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If you examine all the errors of the West, whether in its doctrines or in its moral values, then you will see that they are all rooted in the failure to understand that Christianity is the ascetic feat of gradual human self-perfection. Metropolitan Antony of Kiev (+1936) FOREWORD: A DEFINITION OF TERMS The world's unwisdom brings Death. John Masefield, The Bluebells, P.121 Although what follows is written about post-Christian English society, most of it is true of all modern Western societies. It is also therefore partly true of all Westernised societies. However, the process of the decomposition of Heterodoxy is particularly advanced in Protestant societies, more so than in the somewhat more resistant Roman Catholic societies. Thus the process of spiritual decomposition is particularly advanced in a mainly Protestant nation like England, although in some respects it could be argued that in parts of Protestant Scandinavia, Germany, Holland and the United States, the process is even more advanced.
Throughout this article we use the term 'the Church' to indicate the Orthodox Church and the term 'Heterodoxy' to mean the Non-Orthodoxy of Roman Catholicism and the Protestant denominations, which include Anglicanism. INTRODUCTION: THE NEW RELIGION - GOD SUBVERTED BY MAN And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Matt. 3,10 From a spiritual point of view, the most striking thing about modern English society is the absence of living faith in the Holy Trinity, the loss of the Holy Spirit. This nation is today very largely a spiritual desert, a bankrupt, spiritual wasteland. God has become almost invisible in modern England. Indeed, having lost faith, 'the death of God' was proclaimed as long ago as the 1960s. Today probably only about 1% of English people actually believe in and practise a form of Christianity which is recognisable as such to Orthodox Christians. This does not mean to say that English society is irreligious or has a religious vacuum. As it is said, 'Nature abhors a vacuum'. Modern English society is in fact 'religious', but its brave new religion is humanism, the worship of humanity. Once God has been dismissed, man remains. Humanism, essentially a materialistic
worldliness, is in fact often known by an alternative name which means the worship of the world - secularism. And secularism, or worldliness, has always been the enemy of Orthodox Christianity and the Church, as the Apostle John the Divine long ago proclaimed. The brave new religion of humanism, the worship of humanity, is the idealisation and idolisation, or deification, of the human race and its achievements, including therefore all its sins. Paradoxically, humanism developed particularly swiftly at a time of mass murderers, humanbeings like Stalin, Mao Tse-Tung, Hitler and Pol Pot. Humanism attributes to humanity 'rights' and 'dignity', advocating the 'sacredness of human life', implying also therefore the sacredness of its sins. The name 'humanism' is then a contradictory and inappropriate one. Orthodox Christians would on the contrary assert that the only true humanism is Christianity, which is centred on the divine and human natures of the Person of Christ. To call the worship of fallen humanity, with all its demon-inspired sinfulness 'humanism', is not only a deformation, but also a slander and a lie. Humanism is anti-human, as can be seen in the lives of the above humanist tyrants. To declare that God is dead is in fact tantamount to declaring that humanity is dead. Be that as it may, humanism is in itself dangerously popular, because it is the religion of self-worship. Bowing down before humanity, it preaches the obvious attractions of self-exaltation, self-interest, self-flattery and self-
and a Church without miracles is no more than a welfare organisation like the Red Cross St Nicholas of Ochrid (+1956) It is the Orthodox Christian belief that a heresy such as humanism cannot have originated in the Church. materialistically glorifying the visible parts of the human-being. of egoism. the human body and mind. humanism extols self-worth and praises self-esteem.indulgence. Humanism must therefore have originated outside the Church in a loss of the Holy Spirit. That God died for our sins is astonishing. That humanism denies that we have any sins is perhaps even more astonishing. with the potential to become worthy but only through the grace of God. operating infallibly through the Holy Spirit. Humanism promotes overweening self-confidence and over-esteem. The humanist lives and moves inside the bubble of the self. for the Church is the Body of Christ. in a . Centred on the human race. it is therefore one-dimensional in its understanding of man and the whole universe. It says that man is worthy. whereas in reality he is thrice-wretched. Its essentially illusory self-flattery is the secret of its success. Full of human vanity. THE ORIGINS OF HUMANISM AND MODERN HETERODOXY A faith without miracles is no more than a philosophical system. encouraging pleasure and leisure.
a novel degeneration of Orthodoxy born in the mid-eleventh century.degenerate teaching or heresy of an offshoot of the Church. This clearly implies the anti-spiritual statement that potentially the Holy Spirit can therefore originate from any representative of Christ. that the Holy Spirit and therefore spiritual authority originates from them. . On the other hand. with the mind of God. they can speak with the authority of the Holy Spirit. Such a claim implies that. originates from God the Father and can pass through sinless human nature. the filioque proclaims that the Holy Spirit originates from the Son of God Who has become man. Since humanism first clearly arose at the very end of the eleventh century. potentially it can originate even from sinful human nature. that they are infallible. that they are 'Vicars of Christ'. the Spirit of Truth. that is. faultless. independently of whether individuals are spiritual or possess sacred personal qualities. This is the implication of the claim by those with the office of Pope of Rome that they replace Christ. they can be infallible. the heresy which lies at the root of Heterodoxy. it seems clear to us that the origin of humanism is in the filioque. as the Spirit did through the sinless human nature of Christ. that is that they are holy. for example at the Transfiguration. The Church proclaims that the Holy Spirit. Humanism first appeared in the context of Roman Catholicism.
Protestantism is anti-Papist. through a mere function or office. independent of spirituality. This can be seen in the self-exaltation of the 'mystics' of the Middle Ages. It was a historic sequence of steps over some five hundred years from this loss of the Holy Spirit. For if the infallible authority of the Holy Spirit is automatically inherited by people without holiness. This Brave New World (to use Shakespeare's expression of the time) explains how Protestantism became a mere set of moral propositions. apartness from the world. Human nature. This was the much less restrictive and democratic Protestant proposition that any human-being can speak with the authority of the Holy Spirit. it is deified. to another proposition. initially strictly limited to the Papacy. religion becomes a mere secular institution. or perhaps because. is thus swollen and exalts itself with unmerited authority and importance. the acquisition of the Holy Spirit. in Protestantism everyone is a Pope. interpret the Scriptures and know the Truth. The Protestant proposition means that any unspiritual human-being can exalt themselves and claim to be inspired to interpret the Scriptures correctly. simply though confessing faith in Christ. once the real and not imagined . from this despiritualised Roman Catholic proposition of the filioque.If you remove the concept that holiness. then religious belief and practice become irrelevant. an institution of this world. are essential to speak with the mind of God. although.
For if the Christian religion is mere moral opinion. was born not by generation. It was indeed another historic sequence of steps over some five hundred years from Protestant ethicism to saying that all humanbeings are in some sense infallible . to the exclusion of spirituality. Humanism Today institutionalised Heterodoxy is rejected by the masses. The aim of Protestantism became merely the production of 'law-abiding' citizens for the State to control. but by a step by step process of degeneration which took nearly a thousand years to fulfil: Roman Catholicism. spirituality is morality. Roman Catholicism is but a disputed authority.Holy Spirit and spirituality were taken out of religion. then there is no need for a God at all. The Ten Commandments were placed in the east ends of Protestant churches. The Protestant concentration on ethics and interpretive opinion. much discredited by its clergy scandals. This can be seen in Protestantism by its idolising of the Law of the Ten Commandments of the Old Testament into which it fell back. In Protestantism the concept that morality is the result of spirituality is therefore lost. As regards .for anyone can form a moral opinion. Religion therefore became an institution of this world. For it. Protestantism. the fag-end of modern Protestantism. This process came to a culmination in the 1960s. leads to something else too. where in Orthodox churches is often painted the icon of Christ. over the altars. morality was the only active part of 'religion' left. The religion of secular humanism.
the Church of England is not comprehensive. controversy and division. its present Archbishop appears to take many of his views from the liberal middle-class Guardian newspaper. it has run its historical course. Run by committees. its 'niceness'. It has largely become anything to any men and no thing to no men. its fudges are signs of resistance to Truth. appears to be a half-rejected digest of diluted Calvinism. signs of the search for Truth. In fact. founded by a homicidal serial adulterer. Its constant search for compromise. An organisation which fudges is one which does not want to live by the Truth. searches for compromise. for 'tolerance'. At best. it is merely incoherent. the Church of England has little authority or charisma. 'all things to all men'.without authority because without spirituality. who busy themselves with the . for the middle way. Present Church of England values appear to be merely the promotion of Establishment liberal bourgeois notions of 'decency' and 'respectability'. Its ministers appear to have turned into amateur social workers. have always been signs of vitality in Church life. large parts of Heterodoxy are now an authorityless debating society . On the contrary.Protestantism. not compromises. its constant fudges. Having long ago lost its appeal to those outside the middle-classes. The great Church Councils came about out of controversy. Indeed. largely exclude the concept of Absolute Truth. the Church of England. The English offspring of Protestantism.
now very advanced. no life in Christ. when I was making these same points: 'But what is the Holy Spirit?' It appeared that he really did not know. Spiritually empty. no spiritual and therefore no moral authority. a form of Christianity which is religionless. it is no longer in control of the agenda. The agenda of modern Heterodoxy appears to be set by the world and its humanist ideology of social 'progressiveness'. however. no authentic Christianity. no knowledge of Christ.material and mental welfare of their clients. no direct experiential knowledge of Him. This has come about through the acceptance of all the long-term implications of the filioque. the deification of human nature without God. has been the inevitable result of the self-inflicted self-mutilation of Heterodoxy. At worst. it merely reacts to what is predetermined. instead of leading it upwards. Spiritual bankruptcy has resulted in secular humanism. Thus Heterodoxy merely reflects the world. This thousand-year long process of degeneration of the West from the Church to the brave new religion of humanism. the Body of Christ. Heterodoxy appears only to have ideas about Christ. there is no Holy Spirit. because it is Churchless. who manipulate and condition the masses with their secularist political correctness through television and the other mass media. Heterodoxy appears to be a spiritual vacuum. without the Holy Spirit. For without the Church. Without its own authority. As one Anglican cleric asked me thirty years ago. it recognises only the authority of those 'opinion-makers'. .
it even imitates the architecture of the world and its modern churches are reflections of worldly architecture. a merger with the world. after a long passage of time. Syncretism. its original error. the loss of the Holy Spirit and the consequent loss of faith and the logical development of secular humanism were inevitable. In the absence of the Holy Spirit. All religions. or 'faith communities'. like the world. it is unable to provide spiritual food. Heterodoxy can have no doctrine or even concept of 'The Church' and therefore its merger with the world is inevitable. Once this failure had taken place. this humanism has insisted on the removal from Heterodox worship of the surviving sense of the sacred. This . As a result. Albeit. regardless of Truth. Liturgically. But ecumenism is in fact secularism. As regards sin and hell. the vestigial sense of mystery and awe. The adoption of humanism by the Heterodox denominations has had several results. mainly since the 1960s. known as ecumenism. for it mouths what the world already says. for today humanism proclaims that only human life is 'sacred'. it proclaims. has taken hold. the filioque. are now considered to be equal. that everybody will be saved. We have in our times seen the reinstatement of the heresy of Origen and its deification by humanists of all backgrounds. Heterodoxy today has little distinctive or religious to say to the world. Being outside the Church.This degeneration is the result of Heterodoxy's failure to first identify and then exclude its own essence.
the exalting 'I'm saved' feeling. for instance. Human need is placed above divine service. Today Heterodox religious belief. has been individualised and privatised. The aim of humanist worship is to develop aesthetic sensation. ministers now face congregations. The worthy Act of God (worship) is ignored for the unworthy acts of man. In this way. This 'charismatic' movement is but a repeat performance of the delusions of nineteenth-century evangelical revivalism and emotionalism. Heterodoxy seems to have forgotten long ago that the Church is about the Son of God and the salvation of the soul. not about fallen man's smug self-satisfaction and self-exaltation. Without the sense of the sacred. the churches of 'therapy'. It reflects consumer choice. These ministers have literally turned their backs on God. However. reflecting the secular world.can be seen. with their huge turnover of superficial believers. Any individual can pick and mix from the supermarket menu of religion. The greatest symbol of this removal of the sacred is the turning around of altars and clergy since the 1960s. 'the feel-good factor'. they have no lasting impact or long-term value. Heterodox centres of worship are thus conveniently turned into concert halls and secular clubs. instead of facing God. Religion is customised for . in the humanist abolition of 'oldfashioned' liturgical language or the reading aloud of secret prayers. the only 'successful' and full Protestant churches today. This can be seen in 'happy-clappy' churches.
In hell people are prisoners of their sins. self-interest. self-indulgence and selfsatisfaction. it is hollow. You can make up your own religion based on secular. humanist ethics after all religion is only a 'lifestyle choice'. modern Heterodoxy faces a meltdown. Christopher Dawson.its customers. for it has come to profess secular ideals. As a result of this long process of degeneration. 'Worship committees' devise new 'styles of worship'. Religion and the Rise of Western Culture . of hell. new forms of emotional self-satisfaction. THE LOSS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AND HUMANIST RELIGION All social and intellectual changes are dependent on the existence of a spiritual force without which they would not have been. regardless of Truth. Worship is just another recreational activity. And that is the definition of humanist society . a leisure time occupation. an empty shell.one in which people do not even realise that they are prisoners of their own smug sinfulness. because without the Absolute Revelation of the Holy Spirit. People 'shop around' as a therapy for the most convenient religion. worship has no authority. those of spiritual barbarism.
the divine and the human. the upward movement of humanity. Humanism. after all. is the worship of the human race in its unity in diversity. 'soap' and pop 'stars'. television 'personalities'. Racism is therefore similar to disbelief in the Holy Trinity. These celebrities especially love giving each other celebrations. discussed and even fictionalised in numerous publications and broadcasts. film. awards and prizes in the forms of strangely-sculpted idols. The saints have been replaced by a host of 'celebrities'. People . has been replaced by anti-sexist belief. The belief in the Resurrection of Christ has been replaced by the belief in constant social progress. The belief in the two natures of Christ.Humanism has almost completely replaced Heterodox Christianity. Belief in the Holy Trinity has been replaced by anti-racist belief. the one human race. The following Christian dogmas have been usurped and replaced: The worship of the One God has been replaced with the worship of humanity. The details of their 'Lives' are ardently studied. This is the belief that male and female are two completely equal parts of humanity. for racism expresses disbelief in the human race. sports 'personalities' and others. The belief in the Virgin Birth has been replaced by the belief that humanity is above sin and has sacred qualities. identical in all ways.
Their aim is to promote human 'welfare'. while maintaining the illusion of 'freedom' and 'democracy'.in the name of liberty. The Kingdom of Heaven has been replaced by the offers of various political parties to develop an all-powerful and all-saving government system.name their children in honour of these contemporary 'saints'. Such politicians have at their disposal large budgets to manipulate the masses. Neo-puritans like 'St Margaret' (Thatcher). drug-taking. Our political 'Saviours' struggle to revive 'communities'. With these budgets they implement the social propaganda of their coming 'heavenly kingdom' of humanism and secularism through their 'spin'. adultery and homosexuality. people live with the illusion that they are thinking for themselves. Thus these illiberals will introduce compulsory identity cards with biometric data . based her . whose main 'contribution' to humanity appears to be an increase in the use of foul language and aggressive behaviour and the practices of alcoholism. but only because in this way they can save money by cutting spending and exercise even more political control. They then wonder why their children are so badly behaved. Thus conditioned by State propaganda. the 'nanny-State'. fornication. The leaders of political parties take on the role of Messiahs who operate miracles through 'social engineering'. revering the mass-murderer Cromwell. to meddle and busybody like old-fashioned Lutherans in privacy and personal life. to control individuals as far as possible.
philosophy on the self-help ethics of Protestantism. which automatically elevates us so that we no longer need forgiveness. in itself it actually encourages irresponsibility. the egalitarian hell of which appears to reduce as many as possible to a state of cretinism. which proclaims that however different we are. 'St Tony' Blair preaches as a neo-Puritan and mounts 'pious' Crusades against non-humanist countries and systems. she said. There are no longer any sheep or goats: all are forgiven. deluded by his own sincere illusions that he is saving the world when in fact thousands die because of his actions. The ruling elite. The greatest sin. we are still equal. make sure that they are not part of this. leads to the abolition of excellence and the introduction of mediocrity. was 'inflation'. This can be seen in the campaigns to relieve Third World Debt. Education. . of course. He is largely supported by the ethics of Scottish Calvinism. The State invest large amounts of money on imposing its egalitarian mediocrity through its social propaganda and the 'educational' system. Education'. This doctrine of equality. through reduction to the lowest common denominator. Another neo-Puritan. However justified this may be. The belief in forgiveness has been replaced by the doctrine of equality. chanted to the Leninist mantra of 'Education. all are equal. has ensured the appearance of semi-literate University graduates. The devaluation of Education.
. Without the concept of sin.The belief in miracles has been replaced by the hope placed in medical technology. which leads to premature death. into which English people are born. delay death. Here dramas are played out in the struggle against the terrible enemy of humanism. Humanism believes in the sacrament of good health. the perfection of which is their Holy Grail. People are maintained by Social Security and the National Health Service. death. Hospitals have become the monastic centres of modern times. Thus a great struggle goes on against the costly practice of smoking. these 'saints' work on the 'salvation' of humanity. life. they and their surgeries have become parish priests. The greatest humanist saints of tomorrow labour in these 'monasteries' and their laboratories of medical research. the welfare system (often. where doctors (saints) and nurses (angels) 'save' lives. 'named and shamed'. so essential to soulless humanism. 'illfare'). semi-eternal. in reality. As for general practitioners and psychologists. 'from the cradle to the grave'. Thus geneticists will by genetic manipulation solve the flawed inheritance of human nature and grant us long. This system promotes our bodily and mental welfare. Those who work against the sacredness of human life by indulging in the evil of smoking are made to feel guilty. to whom people go for healing and confession.e. live and are buried. This is why some of the most popular television programmes are situated in hospitals. i.
or the spiritual causes or consequences of greed and obesity. Many of these fads have in reality actually led to selfmutilation.Y' chains.. The cult of the human body is reinforced in sport. Here the cult of the body is fostered. through cosmetic surgery and death through anorexia. Fasting has been replaced by a slimming and dieting industry with fads which aim to increase physical beauty. The cult of the importance of physical comfort is furthered by another huge industry. swimming-pools. which in fact induce greed and so obesity.I. The Olympic Games. where they 'consume' the bread and wine of modernity through 'healthy' foods which they freely choose. best-selling recipes.Prayer has been replaced by non-Christian meditation. this artificially created need is met through sports centres. the supermarkets. To ordinary people. Athletics Meetings and Football Cups are multi-billion pound events. Communion is now taken in the 'aisles' of other modern cathedrals. where one can foster one's 'image' and promote public relations. This is reinforced by countless television programmes and magazines about cookery and wine with the cult of cooks and gourmets and their 'holy' writings. None of these of course ever speaks of the sin of greed. with countless television series about home improvements to . for instance. gymnasiums and fitness clubs in another multi-billion pound spin-off. Almsgiving and acts of mercy have been replaced by tax-free gifts to 'the charity industry'. that of 'D.
make people more 'comfortable', again inflating the bubble of 'self-expression', of human egoism. Humanism is always based on emotional self-satisfaction, selfindulgence, self-exploration, self-enrichment, selfexaltation. Always the smug self. The hope of salvation has been replaced by the desire to eliminate all bodily and mental suffering, promoting the cult of pleasure. The development of a leisure society and the reduction of all human activities to 'self-fulfilling' and 'selfenriching' hobbies and pursuits. After all, the Protestant U.S. Constitution states that the pursuit of 'happiness' is an essential human right. You can do anything, 'as long as it makes you happy'. Thus we see the development of the entertainment society and the 'entertainment industry', the pleasure culture. For those who cannot lull themselves into insensibility through television, the media, entertainment, holidays, tourism and alcohol, there are always the other drugs which the State does not officially allow, but which are everywhere available. Pleasure must be our aim - even if it kills us. Precisely because it idolises pleasure, humanism denies that God exists: for if God existed, He would not allow pleasure-denying suffering. This particular piece of human vanity and self-worship fails to see that in reality we suffer because we sin. Denying that we sin, the self-flattering illusion of humanism therefore fails to understand that we deserve to suffer. The elimination of suffering through pain-killers deprives humanity of the possibility of
perceiving reality through Providential suffering and so bringing it to repentance for sin. Yet, paradoxically, people suffer more now because the expectation of suffering and death is taken away from them, and living in a bubble of unreality, when reality does finally come, they find it unbearable. The 'spirituality' of humanism regarding death is extravagantly sentimental, with its cuddly toys and 'floral tributes', as was seen most clearly at the funeral of Princess Diana. Its funerals are prayerless 'celebrations of life'. The 'thanksgiving for the life' of the deceased does not pray for the departed, it concentrates on 'bereavement therapy', 'grief counselling', with platitudes unworthy of children. Such secular funerals are in fact celebrations of human weakness. This is reflected in the humanist attitude towards animals, which are seen as extensions of human-beings. We find the same sickly sentimentalism here because since humanism believes that we have no souls, animals therefore are equivalent to human-beings. The cult of fluffy animals and cartoon characters is therefore admissible. The worship of pets, the practices of dressing them up and buying them luxury foods and presents is now commonplace. Animal slaughter for meatfor nonvegetarians is naturally hidden away in abbatoirs. How strange that this animal sentimentalism is not extended towards all animate beings, for example, to killer bees or the AIDS virus.
The brave new religion of humanism has many taboo words. These include: Sin. Repentance, judgement, redemption. Fornication, adultery. Hell, evil, the devil, demons. Heresy. Sin was replaced in the 1960s with the belief that all human failings are the result of social ills. ('Society's to blame'). At present the blame has been shifted to 'the world'. Humanism asserts that sin does not exist, that failings are never the fault of individual human-beings, for humanity is above sin and failings are never its responsibility. Failings are always the faults of systems exterior to humanity. As a result the 'moaning society' has been created. It is a faithless, ex-Protestant society in which people still constantly protest against systems, against faults outside themselves and beyond their control. The words 'bellyache', 'whinge', 'whine', 'gripe', 'grumble' 'complain', 'fret', 'fuss', 'protest', 'lobby', criticise', 'nitpick', hairsplit' and countless synonyms are now in vogue. This is a society of neurosis and neurotics. Since there are no sins, for humanity is above them, there can be no repentance or need for it, no judgement or need for redemption. Instead, there is massive guilt, which feeds industries of psychologists, counsellors, therapists and mental health experts.
relativist and syncretistic. this is a society which. Revealed Truth cannot exist. fornication and adultery. All of them are conveniently hidden from humanist daily life. with its 'mythical' evil. Instead of saying that all religions have a partial and fragmentary knowledge of God but that the Church alone has at its disposal the whole Truth. there are only 'lifestyle choices'. however. Humanism asserts that 'everything is relative'. therefore hell cannot exist. the elderly are artificially kept alive against their own wills. Hell is here in the mental hospitals with their schizophrenic and paranoid cannabis-takers and suicides. the hospitals where in the next ward. In reality. having denied hell in the beyond. Regarding hell. because it would imply the miraculous and the existence of a Divine Revealer dwelling beyond time and space - . Hell is here in the hospitals with their 200. there are no longer any Absolutes and any Revelation. these are 'natural'. Cures for sexually transmitted disease will solve all problems of sexual conduct. devil and demons. has created hell in its midst. all will be saved. Hell is here in the prisons full to overflowing with sadistic murderers and pedophiles.000 murders ('abortions') a year. All opinions are submitted to humanism. Religious heresy does not exist either.As regards sexual sin. the views of humanism with regard to other religions are reductionist. Having rejected the unique miracle and unique revelation of the Incarnation of the Son of God.
However. Chancellor of York Minster 'Secularisation'. crumble and collapse. Often we feel as imaginary visitors from other planets might feel. CONCLUSION: DESPAIR AND HOPE Those whose duty as members of (the Body of the Lord) is to preserve the purity and authenticity of His truth are as faithful as they have ever been. The language of humanism is the coded language of political correctness. They need to direct their mission to the Christian remnant in England.159. an analysis of the . has been very rapid. Very Rev Dr Edward Norman. 2002 To Orthodox missionaries coming from abroad (and I am one of them) modern English society presents a very strange face. Continuum. a language which has no regard for the Truth . for there is work to be done'.which is an Absolute and therefore is banned. such are the strange contradictions and incongruities of modern life in England. inasmuch as they are mere relics or 'symbols' of primitive societies and their folklore.quite unacceptable to humanism. There is astonishment at how quickly a once Christian society can lose the Holy Spirit. can lose its faith. The loss of faith and so the advance of practical and theoretical paganism under the mask of humanism. A once Christian nation now wallows in depravity. All miracles are therefore merely 'symbolic' and all 'traditional' religions are equal. P.
without the guidance of the Holy Spirit. the loss of faith has not occurred because English Heterodox have been persecuted. Although it may seem unlikely that humanity will yet return. Heterodoxy has gradually. the loss of faith.problem shows us that the roots of the essential problem of the loss of the Holy Spirit. For this reason the collapse of Heterodox Christianity in England has not taken place because of fierce persecution or because it has been rejected from the outside. the result of the internal logic of a false doctrine. The loss of the Holy Spirit. At the beginning. like the Prodigal Son to the . But an Empire fell to them. its collapse has been voluntary. there were only the Twelve. without monastic life. There is reason for despair only if one has oneself lost faith. Without the Tradition of the Church. at first imperceptibly. The brave new religion of secular humanism has in fact developed because worldliness has since the mid-eleventh century been an integral and systemic part of Heterodoxy. suicidal. the filioque. if humanity turns back to Christ. But those who still have faith also know that the present great apostasy can be reversed. at Pentecost. openly encouraged and then fallen into worldliness. but because the essential nature of English Heterodoxy has for centuries been worldly and world-loving. self-inflicted. The same can happen again. The collapse has occurred from inside. then perceptibly. lie deep within the inner workings of Heterodoxy and stretch back nearly one thousand years.
the last word in history has not yet been uttered.1167 53. And this is our hope. It is important to recognize the different uses. that is life enslaved by the affections of the flesh. this same language He uses also of the Holy Ghost. and what He says of the Son. to the rediscovery of the Holy Spirit. like the Father and the Son.embrace of the Father. and sharing in their operations. but also from His being. Fr Andrew The world. We can leave the nuances of syntax to the philologists and theologians. The word "world" is used in multiple senses in Scripture. to a new age of the Christian Faith.”1168 meaning here by the world not .” He says. “O righteous Father. unapproachable in thought. but all Christians must recognize that which is of the world and is therefore to be avoided. equally with the Father and the Son. St Basil the Great. and the most important discernment to have is to understand what is sinful and leads away from God – this is perhaps the most important understanding of the word "world". Moreover the surpassing excellence of the nature of the Spirit is to be learned not only from His having the same title as the Father and the Son. For what our Lord says of the Father as being above and beyond human conception. Let's look at it. St Basil the Great. with text pertinent to "the world" highlighted in bold italics. —— Establishment of the natural communion of the Spirit from His being. unapproachable in thought. “the world hath not known Thee. incidentally gives a wonderful deﬁnition of the most important understanding of the word world. in his discourse on the Holy Spirit.
org/print/schaff/npnf208/vii. but ye see me. "On the Holy Spirit". because it seeth Him not. “Ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. is powerless to look up to the spiritual light of the truth. “The Spirit of truth. but this life of ours subject to death. #53. can no more receive the grace of the Spirit than a weak eye the light of a sunbeam. But the Lord. http:// www. and Whom saints alone can contemplate through pureness of heart? What kind of honours can be deemed adequate to Him? (St Basil the Great. that is life enslaved by the affections of the ﬂesh. he that giveth breath unto the people upon it. to see our Lord no more with the eyes of the heart.”1177 And so says Isaiah.…but ye know Him. and Spirit to them that trample on it”1178. who has never trained his mind to contemplation.” He says.” He says.—“He that spread forth the earth and that which cometh out of it. And when discoursing of Himself He says. “whom the world cannot receive. through their unbelief in the resurrection. And so the world.”1173 For the carnal man. neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him.1172 were ordained.1175 as in mud. And He said the same concerning the Spirit. What then ought to be thought of Him whom the world cannot receive. for He dwelleth with you.xxiii) . for he dwelleth with you.the complex whole compounded of heaven and earth. applying the word world to those who being bound down by this material and carnal life. because it seeth Him not. who by His teaching bore witness to purity of life.1174 but rather keeps it buried deep in lust of the ﬂesh. for they that trample down earthly things and rise above them are borne witness to as worthy of the gift of the Holy Ghost. gives to His disciples the power of now both beholding and contemplating the Spirit.1169 and exposed to innumerable vicissitudes. For “now. and beholding1171 the truth by material sight alone. Ch XXII.ccel.”1170 again in this passage. “Yet a little while and the world seeth me no more.”1176 wherefore “the world cannot receive Him.
and will inevitably fall along the broad path to Hell. and his spirit was sad. we see that: · · The "World" is "this life of ours subject to death. worldliness 4 Entries A certain man said that there were once three men who loved labors. which he turned into peace. the second chose to go about and visit the sick." Those in the world are those "who (are) being bound down by this material and carnal life. or else we will have no comprehension of Who God is. From the Saint. he found him in affliction . and they were monks. who had chosen to still the contentions of men. He went to the man who had chosen to visit the sick. but the third departed to the desert that he might dwell in quietness. was unable to make every man to be at peace with his neighbor. Finally the first man. and (are) beholding1171 the truth by material sight alone." · It now remains for us to be in the world but not of it. can no more receive the grace of the Spirit than a weak eye the light of a sunbeam.1169 and exposed to innumerable vicissitudes. The first one chose to go about and see where there was strife." The 'World: "that is life enslaved by the affections of the ﬂesh.
"Come. men dedicated to God and . but if he live in the peace and quietness of the desert he is able to see God clearly. Wallis Budge. who live in the world and are absorbed in cares and vexations and who think of us (who are." and they did so. "We see our own faces distinctly." He said unto them. for by reason of the disturbance caused by the affairs of the world he cannot see his sins." After they had filled the vessel. "What do you see?" They said unto him. "Look into the water. 1984) Truly. St." After the water in the basin had ceased to move.because he was not able to fulfill the law which he had laid down for himself. "What do you see?" And they said. and he said unto them. he said unto them." trans." "The Paradise of the Holy Fathers." and they looked. He then said unto them. and look down to the bottom through it. "Pour out some of the water into a basin. he said to them a second time. (Seattle. and the two men related to the third the tribulations which had befallen them in the world. by E. A. He was silent. "We see nothing. "Thus is it with the man who dwelleth with men. Nectarios Press. and seeing each other they rejoiced. but after a little he said unto them. They entreated him to tell them how he had lived in the desert. Then the two of them went to the monk in the desert. of course. let each of us go and fill a vessel of water. I fear that our fathers according to the flesh.
For concern with this life prevents that concern with one's own soul and its state which is the .already in possession of a pledge of entering into the blessed life!) expecting to receive succor from us in the age to come.Volume II. Armand Veilleux. St Pachomius. greatly put to shame? Great is your affliction. that you may not see the glory of the Lord." For this reason. your branches have become useless. So long as we leave them there. Michigan: Cistercian Publications.44 Worldly thoughts and the cares of life have the same effect on the understanding as a veil draped over the eyes. St. "How have you become wretched. For this cause they have become a prey. trans. pp." (Kalamazoo." You have heard. 1981). Let indeed the wicked be removed. John Chrysostom says. "the beloved are like the abhorred" and "the crown of your head is taken away. The lions have roared at it and have given out their voice against it. But when they fall away as we remember that we are to die.. as our Lord told Martha (Luke 10:41). St. for the understanding is the eye of the soul. 41 . a fire is kindled upon you. we cannot see. how are you shut off? There is nobody to give access to you. The Practical and Theological Chapters. then we shall clearly see the true light which illumines every man as it comes into the world from on high. Symeon the New Theologian. "Pachomian Koinonia -. will be found to condemn us and to quote the words of Scripture. Cities that face the south. We have to work. but we need not concern or trouble ourselves about many things.
from G. "Be attentive to yourself" (Deuteronomy 15:9). According to Western thinking. if you go "above" this. Palmer. 1984).104 Raising the Mind. and Bishop Kallistos Ware. REF:St. Basil the Great has written about this text with marvelous wisdom." In Orthodoxy this is not so. above this. St. It is said in the Law. Faith and Reason The writings of the Russian philosopher Ivan Kireyevsky contain some basic ideas which are very apropos for us today. and this is what the Orthodox Church tries to give. 103 ." (London: Faber and Faber. The usual argument between faith and reason. Philip Sherrard. is not correct. Peter of Damaskos. E. corporeal realm. pp. III. "The Bodily Virtues As Tools For The Acquisition Of The Virtues Of The Soul ". with which most of the critics and scholars of the West are occupying themselves. for the reason itself is so exposed to Truth that it begins to be elevated above itself. "The Philokalia: Vol. There is something. however. you usually have to deny reason and "jump into the dark. reason does not offer any more than an understanding of this two-dimensional. . By itself. Reason is such a thing that it must be raised up to a higher level.purpose of the man who devotes himself to God and is attentive to himself. Warming the Heart by Father Seraphim Rose of Platina 1. he wrote. H.
they want it for others: for their own friends and relatives. must be guided by an awareness of the times in which we live. however. since they have fervor and love for Christ without even knowing what the Church of Christ is. Our positive missionary fervor. It is natural for those who are in the Church of Christ. and especially to missionary-minded converts. as we look about us today. Orthodox Christianity loses its savor and the believers become just like anybody else. This positive missionary fervor is a very good sign (except. of course. of course. we see the Orthodox Church so hemmed in by Communist persecution in one place and by worldliness in another. Knowing that Orthodoxy is the Truth for all peoples. and for whoever may have their heart open to it. . for overcoming ethnicism in the Church. as Archimandrite Constantine (of Jordanville) often said. which is occupied by worldliness. In the latter case. when negative comments are made). the best time for missionary activity is right now. The situation is. 2. worse in the West. In fact. not to be satisfied with just having it for themselves. for more services in English. the more the Orthodox mission increases. Under Communism. whereas. Missionary Fervor There is much discussion in the Orthodox world about the need for people in the West to be converted. many Protestants put many Orthodox to shame. realizing what it means to be Orthodox.We will examine how this point relates to contemporary Orthodox Christians. Yet. because the less Christian America becomes. one can suffer for Christ and at least bring something good out of that. under the influence of worldliness. so that we will know how to save our souls and save others.
however. bad results. and the old calendar Church. where. on the external side. These people became "burnt out" and fruitless. which wants to he faithful to the Holy Fathers. there has been a division between the new calendar Church. since the 1920's. Setting Priorities How does one begin to place first things first? We can learn from problems in contemporary Orthodoxy which show the results of setting wrong priorities. fervor for the canons and the Holy Fathers has produced some extremely unpleasant. warming their hearts and raising their minds to a higher level. but a changed life and a warm heart. faced by many English-speaking converts.These situations. and some of them even left the Church. They tell us important things about the present state of Grcece. The missionary fervor is on a secondary level. and they have a fervent missionary spirit similar to that of our young Americans who want to open up Orthodoxy to their fellow countrymen. and we receive very heartfelt letters from them. the old calendar Church has been getting some influential converts. 3. Where can this fervor lead? In Greece.) We must remember that Christ expects from us not missionary fervor. We see numerous examples of people with great missionary fervor who did not place first the internal side of changing themselves. as Kireyevsky describes. Group after group begins to cut . of having to attend services in a foreign language. should not cause the slightest difference in our missionary fervor. which goes the way of the world. Lately. (And the same may be said for the situation. Our Brotherhood is in contact with many people in Greece.
while everyone knows about certain others because someone has "put them into the air" and everyone follows that particular opinion. Having observed these elders. there is no reason for this—there are many holier people that they pay no attention to. Each one accuses the others of not emphasizing the right things. "Uncanonical. and suddenly he becomes a "holy elder" and they all flock to him. for example. There is one tragic case of a very sophisticated Greek theologian who left his jurisdiction because. Athos who has been observing for many years the situation in Greek monasteries. They have opinions which they put into the air and surround someone with them. "the canons are against it!" His action indicates that something was not being placed first. No one knows anything about him. " he said. which is almost pagan and not enlightened by Orthodoxy. if advanced people in Greece are like that? * 4. of not having the proper relationship with other Orthodox Churches. On Mt. He goes to places where. Human Opinions We have a friend on Mt. someone has become a famous elder and has many disciples. in the altar of one of its churches. just like anyone else. but also because he was living in a country that had been Orthodox for nearly two thousand years. he often concludes that the people are imagining and creating fantasies. there was an icon of the Holy Trinity showing God the Father as the Ancient of Days.themselves off because they consider the others not fervent enough. What chance do we have in America. It is strange not only because this man was very learned. Actually. Athos this can be seen in the case of an elder named Theodosius. etc. a very holy man who wrote a diary about how he prayed the Jesus Prayer on a very advanced level. .
Knowing the present situation and the whole of modern Western wisdom. however. We should be using our minds. "holy elders " and so forth among the Greeks. . They spoke to people in the language of their times. are caused by an absence of that which Kireyevsky was writing about and trying to promote. It is required of us in these times to be extremely discerning. after observing all kinds of factions. This. Athos. says that there is something basic missing in them: they did not have. elucidating Orthodox teaching in a way that can be understood by Western man. especially to Bishop Ignatius. These Fathers. The particular clergyman whom we know on Mt. trying to raise our hearts to a level where we can feel more deeply about Orthodoxy. All the temptations of our times were known to them. 5. Bishop Ignatius. is not what we should be doing. Bishop Ignatius Brianchaninov and Bishop Theophan the Recluse. Recent Fathers The pitfalls mentioned thus far. was himself an engineer and knew all the latest theories of mathematics and calculus. which in Greece have led to schisms among people who have been Orthodox all their lives. They were recent Orthodox Fathers in Russia who were thoroughly steeped in the spirit of the Holy Fathers. for example. this tendency—to find an opinion someone has put into the air and begin to run after it—is very strong. in the 19th century. fights.Among us Western converts to Orthodoxy. a period very close to our 20th century. wrote a volume on hell and the state of the soul after death. [l] These two figures were living witnesses of what Kireyevsky was writing about. they set forth the Orthodox teaching for these times and answered all kinds of arguments. who read all the Western writers.
Christian heart and a struggle with ourselves whereby we are made humble. The Antichrist can come.. 6. be put in a museum of Orthodox antiquities—and the Antichrist will love this. going after he who is in place of Christ. there is a temptation for us to be following "external wisdom. beautiful Church services according to the Typicon. External Wisdom If the authentic spirit of Orthodoxy is not transmitted to us like this. therefore. in coming to Orthodoxy.. then all these wonderful external things can. only after the whole world has heard of Christ. tithing.as well as others who have read them and followed them. having beautiful churches. In such a way we will entirely lose our salvation. . go after external things: good icons. of course. the final choice is made between Christ and the Imposter. Why will everyone in the world want to bow down to him? Obviously it is because there is something in him which responds to something in us—that something being a lack of Christ in us. just the right kind of chanting." the wisdom of this world. but we can approach them without placing first a warm. The Antichrist must be understood as a spiritual phenomenon. We will then. as the philosopher Vladimir Solovyev describes. If we neglect this essential priority. which might even look like Christianity.. since "Antichrist" means the one who is "in place of Christ" or looks like Christ. and almost the whole world will follow after the Beast. All these things are wonderful and good. hand down Orthodoxy to us in a very accessible way. and who will lead us away. If we will bow down to him (God forbid that we do so!). it will be because we will feel an attraction to some kind of external thing.
It is in the fashion now to learn about the Jesus Prayer. I they removed the original icons which believers had prayed before for centuries. to read the Philokalia. One member. the first thing you are after. but to Antichrist. There is a case (one of many) in which a church had old. however. They may be helpful if they are used rightly. In fact. If you get all excited about having the right kind of icons and begin saying. even if we become caught up in exalted ideas. who was very zealous for the old icon style. from following "external wisdom"? We can be caught up in it. one might justifiably regard it with suspicion. who was the president of a San Francisco icon society dedicated to the restoration of old icons. because you are again placing all your emphasis on something external. it should be noted. . with the people who gave them Orthodoxy.How do we keep from doing this. painted in a relatively new style—and a zealous person took them all out and put in new. Archbishop John. wanted the Archbishop to make a decree in the diocese that only old style icons are to be allowed. if there is a church with nothing but icons of the latest "approved" style. but if they become your passion. original Russian icons—some good and some in rather poor taste. then they become externals which lead not to Christ. In a way. This was once affirmed by Archbishop John (Maximovitch) [glorified as a Saint in 1994 by the Russian Church Abroad— webmaster]. "traditional" style paper icon prints. this man's intention seemed good. And what was the result? The people there lost contact with tradition. An icon is first of all something to be prayed before. "There's an icon of the wrong style in your church! " you must check yourself and be more careful. or at least to make a decision that this was the officially approved position." These kinds of things also will not save us—they are external. to go "back to the Fathers.
a 6th-century desert Father from Gaza. not that we pride ourselves on having good icons.' And believe me.told him. after a short time he began saying.. Who is Basil? Who is Gregory? There is no one who counts but Peter and Paul. brother." The important thing is that we pray. Hesychasm! and Jesus Prayer. Gregory Palamas.' Then he began to cheapen them and to say. St. you are going to despise these soon. he used to say. if one of his brethren said anything to him.' and after a little while.. anyway? There is no one any good. "who came to a miserable state. One of these is found in the spiritual counsels of Abba Dorotheos. 'Who is he? He is not Zosimas or one of his lot. Symeon the New Theologian.' And then in a short while he began to debunk them. We see this same attitude nowadays. to say." and other advanced subjects—all this is on an external level. expressed something like this: "Everybody knows St. he wanted to follow after some kind of external thing. "I knew a man. Yes! Oh. So far we have been citing contemporary examples of "external wisdom" in Orthodoxy. Being Linked with the Past . " writes Dorotheos. 'Who is Paul? Who is Peter? There is no one but the Holy Trinity!' And so at last he lifted himself up against God—and there he gave up!" This monk ended as he did because he began with self-love in his heart and did not really want to change himself. saying. From the beginning. yes! We'll run after him.' And I said to him. he's all the rage! Yes! And all the hesychast Fathers. 'There is no one of any importance but Macarius. 7. 'Who is Macarius. 'Really.. except perhaps Basil or Gregory. "I can pray in front of one kind and I can pray in front of another kind of icon. but there are profitable illustrations of it in the past as well. Oh.
loving heart: longsuffering. fervor (but not of such a kind that it begins to be critical of others). We have to look at ourselves: if we see that we have zeal for Orthodoxy and yet are not "linked" with the line that goes back to Ignatius Brianchaninov and Theophan the Recluse. You have to.  There should be a continuous line. These things are the very characteristics which come from a warm. from some of those people whom you might be . As soon as you begin making such statements as." On the contrary. "These people aren't doing this as they should. or of excommunicating someone over questions of strictness. who are extremely longsuffering. too!). wherever you might be. We may still find "ordinary" parish priests. Even if it is true—as is often the case to some degree—this critical attitude is a very negative thing which will not lead you anywhere." you have to stop and warn yourself. try to learn. you have to remember not to judge or think yourself so wise that you "know better. who transmit Orthodoxy to us and teach us how to soberly approach the Fathers of earlier times. patience. something that is not too obvious outwardly —this very "link" with the past. Therefore. it may get you right outside the whole Church. who would never think of making schisms and factions. You will not find many people who will explain it in detail like this. some of them from the Old World. In the end. These criticisms are superficial: we ourselves must be looking deeper to find something in these pastors and in the Church. there is a danger that we might not be linked to all the Fathers. who often do not say much and are therefore criticized or overlooked. perhaps without words. try to receive those things which cannot necessarily be communicated in words.Such considerations should cause us to value even more the Fathers of recent centuries (not that we should make them a fashion.
There are many examples in the Protestant world where people have very soft hearts and are. as Orthodox. We should not. but we must have the right reason for turning to them. Our zeal and enthusiasm must be tempered by wisdom that comes down to us through Ignatius Brianchaninov and Theophan the Recluse. and so on. think that we can be hard and cold and correct and still be Christians. out of love for Christ. in ways which we have to be subtle and refined enough to discern.critical of. There is an example of this here at our monastery: the oak trees. We must be trying to raise our minds up to a higher level. Overcoming Hard-Heartedness What Kireyevsky says is very important: we should start developing within ourselves an Orthodox philosophy of life. 8. and the way to do this is to soften the heart and make it more supple. This is not basic Christianity. and thus we have to approach them not with our ordinary rationalistic minds. are always falling down . There can be a whole realm of confusion in the Holy Fathers. or you don't have the whole context. It is all there in the Holy Fathers. perhaps even through the simplest parish priest. or you don't know how to understand what one Father said as opposed to another Father and you think they might disagree. which are very hard and unbending. kind to other people. even if we are not told. A pre-Christian philosopher in China named Lao Tzu taught that the weakest things conquer the strongest things. You can open the Holy Fathers and have the same problem you have with the Scriptures: you need someone to interpret them because you find something unclear.
Simplicity Although all the perils we have mentioned may sound frightful. which are more supple. while the pine trees.and breaking their limbs. We can see the same thing in human life. smart. He is so unsure of himself that he has to convert you to make sure that he himself believes. they are actually not. we think we have to find the answer some place and point it out with our fingers. The question is an extremely simple one. with our modern. The need to be "right" is again on the external side of Chritianity. but not of primary importance. which must be soft and warm. we must ask God to give it. trying ourselves to do those things by which we can acquire it. The contemporary forms of "super-zealotry" in the Church which are propagated by people who want so desperately to be on the right side. with regard to which we must be somewhat "loose". cold minds. 9. It can be ours if . If we do this. If we do not have this warm heart. Most of all. The person who believes in something so passionately that he will "cut your head off" if you disagree with him. we have to see that we have not got it—that we are cold. It is important. entering into the sacramental life of the Church and receiving the grace of God. God Himself will begin to illumine us. Because we are so complex. fall down much less often before they are actually dead. We will thereby not trust our reason and the conclusions of our logical mind. shows his weakness. are in fact bowed up with weakness and insecurity. The one thing that can save us is simplicity. Complexity enters in when we think of ourselves as. The first priority is the heart.
the more you will be able to "feel your way" in the whole realm of Orthodoxy. "intellectual" and moody." The more we have this second attitude. give thanks to God. "Well. Accept simply the faith you receive from your fathers. "Can we paint an icon of God the Father?" we do not come up with a quick answer and say. We know that He is with the Church until the end. we have to try to assimilate a philosophy . you should be able to learn much from him. We are confronted with the same obstacles Kireyevsky faced. the more we will be protected from spiritual dangers. when it comes to a question like. You will begin to see that even if the people who are the "links" to the past are not consciously "wise. "Oh. doing the best that we can. if. If there is a simplehearted priest near you." nevertheless. canon number so-and-so. "knowing" that we must be right.in our hearts we pray to God to make us simple. yet realizing that our mind. Living in the midst of Western culture. is a very weak tool—then what Kireyevsky talked about will begin to happen: an Orthodox philosophy of life will begin to be formed in us. If we follow the simple path—distrusting our own wisdom. I guess I don't know too much. The more you grow in Orthodoxy by reading and exposure to Church and contact with Orthodox people. of course it's this way—such-and-such Council said so-and-so. God is guiding the Church. only to an even greater degree. You will begin to see the wisdom behind things and people you had dismissed before. Consider that because you are so complex. if we just do not think ourselves so wise. without warmth of heart." to fall into apostasy and heresy." And so either we. have to excommunicate everyone else—in which case we have "gone off the deep end"—or else we have to stop and think. there is no reason to "go off the deep end.
This talk also differs from the main body of his writings in that it was directed to a specific group of people: young American converts who wanted to dedicate their lives to serving God. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is – his good. I felt for many reasons that my near-magical suburban childhood had melted away to reveal a world full of bitterness. Though I was barely an adult. narcissism and greed. we can walk straight into the Kingdom of Heaven—and there is no reason for any of us to fall away from that.and theology which has come from almost 2.000 years ago and has become totally estranged and foreign to the world. Editor's Note: The following text was transcribed from a tape of a a "tabletop discussion" at the St. burned by the empty promises of a slick suburban upbringing. my teens were a time of grand disillusionment with my world. At that age. One of the Bible passages that ﬁrst resonated with me as a newly "born again" Christian was from Chapter 12 of Romans: "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world. Seraphim's talk was impromptu and informal. Platina. Our Orthodox philosophy must not become part of some kind of cult or sect. Yes. betrayal. and betrayed by those closest to me. I was passionate about God and passionately angry at the world for the way I felt it had disappointed me. California. in 1977. Since Fr." The ﬁrst time I heard these words I was 18. some of them as Orthodox missionaries. . a transcription of it is of course more "colloquial" and less "polished" than his carefully composed writings. By taking one small step at a time and not thinking that in one big leap we are going to get anywhere. I was a girl who had been rejected by the cool kids at school. pleasing and perfect will. but rather part of our daily life. but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Herman Monastery.
In my ﬂedgling faith." Years have passed and I'm not that zealous. angry days of my youth have faded just as my glittering childhood once did." Through Orthodoxy I found a living tradition that valued mysticism and otherworldliness. Defying the ways of the world through odd. I learned that in order to ﬁnd my way to that new world. Sure. rebellious teen I once was. all Christians have a basic understanding of foolishness for Christ. a homeowner. Nevertheless. also. ." I had to be transformed. I was in my mid-twenties and pregnant with my ﬁrst daughter when I interviewed a local Orthodox priest for an article I was writing on millennial trends within Christianity. like others of great zeal who found their way through the "narrow gate. Was his church more liberal or more conservative? His answer: "Neither. nonconformist behavior as an act of supreme humility is a fascinating gift shared by some very outstanding believers throughout the history of faith. it's what attracted me to Orthodoxy. In fact. I'm a much mellower and more pragmatic woman. Those idealistic. but the "Yurodivy" tradition. I'm still drawn to this notion of otherworldliness and believe it is at the heart of the Christian ethos. Embracing Christ gave me a glimpse of something better. He pleasantly surprised me when I asked him about the Orthodox Church's political alignment. We're otherworldly. that I was ﬁrst exposed to the notion of the Holy Fool. brought this concept of nonconformity to a whole new level. There are many ways these pious folks refuse to conform to the pattern of this world.Before deciding to leave home and go away to college. to a beautiful new world. an employee. I felt suffocated and alone. I'm a parent. Faith charted the path to a brighter way. particularly in Russia. I had to cease "conforming to the pattern of this world. It was here.
St. of the mystical connection between God and humans that exists despite our fallen state. my goal is to both receive and offer readers glimpses of the Other World – of Heaven -. the second in my "Mittleton Series." Through my writing. There. Xenia of St. My ﬁrst Mittleton novel. I envisioned the Mittleton Series to be a small collection of novels for young people. In the novel.through the characters I create and the stories they act out. Mary of Egypt ﬂed her life as a prostitute to live in rags in the desert. St. wore a dishrag on her head to elicit the ridicule of her fellow monastics. To bring glory to God by denying themselves. ﬂees to the spiritual desert to live in an abandoned ice cream truck in a remote meadow." To deny themselves so they could focus on reaching the Kingdom of God within. after experiencing an intense spiritual transformation. she spends her days . Why did these women of faith behave this way? To slay their inner vanity. Also in the fourth century. rejected boy named Anthony shows Basil that there's more to this world and its false. each one focusing on a different aspect of heaven touching earth. an otherly. empty promises than meets the eye. features a boy who researches modern miracles." St. as a naturefreak named Gaia and her misﬁt friends encounter a whole different kind of misﬁt in the woods near their tree house: a oncetroubled woman who.One of the earliest known "holy fools. As a ﬁction writer. Petersburg feigned insanity after her husband's death by wearing his clothes and only responding to his name. I wanted to explore the gift of foolishness for Christ in my new middle grade novel Stranger Moon. Stranger Moon attempts to get at the idea of being a stranger in this world. Isadora the Simple. The theme is explored on many levels. To achieve a life of prayer without being praised as "holy. Basil's Search for Miracles.
jaded kids of today were to come across a holy fool. They are offered through the models of saints. they unveil an unearthly light that illumines the way for the rest of us. in all its tendencies. in their ultimate self-denial and lives of prayer. God offers us glimpses into the other world while we're here on earth. The idea for this book began with a series of questions: what if a group of screen addicted. in their striving to not conform to the pattern of this world. in one way or another is directed against a . They are offered through the selﬂess love that binds people together. an Orthodox Christian who lives in the contemporary world. Learn more about my journey as a ﬁction writer in the a The Ascetic Podvig of Living in the World A Lecture Given by His Eminence Archbishop [now Metropolitan] Laurus The situation of an Orthodox person. an ascetic the likes of Xenia of St. without any exaggeration.praying for the world. They are offered through the mysterious puzzles and patterns in nature. Petersburg or Mary of Egypt? What would that relationship look like? What would these worldly kids learn from an encounter with the Other Worldly? This is what I sought to answer in Stranger Moon. The result is a book about kids with real problems and their connection to a ﬂawed woman who has found a most strange but nonetheless enticing answer to her own problems: unceasing prayer. may be described. as extremely difﬁcult. In doing so. are able to ﬁnd the Kingdom of God within them. who. The whole of present-day life.
could write. they joyfully went to their martyrdom and gave up their lives for Christ. living here in freedom. the whole world lieth in wickedness" (I John 5:19). ". In life around us. then how much more justiﬁed we are in speaking thus of our times. but in spite of this. fear not them which kill the body. 11:28). in the beginning of the Christian era. in one way or another is being driven out of a person's life. with the teaching of God's Word.. Being a true Orthodox Christian. St. Christ's beloved disciple. but the Christians well remembered the Saviour's words. If. but are not able to kill the soul" (Matt.person who is trying to live according to the teachings of the Orthodox Church. a persecution in its most diverse forms is being carried on against Christianity and against the Christian way of life. Being fortiﬁed by God's grace.. This was also the case in Russia during the torture and persecutions. in our environment. with Christ's teachings and the teachings of the Orthodox Church. Now nobody threatens us.. everything is essentially a total denial of Christianity. is much more difﬁcult in our day than it was in the ﬁrst centuries of Christianity. It's true there were persecutions then and Christians were tormented. prepared to preserve unto death one's faith in Christ our Saviour. Today we see that everything connected with faith in God. " . This process . John the Theologian. in our heterodox surroundings.. with persecution and torture.
to increase in virtue. Christ our Saviour. in addition to an Orthodox person's own efforts. It is achieved by the Holy Spirit in the holy Church founded by our Lord Jesus Christ for our sanctiﬁcation and salvation. and with His teaching. At our holy baptism we gave vows (if we were baptized as infants. to become acquainted with spiritual perfection. We have been given our holy Christian faith so that we might obtain eternal life in blessedness. the created image of His own endless being. do we live as Orthodox Christians are supposed to live? No. we made a . You and I are children of the Russian Orthodox Church. The Old Testament says. our sponsors gave them on our behalf). But to conform perfectly with the spirit of the Founder of our faith. This grace-ﬁlled cooperation is called sanctiﬁcation and is given to us by the Lord. The question arises. and it can be detected in every aspect of life. "God. we are far from living in the way we should. to be sure. but. grace-ﬁlled cooperation from above. all this demands special. since the devil's envy brought death into the world. they make him their model that take him for their master" (Wisdom 2:23-25). framed man for an immortal destiny.that is taking place in the contemporary world is a process of apostasy. to really cleanse ourselves morally.
Every path and every action demands a podvig—that is. the truth. All who are born in the bosom of the holy Church through holy baptism are born into a new life. Therefore. the children of God. Thus. to live in the Church is an essential condition for a Christian's moral development. we must go by this path. in accordance with Christ's teachings and the laws of the Church. an ascetic struggle. with the promise of eternal gifts for the future life. we must live in accordance with God's commandments. At baptism the holy Church sings. and the life" (John 14:6). Alleluia. "As many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. our holy Orthodox Faith is . and He showed us how to follow His teaching. since we belong to God. Consequently. pointed out to us by our Saviour. We are baptized. They grow and are brought up in the Spirit of Truth and receive in the spiritual life grace-ﬁlled gifts for life on earth. The Church of Christ was founded by our Lord the Saviour and He showed us the path by which we must go to Him.contract with Christ and in this way we became His children. "I am the way. His servants. He said." Therefore. we are Orthodox Christians but we don't know very much about our Orthodox Faith.
Lord. one's sinfulness and worthlessness. but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven" (Matt. we have to take ourselves under control. This is found in the ﬁfth. This is why "blessed are the poor in spirit. But only those who observe all the commandments will achieve this. 5:3). In order to go by the path that our Lord pointed out in the holy Gospel. "Not every one that saith unto me. that ye should do as I have done to you" (John 13:15). Matthew. How must we live and struggle? Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself shows an example: "For I have given you an example. The saints also provide us with an example. Lord. The ﬁrst step towards this is to recognize one's spiritual emptiness. In the Beatitudes the Lord teaches us that we must be born again spiritually and thus prepare ourselves for the beatitude of eternal life in the heavenly mansions.an ascetic faith demanding ascetic labor in the struggle with our sinful passions and lusts. shall enter into the kingdom of heaven. Bishop Theophan the Recluse says: . sixth. for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. and seventh chapters of the Gospel of St. to become humble. we must check and test ourselves. In His Sermon on the Mount our Lord Jesus Christ gives us the whole essence of Evangelical teaching. 7:21).
but again turn to the Lord and rebuke yourself with sorrow. so as to know clearly and distinctly if one has sinned. This is the podvig of spiritual attentiveness. and minute. let your mind be with the Lord. Do this: from the morning establish thoughts about the Lord ﬁrmly in your mind and then during the whole day resist any deviation from these thoughts. Continually keep yourself pure for God. and to critically examine one's life like a strict and unhypocritical judge? Bishop Theophan advises as follows: To do this. and see where they are similar and where there is no resemblance. in word or deed. put the law of God on one side and your own life on the other. You will forget yourself. John of Kronstadt says: Every day. hour. and stray from this path. Take your deeds and subject them to the law to see . or movement of the imagination. desire.The true Christian tests himself every day. and do not let yourself be deﬁled by one sinful thought. and how frequently. with whomever you are speaking. desire. keep a strict watch and consider every thought. and movement of the heart. whether you are going somewhere or sitting. Daily testing to see whether we have become better or worse. Whatever you are doing. knowing that the Lord is the Righteous Judge Who is judging you every instant and is evaluating the inner man. Now the question will arise—how do you deﬁnitely ﬁnd out exactly what is sinful and to what degree. St. Constantly and persistently we must take ourselves in hand. every word and deed. is so essential for us that without it we cannot be called Christians.
Or. His words. even though they should not have been. but by his way of life. In answer to the question. Or read those parts of the Gospel of St. Read all this and then check your own life. how must we act and behave? the Apostle Paul shows us. and yourself. But no. The law of the Gospel is given for everyone.if they are permissible. one after the other. All of us. a vast number that should have been done but were not. how must a Christian live. Paul. So as not to omit anything in this important matter. but only for the monastics. From all this you will gather a vast number. thoughts. feelings and desires that were against the law but were permitted. will be made up only of bad deeds. take the rite of Confession and check your own behavior against it. James and the epistles of St. not just monastics. Sit down and call to mind all your duties towards God. Matthew where the Saviour sets out the strictly Christian law. or take the law and see if it is applied in your life. this is for everyone! A person is a Christian not by calling. and even your whole life. and see if your life accords with them. perhaps. The result of such an examination of one's life is to reveal a vast number of deeds. and then go through your life in relation to all these. how it conforms. directed to the Ephesians. you have to have an orderly system. especially to the Romans and Ephesians. and also the epistles of St. your neighbors. are also addressed to us: . have to think about and be concerned for our salvation. ﬁnally. words. and many that were done in accordance with the law but turned out to be deﬁled by an impure motive. Perhaps someone will say that all this is not necessary for all Christians. Or you may go through the ten commandments and the beatitudes.
but rather reprove them. or covetousness. neither ﬁlthiness. because the days are evil. And be not drunk with wine. See then that ye walk circumspectly. and walk in love. as dear children. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth. not as fools. speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. Wherefore he saith. wherein is excess but be ﬁlled with the Spirit.Be ye therefore followers of God. that no whoremonger. who is an idolator. as Christ also hath loved us. Be not ye therefore partakers with them. Wherefore be ye not unwise. which are not convenient [not proper.) proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. and all uncleanness. For ye were sometimes darkness. giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. but understanding what the will of the Lord is. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. but as wise. Awake thou that sleepest. singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord. nor foolish talking. as becometh saints. nor jesting. and arise from the dead. let it not be once named among you. . But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever cloth make manifest is light. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. according to the Slavonic—editorial note]: but rather giving of thanks. redeeming the time. nor unclean person. and Christ shall give thee light. nor covetous man. But fornication. submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God (Ephesians 5:1-21). and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacriﬁce to God for a sweet-smelling savor. For this ye know.
a stronghold for the rich. a preserver of health. it removes it. which causes our soul grief. We must take care concerning our salvation. We will do this if we read holy Scripture. it easily drives it away. a destroyer of sicknesses. an anchor for those tossed by waves. meekness. we must study it and live in accordance with it. if we fast. tested the signiﬁcance of prayer. In addition to this. if we carry out God's commandments and the Church's commandments. We have to go to church. If temptation overtakes us. a walking stick for the inﬁrm. if we pray morning and evening and at all times. peace. a treasure house for the poor. Therefore we must read what they wrote and learn from them. Prayer banishes every sorrow. causes .We have to become interested in the holy Orthodox Faith. if we study the law of God. wrote about this from experience. generosity. etc. in fact. abstinence. who. if we lose some property or something else. We can ﬁnd out from the holy fathers what signiﬁcance prayer should have for us. we have to acquire Christian virtues— love. mercy. The saints. Prayer keeps our virtues intact and quickly removes all evil. John Chrysostom writes about prayer: Prayer is a refuge for those who are shaken. faith. be cleansed of our sins and be sanctiﬁed through the holy Mysteries which are given by the holy Church for our salvation. long-suffering. joy. This is what St. attend divine services.
. in church. On the contrary. John Chrysostom says the following: The right confession of dogmas should be combined with righteousness of life and deeds so that we do not achieve our salvation only by halves. On prayer in church and on attending church services. John Chrysostom continues: To be here in church is the source of all blessings. he who does not have recourse to prayer. even though he is the poorest of all.. He who can sincerely pray is richer than everyone else. since it is not the physical beauty of the body that makes a wife loving. for "man shall not live by bread alone." (Amos 8:11). but the virtue of the soul. I beg and entreat you. but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matt. not cosmetics and beauty aids. Hear how God threatens such hunger and places it alongside punishment and torture: "Behold. St. St. Further. . Is it not madness to do everything and take all measures to avoid bodily hunger but willingly to incur spiritual hunger? No. not gold and rich clothing.. is the poorest of all... the days come. It is the mother of the love of wisdom. that I will send forth a famine in the land. so the soul needs the study of divine Scriptures. When they leave here.. 4:4). As the body needs food.good humor.. Nothing can so facilitate righteousness of conduct and purity of life as being here. saith the Lord God. facilitates constant well-being. but a famine of hearing the word of the Lord.. nor a thirst for water. For this reason those who do not participate in this meal (liturgy) usually suffer hunger. even though he sit on a king's throne. it seems that a husband is more respectful to his wife and a wife is more kind to her husband. not a famine of bread. let us not be so badly disposed toward ourselves. and sincere attentiveness.
where they extinguish every stain. But according to the Lord's commandments. Let us try. we have been banished from Paradise.. John Chrysostom). to rejoice in our inner beauty. Our Lord Himself fasted. and cleanse old sin and bring forth the brightness of youth. St. Often you and I see someone in need but go past without responding and without helping as we consider that there are no really poor people and no one who has genuine need. This spiritual beauty nowhere develops to such an extent as in this wonderful and divine place (church). we are obliged to show mercy. Abstinence for the body is food for the soul (St. where the apostles and prophets wash away. John Chrysostom says this about mercifulness: Consider mercifulness not for what you give but for what you get. every blemish.. But it is divinely established. meekness. considering this to be something that the Church has laid down which is of no importance. It was the ﬁrst commandment given by God to man. husbands and wives. Not to fast is to be like animals to which such a thing is unknown.. reform. we have to help. Because we did not fast. We do not live in order to eat. because through it you receive more .but chastity. Therefore we must fast in order to gain entrance again to Paradise (St. and constant fear of God. but we eat in order to live and fulﬁll our duties. We give very little attention to fasting. as recounted in the Gospel. not as a loss but a gain. The commandment to fast is as old as the world. Basil the Great). every deﬁlement of our soul .
" Yes. The Lord also says to us: "Enter ye in at the straight gate: for wide is the gate. If you give bread. They do not think about the heavenly kingdom. they live for their own pleasure. You give clothing and receive the robe of immortality. we must struggle in order to go by the Orthodox path to salvation. No doubt many of you will say or think: "There they go. it's true—they live and pay no attention to the spiritual life. So they have no restraining center. But look at our friends and acquaintances. The holy apostles taught their disciples and instruct us as well: "We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22). they do not spoil their mood by such considerations. and many there be which go in thereat" (Matt. and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction. You give perishable joys and receive eternal blessings.than you give. they have no peace of soul. nothing has any moral or spiritual . you give shelter under your roof and you receive the heavenly kingdom. they want us to live like monks or hermits. and none of them ever think about what is being said here.14). and everyone around us. do what they want. 7:13. or spiritual joy. you will receive eternal life. They do not believe in that or in the future life. in accordance with the teachings of the Church and the holy fathers. Therefore there is nothing spiritual in them. Thus we see that in accordance with Scripture. the future life.
Orthodoxy views Christianity as an eternal foundation of true life and demands that each break himself and his life until such time as it agrees with that norm. His Beatitude. while heterodoxy takes from Christianity only that which coincides with the conditions of contemporary cultural life. spiritual suicide. but the heterodox looks on the bases of contemporary cultured life as on an unshakable fact. in his wonderful article entitled "How Does Orthodoxy Differ from the Western Denominations?" wrote of the profound difference between our Faith and heterodoxy. heterodoxy considers what elements of Christianity would be suited to us in our current way of life. Metropolitan Anthony. Orthodoxy demands moral heroism—podvig. He sees this profound difference in the fact that the Orthodox Faith teaches how to arrange one’s life according to the requirements of Christian perfection. a man called to life after death in which true life will begin. and only in areas of its existing private options does he indicate which of them are most approved from the Christian viewpoint. the founder and ﬁrst head of our Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. and spiritual bankruptcy. For the Orthodox. the historically-shaped . Therefore they are connected with debauchery and lasciviousness. crime. We children of the Orthodox Church have to beware of this and be careful and run away from all this as though from ﬁre. or for which they might strive.value for which they might restrain themselves.
If we were to follow up all the errors of the West. This is why the pseudo-Christian West does not want to and cannot understand the negation of this life by Christianity. ennobling idea. which commands us to struggle. Orthodoxy is a podvig. Vladyka Anthony points out further that the Orthodox Faith is an ascetic faith.. but for the heterodox the teaching about the future life is an elevated. having put off the old man with his deeds and having put on the new. a striving for eternity. to faith in human progress..mechanism of contemporary life is an insigniﬁcant illusion. on the contrary. which is renewed after the image of Him that created him' (Col. an idea which helps to arrange our real life here better and better. which. the apostles call a vanishing vapor (James 4:14). 3:9-10). both those which entered into its teaching of the faith as well as those inherent in its morals . that: The Golden Age which the worshippers of the 'superstition of progress' await on earth is promised by the Saviour in the life to come. we would see that they all are rooted in a . but neither the Latins nor the Protestants want to accept this for the simple reason that (speaking openly) they believe feebly in the resurrection and believe strongly in the happiness of the present life. while in heterodoxy we see a strong attachment to the earth. These remarkable words of Metropolitan Anthony clearly and distinctly point out that bottomless abyss which separates the true Christian Faith—Orthodoxy—from its distortion—heterodoxy.
you must realize that God’s grace is present everywhere. In doing so we shall not be far from the path of salvation! Living the Monastic Life in the World Question: I want to give my life completely to Christ. Christianity is a teaching about the gradual extirpation of the passions. about the means and conditions of the gradual acquisition of virtues. Christianity is an ascetic religion. these conditions are internal. except that it is usually in the form of a statement.misunderstanding of Christianity as the podvig of the gradual selfperfection of the individual. but it is especially felt in a monastery. May God bless your humility in asking this instead of informing and declaring that a monastery is not necessary for one who desires a monastic life! First. they feel that it is a holy place . consisting of podvig. This is what we must remember. When people visit a monastery. consisting of our dogmatic beliefs and grace-giving sacraments which have only one purpose: to heal human sinfulness and lead us to perfection. and hold fast to the Holy Orthodox Church and her teachings. but do not want to go to a monastery. Is it really necessary to be in a monastery to lead a monastic life? Can’t I live as a monastic in the world? This is a question that comes up quite often. and given from without.
When visitors came to one monastery and said to one of the nuns. living according to the “little holy trinity” of prayer.where God is present. feels both of these aspects to some degree: both the grace of God in their lives. but also the intense battle that the devil and his legions wage against him.” she replied. with God’s help. the more the evil one seeks to deter us from our path. “You feel the peace. Paradoxically. This is all according to the commandments.” Anyone who strives to fulﬁll the Gospel commandments. maintaining a job. fasting and almsgiving. the monastics who dwell in that monastery more often feel the intense spiritual warfare that the evil one is waging against them. Such a person may participate in some “worldly” activities which are not harmful—certain . who tries to live truly according to the teachings of the Church. This is all what the Church requires of all her faithful. This is most true in the life of one who renounces the world and seeks to live completely for Christ. being faithful in the Church. One can certainly. “It is so peaceful here. The more intensely we strive to serve God. And no. live according to the Gospel commandments and the teachings of the Church in the world. So. we see the warfare. can this be done while living in the world? Yes. etc. reading the lives of the saints and other soul edifying books.
but it can lead one down a wrong path if one is not careful. follow me (Mark 10:21). We know that his early monastic life was spent at ﬁrst with an elder on the edge of the town. Anthony heard and which led him to begin his monastic life. it is not mandatory for salvation to give up everything. The monastic life takes in what the fathers refer to as the “Evangelical advice. as we mentioned above. as long as they do not become passions.” Remember the rich young man in the Gospel who asked the Lord. and come. only “if you want” These were the words which St. if you want.and limited sports. wholesome entertainment. without losing his focus on God. But the monastic is the one who chooses the narrower path. sell all you have. Certain entertainments. which the man stated that he had done since his youth.. and that later he went off into the desert. take up your cross. Some of the pleasures of worldly life are not bad: marrying and having children are certainly blessed by Christ who worked His ﬁrst public miracle at the wedding of Cana in Galilee. What must I do to inherit eternal life? The Lord told him to keep the commandments. etc. In order to follow this . Then the Lord said. If you want!!! In other words. The world holds many temptations for us. Being with other people—even those who are not of our faith—is not bad in itself. are not bad in themselves.
not only do you have the more experienced who can guide and reprimand you when you stray. Even . but no gas station or grocery store or other place where you could ﬁnd a cup of coffee or soft drink or tea. Yet when you are saying your prayers. who will help to lift you up again? More than likely. In the monastery. Let’s take an innocent example to illustrate how important the habit is: Let’s say you are driving through a rather desolate area and are very thirsty. inappropriately dressed people. pitfalls and perils along the way. You come upon a small settlement that has a few houses and a bar. The very monastic garment itself is holy and guards the monastic. You can ﬁnd this only in a monastery with others who are struggling (while falling and getting back up again) on that same path. you remember the things you saw in the bar. but that great grace from God also surrounds you and assists you in these struggles. (There are many such towns in the west!) You stop your car and go in the bar to get a non-alcoholic drink. If you are trying to walk that narrow path in the world with all its temptations and you fall (and you will fall). he must have others who are experienced in the dangers. those who are falling in the same pits as you will encourage you to remain and wallow in the mire. etc. There is nothing wrong with that in itself. perhaps lewd jokes.path.
you will have lost everything. There is another pitfall which catches everyone who tries to live the monastic life in the world. The monk or nun who would be traveling along that same road and who is equally thirsty would not go into such an establishment. instead of all your efforts going toward your salvation. This is not to say that pride does not assail those in the monastery! It certainly does.though you did nothing wrong. The habit itself would be as the walls of the monastery protecting him from doing so. for as innocent as his intention would be in wanting a glass of ice tea. he could not bring scandal upon the Church by going into such a place. That life cannot be compared to what you are . still. there are elders who are quick to cut off that sin in the novice. Pride. “I can lead the monastic life in the world and not bother going into the monastery” you are declaring already quite pridefully that you already know it all! Then. But when you say. There is no question that there are monastics who live as anchorites. your prayer is disturbed by these remembrances. when one begins to fall into pride. You are not somebody in the monastery because you are fasting and praying— everyone is doing that! You are not considered as “pious” because you struggle to obtain the virtues—that is what is expected. however in the monastic setting.
When a brother would ask Elder Cleopa for a blessing to go off into the forest alone to live. follow the commandments. Those who live such a monastic life do so only after many years in a monastery and only with the blessing of their monastic elder. God called His creation good… very good” (Gen 1:12. Christ has come as the “savior of the world” (Lk 2:11. then come back to me and we will think about it!” Do not dismiss that grace which works invisibly in the monastery. As such it is the product of God’s goodness and the object of His love. if you want to as a monastic. go to a monastery and submit to the superior of that monastery and to its rules. Jn 4:42). And according to the Gospel. 31). “the world” is the expression of all of God’s creation. the Elder would tell him. . The World and the Flesh In the scriptures and in the spiritual tradition of the Church. According to the scriptural record.requesting. the expression “the world” has two different meanings. “after you have been in obedience for thirty years. but when you fall. 25. crowned by the formation of man in His own image and likeness. The holy fathers say that when you are saved you are saved in community. 18. According to the scriptures. If you want to be saved in the world. In the first. He creates an living things. He creates the heavens and the earth as the declaration of His glory (Ps 19:1). you fall alone. It is very powerful and without it no one in a monastery would be saved. God creates the world and all that is in it.
the world would love its own. . but because you are not of the world. but that the world might be saved through Him (Jn 3:16-17). love for the Father is not in him. know that it has hated me before it hated you. For all that is in the world. the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. Saint John continues to speak of the enmity between Christ and “the world” in his first letter where he gives the following commandment to Christians. If you were of the world. but he who does the will of God abides forever (1 Jn 2:15-17). Do not love the world or the things in the world. not to condemn the world. the lust of the flesh. but as creation in rebellion against God.” there is also a negative use of the expression which has caused confusion about the proper understanding of Christian faith and life. Jas 4:4). therefore the world hates you (Jn 15:18-19. Thus Christ spoke: If the world hates you. This negative use of the term “the world” is presented not as God’s object of love. If anyone loves the world.For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son. For God sent His Son info the world. is not of the Father but is of the world. but I chose you out of the world. In addition to this positive scriptural understanding of “the world. Cf. And the world passes away and the lust of it. that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.
So glorify God in your body (1 Cor 6:13.] Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy. indeed it cannot please God (Rom 8:5-8). [. exemplified by Christ who “became flesh” and commands men to “eat of my flesh” (John 6:53-56). . and the apostle makes this perfectly clear in his writings.20). it does not submit to God’s Law. Here.” In some instances. Thus it is written about the incarnation of Christ that the “Word became flesh and dwelt among us. but for the Lord. the term flesh is used in a positive sense meaning the fulness of human existence. The word “flesh” in this sense carries no negative meaning at all. but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh.. Spirit within you.. In the scriptures again. which you have from God? You are not your own.. God poured out His Holy Spirit “on all flesh” (Acts 2:17. To set the mind on the flesh is death. Joel 2:28). for Saint Paul. the expression “the flesh” is used in the same negative way as “the world. the term “flesh” is not a synonym for man’s body which is good. man himself. and the Lord for the body. but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.. you were bought with a price.” It is employed as the catchword for godless and unspiritual existence. full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14). Rather it is the affirmation of the positive character of created material and physical being.] Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? [. The body is not meant for immorality.The same ambiguity as that concerning “the world” exists with the expression “the flesh. particularly in the writings of Saint Paul. It is also written that on the day of Pentecost.
Material existence is not evil. they. Living Orthodox in the Modern World . Only sinful passions and lusts are evil. Man’s fleshly body is not evil. God’s good creation is not evil. Spiritual Training).the world is carnal life and minding of the flesh (St Isaac of Syria. Passions are something added to the soul by its fault… The natural state of the soul is luminous and pure through absorbing the divine light… The state contrary to nature… is found in passionate men who serve passions. you must understand the term world. 6th c. as St Augustine puts it.” By nature the soul is without sinful passion. . It has been explained without confusion by the spiritual teachers and proclaimed clearly in the Church’s sacraments.. When you hear that it is necessary to withdraw from the world… to purify yourself from what is of the world. They are evil because they treat the created world and the fleshly body of man as ends in themselves.In the spiritual tradition of the Church the ambiguity about “the world” and “the flesh” is treated carefully.. They are evil because. as objects of idolatrous adoration and godless desire. When we speak of passions collectively. “World” is a collective name embracing what are called passions.. we call them the world. express the “worship of the creature rather than the Creator.
A secularist often believes . For Orthodox Christians who live in countries that historically have no (or very little) Orthodox history the chances are that their lives will be saturated at almost every point with modern secularism. but a cultural milieu that understands the world in which we live to be somehow distinct from whatever God there may (or may not) be. It is the moment in history that is ours. the world of “Holy Russia. the Byzantine world. It is a setting that has its own unique challenges and its own unique temptations. various pagan worlds. Christians before us have lived in the Roman world.” but we are tasked by Divine Providence to live as Orthodox Christians in the modern world. This is not a philosophy of atheism.We live in the modern world – a fact for which we have no antidote.
Georges Florovsky (20th century): Orthodoxy is summoned to witness. the time and place chosen by God for the manifestation of light to the Gentiles – the Church of the Ages. Now more than ever the Christian West stands before divergent prospects. and its potential catharsis must be demonstrated in the fullness of the experience of the Church and patristic tradition. we can say. and was always elaborated according to the same western ‘textbooks. In this newly sought Orthodox synthesis. mystery cults. Living in an alien culture is nothing new for Christians – we began in the surroundings of a sophisticated (sometimes) pagan culture (Rome) that was suffused with mysticism from the East. precisely as one’s own.’ But this tragedy must be reendured and relived. pp. a living question addressed also to the Orthodox world… The ‘old polemical theology’ has long ago lost its inner connection with any reality.” . 302-304 His statement that “this tragedy must be reendured and relived. the centuries-old experience of the Catholic West must be studied and diagnosed by Orthodox theology with greater care and sympathy than has been the case up to now… The Orthodox theologian must also offer his own testimony to this world — a testimony arising from the inner memory of the Church — and resolve the question with his historical ﬁndings. I have found no better statement of our situation than this quote from Fr. The tragedy is the religious failure of the West in the face of modernity . Georges Florovsky.in God – but he believes the world is its own self-deﬁned mode of existence.” is worthy of St. Ways of Russian Theology II. secular and scientiﬁc thought.’ A historiosophical exegesis of the western religious tragedy must become the new ‘polemical theology. Such theology was an academic discipline. precisely as one’s own. Silouan of Mt. philosophical debate and speculation. we must accept that we are appointed to live in this time of an alien (modern) culture that spans a wide range of religious. Athos. It was. By the same token.
I ﬁrst met him when I was an Episcopal priest exploring Orthodoxy. Simply being Baptized or Chrismated does not make us “Eastern. heal that which is broken. His analysis of Western culture. but to endure it. do not suddenly sound as though we had never lived here. much of which is less than fruitful. For myself. That obedience. But their correction does not come in the context of debate and argument (“the old polemical theology has long ago lost its inner connection with any reality”). he entered an American Orthodoxy that did not speak English. In my own experience. today includes the necessity that we “reendure and relive. but a commandment to obey the gospel.” On the one hand. our humanity is not destroyed. and the “religious tragedy” of the West were always keen (often the subject of his sermons) and yet he spoke with a kindness and compassion that made it clear that he did not consider himself superior to the tragedy nor somehow separated from those around him. The healing is more akin to Christ’s healing of our human sin. The condemnation of the West (precisely part of the “old polemical theology”) mostly provides grist for conversation. such redemption is not the work of a single generation (I am already a generation removed from Florovsky – as well as a generation removed from many of my readers). His warmth and hospitality (he wanted to know what I . the religious tragedy of the modern world. but healed and deiﬁed.” It unites us with Christ’s Holy Church (and Christ Himself) – but it is precisely that union which must not be given short shrift. Orthodoxy should not seek to destroy the alien culture which surrounds us. I have perhaps best seen this displayed in the life and behavior of Archbishop Dmitri of Dallas (retired). in the ascesis of the body and mind.(as well as the errors that led to such a failure). I believe. this means that those of us who are the children of the West. In His union with our humanity. A convert from the Baptist Church as a teenager (in 1940). and in the love of Christ. precisely as our own. We have not been given a commandment to change the world.
But it is here and now that we will ﬁnd salvation. We live when and where we are for a reason (known only to God). and was quick to speak well of things we shared in common) created a space in which I could bring the “tragedy” of my own religious journey into contact with the fullness of Orthodoxy.) I cited St. Silouan earlier because of his great love and his maxim: “Keep your mind in hell and despair not. not as one who was separated. his love extended to the lost. . and in the peace of that salvation in its fullness. even the lost in Hades.” and continued to do so even after my conversion. though my ordination as an Orthodox priest would not come for another 13 months. he insisted on addressing me as “Father. thousands around us will be saved.thought. but as one who was himself united to them in their tragedy (while still be united to Christ).” Within his prayers and inner experience. (I was always touched by the fact that during the ﬁve or more years of our relationship prior to my conversion. and he prayed.