Alexander Schmemann’s words speak powerfully and succinctly to perhaps the greatest problem we as human beings face.
Unknown to us…we no longer feel suffocated by this world so totally drunk on all-consuming ego. We have become accustomed to blood, hatred, violence and, at best, indifference.
So much of what the Church Fathers teach is about detaching oneself from the fetters of the world in order to reach a deeper and more intimate union with God. The stronger our attachments to the “stuff” of our existence, the more pain we are guaranteed to have especially when those things are taken away.
It is through prayer and spiritual discipline that we are able to detach from these things. Fasting is one discipline to train us in the skill of detachment and prayer. All of this is not just to look selfishly and inwardly as if that in itself is the end of faith.
“Do you want to be healed?” This is not the question of someone intent on forcing, convincing or subduing others. It is the question of genuine love, and therefore, genuine concern. Religion, alas, can also become narcissism, exclusively busy with itself and its own. But it is important to understand that this kind of religion, in spite of whatever Christian cloak it might be wearing, is in reality not Christianity … For the whole of Christianity consists of breaking through the terrible walls of self-centeredness, breaking through to that love which, in the words of St Paul, God has “poured into our hearts” (Rom 5:5). That is Christianity’s new, eternal commandment, and the content of the entire gospel and all our faith …