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Fondat 2009 • ISSN 2065 - 4200 Anul 16 → 2024

The Road of a Pole to Orthodoxy. Interview of Tudor Petcu with Mateusz Blicharz

Interviu cu Tudor PETCU

The Road of a Pole to Orthodoxy. Interview of Tudor Petcu with Mateusz Blicharz
1.) First of all, I would like you to talk a little bit about yourself and about your conversion to Orthodoxy, so that our readers discover your personality.
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen. My name is fr. Матеуш Бличарц, I am an Orthodox priest from Poland. Before I became a clergyman of the Orthodox Church by God’s will, I was a member of the Old Catholic Church. As a young man, at the age of 18, I was looking for strong, tangible evidence of God’s existence. I am the type of man who likes to have evidence „in his hand” – a bit like Thomas the Apostle, who needed to tangibly „touch Christ” to fully accept Christ’s Resurrection. Because of the Savior’s mercy, I received a very tangible proof – during a private prayer before the Holy Mass, I was asking God for the last time a sign that he was listening to me – and if this is the case, then I give myself entirely to Him – I am only His. While reading the words of the Gospel, I heard about the calling of the Apostle Matthew – who was a sinner but the Lord chose him. And this one followed him. It was a unique experience that happened twice in my life. When I was experiencing serious dilemmas before joining the Orthodox Church and the thought arose in me to leave the priesthood, I prayed fervently again – Lord, give me a sign. What should I do? Christ answered again – follow me, Матеуш.
As for my conversion to Orthodoxy, the story is very simple. Being a clergyman in the Old Catholic Church in the rank of a deacon, for personal reasons I went to Greece – to the ancient monastery of Saints Cyprian and Justyna in Fili near Athens. There I heard the voice of the summons to the Orthodox Church. The prayer that accompanied me throughout my stay in Greece – the Jesus Prayer in Greek – opened my heart to Orthodoxy. Two months after my stay in Greece, I left the Old Catholic Church and started my way towards Orthodoxy. At first, I was convinced that I had to follow the path of the ancient anti-ecumenists of the Truly Orthodox Christian Church of Hellas – that only this path would allow me to „truly enter Orthodoxy”. However, I was fascinated by the figure of St. John Maximovitch, bishop of Shanghai and San Francisco, who uttered the famous words: Let no one, never, ever, persuade you that to be Orthodox you must be Eastern. The West has been Orthodox for a thousand years, and its venerable liturgy is much older than any of its heresies. Suma sumarum, by God’s will, I believe I was ordained a priest in the Orthodox Church and started working for the Western Orthodox Rite.
2.) What is the most important change in your life since you have become orthodox?
Prayer practice. I have always had a problem with praying according to templates and formulas. It put me off in the Western Church – I treated it a bit like learning a poem by a little child who often doesn’t understand it at all, but tells the poem to impress others. The Orthodox Church, with its deep prayer tradition, which gives the possibility of a tangible sense of dialogue with God, changed my life to a great extent.
3.) Do you think that the Orthodox Church could be considered a some kind of hospital for wounded souls?
Of course! Looking at my own example – I was convinced that there was no rescue for me, that I would die spiritually. However, Christ, through his Holy Orthodox Church, wanted to save me and make me a boat for those who need help when they are drowning.
4.) Please describe in some words how does the orthodox life in Poland look like.
The Orthodox Church in Poland is a minority Church – of course the dominant faction of Polish Orthodoxy is the Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church headed by Metropolitan Sawa. It is estimated that there are around 150,000 people in Poland. This religious life is most active in the east of our country, on the border with Belarus and Ukraine. In the rest of the country, they’re rather small groups, diasporas, who live mostly around their own parishes. Besides, there is also a diaspora of the True Orthodox Christian Church of Hellas in Poland, and as far as I know, they are doing quite well, although it is a small group if you compare them with the Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church.
5.) Do you think that the Western Orthodoxy could flourish in the future in Poland and if so, how?
I believe that the model of church community offered by the Western Orthodox Rite is a model that will be adopted in Poland. The Western Rite of Orthodoxy is the golden mean between the Church of East and West, while preserving the teaching and liturgy of the primitive and undivided Church. I place particular emphasis on religious identity – I believe that the only chance for the future of the Western Orthodox Rite community in Poland is to build a religious identity among those interested through the catechumenate and regular community life in the form of common liturgy, prayer and formation conferences.
6.) Given that you are a convert to Orthodoxy how can Orthodoxy in your oppinion become a way of living? Not least, which would be your testimony for the hetherodox individuals who intend to explore more the orthodox horizon?
First of all, prayer must become part of your life. If you don’t pray – you are lost! You must persevere in prayer and it is precisely this prayer that will allow you to find the spiritual beauty hidden in Orthodoxy. Seemingly hidden because the beauty of Orthodoxy is at your fingertips. They can be discovered through prayer and finally – through conversion to Orthodoxy. For those looking for orthodoxy in their spiritual life, I recommend the book, which is a doctoral dissertation of an outstanding theologian, Paul Evdokimov – „Orthodoxy” – it is a beautiful introduction to Orthodox spirituality, theology and dogmatics. If you are looking for less, let’s call it scientific, and more … spiritual experiences, then the place where you should start your exploration of orthodoxy is a wonderful book called „Pilgrim’s Tales”. This position had a huge impact on my perception of the God-man relationship.
7.) Which would be your main argue for saying that the entire truth can be found only in the Orthodox Church?
From 2020, the Orthodox Church has been the guardian of the orthodoxy of faith and science. These are undeniable facts, especially based on the decisions of the General Councils, the provisions of which are observed by the Orthodox Church to this day! The Church of the West, after its schism in 1054, began to preach a doctrine disastrous for souls on fundamental, Eucharistic issues, changing over 1,000 years of teaching the undivided Church. The Eucharist is spiritual and bodily food that works tangible miracles – any attempts to change the form of interpretation regarding transformation are heresy of the West which is a scandal to human souls.

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