected harbour.
However, in a MULTIcultural society, it is like being out in the open ocean. In a multicultural society, you are exposed to every possible belief and you need to make the right choices. You need to be conscious and sure of your identity and you have to constantly work to cultivate and nurture it. You must be strong in who you are. In our multicultural society we are invited to search for the spiritual and divine Truth amongst many options that parade as truth, but which are falsehoods.
So again, I ask myself, how can we preserve our Orthodox Christian Faith in such a multicultural society? The truth is that we only preserve something if we think it is of value to us. Our Faith, our belief in the one true God, must be something we value. If it is, then we naturally protect it, nurture it and grow it. We do this by using prayer, reading, Holy Communion, acts of charity, Confession, liturgical life and fasting. Is this you? Keep going! You are on the right path.
However, if you do not value your Faith, it will be impossible to preserve it. In fact, you probably do not even have the desire to preserve it. The evidence is that you probably do not want to connect with God, you cannot be bothered worshipping or even learning about Him, and you find excuses to justify your sins. If this is you, then you are like a rudderless boat in the open sea. Any fake and false belief can sweep you away and you will be lost. If this is you and you realise that you are in danger, but you really want to change, then you must start building up your faith.
First, ask God for help. Start with a small program of prayer and some easy spiritual reading each day. Then build up slowly. Keep company with people who have the same faith and practice. Find a spiritual father, a priest confessor, to coach you how to reconnect with our Lord. Ask him how to receive Holy Communion to give you strength to keep going. Slowly, slowly your faith will become stronger and even though you live in a multicultural, multi-faith society, you will ‘stand firm’. You will know God. You will know your identity. You will be at peace. It is indeed possible, desirable and beneficial to preserve your Orthodox Christian Faith in a multicultural society.
† Fr N. S.
Source: Lychnos December 2017 / January 2018