by Tudor Petcu
A Romanian writer, Tudor is a graduate of the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Bucharest, Romania. He has published a number of articles related to philosophy and theology in different cultural and academic journals. His work focuses on the evolution of Orthodox spirituality in Western societies as well and he is going to publish a book of interviews with Westerners converted to Orthodoxy. In this article, he interviews Fr. Anthony Salzman, an American Orthodox priest and iconographer.
1.) First of all, please do tell us how you discovered the Orthodox spirituality and what meant it for your own spiritual growth.
Fr. Anthony: I visited an Orthodox Church with a friend and found the worship to be beautiful. Up till that point, I did not know that the Orthodox Church existed. I was an Evangelical Protestant having been raised Roman Catholic and left the Church and then become a “Born Again” Christian. I knew Christ was the truth, but I knew that the Protestant faith was not the fullness of the truth and so my friend and I were looking to going back to Catholicism.
2.) How should we understand the beauty of Orthodox spirituality from your point of view?
Fr. Anthony: It is the way I always had hoped faith would be. Not emotional or manipulative but respective of free will while at the same time holding people to a high standard. Plus the beauty and insight about what it means to be a person. The theology of salvation is beautiful. The Liturgy and the Eucharist are at the center of our faith and the art and architecture are profound.
3.) Which are in your oppinion the most important treasures of Orthodoxy?
Fr. Anthony: It’s spirituality, meaning Theosis and spiritual growth. Becoming ‘Like God” and what that entails spiritually including a spiritual father, confession, the Eucharist and prayer.
4.) How do you exactly understand the Orthodox wisdom?
Fr. Anthony: Orthodox are very incarnational in their faith meaning it is both practical and ideal. It is very relational and not scholastic or juridical.
5.) Do you think that Orthodoxy is the deepest and highest way of living and if so, why?
Fr. Anthony: Yes I do because it is balanced and encouraging. When we fall down we get up. As St. Gregory of Nyssa says
“We go from glory to glory”.
6.) What does it mean for you being an American Orthodox priest and which would be your testimony for the country you are living in?
Fr. Anthony: I am very blessed to be an Orthodox Christian but especially blessed to be an Orthodox priest and to serve at the Holy Altar. Bringing the faith to America is especially important because of the richness of the faith and the fullness of the faith. It is what people need, although it takes a long time for people to grasp the Orthodox understanding of faith and begin to live this way. We are blessed in our small parish to have many converts to the faith. They are dedicated and desire to grow. I also paint icons and paint churches and teach through Iconography about our faith. That is a great opportunity because people are open to the beauty of iconography.