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Author Topic: Syria and her particular type of religiosity  (Read 919 times) Average Rating: 0
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Jetavan
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« on: October 29, 2009, 08:47:09 PM »

Mother Maria Skobtsova writes in "Types of Religious Lives", about the ascetic life:
Quote
The ascetic type of religious life is not unique to Christianity. It has existed at all times and in the history of absolutely every religion....Since religious life demands of man sacrifice in the name of higher spiritual values, it is always ascetic. At the same time, at its deepest, creative life is also a way of asceticism, since it also demands total sacrifice in the name of higher creative values....

[A]part from such genuine and eternal asceticism, there is another extraordinary phenomenon about which we must speak and which we must isolate and distinguish somewhat from the ascetic tendency in general....

This special ascetic type has its roots not in Christianity but rather in the Eastern religions and has entered Christianity as a sort of a special influence from these religions, modifying the original understanding of asceticism....

The task of such asceticism is determined by the principle of consolidating one’s natural talents, developing them and being able to apply them. It does not look for any kind of transcendence, nor does it expect the inspiration of any kind of supernatural power....

What answer can be given to this particular form of spiritual naturalism? The only thing in this world more powerful than this is the Church’s teaching about spiritual poverty, about the spending, the squandering of one’s spiritual powers, about the utmost impoverishment of the spirit. The only definition of self which is more powerful than it are the words: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord.” Although these words in themselves define both the essence of the Christian soul and the whole of the Christian response to the natural powers of the human being, there is no doubt but that an occult relationship to asceticism which is contrary to Christianity has been introduced into our piety by way of ancient Eastern influences, through Syria and her particular type of religiosity. There is no need to overrate this influence of asceticism on Christianity, but nonetheless, it exists.

What did she mean by "Syria and her particular type of religiosity?" Is/Was Syria more influenced by the Far East (India, e.g.) than other regions of Christianity? And what type of influence occurred?
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"Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is." -- Mohandas Gandhi
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ialmisry
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« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2009, 09:00:44 PM »

Mother Maria Skobtsova writes in "Types of Religious Lives", about the ascetic life:
Quote
The ascetic type of religious life is not unique to Christianity. It has existed at all times and in the history of absolutely every religion....Since religious life demands of man sacrifice in the name of higher spiritual values, it is always ascetic. At the same time, at its deepest, creative life is also a way of asceticism, since it also demands total sacrifice in the name of higher creative values....

[A]part from such genuine and eternal asceticism, there is another extraordinary phenomenon about which we must speak and which we must isolate and distinguish somewhat from the ascetic tendency in general....

This special ascetic type has its roots not in Christianity but rather in the Eastern religions and has entered Christianity as a sort of a special influence from these religions, modifying the original understanding of asceticism....

The task of such asceticism is determined by the principle of consolidating one’s natural talents, developing them and being able to apply them. It does not look for any kind of transcendence, nor does it expect the inspiration of any kind of supernatural power....

What answer can be given to this particular form of spiritual naturalism? The only thing in this world more powerful than this is the Church’s teaching about spiritual poverty, about the spending, the squandering of one’s spiritual powers, about the utmost impoverishment of the spirit. The only definition of self which is more powerful than it are the words: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord.” Although these words in themselves define both the essence of the Christian soul and the whole of the Christian response to the natural powers of the human being, there is no doubt but that an occult relationship to asceticism which is contrary to Christianity has been introduced into our piety by way of ancient Eastern influences, through Syria and her particular type of religiosity. There is no need to overrate this influence of asceticism on Christianity, but nonetheless, it exists.

What did she mean by "Syria and her particular type of religiosity?" Is/Was Syria more influenced by the Far East (India, e.g.) than other regions of Christianity? And what type of influence occurred?


It was more in contact: remember the Orthodox in India have been under the Patriarchate of Antioch.  The translation of your avatar Barlaam and Joasaphat was attributed to St. John of Damascus.  That's not true, it's Georgian, but then Georgia had Antioch as her mother Church via Armenia.


I would take the reference to Syria, however, just to be an general term for the big bad Orient.
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« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2009, 10:18:44 PM »


What did she mean by "Syria and her particular type of religiosity?" Is/Was Syria more influenced by the Far East (India, e.g.) than other regions of Christianity? And what type of influence occurred?


A while back I read A History of the Monks of Syria, by Theodoret.  I seem to recall that their form of asceticism was much more extreme than that of the monks in Egypt.  It's been a while, but I recall that some of them would wear heavy chains, etc.  Of course, the most famous of the monks about whom he wrote was St. Symeon, who stood on a pillar for decades.  The asceticism which Theodoret described was just really extreme. 

Maybe that's what Mother Maria meant?  Is that sort of asceticism known in other eastern religions?
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Salpy
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« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2009, 11:10:00 PM »

This is the book:

http://www.amazon.com/History-Monks-Syria-Theodoret-Cyrrhus/dp/0879079886
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ialmisry
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« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2009, 11:20:05 PM »


What did she mean by "Syria and her particular type of religiosity?" Is/Was Syria more influenced by the Far East (India, e.g.) than other regions of Christianity? And what type of influence occurred?


A while back I read A History of the Monks of Syria, by Theodoret.  I seem to recall that their form of asceticism was much more extreme than that of the monks in Egypt.  It's been a while, but I recall that some of them would wear heavy chains, etc.  Of course, the most famous of the monks about whom he wrote was St. Symeon, who stood on a pillar for decades.  The asceticism which Theodoret described was just really extreme. 

Maybe that's what Mother Maria meant?  Is that sort of asceticism known in other eastern religions?


I don't know what that hast to do with the occult, but seeing how the gurus combine yoga with things like body piecings and other such extremes, I could see how she might make the comparison.  But the whole world (as far as England) came to see St. Symeon, and Syrian monks came to Constantinople e.g. St. Daniel the Stylite was outside of the capital, having come to deliever St. Symeon's cloak to the Emperor Leo I. I seem to recall something about his bones coming through his skin because of an iron chain that worn on his skin.
http://books.google.ro/books?id=u32OUS4-yd0C&pg=PA95&dq=Saint+Daniel+the+Stylite&hl=en#v=onepage&q=&f=false

But now that your mention it, yes, very different from Coptic asceticism.
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Question a friend, perhaps he did not do it; but if he did anything so that he may do it no more.
A hasty quarrel kindles fire,
and urgent strife sheds blood.
If you blow on a spark, it will glow;
if you spit on it, it will be put out;
                           and both come out of your mouth
Salpy
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Toumarches
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Pray for the Christians of Iraq and Syria.


« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2009, 11:21:47 PM »

St. Symeon's awesome.   Cool
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Jetavan
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« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2009, 04:57:26 PM »


What did she mean by "Syria and her particular type of religiosity?" Is/Was Syria more influenced by the Far East (India, e.g.) than other regions of Christianity? And what type of influence occurred?


A while back I read A History of the Monks of Syria, by Theodoret.  I seem to recall that their form of asceticism was much more extreme than that of the monks in Egypt.  It's been a while, but I recall that some of them would wear heavy chains, etc.  Of course, the most famous of the monks about whom he wrote was St. Symeon, who stood on a pillar for decades.  The asceticism which Theodoret described was just really extreme. 

Maybe that's what Mother Maria meant?  Is that sort of asceticism known in other eastern religions?

Yes, such asceticism is known in Indic religions, and it is also criticized in Indic religions. The Buddha, for instance, criticized extreme asceticism (though he allowed a form of it for those Buddhist monks who really, really were good at it).

I hadn't thought of the stylites as an example of Syriac asceticism, but you may have a point. As far as I know, the particular practice of standing on a pillar is not part of the Indic traditions.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2009, 04:58:50 PM by Jetavan » Logged

If you will, you can become all flame.
Extra caritatem nulla salus.
In order to become whole, take the "I" out of "holiness".
सर्वभूतहित
Ἄνω σχῶμεν τὰς καρδίας
"Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is." -- Mohandas Gandhi
Y dduw bo'r diolch.
Alveus Lacuna
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« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2009, 06:08:30 PM »

I seem to recall something about his bones coming through his skin because of an iron chain that worn on his skin.

I didn't see that in the link you posted, but I would be interested to know where this comes from, if anywhere.  I had heard of St. Symeon the Stylite and seen some icons.  I knew that the stylites lived atop pillars and lived harsh lives, but reading the account you posted really brought the images to life.  It would make sense for the Syriac ascetics to have been more extreme, considering their proximity to other Eastern forms of ascesis.  An interesting perspective for sure.

In fact, this thread just might inspire me to change my avatar.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2009, 06:15:23 PM by Alveus Lacuna » Logged
Tags: monastacism asceticism St. Simeon Stylites 
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