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Mental health and relationship to God


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#61 Olympiada

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Posted 12 December 2005 - 11:48 PM

Matthew,

The booklet The Life of St. John Climacus and the Ladder of Divine Ascent by Prof. I.M. Kontzevitch has to say about obedience

2. The path of ascetic labor lies through OBEDIENCE. One must renounce one's own will (but not one's freedom). "Obedience is the grave of one's own will and the resurrection of humility."

This is not, however, the extinction of freedom, but rather the transfiguration of the will, the overcoming of passion in one's own will, its purification and refinement, the leading of it into a higher state.


Thank you for inspiring me to continue reading The Ladder. I think I will read the step on Obedience tonight for my spiritual reading. I am looking forward to it.

In Christ
Olympiada

#62 Owen Jones

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Posted 13 December 2005 - 12:13 AM

My understanding is that the English word obedience derives from a Greek root which means, "to listen." So this dovetails with Christ offering the Word to those who have ears to hear. This implies a kind of readiness and openness to receiving a spiritual truth as a benefit and a blessing. One of the problems with receiving a gift is that we often feel that that puts us under obligation. So a gift is kind of a double edged sword. We want it. But we don't want the responsibility that goes with it. There is also resistance at various other levels. But I think it is important to note that the implications of obedience as we understand it today are not quite in accord with the true meaning of the word. There is a precondition to true obedience for it to be real. And that is being in a state of readiness, of receptiveness, of openness to the Spirit, without prejudging the outcome, or placing terms or conditions on it. The Pharisaic resistance is born of a pre-conceived certitude and conviction, or a kind of existential closure to the Spirit. This certitude of conviction is true in every sense except for that which counts the most.


#63 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 13 December 2005 - 03:29 PM

"Extracts from Letters to Young People
Permit me to offer you some advice:
The most radical remedy against pride is to live in obedience- to parents, friends, your spiritual adviser.
Make yourself listen attentively to the advice and the opinion of others. Do not be in a hurry to believe in the truth of the ideas that come to our mind.
Be more simple with people, do not suspect their words and ideas of containing some special, hidden meaning."

We are called to be obedient as a way of life. To not just 'be obedient' sometimes, but to learn how to listen after much prayer and doing. To learn how to listen will take a conversion of heart & mind.
In Christ- Fr Raphael


#64 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 13 December 2005 - 03:30 PM

The quote in my last post was from Fr Alexander Elchaninov: The Diary of a Russian Priest.


#65 Olympiada

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Posted 14 December 2005 - 10:40 PM

Thank you Fr Raphael
I borrowed this book from church. I will look at this section today. Pray for me a sinner.
Olympiada


#66 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 16 December 2005 - 05:03 PM

Fr Raphael wrote:

We are called to be obedient as a way of life. To not just 'be obedient' sometimes, but to learn how to listen after much prayer and doing. To learn how to listen will take a conversion of heart & mind.


Thank you for this addition to this conversation. There was a good conversation had here some time ago (a few years back now, actually, if memory serves), on the nature of obedience as among the central tenets of Orthodoxy least understood and least applied in the modern context. It is interesting that the theme re-surfaces in this thread on mental health, for certainly they are deeply connected. And yet again, comments that a proper relationship and conception of obedience form one of the crucial steps in addressing mental conditions are often poorly received, even in entirely Orthodox contexts.

INXC, Matthew

#67 Olympiada

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Posted 16 December 2005 - 05:19 PM

Yes I was told by a man revered in my parish for his compassion, faith and intelligence there never is much point in arguing. you just have to listen (or not), and then
make up your mind. Obedience is good, but if you're always deciding
when to give obedience and when not, then it's not obedience even when
you're being "obedient"-- because you're the one who decides! So if
you're not going to be perfectly obedient, then you have to be
perfectly responsible. And you have to speak to people and listen to
them, but you do what you think best. so, no point in arguing, but it's
good to hear.

He's convinced this is not always the path of the saints, but he is
equally convinced it's the right path, much of the time.

INXC
Olympiada


#68 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 16 December 2005 - 05:23 PM

There is no room in Orthodoxy for a choice between obedience or responsibility. There is only obedience. The very desire to set up a context in which it is an 'option' among many to choose from, is part of the modern problem. There is only obedience. The question is how we are to be obedient, not if or whether.


#69 Alec Lowly

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Posted 17 December 2005 - 12:43 AM

The moderator writes:

"There is no room in Orthodoxy for a choice between obedience or responsibility. There is only obedience. The very desire to set up a context in which it is an 'option' among many to choose from, is part of the modern problem. There is only obedience. The question is how we are to be obedient, not if or whether."

I do not challenge the primacy of obedience, yet I am struck once again by the totally negative context in which the word "modern" appears.

Christians are called to live out the Gospel in the times in which they find themselves, not to live out the Gospel in idealized times and places such as Holy Byzantium and Holy Russia, however much we revere their legacy. We are here, now, by God's grace and will.

Is there nothing good to be said of modern civilisation?

In XC,
Alec, sinner


#70 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 17 December 2005 - 06:19 PM

Dear Mr Lowly, you wrote:

I do not challenge the primacy of obedience, yet I am struck once again by the totally negative context in which the word "modern" appears.

Christians are called to live out the Gospel in the times in which they find themselves, not to live out the Gospel in idealized times and places such as Holy Byzantium and Holy Russia, however much we revere their legacy. We are here, now, by God's grace and will.

Is there nothing good to be said of modern civilisation?


I do not believe I said anything against modernity as an era, nor certainly that there is nothing good to be said of modern civilisation, or that it should be treated in an entirely negative context. And I can never be accused of arguing for a return to rosy Byzantium. Posted Image This seems to have been a comment reactionary to sentiments more broadly.

Every era has its challenges, as well as its strengths and positive offerings. It is too common, perhaps, for 'modernity' to be criticised in 'comparison' (usually flawed) with some era in the past that is idealised; this is certainly not helpful. But not all criticisms are meant in this manner -- and remember that criticism itself is not of necessity an ascription of over-all negativity. And there are problems with modernity; and in therapeutic circumstances it is important to know what the ailments are, in order to address them.

My original comment, above, was that one of the chief problems in the modern world (no reference to any other era) is that obedience comes to be ranked another selection for the will: I can be obedient, if I wish to be. This is not a context which the Christian ought to accept, in this era or any other.

INXC, Matthew

#71 Alec Lowly

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Posted 17 December 2005 - 07:26 PM

Dear Matthew,

You wrote:

"My original comment, above, was that one of the chief problems in the modern world (no reference to any other era) is that obedience comes to be ranked another selection for the will: I can be obedient, if I wish to be. This is not a context which the Christian ought to accept, in this era or any other."


This is certainly true and I do not question it. And thank you for the clarification.

In XC,
Alec, sinner

#72 Anthony Peggs

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Posted 29 January 2007 - 03:43 AM

now what about those who struggle with OCD as i do? i really don't know what to do with my struggle with OCD it is horrible! it causes me much pain!

Anthony

#73 Owen Jones

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Posted 29 January 2007 - 11:57 PM

Watch the Monk Marathon coming up this Sunday.... (no, this is not a joke or intended as a put-down).

#74 Dimitri

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Posted 22 March 2007 - 11:28 AM

Christopherk thank you for the wonderful thread.

I’d like to talk about the “Down Syndrome” children.

In the modern world we live if one wants to see how developed a country is, among other things one checks the infant mortality rate, for example USA’s rate is 6 deaths per 1000 births – Mozambique 129 deaths per 1000 births. The modern pregnant women as we know go through several tests prior to birth, among those tests is the one concerning “Down Syndrome” if the test is positive the doctor normally terminates the pregnancy.

Are we really living in a “developed” and “civilized” world? is this really the answer in order to end up one day with a proud and healthy society by killing those souls before birth? definitely this is not what our Lord Jesus Christ taught us.

I happened to be a father of a Down Syndrome child and I consider my self a lucky person, God almighty gave us this child in order to teach us what life is all about and I thank Him for that. These children might be mentally retarded but we don’t really know their spiritual capabilities, from what I can see they have a lot to teach us.

Thank God for letting us having an angel living with us.

God bless all
Dimitri

#75 John Charmley

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Posted 22 March 2007 - 07:06 PM

The modern pregnant women as we know go through several tests prior to birth, among those tests is the one concerning “Down Syndrome” if the test is positive the doctor normally terminates the pregnancy.
Are we really living in a “developed” and “civilized” world? is this really the answer in order to end up one day with a proud and healthy society by killing those souls before birth? definitely this is not what our Lord Jesus Christ taught us.
I happened to be a father of a Down Syndrome child and I consider my self a lucky person, God almighty gave us this child in order to teach us what life is all about and I thank Him for that. These children might be mentally retarded but we don’t really know their spiritual capabilities, from what I can see they have a lot to teach us.
Thank God for letting us having an angel living with us.
God bless all
Dimitri


Dear Dimitri,

Bless you for calling our minds and hearts to this, and for bearing such a witness to the value of human life; you speak from the heart and from experience, and you speak eloquently to us all.

What have we come to as a society when we seek to take the role of God and presume to decide on matters of life and death? How can we presume to put differential values of human lives when He died to save us all.

He did not scorn the halt, the blind and the lame, and nor should we. How fortunate your child is in having such a father and such a mother - and what an example you are to us all.

In Christ,

John

#76 Paul Cowan

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Posted 23 March 2007 - 02:48 AM

For those aborted children...I have wondered if they had been allowed to live if the world's problems might not have been solved by one or more of them like cancer, diabetes or aids.

How tragic for us to destroy our hope for the future.

Did you ever see the Twilight Zone episode where the alien came in peace and by of proof brought the cure for all cancers? He was killed out of fear and his "gift" destroyed before he could tell his story.

Paul

#77 John Charmley

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Posted 23 March 2007 - 10:15 AM

Dear Paul,

Some good thoughts.

At the moment in the UK we are being bombarded by the media with programmes celebrating the bicentenary of the abolition of slavery by the UK parliament. This is accompanied by the usual (and expected) comments along the lines of 'how could our ancestors have accepted such callousness as a part of life?'

This from a society which allows the clinical killing of millions of unborn children. I wonder if in two centuries' time our descendants will look back and wonder how we could have accepted such a thing; and how we could not have made the connection they will have made between the unhappiness in this society and the way we treat its most vulnerable members.

As people sit in a movie and mentally hiss at the slavers and the slave-traders, they won't think about what our latter-day equivalents are. How could a society which allows such things to happen be mentally healthy?

In Christ,

John

#78 Paul Cowan

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Posted 30 March 2007 - 04:16 PM

Dear John:

What makes you think any of us are mentally healthy? How can our descendants in 200 years think bad of us since they will be the left overs of aborted children who are then raised by mentally unhealthy parents?

Their perspectives will be worse than ours currently since they will have the advantage of at least 8 generations of aboritional upbringing.

Man advances in technology. Not in wisdom or knowledge. Had man 2000 years ago developed plastic, he would not be any smarter now just more technologically more advanced.

You can see this by the writings of the scholars of the time compared to writings of scholars of today. Man still thinks and behaves the same if not worse than 2000 years ago. Its just today, I can drive a car rather than a chariot.

Paul

#79 John Charmley

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 08:21 AM

Dear Paul,

Good points. In some ways it does seem to be becoming more difficult to preserve whatever one imagines 'mental health' to be.

We are bombarded with images, noise and electronic complications on a daily basis; watching the news on TV with any regularity would seem a very good way to stimulate depression; indeed, scrub that and substitute 'watching TV with any regularity'.

That said, and admitting that what you say about human nature having changed but little, from a Christian standpoint what is surprising in that? It is only secular liberals who imagine that human nature is essentially good and capable of being improved by the action of governments.

We know that although made in the image of God, the inheritance of living in a fallen world is that we veer towards sin and, without His help, will be lost in it; that is what was, what is, and, without Our Lord, what will ever be. So, we are neither better nor worse, but stand, as ever, in need of His redeeming love.

We are equipped with the need to find that love, and, through the Church, we can come to it; but it requires something that is always difficult for humankind - humility and repentance, prior to amendment of life.

How odd we are in the developed world. People spend a fortune on trying to secure, as they see it, physical well-being - and neglect their spiritual health totally; it is not as thought the results of spiritual sloth are any less visible than those of its physical counterpart.

As we enter Holy Week, my prayer is that we may all find in Him the peace that only He can bring.

In Christ,

John

#80 Kusanagi

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Posted 13 August 2007 - 03:09 PM

Reading about autism I came across a reference which essentially stated that in "tsarist Russia" it was believed that autists had chosen their condition for religious reasons at an early age. They would go around in rags, disregard social conventions and laws and be called holy fools (I am paraphasing).

I think the article was mixing the concept of a Fool for Christ with that of a "holy innocent" (i.e. somebody who is without sin and therefore holy?). The article with the link is reproduced below - if anybody could correct in German on wikipedia, it would be appreciated.

The article did raised some questions in my mind, which I would like to ask:

What is the attitude of the Orthodox Church towards people who have mental problems/defects from birth or early childhood (as opposed to people whose mental problems are a result of their passions)? For example, what if a child is autistic and cannot interact with the world as we do? What if the child can never develop mentally to be able to speak, communicate, pray, etc. but causes harm to others because it does not understand what it is doing?

Could one say that such children and adults are without sin and in that sense also "holy"? Should one should rejoice having such a child, for the child itself, although it may suffer in this world, can be saved because of its utter faultlessnes; and does this person not also present an avenue towards redemption by being a "burden" to those around?

Are there any particular Orthodox saints who are known to help in case of mental illness? Are there any Orthodox support groups, books, etc. around this subject matter?

Your thoughts would be appreciated.

The original text from http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autismus:


St John Maximovitch of Shanghai healed people with mental problems and so did St basil of Ostrog.

Even if the child has some mental problems it is a life given to you by God so should still be happy. Don't forget what is seen as weakness by man is taken as strength if it is conducted in a religious manner and pleasing to God.
For example if someone has a mental disorder where they are permenantly stuck with a mentality of a child it does help towards the salvation of that particular person. St Arsenios of Cappadocia did so.

As for the child not being able to develope if the person looking after the person is a dedicated Orthodox person through selfless sacrifice I am sure both the mentally handicap person and the carer would be saved, as one is sacrificing a lot to help the other.
Thats my own opinion not the church's

Also i dont think wikipedia is a sensible source as it lacks control and validation of information.

As for Holy Fools thats a particular high calling from God to be able to perform such a highly spritual labour.




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