Monday, February 28, 2011

The Orthodox Youth Movement in 1944

This article was originally published in the magazine Lumière in 1944. The French original can be found here.

Taking Stock

by Marcel Morcos [the future Archimandrite Elias]

It is good, from time to time, to take stock of things, to stop for a moment, in the shade and in solitude... and to look backwards towards the fog of our yesterdays, this past that we have made with our own hands, and then to turn back forward towards that mysterious horizon where our tomorrows are hidden, our future that we will also make with our own hands.

The Orthodox Youth Movement includes several hundred members grouped together in all corners of Syria and Lebanon. Sections have been meeting for two years and this tireless regularity is not a small thing.... An office and study groups, conferences and bulletins, general and public meetings, church music and choral meetings, sponsorship and family assistance.... sermons and scholarly work...

The gear seems to be well-organized, well-oiled... And we are not always unknown. Our existence is necessary for all-- this is a blinding reality. We could justly be proud of this!
However this does not work adequately! ... This does not work because we have not yet understood the true meaning of the Movement because we are only attached to the bark, to what is outward, to what is vain. Because number has never been quality, because these meetings are not progress, because regularity is not life, because resolutions are not acts, because to be known is not to exist.....

What is needed is a spirit for this machine, that is that the Movement works in us, within each one of us, in that secret abyss where no eye is expected an no vanity is useful. What is needed is for us all to embark upon a new life, a life that is everywhere radiant and always present: a life in Christ. The first Christians, the true Christians, they neither looked at numbers nor success. They lived unknown, hidden by the anonymity of a life of slavery or in the catacombs. They did not proclaim their king in the street- they lived it. They did not show off their charity- they practiced it. They did not call themselves Christians- they were Christians!

And this is the Orthodox Youth Movement, to revive early Christianity, this integral Christianity, repressed in the night of time by so many miseries and shames, from decadence to decadence, from hostility to indifference!... What is needed is to break through this indifference and to fully fall in love.

I would like to say again that "we are pursuing a religious renaissance on the level of the community and beyond. We do not want to awaken the vain and proud feelings of a wealthy and respected community, but rather the vocations and the reality of a felt and lived religion. We would not applaud a successful and sensational public meeting as much as a profound and collected Lenten retreat." The day when we can each call ourselves disciples of Christ, on that day the Orthodox Youth Movement will have succeeded. The day when we all have the life of a Christian, and not the life of the Orthodox Youth Movement, on that day the Orthodox Youth Movement will indeed have worked. Time should work for us and not against us. Monotony and banality do not exist for a deep faith and a sincere love. We shall persevere despite and against everything. Now that vacations have started... dispersed, we will regroup. In calm and rest we will regain our energy and we will prepare ourselves to again take up the struggle, the struggle against ourselves, so that the year that is coming will be for the Movement more active and younger than ever, and for us, more Orthodox than ever....

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