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The Disease of "Worldliness" vs. the Orthodox World-view

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  • Basil Yakimov
    The Disease of Worldliness vs. the Orthodox World-view by Fr. Alexey Young What is worldliness ? As I have already observed, Orthodoxy is an other-worldly
    Message 1 of 2 , Mar 6 12:23 AM
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      The Disease of "Worldliness" vs. the Orthodox World-view

      by Fr. Alexey Young

      What is "worldliness"?

      As I have already observed, Orthodoxy is an other-worldly religion-that
      is, a Faith that has its eyes set clearly on the other world, on the
      Kingdom of Heaven, and on the Lord who rules there and in the hearts of believers
      here, our Lord Jesus Christ, and Him crucified and risen. But what do
      we mean by the term "worldly"?

      In his important work, The Arena, which should be carefully read and
      studied by everyone, the 19th- century Father of our Russian Church,
      Saint Ignatius Brianchaninov, explained that the term "worldly" refers not
      just to life on this planet, in this "world," as it were, but more
      specifically to "those people who lead a sinful life opposed to the will of God, who
      live for time and not for eternity." Sadly, this describes most of the
      people living today, including many of us-you and me-, whom fallen
      spirits have been able to seduce, setting before us "earthly prosperity in an
      attractive, false picture, [suggesting that we] should desire and
      strive for it, so as to steal and rob [us] of [our] eternal treasure."

      Furthermore, Saint Ignatius explained:
      "The world is the general name for all the passions....The passions are
      the following: love of riches, desire for possessions, bodily pleasure from
      which comes sexual passion, love of honor which gives rise to envy,
      lust for power, arrogance and pride of position, the craving to adorn
      oneself with luxurious clothes and vain ornaments, the itch for human glory
      which is a source of rancor and resentment, and physical fear. Where these
      passions cease to be active, there the world is dead..." And then, the
      saint adds: "See for which of these passions you are alive. Then you
      will know how far you are alive to the world, and how far you are dead to
      it....How far you are tied to the world, and how far you are detached
      from it." (Bishop Ignatius Brianchaninov, The Arena, pps. 166, 169-170)
      According to this definition, then, we are all of us (including
      "traditional" Orthodox Christians), without exception, infected with
      the disease of worldliness! This should be a very serious concern for all
      of us.

      Not long before he died more than fifteen years ago, Fr. Seraphim
      (Rose) wrote a particularly important article, "The Orthodox World-View."
      Few of those who read the article at the time of its publication will ever
      forget it. It's a particularly valuable article because it came right at the
      end of Fr. Seraphim's too-short earthly life, and is therefore almost a
      "last will and testament" that we should read and study today. Certainly it
      deserves to be revisited now, in the light of the continuing
      degeneration of Western culture and values, all of which Fr. Seraphim foresaw and
      warned about.

      Fr. Seraphim explained that until very recent times, a truly Christian
      worldview was not only widely spread, but it was supported by the
      surrounding culture- even in some non-Orthodox cultures- into the early
      part of this century. People did not separate the secular from the
      sacred, the holy from the profane, the civilian from the ecclesiastical, the
      way we do today. Until this century, even most people, especially in Orthodox
      countries, lived and thought and saw things in the "old way". In
      Orthodox countries such as Russia, of course, this was even more true until the
      Revolution. Monasteries were the center of spiritual life for that
      whole vast country; Orthodox customs were part and parcel of everyday life.
      There was a whole way of life that was inspired and informed by the Orthodox
      Faith. Life was also relatively short for most people in those days,
      and death was a weekly if not a daily reality for everyone. This was
      actually a good thing, because it helped people to keep focused on the meaning,
      purpose, and goal of this life and remain spiritually sober; they
      realized that for all of us the other world is very close, and so they saw
      "other-worldliness" as a most desirable part of one's way of thinking
      and feeling.

      But, as Fr. Seraphim wrote: "Today...all of this has changed." Not only
      are Christian values and principles under attack and in full retreat, but,
      he said, Our Orthodoxy is a little island [now] in the midst of a world which
      operates on totally different principles- and every day these
      principles are changed for the worse, making us more and more alienated from it.
      Many people are tempted to divide their lives into two sharply distinct
      categories: the daily life we lead at work, with worldly friends, in
      our worldly business, and Orthodoxy, which we live on Sunday and at other
      times in the week when we have time for it....a strange combination of
      Christian values and worldly values, which really do not mix. (O.W., July-August,

      From all of this we really can conclude that an artificial and
      superficial Orthodoxy has no future, no future at all. It is destined to be
      swallowed up in the growing abnormality and worldliness of the increasingly pagan
      culture of our post-Christian time. I repeat: this kind of worldly
      Orthodoxy will not grow, cannot grow, and it will not survive, for it
      cannot give life. If we do not know Orthodoxy, and "if we don't live
      Orthodoxy, we simply are not Orthodox, no matter what formal beliefs we
      might hold." (Ibid.)

      Fr. Seraphim suggested that one of the reasons why worldly and shallow
      Orthodoxy has no future is because of the basic narcissism of our
      generation. What did he mean by this? He said that most of us are
      simply "spoiled, pampered":

      "From infancy," he wrote, "today's child is treated, as a general
      rule, like a little god or goddess in the family: his whims are catered to,
      his desires fulfilled; he is surrounded by toys, amusements, comforts; but
      he is not trained and brought up according to strict principles of
      Christian behavior but left to develop whichever way his desires incline. It is
      usually enough for him to say, 'I want it!' or 'I won't do it!' for his
      obliging parents to bow down before him and let him have his
      way....When such a child becomes an adult, he naturally surrounds himself with the
      same things he was used to in his childhood: comforts, amusements, and
      grown-up toys. Life becomes a constant search for 'fun'...."

      If this is an accurate description of most of us- and I think it is,
      even more so now than when Fr. Seraphim wrote his article- then we are
      indeed in deep spiritual trouble, both personally and individually, and also
      collectively as a Church. Well might we wonder if our Orthodoxy has a
      meaningful and recognizable future.

      The Future of Orthodoxy Is Bound up with the Future of Russia

      Is Holy Russia still alive today?

      From an historical standpoint there is something we must understand and
      never forget. For five long centuries Orthodoxy in the middle east, and
      in what we today know as Greece, was under the yoke of the Ottoman Empire
      and Islam. It was a harsh yoke indeed. Many Orthodox were martyred. Others
      were able only to preserve the Divine Services themselves; much else in our
      Orthodox way of life was either modified under the harsh conditions of
      life under the Moslems, or disappeared altogether. With few exceptions, that
      way of life has still not been fully recovered in those countries.

      But in Russia at that same time, the Church was relatively free, even
      under Peter the Great and other unsympathetic monarchs who sought to limit
      and control the Church. Orthodoxy was not at all destroyed, the basic
      principles of her essence remained alive and healthy-even seventy-five
      years of Communism could not completely destroy her. I believe that, as
      a result, the Church in Russia preserved the best and deepest streams of
      Orthodox spirituality, all of which, of course, had originally come
      from Byzantium. (Even the quiet way in which our Russian clergy serve in
      church is more noetic, more hesychastic than our more flamboyant and
      theatrical brothers in other jurisdictions, who have been influenced by Western
      ideas about religion and worship.) Incomparable spiritual treasures were
      preserved in the Church of Russia, treasures which can now be shared
      with those Orthodox Churches which lost them during their times of terrible
      persecution and oppression.

      The answer from Rus................

      We won't tell. Get more on shows you hate to love
      (and love to hate): Yahoo! TV's Guilty Pleasures list.

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Fr. Daniel Swires
      Fr. Alexey Young is now the hieromonk Ambrose at St. Gregory Palamas Monastery, GOA. 9. The Disease of Worldliness vs. the Orthodox World-view Posted by:
      Message 2 of 2 , Mar 6 2:54 PM
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        Fr. Alexey Young is now the hieromonk Ambrose at St. Gregory Palamas
        Monastery, GOA.

        9. The Disease of "Worldliness" vs. the Orthodox World-view
        Posted by: "Basil Yakimov" byakimov@... byakimov
        Date: Tue Mar 6, 2007 5:09 am ((PST))

        The Disease of "Worldliness" vs. the Orthodox World-view
        by Fr. Alexey Young
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