Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ruminations

It's interesting to me how much our culture values the idea of "making the world a better place." Of course the concept is a good thing, but should it be the primary goal of our lives? I trow not. Our primary goal is salvation and, for the Orthodox at least, beyond that theosis. Making the world a better place falls naturally into place when your eyes are directed towards heaven. That sounds paradoxical, but it is true. The world is not just the physical universe we inhabit. It is the people we come into contact with one way or another every day. When our sight is on heaven and our hearts are warmed with the love of Christ we will also love our neighbors and by loving them we will make the world a better place.
As St. Seraphim of Sarov said, "Save yourself [or acquire the grace of the Holy Spirit, depending on the translation] and thousands around you will be saved." For confirmation of his teaching we need look no further than his own life, spent in the deep forests of Russia which nonetheless has touched thousands during and after his life.

In the cultural idea of "making the world a better place" the emphasis is all on the external. If you give to charity, if you volunteer at a soup kitchen, you are making the world a better place. But is not secret prayer just as important? To the secular idea of a "good person" it is not. To the believing Christian there is nothing more important. The saints of the Orthodox church prayed for everyone. Some were even known to pray for the demons. We may spend our lives doing good deeds for others, but if we focus on ourselves and how good it is of us to do this we lose all grace. Only when our hearts are open to pain of those we are trying to help and when we no longer focus on ourselves but on the person in front of us can we begin to participate in God's energies and gain the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

2 comments:

Miss Deb May 21, 2008 at 11:01 AM  

Thank you for that, Maureen :)

Sarah Dee May 22, 2008 at 7:27 PM  

Your perspective coming from orthodoxy are always unique and interesting maureen. I enjoyed it. :)

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