|St Paisios the Athonite|
Dear Parish Faithful,
“Disorder is the result of sin, and it continues to reflect our inability to be as good as we were designed to be. Among its many deleterious effect, sin has made us low-functioning creatures, and the paltry order that we manage to bring is a caricature of what God has intended for us. All of creation groans (Rom. 8:19-22) in this state of delayed order and rampant disorder, the latter being the result of sin. That sin is most basically manifested in the idea that we thought we could do better than God – a delusion that still plagues all of us.”
From The Lost World of Adam and Eve by John H. Walton
A good deal of the spiritual life – or even of “spiritual warfare” – is the human attempt to bring order into our personal lives and into the lives of others around us, and even into the world, by the pursuit of the virtues which are ultimately a gift from God. It is the grace of God, freely given in Christ and the Holy Spirit that brings those human efforts to a fruitful fulfillment. By way of “illustration” I thought to include a couple of links to sources that demonstrate the hoped for fruits of the spiritual life as put into effect by flesh and blood human beings.
This first link is to a relatively short documentary of a “latter day” Orthodox saint – Paisios the Athonite. He lived a life of great hardship, when the Greek Orthodox of “Asia Minor” — present day Turkey — were oppressed by the remnants of the Ottoman Empire in that country. The documentary is pretty well done, as it captures both the wider social/political aspects of St. Paisios’ life together with his personal struggle for the gifts of humility and love. He became a much beloved elder and spiritual guide, and was ultimately glorified/canonized by the Greek Orthodox Church in 2015.
This second link is to a really excellent documentary of the oldest monastery in the world – St. Katherine’s on Mt. Sinai. It is an older documentary that I discovered still circulating on – yes! – YouTube. The text, narrated by Michael Hordern, is excellent, as one hears of the monastic ideal of pursuing theosis and the struggle to pray with stillness of mind and body. It is also a wonderful documentary about the monastery itself – its history and artwork – and the close relationship between the Orthodox monks and the Arab Bedouins, who are Moslems. A microcosm of the potential for people of different beliefs living in harmony and mutual respect. A real “lesson” for our deeply fractured contemporary world.
If you do watch one or the other – or both – and would like to share your comments with me about them, please feel free to do so.