Skip to comments.Why Is the End of the World Inevitable?
Posted on 10/06/2006 8:09:20 PM PDT by annalex
For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine (2 Tim 4:3)
This question becomes a pressing one for a man who is interested in his spiritual makeup.
The modern mentality in all its problems turns to science. Life today calls the man to resolve spiritual problems, but science does not deal with them, because such a task would require cleansing the soul of passions. Science, however, studies only those problems that are not connected to the condition of the scientists soul. Science has penetrated deeply into the physical nature of man, but it is ignorant of soul and spirit.
Ancient religions and philosophies have amassed a great experience in understanding the soul, but as far as the spirit is concerned, its nature was reached only by the Christian mystical experience.
Scientific exploration of the internal life of man has a superficial quality, because they study man only in his fallen state. This knowledge is fragmentary and does not allow to prognosticate even the most immediate perspectives of the development of mankind. The problem of the end of the world is one of the priority problems in the Christian worldview, whose mystical experience is rechecked and confirmed throughout many centuries by thousands and thousands of researchers, -- the Holy Fathers of the Church. This ought to tell us that if we were to adopt the modern conceptual framework, Christianity is the science of soul and spirit.
The summary of the Christian worldview is like this.
God is the Creator of the edifice of the world. His servant is the Angelic world in which man is to become the dominant entity. "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love him" (1 Cor 2:9). In order to occupy the place ordained to him, in his soul, created by God, a spirit must be born "It is sown a natural body, it shall rise a spiritual body" (1 Cor 15:44). Man enters the world equipped with a soul in which unbridled forces operate. He must master the art of control over them. This process is the creation of the spirit, who must rule over the soul just like the soul rules over the body. If a man is subordinate to the passions, the spirit is never born and so the soul perishes. Essentially, he enters a battle with God, and, naturally, he loses.
If a man, following his Christian worldview, combats his passions, then from an egocentric being, one in opposition to all, he is transformed into a Heavenly being. "He that shall overcome shall possess these things, and I will be his God; and he shall be my son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, they shall have their portion in the pool burning with fire and brimstone" (Apoc 21:7-8). Usually, men are not concerned with their worldview, even though the character of their lifes labor depends on it. More often than not, it is formed chaotically, and therefore under the influence of the passions, which induce superficial and narrow thinking. Before the Fall, man lived in Paradise, in the universe of truth and harmony. The energies of his soul were strictly balanced by the spiritual world. Reason ruled over soul and body with the help of the energy of his will. Such control is possible only if the will exceeds every force of the soul. In Paradise this principle was strictly observed. After the fall to sin, man left Paradise, and as a result the forces of his soul became out of control and each force gradually grew stronger and exceeded the force of the will. Such force of the soul is called passion. The reason, having lost the ability to control the passions, became subordinate to them. In this condition man is not capable of observing spiritual laws, and so sin becomes the foundation of his life. In slavery of the passions it is impossible to recognize the dependence on them, nor, even more so, wage battle with them. Incessant changing of the passions urges man to illusorily regard himself as free, therefore a thought that it is necessary to combat the passions does not occur. In his entire mature man has become a slave of his passions. Only God could rescue him. In this catastrophic situation Jesus Christ entered the world. His service to mankind He began with a sermon. The teaching of Christ is spiritual: "The words that I have spoken to you, are spirit and life" (Jn 6:64), and for that reason it enters into the human mind bypassing the resistance of the passions. It opens to man the true knowledge and the fundamental form of freedom, which allows him to either accept or reject the teaching of Christ. If he accepts, then the Lord in the sacrament of baptism seals a union with him ordered to the combat with the passions, and in the sacrament of the Eucharist He grants man grace: the spiritual energy, using which man can bridle the forces of his soul. Passions, similar to a contagious disease, pass from one man to another. The power of the passions grows rapidly if man actively uses his passions for pleasure. When the number of such given to pleasure men increases, their passions combine into energetic fields that are not easy to resist. The condition of the modern man happens to be especially complex because technology assists in most thorough satisfaction of many passions.
Man is not created in order to serve the passions, and if the time ever comes when the seekers of the spirit disappear, then the existence of man would become purposeless, because lawlessness would continually multiply. Such pathology is unacceptable in the cosmic order, and therefore the earthly existence of man will be brought to a conclusion. The period of heavenly existence will begin for those who have obtained the spirit.
"For the earth that drinketh in the rain which cometh often upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is tilled, receiveth blessing from God. But that which bringeth forth thorns and briers, is reprobate, and very near unto a curse, whose end is to be burnt." (Heb 6:7-8).
It is not possible to compute the time when this will occur. However, it is possible to conclude that the end of the world is approaching by observing the flourishing of extreme forms of pathology of the soul.
It is difficult to satisfy passions that are undergoing an active expansion, because that requires unrealistic conditions. At the same time, each frustrated desire invisibly delivers destructive blows to the mans psyche. In the modern rhythm of life man has no time to recover form one blow as he receives the second, the third, etc. In this condition it is necessary to stop the flow of desires, but most men are not familiar with this art, and so their psyche is quickly destroyed.
The fundamental law of the passions is the incessant growth of their strength, and so sooner or later resistance becomes impossible. In this sense the life of mankind is like a train that is hurtling into an abyss. It is not possible to stop the train, but given the will one can leave the train at any moment. In order to be able to do so it is necessary first of all, to study the nature of the passions. Dependence on the passions is so strong already in the modern man that it causes him to dismiss as a fantasy any discourse on the end of the world. This is a principal sign that the end is near.
Various global tragedies are among most vivid signs of the end. When the mankind violates the boundaries of the permissible to a gross degree, the Lord is forced to allow man made or natural disasters in order to bring many to reason.
"And there were present, at that very time, some that told him of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answering, said to them: Think you that these Galileans were sinners above all the men of Galilee, because they suffered such things? No, I say to you: but unless you shall do penance, you shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen upon whom the tower fell in Siloe, and slew them: think you, that they also were debtors above all the men that dwelt in Jerusalem? No, I say to you; but except you do penance, you shall all likewise perish." (Lk 13:1-5).
In especially critical situations God sacrifices the blood of the innocent, whose death is the mercy of God. It is the most effective method of sobering up for those intoxicated by the powerful passions.
The modern tragic events testify, on one hand, of the extreme spiritual irresponsibility of men, but on the other hand, they indicate that so far the Lord hopes for our awakening, and that means that the end time has not arrived just yet.
How can todays rapidly following one another catastrophes be stopped in practice?
No doubt, the most uncompromising struggle with terrorism is necessary; the levees around cities should be most dependable, and the system of disaster forecasting has to be developed. But all these global measures are meaningless if men do not reassess the day just lived and do penance for the committed faults.
The Lords objective is not to punish men, but to awaken them, and if that task is accomplished, there will be no need for the disasters.
If man succeeds in understanding that his every action is driven by the force of his passions, and so he must carry the price for everything he does the price expressed in problems, sorrows and illnesses, -- then he remembers his Creator and repents.
The Lord erects thousand temples today so that in the modern hyper-complex world man could have a full freedom in deciding his eternal dilemma: to be with God or to be with the devil. With the answer to this question man determines for himself whether the end of the world will also be the end of his personal existence or the beginning of everlasting life.
A random ping. Viktor is also a friend of mine.
" No doubt, the most uncompromising struggle with terrorism is necessary; the levees around cities should be most dependable, and the system of disaster forecasting has to be developed. But all these global measures are meaningless if men do not reassess the day just lived and do penance for the committed faults.
The Lords objective is not to punish men, but to awaken them, and if that task is accomplished, there will be no need for the disasters.
If man succeeds in understanding that his every action is driven by the force of his passions, and so he must carry the price for everything he does the price expressed in problems, sorrows and illnesses, -- then he remembers his Creator and repents."
Very good; very Orthodox and very Russian. It never ceases to amaze me how Orthodoxy has shaped the Russian phronema, though I supose that's a sort of American chauvinism since I know full well what Orthodoxy did to the Greek worldview. Any links to his icons, Alex?
A painfully slow server.
I guess there are no coincidences. :)
I don't think there is a "problem of evil" in Orthodoxy. In Catholicism it is an external influence as well, not organic to the teaching of the Church. This article illustrates why. "In especially critical situations God sacrifices the blood of the innocent, whose death is the mercy of God [...] so far the Lord hopes for our awakening".
It is not complicated.
42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption, it shall rise in incorruption. 43 It is sown in dishonour, it shall rise in glory. It is sown in weakness, it shall rise in power. 44 It is sown a natural [psychikon] body, it shall rise a spiritual [pneumaton] body. If there be a natural body, there is also a spiritual body, as it is written: 45 The first man Adam was made into a living soul [psychin zosan]; the last Adam into a quickening spirit [pneuma zoopoioun].English does not have a good translation for "psychikos". "Psychic" is coopted by Gypsy women. "Soulful" -- by Aretha Franklin. "Natural" is unclear as it does not disambiguate between the flesh and the soul. In modern usage it tends to point to the flesh exclusive of the soul. The connection between the soul and the passions, so important in understanding the article, is often lost to the impoverished modern mind.
46 Yet that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; afterwards that which is spiritual. 47 The first man was of the earth, earthly [choikos]: the second man, from heaven, heavenly [kyrios ex ouranou]. 48 Such as is the earthly, such also are the earthly: and such as is the heavenly [epouranios], such also are they that are heavenly. 49 Therefore as we have borne the image of the earthly, let us bear also the image of the heavenly. 50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot possess the kingdom of God: neither shall corruption possess incorruption.
(1 Cor 15)
My own education in iconography owes much to you and the Cavarnos' book that you recommended. Of course, Cavarnos (Guide to Byzantine Iconography, Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Boston) is primarily a guide to Kontoglou.
Georgian connection bump
This is quite thought provoking!
Especially as we each become more aware of our own mortality.
|Saturday, October 7, 2006
Our Lady of the Rosary (Memorial)
Yes, I think this thread fits very well with what you have been saying, and I even agree. :)
Thanks for the ping. I had never thought of an icon as being a prayer in and of itself. I think I can see what the author is saying.
I have already offered my idea of what it all means, at another forum (the thread no longer exists):
We have been humbled and stripped. Maybe if we are stripped and humbled again and again and again, we will finally discover gratitude for what we well have left at the end thanksgiving, literally eucharist in this year of the eucharist and maybe then we will finally discover holiness. And maybe that is why this Catholic city has been called to this terrible, transforming vocation.
Those who're too proud to be grateful are likewise too proud to realise all of creation needs a savior to defeat this beast Death. It's God's way to be so intent on our salvation that he strips away every impediment.
I hope you're well and happy. Though I'm all but invisible on the web these days, I think of my friends often, with affection and gratitude. I was married last month; we returned from Italy in mid-September and have been settling in. Thanks for the ping to this fine thread.
The call to penance is as old as John the Baptist. What this article underscores is that penance is a work of transformation rather than an intellectual exercise, because it is connected to the liberation of the "natural", -- passion driven, body. "It is sown a natural body, it shall rise a spiritual body".
Now I am going to have to translate several more of Viktor's articles, one of them quite long.
I'll keep you posted.
My previous post was more in response to 16 and its reference to the Jesus's Prayer.