Hieromonk Amphilochy Radovich

Liturgy and asceticism

pages: 208-220

Abstract

Starting from the viewpoint of Orthodox personalism, the author of this article points out that the problem of communion koinonia is the basic problem of human existence, not only in this world but also hereafter. This viewpoint is being attested by the experience of an Egypt ascetic, the basic viewpoint of Sartre's philosophy and the trends of the contemporary civilization. He goes on to say that the Liturgy renders a Christian answer on that existencial human problem. In order that the communion (communication) would be true, it demands an eternal presence of someone else. That eternal presence of someone else can be neither Nature nor man, due to their change and transience. The liturgy shows that only Christ can be this, who is given through the Eucharist to the world as the Bread of Life. The man meets the eternally present God in it, and the holy gifts which are offered (and through them — the whole creation), are the witness and means of that meeting and communion. In that way a healthy relation between God and man, between man and man, among Nature, man and God, is being discovered in the Liturgy. God reveals Himself in the Liturgy as the infinite philanthropy, to Whom man offers his gifts and himself, expressing in that way his love for God.

Man has to go along the road of crucification and annihilation of the »sinful body« in order that this communion might be revealed and realized. By this Christ-like feat man obtains his real freedom and meets God and his brother and realizes that the eschaton is nothing else but the completion of the historical and real everyday life. Tte Liturgy reveals that the face of the other, be it God or man, is not a curse or a torture but an eternal joy and fulness of ourselves.

The author concludes that man has to make a choice between self-sacrificing Christ-like love and the surrendering of oneself and the others to the greed and things of this world, which means — to the idols. In other words, man is always facing the choice: to worship God or to worship the idols.

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