Dear Friends and Family,
Today, while reading an editorial in the greek paper Kathimerini entitled "The Lesson of the Ash," something struck home very clearly. In the article the author reminds his audience that we as humans only understand our innate dependence and limitations when the works of our own hands begin to fail us, or when nature intervenes (referring specifically to the recent volcano eruption, and the consequent halt in sky travel all over the globe). His article reminded me quite vividly that we, the "enlightened" ones, have become very sure of ourselves, of our cleverness and capabilities. We undermine reality to philosophize about multiple realities because we have come up with advanced methods to avoid the only true one, one that, if we do not act, meets us with the bitter kiss of death; by taking pain-killers, drugs, "injections" of emotional and sexual highs from various forms of media, among other things, our religion (the avoidance of reality) has truly become our opiate.
It is times like these however, when the surprising silence in the air, reminds us that we do not rule the earth or the skies, but are rather completely dependent to their beck and call. We often only realize this when the rug is pulled out from underneath us (when we lose our ever-present "oxygen" as it were...the system that we have spent lifetimes building) When our economic system, like an enormous teetering mountain, begins to come crashing down upon us, we realize that our are inventions are built on the straw foundation of our human confidence. Human ingenuity is truly a marvel to behold, as we are capable of so much! But a denial of our dependence and a confidence leading back to ourselves, makes it all seems so vain. When we grasp on to our own intelligence and craftsmanship as if it is the ultimate mind, we find in the end, that we have been fooled...but it's often too late.
We, the children of the Enlightenment, call the children of the "dark continent" (or of the pre-settler America's or any other "unenlightened" land) barbarians and fools. We conquered them, educated them, civilized them and taught them a religion that we ourselves would not uphold, only to discover that we had successfully beaten most of the precious, God-given, wisdom out them--wisdom that we could have done well to listen to and to apply!
10 years of higher education often opens the door to...
...a suffocating world of hyper-analysis, inability to smile, and depression. We are so advanced and educated that we are able to (or rather, forced by our diseased minds, to) deconstruct the view of a marvelous sunrise or a breath-taking mountain-range. While we blow our minds up like balloons, filling them with numbers and information, we allow our life-giving organ, our heart, to wither like an unwatered flower in the hot sun. Never before has man been so in need of his Creator. Never before have we been so defiant and desirous to lead our own destiny. But destiny in our hands inevitably leads to confusion and despair. Confusion, because it is not our natural state, and we know this. Despair, because life has a way of showing us that we are not in charge. Beloved friends, let us wake up to this reality and seek within ourselves the answers that have for so long lain dormant and untouched...and that we have been taught to keep that way.
Let us allow the prophetic words of Fr. Justin Popovich (and others) to soak into our very being and lead us to the TRUE Enlightenment:
"The more a man devotes himself to the ways of natural knowledge [whose chief characteristic is its approach by examination and experimentation], the more he is seized on by fear and the less can he free himself from it. But if he follows faith, he is immediately freed and "as a son of God, as the power to make free use of all things." "The man who loves this faith acts like God in the use of all created things," for to faith is given the power "to be like God in making a new creation." Thus it is written: "Thou desiredst, and all things are presented before thee" (cf. Job 23:13 LXX). Faith can often "bring forth all things out of nothing," while knowledge can do nothing "without the help of matter." Knowledge has NO POWER OVER NATURE, but faith has such power. Armed with faith, men have entered into the fire and quenched the flames, being untouched by them"
(Fr. J. Popovich "The Theory of Knowledge of Saint Isaac The Syrian").
We all know that natural knowledge is not evil, but a work of creation at which we can marvel and for which we can give thanks. But just for a moment, let's unplug and go within, let's turn down the noise of our calculations and analysis and see if there is a message in the "un-productive" stillness.
Let us turn from our father the Enlightenment, and become children of Faith, where instead of a fatal and false self-deification we find a confidence and foundation based in a sure, never-failing reality. Then we can marvel at the never-ending sun-rise of our lives as we plunge deeper and deeper into the ocean of true knowledge.
Glory to Thee!