"Liturgical worship is absolutely fundamental to the Body of Christ as a community action, but the Divine Liturgy itself is full of a subtext about serving, about action in the world. Christ’s teachings center around his example of service, yet I can’t think of a national Orthodox church conference where that has been a major topic of conversation."
Way back when I was writing Orthogals, we were asked for advice on how to handle inappropriate questions. We had a dozen real-life examples at the ready. A decade and a pandemic later, I have far more, and I was asked to update this article.
The short answer is that the best answer to rude questions is a refusal. We do not owe anyone intimate information.
Examples, all from real life:
I was 33 years old before I made a pilgrimage to a monastery in my own country. Before then, I had visited numerous monasteries in the country of Georgia: Gareji, Saparo, Martqopi, and also Pechora in Russia, and I loved them very much. At that time, they were just coming back to life after the Soviet period. I could not understand why someone would stay isolated and pray all day, but I did find the idea attractive.
On Monday, we honor St. Photini, one of the first of all people to proclaim the Gospel of Christ. St. Photini lived in first century Palestine and was the Samaritan woman who Christ visited at the well asking her for water. It was she who accepted the “living water” offered her by Christ Himself (John. 4:5-42). All her life, she would continue to draw from this well of life as she remembered His words to her, and shared this living water with others.