CONSEQUENCES OF GUIDANCE THAT DOES NOT LEAD TO DEIFICATIONToday, young people seek experiences. They are not content with a materialistic life; nor with the rationalistic society that we their elders hand down to them. Our children, being icons of God, ‘called to be gods’, seek something beyond the logical forms of the materialistic philosophy and atheistic education we offer to them. They seek experiences of true life. And, certainly, it is not sufficient for them to be told about God. They desire experience of Him, of His light, of His Grace. Many of them search in vain, resorting to many cheap substitutes to find something outside or beyond logic because they do not know that the Church has both the ability to comfort them and the experience they thirst for.
Others are led to Oriental mysticisms such as yoga; yet others to occultism or gnosticism, and finally, unfortunately, even to outright satanism.
Even in morality they do not know any boundary, for morality, once severed from its essence and deprived of its purpose, which is to unite them with holy God, ends up by having absolutely no meaning.
Then tragic phenomena such as anarchy and terrorism become commonplace, so that many young people give themselves to every type of extremism and violence against their fellow men; deep down they wish to satisfy a dynamism which they have within themselves. This deep yearning of theirs is not fulfilled simply because they did not chance upon this guidance of Theosis.
The majority of young people, and not only the young, squander the precious time of their lives, as well as the powers which God gave them for achievement of the purpose of Theosis, in hunting for pleasure and carnal worship. Unfortunately, it is often with the tolerance of the state that these become their contemporary idols, their contemporary ‘gods’, thus causing great corrosion to their bodies and psyches.
Living without any ideals whatsoever, others waste away in various purposeless, vapid, and harmful occupations; some feel pleasure in driving cars at excessive speeds on the roads – often with tragic results of injury and death – and others, again, after many explorations, surrender unconditionally to a demonic dependence on drugs, the new plague of our age.
Finally, enough people, after a relatively short life full of failure and disappointment, consciously or unconsciously seek an end to the torment of their vain quest, unfortunately resorting to the extreme form of desperation, suicide.
Not all the young people who resort to these irrational and tragic things are hooligans. They are young people, children of God, our children too, who, disappointed by the materialistic, self-seeking society which we bequeath to them, do not find that for which they were moulded; the true, the eternal. We did not give it to them, and so they do not know it. They do not know the great purpose of man's life, Theosis. Then, not finding peace in anything else, they resort in desperation to the forms which we have mentioned.
Today, out of selfless love, many Shepherds of our holy Church; bishops, priests, spiritual fathers, and lay brothers, devote themselves daily to the guidance to our youth towards the aim of Theosis. We are grateful to them for their sacrifice and offering: for this God-pleasing work of theirs, with which, by the Grace of God, psyches for whom Christ died are saved and sanctified.
Humbly, the Holy Mountain helps and assists in this great distress of the Church. The Garden of our Panaghia, being a special place of sanctity and silence dedicated to God, savours the blessing of Theosis, lives communion with God, and has intense and vivid experience of His Grace and His Light, so that many of our fellow men, the majority of them young, benefit from and are strengthened and reborn in Christ by a pilgrimage to Mount Athos, or by maintaining more specific connections with it. In this way, people enjoy God in their life, and begin to understand what Orthodoxy is, what Christian life is, what spiritual struggle is, and what joy and great meaning these things give to their existence. This is to say, they taste something of this great gift of God to man, Theosis.
Let all of us, Shepherds of the Church; theologians; catechists; not forget about guidance for Theosis, by which the young people, but also all we the humble, with the Grace of God and within our daily struggle, the struggle of repentance and observance of His holy commandments, acquire the possibility of enjoying this blessing of God, this union with Him, to enjoy it very strongly in this life, but also to gain eternal happiness and blessedness.
Let us continually thank the holy Lord for the gift of Theosis, which is a gift of His love. Let us reciprocate His love with our own love. The Lord wants and desires us to be deified. After all, for this purpose He became man and died upon the Cross so that He shines as the Sun amidst suns, and God amidst gods.
Original English translation (2005), annotation and glossary by Photius Coutsoukis. A subsequent translation, with extensive footnotes, but containing errors, by Robin Amis, was published in book and pdf format: (2006). Theosis: The True Purpose of Human Life (PDF) (4th ed.). Mount Athos, Greece: Holy Monastery of St. Gregorios. ISBN 960-7553-26-8.
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