Saturday, May 22, 2010

Free From Fear and Anxiety - Care

The reality is that we exist in a passionate state. Let's face it, our focus is on external things. We are attached to the things of the world. We crave them. We cuddle them. We horde them. We fear losing them. What we need to learn is how to free ourselves from this enslavement while we live in the world. This is our challenge––to learn how to live in the world as free beings, free from domination by passions.

Fr. Dimitru Staniloae says,
The challenge is how can we live in this world as free beings, admiring it and understanding it as a transparent creation of God, without this admiration enslaving us to its purely perceptible and opaque surface, and thus hinder our development as beings oriented toward the infinite spiritual order. How can we use the world, the road toward our goal, without falling and succumbing to it?
He says that it is anxiety and worry, or care, that ties us to things of this world.
He says,
Man spends most of his life waiting for and seeking pleasure and in the fear of present and future pain. This is the fruit of the passions and unceasing manifestation of the passions in us. These periods of waiting and of fear produce care in us. But even in the moments when we do no longer have the actual consciousness that we are waiting for pleasure or expecting pain, we work for the certainty of pleasure and for the avoidance of some unspecified future pain.
It seems that we are motivated by fear. Living a life in the world involves anxiety. We do not want to lose pleasure, we want to gain more of it and we strive to avoid any pain. We have fear of lacking pleasure and having pain. This is the cause of anxiety.

There is another kind of care we must have. This is the care for our salvation, for our union with God in eternity. This care needs to be stronger than what we have just discussed.

Fr. Dimitru says,
This care is opposed to the other...It arise when we "lay aside all earthly care," because it means the care to lease God, not to please the world and to take part in its pleasures and to be exempt from its pain. This care grows from the responsibility which man has for his true self, satisfying this command of responsibility, it is at the same time a continual launching out of man beyond himself, toward the source of eternal life...  It too includes a fear, but it is man's fear that death ends all, and that this fear alone will succeed in delivering him from what he fears.
Man must escape from the first care in order to become available to God.  Then he is free from the passionate state; he has gained dispassion... Purification aims at the liberation from this care... By fulfilling the will of God, our authentic nature is realized.
This care comes when we "lay aside all earthly care." Our first steps in Orthodox Spirituality then involve practices that help us do this.

Reference: Orthodox Spirituality pp 115 - 118.


  1. In your recent posts you often talk about controlling passions in order to "win virtues." Yet, I have not yet seen a post describing the virtues we should be aiming for. From an Orthodox prospetive are they merely the oposit of the 7 deadly sins, or something different? If you've writen about these before, kindly direct me to the post.


  2. Here is a common way the Church Fathers described them. I have listed Passion, sins and then virtues in same order.
    What are Our Passions?
    Those inherent weaknesses in a man which entice him to sin.
    Gluttony, Lust, Avarice, Anger, Dejection, Listlessness, Pride
     Sins
    Gluttony, Debauchery, Greed, Anger, Envy, Sloth, Pride
    Opposing the passions are the virtues (in same sequence)
     Virtues
    Temperance, Chastity, Generosity, Mildness, Happiness, Diligence, Humility
    Virtues are based on the commandment and example given to us by Jesus Christ.

  3. Thank you. I like the way you have listed them. I also like the idea of resisting passions in order to win virtues. The goals are quite clear.


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