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Is it easy to be a Christian?

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Metropolitan Anthony says that "our calling is to be the place where God acts freely, and those people through whom He acts freely." A very seemingly simple way to fulfill your Christian mission. But how to do this in practice, in the cycle of modern life?

At the upcoming seminar, we want to start a conversation about how to build our day for the person following Christ, how to relate to things, to life itself, to profession and work, to marriage and children, to culture and education, to creativity, to those around us to the world. What is the most burning question for us we would ask Metropolitan Anthony about everyday life, about how to combine the commandments of Christ with the requirements of reality surrounding us?

The seminar will feature:

Luchenko Ksenia Valerevna, journalist, candidate of philological sciences, associate professor of the Institute of Social Sciences, RANEPA.

Sadovnikova Elena Yuryevna, Candidate of Biological Sciences, President of the Foundation “Spiritual Heritage of Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh,”

The discussion will take place in the format of discussion groups.

Discussion Text: "Contemplation and Activity". Proceedings. M .: Practice, 2002.Vol. 1. S. 417–446.

Questions:

1) Does our daily life contradict the commandments, the gospel? Do the texts of the Lord help in trying to approach this contradiction?

2) What does the Lord consider the very essence of Christian life?

3) What topics and questions about Christian life would I like to discuss at the upcoming conference?

Presenters: N.V. Likvintseva, E.Yu. Sadovnikova.

October 29, 2018 The “Spiritual Heritage of Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozhsky” Foundation and the House of Russian Abroad named after Alexander Solzhenitsyn held a seminar “How to be a Christian in everyday life” in the form of discussion groups. This fourth seminar in 2018 continued the line of the previous ones: “On courage and fear” (May), “On truth and lies” (March), “How to be a Christian at home?” (January). All the seminars of 2018 and 2019 are in preparation for the 7th international conference on the legacy of Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh, which will be held in Moscow on September 13-15, 2019.

This time the organizers of the seminar posed the following question: “Metropolitan Anthony says that“ our calling is to be the place where God acts freely and the people through whom he acts freely. ” A very seemingly simple way to fulfill your Christian mission. But how to put it into practice, in the cycle of modern life? ”

Long before the seminar, all participants were asked to read in advance the text of Metropolitan Anthony "Contemplation and Activity." (On the event’s page in the fund’s social networks, this text was also published in fragments, as the text turned out to be deep and rich, and it was easier to comprehend it in parts). In this text, more precisely in this speech delivered in 1972 in the UK, Metropolitan Anthony considers two concepts - the contemplation of a Christian and the activities of a Christian. On the one hand, there is no God outside of contemplation, “but if you do not perceive contemplation as the destiny of monastic life, then what is it in the thick of public life?’ ’,” The metropolitan asks. How to contemplate and act? “Creative permission,” writes Metropolitan Anthony, “we find in the Gospel if we do not separate these two concepts as incompatible.” The activity of Christ is determined not by an object, but by an internal intention. He acts from mercy and love. The activities of a Christian can and should be expedient, planned and successful, but that is not the point. “Christ in all his activity, in all being expressed, did concrete will, the love of God. Christ is the divine dynamic in the flesh. " The Christian’s activity is “when we are together participating in the salvation of the world, but not in terms of my personal life.” In terms of personal life, people are quite active in nature, but how does our human nature respond to the challenges of the big world that are not directly related to me? What and how to answer the challenges of our time and be that “divine dynamics in the flesh” that the metropolitan spoke about?

Ksenia Valerievna Luchenko (journalist, candidate of philological sciences, associate professor of the Institute of Social Sciences of the RANEPA) and Elena Yurievna Sadovnikova (president of the Spiritual Heritage of Metropolitan Anthony Sourozhsky foundation, candidate of biological sciences) were invited to reflect on these issues aloud at the seminar. And also all the guests of the seminar: after the general part, the hall was divided into 7 groups, in which the discussion continued.

During the discussion between Ksenia Valerievna Luchenko and Elena Yuryevna Sadovnikova, an interesting transformation of the concept of “everyday life” took place, which went far beyond everyday life and home and became the concept of “everyday life of the global context”. They reflected on what a Christian can answer to such modern challenges as tolerance, gender issues, digital technologies, global changes in education? What can a Christian answer within himself? What and how can he answer these questions to the outside world, secular, Christian? How is communication built between Christians of different generations? Between the older generations and the “Y” and “Z” generations, between the younger generations and their children? Communication, creativity, collaboration, critical thinking are the foundations of modern pedagogy. How does Christianity fit into these four K's? How does the word of God a Christian of generation “Z” and “Y” convey to his children? Is there a God in the bot in Telegram? Metropolitan Anthony says that "we often react, but very rarely act." However, if the action is an inextricable part of contemplation (this is the “mysterious connection between the depths of silence and the spoken word”), and the action is about saving the world, then the action of Orthodox micro-influencers preaching through modern means of communication is seen in a completely new way. You can see yourself in a completely new way if you contemplate and actively treat current issues of our time.

Video clips from the archive of the “Spiritual Heritage ...” fund opened and closed the seminar, in which Vladyka Anthony reflects on spiritualized everyday life, on “how not to slide on the surface of things”, but to see behind everything that there is always a reason for gratitude.

Completed the annual cycle of workshops December 4, 2018 seminar “The art of being loved: about gratitude”. The guest of the seminar was Archimandrite Savva (Mazhuko), inhabitant of St. Nicholas Monastery, Gomel.

In preparation for the seminar, the organizers proposed to think over the following questions: “Is joy a gift or a task?”, “How to learn sincerely“ give thanks for everything ”, according to the Apostle Paul?”, “Why is acceptance much more difficult than giving?” , “Why not give thanks?”. To read the seminar, the organizers proposed the text of Metropolitan Anthony “On the Eucharist”. Here is an excerpt from the thoughts of the Metropolitan: “Joy begins with gratitude. We do not know how to be grateful. Of course, we are grateful when something really wonderful happens or when a person does something for us that touches us deeply. But we don’t notice an infinite number of wonderful things that happen to us, and therefore instead of rejoicing all the time - about the little things, maybe, but as if in a life-giving way - we are waiting for some big events that would give us an occasion to joys: to find a bride, get married, get promoted, some success ... ".

About how to gratefully accept life, about the daily joy of a Christian, about the state of gratitude with Fr. Savva (Mazhuko) has several articles and a book. O. Savva peers intently at a person, he reflects a lot on the gratitude and joy of a Christian. “The Lord is with us both in grief and in joy. Each episode of my biography is unique and blessed by His presence, ”recalls Fr. Sawa. “The sophiology of suffering must be complemented by the sophiology of joy.”

Why is it difficult for a person to thank for the good? Is it hard to accept gifts? It is difficult to accept help, to give others the opportunity to take care of themselves. As he himself admits, there are “more questions than answers”. O. Savva says: “And here we meet with the fact that Christianity, in general, begins with this feeling of gratitude, grateful glee. But I would not reduce it only to gratitude. It seems to me that if we talk only about gratitude, this is still a question of etiquette, a question of emotions. And man is called not just to gratitude, he is a blessing being. We know the definitions of a person - homo sapiens, homo faber, homo erectus, some others. Man is a symbolic being, as one of the modern philosophers says. And man is a blessing being, that is what the gospel tells us. He must bene dicere - bless, speak well. This is a man who suddenly sees the beauty around him, and he must talk about it exultantly, admiringly. The fact that you look good, you are very beautiful. in our church discourse there is a certain ascetic clamp that prevents us from falling into this bene dicere, into this exultant, blessing ecstasy, impulse. ”

Father Savva gives three spiritual exercises, very timely during the Christmas fast, on the eve of the holiday, in anticipation of the gifts. To be sacrificial is very true, while sacrifice must be balanced by the art of being loved. The first of these exercises is to learn to notice someone else's work and beauty. See and notice the beauty around you and sincerely express this admiration. Admire people, at least some of the smallest things. Let the heart be as generous as possible! The second is to learn to ask for help. And the third is to learn to accept gifts with glee. (And sincerely choose and give gifts, not expecting in return - also learn!)

Content

It is easy to be a Christian. Nothing special is needed for this. If only a couple of times a year, go to the nearest temple. Once, in order to draw holy water on the feast of Epiphany on January 19, the second is to consecrate Easter cakes on the eve of Easter. Sometimes you can put candles. It is also very important to remember that after the New Year there will be Christmas, which means that in supermarkets and shopping centers there will be Christmas discounts and sales ... In general, Christians are kind of strange. They go to confession, talk about their sins. And I have no sins, in fact, no ...

Nietzsche against

To some, Christianity seems completely obsolete and unnecessary. You just think - in the XXI century to believe that some two thousand years ago some uneducated Carpenter's Son died and rose again ?! We are educated people - flying into space, treating incurable diseases 50 years ago. In our progressive time, obey some outdated rules? Well, I do not.

Although this is not new. About a century since the 18th century, people accuse Christianity of being "obsolete" and "unnecessary." And one restless German philosopher, who dreamed of the onset of the era of superhumans, loudly announced to everyone the death of God (Friedrich Nietzsche - Ed.).

But there are quite amazing stories. One day, a young man who lived abroad, however, was not entirely voluntary, at a lecture by another well-known philosopher and theologian (Father Sergei Bulgakov, a Russian philosopher who later became a priest, lived in exile - Ed.). It’s a very common situation: the teachers decided that it would be very useful for boys who were just thinking about how to quickly escape from lessons to listen to a world-famous thinker. And it doesn’t matter that he writes his thoughts for adults, not for children. The Thinker spoke of Christianity and Christian virtues. He talked about patience and humility, about meekness and quietness ... And how could you believe him when another hundred years have not passed since Nietzsche “organized” a “funeral” for God?

Therefore, the young man (his name was Andrey) decided to end his faith in God once and for all. But previously, he decided to read a book that a famous lecturer constantly referred to. This book is the Gospel, and if in the Gospel everything is exactly as it was in the conversation - long and boring, then it is better to push it to the far shelf and never to open it again. But, as Andrei later said more than once, this is what happened:

“I sat down to read, and here you may take my word for it, because you cannot prove it. It happened to me that sometimes happens on the street, you know, when you walk - and suddenly you turn around because you feel that someone is looking at you from behind. I sat, read, and between the beginning of the first and the beginning of the third chapters of the Gospel of Mark, which I read slowly, because the language was unusual, I suddenly felt that Christ was standing on the other side of the table ... "

And imagine: Andrei’s father is a Russian diplomat who held senior positions in the imperial foreign department, his mother is the sister of the famous composer Alexander Scriabin. Andrei himself after school received a medical education at the Sorbonne ... He was waiting for a brilliant secular career (with his education, and origin). But ... He became a monk, and then a priest. The whole Christian world knows Andrei as Metropolitan Anthony of Bloom in Sourozh. It can hardly be considered uneducated or backward. He wanted to end Christianity, but unexpectedly and inexplicably for many others, he became the most zealous Christian, an example of meekness, patience and humility, from which he once shied away, as from fire.

This is what the Gospel is capable of, at first glance, the “boring and unnecessary in our time” book.

The "riot" that wins

But I will give another example. Even more unexpected and peculiar. Alice Cooper, one of the most successful and controversial rock musicians of the 70s, 80s and 90s of the 20th century, once said: “It’s easy to drink beer, it’s very easy to smash your hotel room, but being a Christian is a very difficult test This is real rebellion. "

And no matter how strange it may seem, Christianity has been a riot from the very beginning. It is no coincidence that the Roman pagan emperors persecuted Christians, committed them to torture and executions in the arenas of amphitheaters. After all, Christians revered God as Jesus Christ crucified by order of the legal representative of the Roman authorities.

Now, when bright billboards continue to shout in every way - “be cooler”, “take everything from life”, “go beyond the rules”, when it’s fashionable to criticize everything and everything, when to spit on any authorities - this is a feat, now Christianity is also it is rebellion.

We are used to hating enemies (and even better if they succeed in revenge), but Christ says in the Gospel: “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who offend you and persecute you” (Matthew 5, 44). Christ says: “Do not judge, but you will not be judged” (Matthew 7, 1), but how can you not condemn relatives, friends, neighbors, just strangers, the government (whether your own or someone else's)?

When making an affair on the side of the wife / husband became not only normal, but even fashionable (the family is generally something old and outdated), Christ says: “Anyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in her heart “” (Matt. 5, 28).

And even stranger phrases in the Gospel: “Turn the other who hit you on the cheek” (Lk. 6, 29), “do not care for your soul what you have and what to drink, nor for your body what to wear” (Matt 6, 25), “Go, sell and give everything that you have to the poor ... and come, follow Me, taking the cross” (Mk. 10, 21).

Following Christ and living the gospel is really very difficult. If only because Christ ascended to the cross and received death. We tend to avoid suffering. Yes there is suffering. Even with the most common - everyday problems - I do not want to particularly get involved.

The gospel can be compared to a mirror. The mirror helps us to see ourselves from the side and put ourselves in order. How many times a day do we look at ourselves in the mirror? I think not one or two. And if you try as many times a day to look into the gospel? This is really difficult. Because Christ from the gospel pages asks each of us to change ourselves, to look inside, to evaluate our actions and thoughts. To get rid of everything that distorts our real person, created in the image and likeness of God.

It is always difficult to overcome oneself - to forgive insults, not to condemn, not to respond with evil to evil, consider others better than oneself, be aware of one’s shortcomings, and show patience. The gospel teaches us this. On the other hand, it cannot be denied that the Gospel can become for us a rather complicated book that raises many questions. But the gospel is a book with which we need to grow up. Not in the sense of reading it from childhood, but growing spiritually, re-reading the gospel lines again and again.

There are really many “difficult” places. Some of them have already been given above. I would like to try to explain some of them (in a future series of articles on the pages of “SP” - Ed.). As a priest, I often advise people to read the gospel and ask questions in “obscure places.” And from my own experience I can say that there are a number of sort of “common places” that cause difficulties.

But in any case, the main thing is our determination. Решимость жить христианской жизнью, которая будет сложной, которая, оказывается, не сводится к свечкам, воде и куличам. Евангелие призвано помочь нам встать на этот сложный и долгий путь, чтобы мы смогли пройти его, держа эту книгу в руках.

Фото из открытых источников

Газета «Саратовская панорама» № 30 (1111), 2 августа 2017 г.

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