Pastoral Healthcare

One of the most important ministries of the Church throughout its history has been providing spiritual care to the sick. The Ecumenical Patriarchate has always being sensitive to the needs of this ministry from the years of the Byzantine Empire up until now. Its clergy are active in providing pastoral care to the ill, both on a parish level and in specialized facilities.  read more...

Pastoral Thought of the Week

May 10, 2015

“The hell of frenetic passivity.”

Nietzsche noted that our true predicament is that together with the fear of man we have lost the love of man, the affirmation of man, man’s will.  Man feels that the inherited basis of our capacity for will and decision, his faith in his ability to influence what happens to him, has been irrevocably destroyed. And, ironically if not tragically, it is exactly in this portentous age, when power has grown tremendously with technological  development and where decisions are so necessary and so fateful for mankind, that we find ourselves lacking any firm foundation in which we can palace our will on.

This deficiency constitutes the central core of modern man’s “neurosis”. The lack of will is much more than merely an ethical problem. Very often, man has the conviction that even if he did exert his “will,” his actions wouldn’t do any good anyway. It is this inner experience of impotence, this contradiction in will, which constitutes our critical problem. We are caught, as Robert Laing puts it, in a “hell of frenetic passivity.” Such passivity is the undermining of his experience of himself as responsible.

The freedom to will makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For an unwilling person is one who does not want to grow up, a person who does not want to carry his own weight, which is a frightening prospect. More and more people want to avoid the responsibility of their lives in believing that their lives are determined by outer circumstances, hidden powers to be – divine and worldly.  Thus they throw the responsibility on to charlatans that will tell them what they should do or they make excuses for their actions saying that they are victims of their own impulses. 

Why are people unwilling to work toward solutions to their problems and move on? Why do they persist in a dissatisfying relationship and situations?  It appears that they are anxious to improve the outer circumstances of their life, but are unwilling to improve themselves; they are unwilling to except who they really are. Thus, they remain bound to a way of life that is stagnate and virtually meaningless.  They know changing will lead to the unknown, and most people believe that the unknown may be much more painful and disappointing than what they're already experiencing.

This why it is  difficult to choose to accept God’s will:  the will to love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength; the will to enter into divine eros.  For both love and eros leads us into the mystery of unknowing, “where we are joined together with the ineffable and unknown, in that union which is far above all our powers and energies, whether rational or intellectual” (St. Dionysios the Areopagite).