2013, Day of Pray for the Environment - Man and Nature

September 1, 2013

Day of Pray for the Environment

Man and Nature

Orthodox liturgical life demonstrates genuine care for the body and its needs so much that on a daily basis it identifies bread and wine with the Lord. Also through liturgical life and in a special way, wood and colors become incarnations of the saints, and their relics become conveyers and expressions of their personal saintly presence. In this tradition, all men participate as entire humans. (27)   

Modern man lives daily under the burden of the conflicting scheme between the individual and the whole. (29) One has difficulty with this so much that one is often unable to separate between that which is natural and that which is supernatural. Due to recent academic and philosophical developments, one cannot even conceive that the supernatural is related to something “beyond” nature. One’s Christian conscience, under the weight that it bears from the dichotomy inherited from western theology, can do nothing but guide itself to the total rejection of the supernatural or, in the least, to a dichotomy [between the natural and supernatural] within its own self. But for a liturgical view of the world, the natural and the supernatural do not exist. Nature and creation exists as a cohesive reality which comes from God and is “related” to God. There is a total meeting of the heavenly and earthly reality to the point of totally identifying one with the other, a meeting where God Himself is no longer thought of as an extension of nature but becomes, in the person of His Son, “enthroned on high with the Father and [they] are also invisibly present among us.”

Man’s priesthood requires that one continually take part in creation as something that was fore-designated by God, not only for one to survive but also to “be completed”….. (119)

[Here we must say that]  the meaning of “priesthood” must be freed from its negative content and be identify mainly with the meaning of “offering”, of opening. In other words, it must relate to men who have a transcendent relationship with the “other”, a meaning that is linked with love as is known in its deepest meaning. All of these things require the existence of an inter-dependence between Man and Nature, in that man cannot be completed unless there is a recapitulation of nature. Thus, Man and Nature are not in conflict, in competition, but exist in a positive relationship. This cannot be attained in any other way other than through liturgical practice, because only through such a practice Nature itself takes part in the event of this positive relationship. If Man wants to get past the environmental crisis, he must become a liturgical being within this positive relationship. (45-46)    

Metropolitan John (Zizioulas) of Pergamon, from his book “Η κτίση ως ευχαριστία Μια θεολογική ορθόδοξη προσέγγιση στο πρόβλημα της οικολογίας”