Who We Are
The Orthodox Youth Movement believe that a certain decadence exists in the Eastern Orthodox Church and our belief in this decadence is the primary reason for our founding the Movement. The Movement does not mean by "decadence" only the weakness that we observe among the Orthodox groups with regard to numbers, money, and administration and the divisions that cause them. Rather, in our eyes the first true decadence is a distance from the Christian life, the tendency to regard religion as old formal customs, and the tendency to treat all problems of the community as administrative or personal problems and not as problems of the Church. The true decadence is that one that sinks down to the foundations of the Church and shakes her structure. We only see the obvious cracks on the walls, while the illness is hidden. When we came to realize the existence of this decadence and made our intention to deal with it, we found ourselves standing before two paths: one path is the path of intense external work, with public and charitable manifestations that would lead to fame and glory. The other path is the path of silent internal work, with no manifestation other than that of modesty and isolation, which leads to nothing... except unending life. One path is the path of material prosperity for the community with sophisticated schools, luxurious churches, and the community having a powerful political bloc. The other path is the path of personal spiritual prosperity that is not concerned with schools or churches except to breathe into them its living spirit. It does not consider the community to be a 'bloc' but instead a vineyard planted by the right hand of that Lord that must grow in every direction through the watering of the Spirit of the Lord. One path is the path of matter and the other path is the path of the Spirit.
So we took the path of the Spirit and from that time our Movement has taken on the coloring that distinguishes it. It believes that internal reform must precede external reform and that personal, individual, revival must precede the social revival of the community. They tell us, "organize the community so we can work." And we respond, "work first so that the organization can happen." A small example: imagine our mother Orthodoxy as a sick woman, laying on a bed, pale and without strength. How do we cure her? Do you put powder on her face to hide her pallor and then get her up out of bed and put her in a carriage to take around town, to fool people, to fool yourselves that her health and her strength has come back? Or do you cure her with rest and tranquility and with healthy, nutritious food so that she will slowly return to her natural color and her true powers?
As for rest and tranquility, it is so that we may contemplate Orthodoxy and sense its beauty. As for healthy and nutritious food, it is examining the Holy Gospel. By this cure alone will life creep into the body of the community and it will live by Orthodoxy. Our entire goal is defined by this expression: "that Orthodoxy may live." We want to live Orthodoxy. That is, for us to tremble in our very core at its mention and contemplation and that this Orthodoxy is our entire life and we will no longer think or feel or work except through its spirit. This is our basic principle and our primary goal that if it is achieved, everything after it is achieved.
However, we do not want to treat the illness alone and we do not believe that we can treat the illness alone. If the community is sleeping, then the entire community must arise. If the sick man does not himself want to be healed then no one can heal him. We do not want to work outside the community, but within it and for its sake. The entire community must feel what we feel and think what we think. The entire community must drink up the Spirit of the Church and enter into the stream of renewal. This is why we have not hesitated since the foundation of the Movement to invite everyone to participate in it. Our conscience will only be at rest once the Movement spreads throughout the community and the community becomes the Movement and the Movement the community. Or rather, there will not be a community nor a movement, but only the universal Orthodox Church.
Our march together towards the desired goal can only take place under spiritual authority and its fatherly guidance. We do not work apart from the clergy and the Church but rather we work within the Church and according to the Spirit of the Church. Our Movement is not a church within the Church: it is a full part of the Church. Our Movement has strong sympathy and esteem that it has attained since the very beginning with the leaders of the Holy Church of Antioch and each center works under the guidance of the bishop of each diocese.
We also want to cooperate with all the clergy who understand us and wants to cooperate with us. We attach great importance to this cooperation.
Our movement has walked until today on this path and in this spirit, relying on God and doing His service and the service of His Church a selfless and sincere service with all the means available to us.
It has now become a strong institution whose influence in the life of the community is recognized and whose word seeks to be inspired by the Holy Spirit. This sound of this word has been answered in valleys and on mountaintops, from center to center and in all areas of the country.
It creates a new atmosphere that connects hearts to it and ties them together in one life.
And so a great song is heard in all the Orthodox countries, a song of hope, a song of awakening and work, a song for the Orthodox youth to seize their life in order to arise with it to the height of glory and perfection. Then this frown will leave Christ's face, when He looks upon sluggish, dilapidated Orthodoxy and sees it strong and prevailing. This frown will cease and the smile of being well-pleased will take its place. So let us work for that smile. We must give our life for its sake.
Head of the Lattakia Center