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1000 years
Fatima. Historical dates Category: History Garabandal. Historical dates

Catastrophic epochs

Very difficult, but interesting time

In calm and tranquil times people live naturally in the lifestyle, connected with the supra-personal organisms, with kindred families, classes, with traditional national cultures. During such times religion often tends to become exclusively a matter of lifestyle, inherited, traditional, and it does not presuppose a blazing up of spirit, of personal spiritual exertions; patriotism likewise becomes a matter of lifestyle, traditional, defined by the outward position of a man. It is not such for the Russians of the epoch, in which we live. All the historical bodies have gone to rot, existence has lost all its tranquility and everything has passed over into a stormy turbulence. Life demands enormous spiritual exertions. It requires a spiritual strength and intensity, in order to believe, that Russia and the Russian people remain alive, and that one belongs still to it, though one be cast off into Africa or Australia. It requires a blazing up of spirit, in order to believe, that the Orthodox Church, persecuted and oppressed, debilitated in its organisation, experiencing troubles and discord, in actuality has become reborn and illumined, standing spiritually higher than the Church, which was triumphant, a part of the state, externally brilliant in its brocade and gold. It requires personal spiritual efforts, to find oneself set within a tempest and not be carried off by the wind. There occur outwardly felicitous epochs, when at times there is stability and everything naturally occupies within it a firm position. But there occur also catastrophic epochs, when at times there is no stable firmness, when there is nothing to rely on, when the very ground shakes beneathe one's feet. In such epochs, more remarkable than the tranquil epochs, the strength and steadfastness of a man are defined only by the extent that he is rooted in eternity. Man perceives, that he belongs not only to time, but also to eternity, not only to the world, but also to God. During such epochs the finding of a spiritual life within oneself is a life or death question, a question of being saved from perishing. Only those hold fast, who find within them a great spirituality. Faith itself during such periods presupposes great efforts of the person's spirit and therefore it is qualitatively higher than the faith of an inherited lifestyle. It would be folly in such epochs to think only about oneself and about one's own personal aims. This is the path of self-destruction. Everyone each bears a terrible responsibility, he either affirms life, renewal and hope, or else death, disintegration, despair. Each Russian at present to an immeasurably greater degree bears within himself Russia, moreso than back then, when he lived peacefully in Russia. Back then Russia was given him gratis, now however it must be had by ardour of spirit. Likewise too each Orthodox person at present to an immeasurably greater degree is responsible for the Church and bears within himself the fate of the Church, than back then when he lived peacefully in the Church, guarded by the state and the traditional lifestyle. And each of us is faced with immeasurably greater demands, than before. It has become impossible any longer still to remain lukewarm, to be still a nominal Christian, half Christian, half pagan, it is necessary to make choices, to show a capacity for sacrifice, to become spiritually intense. There is occurring in the world an enormous struggle of Christian and anti-Christian forces, and no one can evade participating in it. We live in a very difficult, but quite more interesting a time, than in the periods preceeding. Much of the old is gone and has irreversibly passed away, the old life will never return and it is in vain to wish for this. But there has awakened a new interest for world and human life, an interest for the heights and from the depths, from God and through God. From the perspective of eternity, we receive the possibility to look upon time and to assert eternity within time. Now is not the time to lose courage, to fall apart, to give way to despair, now is the time to pull oneself up, to get oneself together, a time to believe and have hope, and a time to remember, that man is a spiritual being, foreordained for eternity.

Nikolai Berdyaev
On Suicide
Paris: YMCA Press, 1931

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