Thursday, March 8, 2012

Met. Georges Khodr on the Principles of the Orthodox Youth Movement (II)

From 1950. Part I here. Arabic original here.

The First Principle: "The Orthodox Youth Movement is a spiritual movement that calls all the children of the Orthodox Church to religious, moral, cultural, and social revival."

A Spiritual Movement

We say movement because we are not, nor shall we be, a sectarian "association" in the familiar sense, with a specific temporal concern. Nor do we constitute a frozen body, settled in its thought and activity. Rather, we are the orientation of all the community toward complete Christianity. The Movement is a spirit, and the current principles are nothing but a verbal expression of this moving from ignorance to knowledge and from sin to purity. Our zeal is a movement that is not divided and is not limited. It includes all existence and embraces every goal that aims for the unity of humanity to the God of love and makes all creation shine in the Church of Christ. Our awakening is a movement because it is drawn from the Church that is in motion, carrying our life and our heritage to all the world and bringing into the bosom of the Church all that has been churned up by history, so that it may be united in her and through her be raised up and made holy.

The Movement is a Comprehensive Organization

We are a youth movement that has been freed from the worship of all the idols that the history of human thought has presented to us. By its completely free will it has approached Christ because it has sensed that He alone solves all its problems. It has abandoned worldly pleasures because it has found its great pleasure in Christ. This awakening is an organization because it has separated those who are awake from blind reactions and has brought them to enlightened consciousness, indeed to true consciousness itself. It is a popular organization, truly connected to all the Orthodox people, which brings truth into the world. It is popular because it does not work in its ivory tower and does not navel-gave for the sake of sheer disconnected intellectual pleasure. Rather, its members meditate on religious truth and live it in order to bear the fruits of their interior struggle to all humanity, by means of organized teaching.

The movement permeates the Orthodox in order to renew them and imprint upon them its image. The movement is not a program for sectarian reform. Rather, all reform comes out of it and the children of the Church strive in vain to put together a program of reform if it is not preceded by a creative religious consciousness. The reforms that will treat the external state of the Church in the Middle East must occur in a state of Christian renewal, not along its margin, since within the work of renewal in the Church there is not one spiritual program and another material program, but rather there is one religious current that has spiritual and material manifestations.

The movement calls all the children of the Church to revival, because every Orthodox person-- youths, men, women, laypeople, clergy-- are responsible for it, because there is no reform except through common work among all of them. All of us are responsible because all of us are sinners. Someone who puts responsibility on another's neck is a haughty Pharisee. We must remember that we are not here in a court of justice, but in a workshop. One who judges another looks at the many wrongs in the near past, but the one who works looks to the realization of the Kingdom of God in the future.

We are all workers, but the youth are activists. This is because they are the pillars of the revival and because they are made to wake the dead who, if they hear in the graves the voice of their children, they arise to new life.

We are all workers, but women have special responsibilities, because first of all Christian education in the family depends on them and because they will play a special role in the new civilization and in awaking religious feelings in that age.

The Interior Spiritual Crisis

We call for religious revival because the Church is only served by people spiritually. The crisis that we are going through is spiritual at its base. The attempts at reform that have for decades appeared within the Antiochian Church have all failed because they did not realize this basic truth. Those who are satisfied with external reform without asking for the involvement of peoples' spirits do not know where to turn to. We have seen many people in every place form associations for temporary purposes that end with the end of their goals because they are not based on intellectual principles and spiritual factors. How can can the community's crisis be solved by one who does not think about the solution to his own crisis? How can one reform who does not feel the enormousness of his responsibilities? And how can one feel the necessity of any work if he has not been built up spiritually? So how can one solve the crisis if he himself does not participate in its solution, but rather remains content with contributing his money and influence? How can one treat the illness if he thinks it is in someone else and is unable to humble himself a little in order to see it in himself? Some have wanted activity and they have used screaming, disorder, enmity, ungratefulness, and desperation. The issue requires peace, faith, hope, and love.

They have only looked at Orthodoxy from two perspectives: administration and finances, even though these two things are as far as can be from the matter at hand. They say that the Church is in need of administration and organization and we say that this is true but that will not be completed except through one's participation inwardly. The time has come for people to prepare the path that they have not followed, in an atmosphere of love and holiness. We say to those who see material organization as a prerequisite for spiritual work: follow the religious path so that your enlivened spirit will work within the unorganized community and your radiant spirit, robed in the light of the righteousness, covered with the holiness of truth, is what will change destruction into construction and weakness into power. The Spirit cannot be the product of organization. Organization is always the result of the Spirit which announces Itself, whether or not the means abound, because the Spirit blows where It wishes and creates what It wishes in whatever situation It wishes and because a person filled with the Spirit cannot remain with his hands tied, far from work. Rather, the Spirit in whom he lives and whom he contemplates is that which presses him on and sets his mind in motion and leads him to useful work and organization.

This Spirit creates the moral revival through which we face the evil hidden within ourselves. We have no salvation if we first of all do not realize that evil is within us apart from external circumstances and that it leaks into the outside from within us. The revival that we desire begins through combating sin within the children of the Church because the sin that is within me and within every person prevents our awakening and our being enlightened by the truth. The ignorance of hate and the materialism of many and the laziness of all of us is nothing other than a result of the evil that is well-established within us. Whatever our sinful hands have handled, whether they have extended it to us from without or from within, we cannot allow it to overcome us, as the evil that lives in our hearts has overcome us. The first task that every person must undertake is to purify his being of its stains. The sole enemy of the Church whose danger we must sense and which we must be militant in uprooting. There's nothing truer than the words of the Apostle, "Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."

This new mentality will logically lead to a renewal of all the forces coming out of humanity, whether they are cultural or social.

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