Before I decided to become an Orthodox catechumen, I was already aware that Orthodox were what we in Reformed circles call “Arminians.” In short, they exalt the existence of “free will” and emphasize that God cannot convert people that do no want to convert, nor make them really do anything directly.
While I have written articles on the topic of trying to reconcile the positions theologically, this is not what I am going to gun for here. Rather, I just wanted to quote a few Orthodox resources that say some really “Calvinist” sounding stuff for the sake of promoting mutual understanding of our positions.
Perhaps, we may realize that we should spend less time calling each other heretics and more time listening to what the other side is trying to communicate in different words. We may find that we share much more common ground than we may think.
Saint Innocent of Alaska’s Quotation of John 6:44
[M]an’s conversion to the path of faith and truth depends entirely upon God. “No one can come to me”, said the Savior, “unless the Father who sent Me draws him to Me” [Jn 6:44]. Therefore if, according to his inscrutable judgments, the Lord does not wish for a given person or nation to be converted to Jesus Christ, even the most capable, most gifted, most zealous of workers will not succeed in his task. (Quote forwarded to me by a dear reader.)
Father Arseny Overrides a Guard’s Free Will in the Gulag
Suddenly a man ran out of the barracks–he was about 25 years of age and tried to find his place in line. He did not have the time to get in place before the supervisors started kicking him with their boots…I was standing with Father Arseny and suddenly saw that he took a step out of the line, made the sign of the cross, blessed the supervisor who was hitting the young man and said in a clear voice, ‘In the Name of the Lord, I am ordering you to stop! Stop this!”–and having blessed everybody with a wide sign of the cross he returned to his place in the line. The supervisor stopped the beating immediately.
Later I asked the man who was next to me in the line, ‘Did you see what Piotr Andreyevich (Father Arseny) did when they beat up the young man?’
‘Did what? He was standing as still as a statue.’
All this impressed me enormously; I saw the power that God gave this man–Father Arseny. Could it be hypnosis, I thought and the answer came to me: ‘No, of course it could not be hypnosis. Father Arseny does not do all this for himself, but only for the sake of others.’ (Father Arseny 1893-1973: Priest, Prisoner, Spiritual Father, St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1994, p. 71)
Prayer of the Optina Elders
Grant unto me, O Lord, that with peace of mind I may face all that this new day is to bring.
Grant unto me to dedicate myself completely to Thy Holy Will.
For every hour of this day, instruct and support me in all things.
Whatsoever tidings I may receive during the day, do Thou teach me to accept tranquilly, in the firm conviction that all eventualities fulfill Thy Holy Will.
Govern Thou my thoughts and feelings in all I do and say.
When things unforeseen occur , let me not forget that all cometh down from Thee.
Teach me to behave sincerely and rationally toward every member of my family, that I may bring confusion and sorrow to none.
Bestow upon me, my Lord, strength to endure the fatigue of the day, and to bear my part in all its passing events.
Guide Thou my will and teach me to pray, to believe, to hope, to suffer, to forgive, and to love.
Saint Paisios Prays For Humility
“One day while walking to church he [Saint Paisios] prayed may humble him and ‘crush’ his heart. Then he stepped inside the sanctuary to assist the priest with the service…when the priest was about to offer him communion, for no reason whatsoever, he unleashed a virulent attack on poor old Paisios. He told him that he was a nuisance and that he was fed up seeing him in the sanctuary Sunday after Sunday. Old Paisios was flabbergasted, not knowing what to make of it. Then he remembered what he prayed for on his way to church. After the liturgy the priest approached him full of apologies and remorse for his outburst…’I just don’t know what came over me,’ he complained.” (Kyriacos C. Markies, The Mountain of Silence: The Search for Orthodox Spirituality. Image, 2001: p. 60).
The preceding is an incomplete list that I plan to update as I come across quotations and prayers in my reading.