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Author Topic: Mercenariness & secret eating  (Read 1921 times) Average Rating: 0
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Cassiel
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« on: June 08, 2008, 11:52:29 PM »

So, every night in the prayers before sleep I ask forgiveness for "mercenariness."  If I understand this correctly, it's doing things for reward.  But this gets a little Kantian, doesn't it - what do we do without some recompense?  Is it possible to do something without being just a little mercenary?  Even doing things "just because they are right" usually brings a sense of satisfaction.  I rarely even achieve that.  Much of the time I serve God because of a) fear of eternal separation from Him and b) desire to find fulfillment in doing what I was created for.  I don't know Him well enough to do things just because I love Him.  I've only been Orthodox for about a month, so I suspect it's early days to feel any disappointment about that.  It's hard for me to feel ok about constantly repenting something I don't know how to stop doing.  Any thoughts on that?

And what exactly is secret eating for laypeople?  As it was explained to me by the sister of a nun, for monastics it's eating outside of set times.  I generally eat whenever I feel like it.  Am I not supposed to? 
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« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2008, 02:09:28 AM »

If you're not a monk, then what are you worrying about?
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PeterTheAleut
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« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2008, 03:44:10 AM »

One little baby step at a time...
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PeterTheAleut
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« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2008, 03:57:36 AM »

Something else to think about...

If you think your "mercenariness" might be a sin, take it up with your priest in confession.  He'll tell you if it's really a sin with which you need to concern yourself.  If he tells you not to worry about it, then don't worry about it.
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« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2008, 04:05:52 AM »

Cassiel - slowly, slowly. Smiley

And you should speak to your priest about this, but my thoughts are this. I would keep repenting the same thing and asking for God's mercy even if I thought I would never overcome it; because all through our lives we will be repenting of the same or similar things. We overcome whatever our foibles are by God's Grace in this life and those we haven't had the strength or time to rectify we will overcome in the next. God is merciful.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2008, 04:07:16 AM by Riddikulus » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2008, 09:12:10 AM »

To do something as a mercenary is doing something for an ulterior motive, or in otherwords to get something beyond what you apparrently were doing the act for.  Example the Unmercenary healers , healed people without desire of recompense or glory, whereas a mercenary healer does so for money, glory, or honor.  The act of doing something to make one's self "look good" or gain favor while saying you do not wish it, is vanity and deceit therefore if you are in reality being a mercenary, in that manner you it would be seen as commiting a sin of dishonesty.  Likewise one who openly does it for compensation such as a doctor or nurse would not be in sin as they are open in what they have asked for  and thus honest. (IMHO)

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« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2008, 10:28:13 AM »

Hi Cassiel,

I think I understand what you are asking and it reminded me of something I heard a few years ago at retreat on controlling our passions so I looked up my notes. It is a slightly different angle than what you have mentioned but I believe it is still related to what you are trying to understand. The topic was about healthy pride versus the passion of pride and the priest explained it to us like this:

Normal pride is a wonderful feeling. It is often a feeling of triumph. We take pride in something we have done well, either alone or as a group. We are proud  of our football team, our school, certain personal achievements, the way we've handled things in a crisis, and so on. That feeling of pride is a very deep satisfaction with what we have done or with something we've been part of. When a woman makes a dress that turns out perfectly, she is filled with satisfaction. She is proud of it. A man who builds a beautiful boat feels the same way. He is fully satisfied with his work; he is proud of it. That's what pride is like when it's healthy. When we know ourselves well, use ourselves in a good way, and do our best in life, we quite often have those wonderful moments when we feel totally satisfied and proud of what we have done.
But when people want just the feeling of pride without the right reason for it, without having done anything that could actually make them feel proud, then they are getting into the passion of pride.

Further on he spoke about the passion of vain glory:

We come now to the second main passion that is in all of us. It the passion of vanity, or vain glory, which means empty glory. It  gives you an irresistible urge to show off and look glorious.

Pride only makes us think we ought to be important and be able to accomplish great things. But vanity fills us with a desire to look important, whether we are or not, and to look as though we are accomplishing great things. People with a lot of vanity are frequently very hard workers. But they aren't working out of love or mere necessity. They're working to get known and respected, to be applauded like actors. They don't ususally like the work, but they're so addicted to human admiration that they'll work themselves right into an early grave just to be praised during the short time they have to live. It's an awful waste of effort, because they've done nothing to make themselves truly happy or to please God and be blessed by him.

Vainglory is a change of nature, a perversion of character. It is a dissipation of labors, a waste of sweat. St. John Climacus
« Last Edit: June 09, 2008, 01:42:36 PM by Tamara » Logged
Cassiel
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« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2008, 12:33:01 PM »

Thanks everybody, that helps a lot.  It's hard not to want to work really hard at understanding this stuff, because we say these prayers every day that refer to things that I really don't know much about.  It's hard to remember to be patient with it.  I want to be able to love God, and I want to open myself up to Him, but I screw it up a hundred times a day whether I know it or not.  So I'm trying to get a handle at least on the things I know I do wrong.

Tamara, the bits about pride and vainglory were really helpful.  Those seem like really pervasive problems in our culture (maybe in all cultures) that we rarely recognize as being so perverse.
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« Reply #8 on: June 10, 2008, 10:42:34 AM »

Cassiel,
   thanks for asking this! to be honest i've been wondering about mercenariness too and what it means. i also love your explanation about pride and vainglory tamara! i really don't have anything to add for your question Cassiel because i think everyone else answered it pretty well and just wanted to say i learned something from it too so thanks again! Smiley

mary
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« Reply #9 on: June 11, 2008, 12:29:00 AM »

And what exactly is secret eating for laypeople? 

I'm not sure what this one is, but I get the feeling I've done it during Lent.     Smiley
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A Sombra
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« Reply #10 on: June 13, 2008, 09:48:52 PM »

QUOTE: "Normal pride is a wonderful feeling. It is often a feeling of triumph. We take pride in something we have done well, either alone or as a group. We are proud  of our football team, our school, certain personal achievements, the way we've handled things in a crisis, and so on." and so on, etc.


I have always heard that pride is sinful because it is-as mentioned above, a good feeling about something that we do, which is a denial of the fact that "WE" cannot do anything without God's  help ... possibly another way to put it,

 "Everything Orthodox is theanthropically centred; its centre is the God-man Christ. Everything that is not Orthodox has this common                        denominator: its centre is man, whether it is Protestantism, Papism, Freemasonry, Millenarianism, atheism, or whatever else is outside Orthodoxy. For us, the centre is the God-man Christ. This means it is easy for someone to become a heretic, a Millenarianist, a Mason or whatever else, but it is difficult to become an Orthodox Christian. To become an Orthodox Christian, you must first accept that the centre of the world is not yourself but Christ."
-Archimandrite George, Abbot of the Holy Monastery of Saint Gregorios, Mount Athos
http://www.greekorthodoxchurch.org/theosis_qualifications.html

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« Reply #11 on: April 05, 2011, 08:34:13 PM »

.. sorry, nevermind
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« Reply #12 on: April 05, 2011, 11:09:11 PM »

I think that there is some misunderstanding about Mercenaries.  As one who has studied them most his life, written papers on them (and even wanted to be one), I can tell you this:  being a mercenary simply means that you are doing something just for pay.  The earliest Mercenaries would fight for the highest bidder, often changing clients as the winds of fate blew.  That is one of the things that gave the term "mercenary" a less than honorable connotation.  However, not all Mercenaries were without honor.  The French Foreign Legion is one of the more honorable mercenary organizations throughout history.

How does this apply to religion?  We are supposed to do good because it is good, not just for reward.  Too often we do good because there is a return on the action, be it financial or otherwise.  An example would be one that gives openly to the Church, and with great fanfare.  The scriptures tell us that the left hand should not know what the right hand is doing, and that what is done for God in secret is seen by God.  The "Un-mercenary Healers" were such because they healed for the glory of God, and not for their own gain or fame.  Modern doctors can be either mercenary or un-mercenary.  There are some that actually care for their patients and become doctors to ease the suffering of man.  The fact that they are compensated for their work does not make them mercenaries.  Many give hours of their time for little to no charge.  On the other hand, I have known doctors for whom a patient was just another payment on his Lexus.  These would be mercenaries even if they made less than the former doctors.

Being a mercenary is not always bad.  For example, in my work I am very mercenary.  I work for the highest bidder and have little loyalty to an employer.  I have seen first hand their loyalty to me and to other workers (rather, the lack thereof).  My employment is strictly business, and if my pay stops my work for that particular employer also stops.  I do not consider this form of mercenary activity to be dishonest or unholy.  Certainly not dishonest because I used to keep a sign on my desk that said "People work for money.  If you want loyalty, buy a dog."  On the other hand, my work with the Church is quite different.  Given that I have a high paying secular job, I cannot in clear conscience take any compensation for my work with the Church.  In fact, I don't even like to get paid for my expenses.  My Church work is, by my standards, un-mercenary.  In fact, given the dismal way that most Orthodox Churches pay their priests, my guess is that most paid priests and deacons are un-mercenary.  Televangelists, on the other hand, seem to me to be the ultimate religious mercenary.  But, I may be wrong since I do not know for sure what is in their hearts.

One must also be careful about volunteer work.  On the surface, the fact that it is volunteer would seem to make it un-mercenary.  However, if you are doing it just for the praise and recognition, they you are doing it for gain and not because it is good.  So, the prayer to guard us against mercenary actions is more complex than the simple definition of a mercenary.  One can be a mercenary and not receive one red cent for his work.
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