ON THE RESTORATION OF HOLINESS AND THE DESTINY OF EUROPE
Letters 172 and 173 of the Holy Elder Macarius of Optina.
Since losing its spiritual unity of the first millennium, Europe has been divided. Since the beginning of the second millennium, there have evolved two different Europes, Christian, or Orthodox, Europe, and Judeo-Christian, or Heterodox, Europe.
Since the beginning of the second millennium, Christian Europe has been oppressed, guarding its roots in the east in the Gospel of Christ, as preached in Asia, in the Jerusalem of the New Testament. On the other hand, rejecting the Cross of Christian Europe, to the west Judeo-Christian Europe has grown up. Over a thousand years it gradually forgot the Church of New Testament Jerusalem, forgetting Holiness, producing not a single saint. It replaced the Church with the spiritual blindness of rationalist and materialist ideologies, which impaired and desacralized its faith, and become ‘Judeo-Christian’ Europe. Instead of cultivating the Holiness of Jerusalem, it came to cultivate secular human ‘culture’, idolizing pagan Rome, pagan Greece, pagan Egypt, pagan India, pagan China and pagan Babylon.
Judeo-Christian Europe is a divided trinity. At the end of the first millennium it left the Church, the source of Holiness, the saints and spiritual wholeness, and so disintegrated spiritually. Thus, in the second millennium each of its three families of peoples took with it only some refracted part of Holiness, which each developed according to its spiritual genius. Isolated from the wholeness of the Church and so Holiness, for many centuries each guarded and cultivated only the partial heritage, which it had taken with it.
In the second millennium the remaining peoples of multinational Christian Europe, Greeks, Georgians, Romanians and Slavs, continued to dedicate their genius to the divine culture of Holiness. Their greatest achievements can be seen in their monasteries, churches and saints, who struggled for self-improvement and even perfection, living the full Gospel ideals, ‘seeking first the kingdom of heaven’. Their faith, come from the fishermen of Galilee and Syria, spread to Greeks and Iberians, Bulgarian herdsman and Serbian peasants, Russian muzhiks, Moldavian shepherds and the Rusin forest-dwellers of the Carpathians. This spirit they carried across the vastness of Siberia to its many peoples, then to China, Korea and the Great Ocean, to Alaska and Japan, to one sixth of the world.
But towards the end of that millennium the remaining Christian peoples of Europe forgot that Holiness is the aim of their being. Thus, they began to imitate the ‘culture’ of the Judeo-Christian peoples. They put their hopes for the kingdom of heaven into building an earthly kingdom. So they built the kingdom of hell on earth, destroying the best in their nations, persecuting the just and holy, fighting all that was historic and sacred in their popular traditions, committing national suicide, regardless of Holiness.
In the second millennium the mainly Roman Catholic Latin peoples of Judeo-Christian Europe put aside Holiness and dedicated their genius to the human culture of Beauty. Their greatest achievements can be seen in the theoretical speculations of their philosophers, the literary style of their writers, Parisian style and French chateaux, in the genius for elegant design of all the Latin peoples, in good food and drink, in Renaissance architects and artists in Rome, Florence, Venice and many other cities, in the old-world nobility and artistry of Spain and in the fine elegance, poetry and culture of Portugal. This spirit they carried into new worlds, to South and Central America, to Mexico, to French and Belgian Africa, to Mozambique and Angola, to Indo-China, to the Philippines and to islands all over the world.
But towards the end of that millennium, the Latin peoples forgot that Holiness is the source of all Beauty. Thus, they put form above content and fell into revolutionary violence, vain egoism, narcissism and amoral hedonism. Their lives became empty, devoid of meaning, dedicated only to their self-centred animal pleasures. ‘La Belle France’ became a place of human ugliness, ‘les belles lettres’ became a mirror reflecting human passions and the Latin ‘dolce vita’ became an excuse for self-indulgence, regardless of Beauty.
In the second millennium, the mixed Roman Catholic/Protestant Germanic peoples of Judeo-Christian Europe put aside Holiness and dedicated their genius to the human culture of Truth. Their greatest achievements can be seen in the their search for the truth in things, intense analytical dialectics of Germanic philosophy, in the genial depth of Germanic music and literature, in the Germanic gift for engineering, in the cleanliness and efficiency of the Dutch, in the crisp efficacy of the Scandinavians, in the technical brilliance and efficient organization of the Germans, Austrians and Swiss. This spirit they carried into the Europe to the east and north and south of them, to Iceland, to the Lebensraum of Prussia and Poland, to the Baltic Lands and Finland, to Czechia and Slovakia, to Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia.
But towards the end of that millennium, the Germanic peoples forgot that Holiness is the source of all Truth. Thus, they put their own limited but proud intellects above all else and dedicated themselves to the triumph of themselves over others, the ‘Uebermensch’ (the superhuman) over the ‘Untermensch’ (the sub-human), the efficient organization of their imagined superiority, of racist genocide. Their technical accomplishments became a mere excuse for the ultra-efficient service of human lusts, regardless of Truth.
In the second millennium, the later mainly Protestant English-speaking peoples of Judeo-Christian Europe, combining elements of both the Germanic and Latin peoples in their history, put aside Holiness and dedicated their genius to the human culture of Goodness. Their greatest achievements can be seen in the pragmatic application of human knowledge in freedom, the practical inventive ability to transform the world and their surroundings for commerce and human welfare, analyzing the human-being and human relations, promoting in their literature justice and patience, courtesy and the gentleman’s agreement – that ‘my word is my bond’. This spirit they carried to the vastness of North America, to the Continent of Australia and New Zealand, to India and Africa, to cities and islands all over the world.
But towards the end of that millennium, the English-speaking peoples forgot that Holiness is the source of all Goodness. Thus, they put their practical abilities and analyses of humanity at the service of ruthless and arrogant commercial exploitation, devoting themselves to work and trade in anything, from slaves to opium, as long as profit was made. So they exploited and exhausted the world, making their ability to transform the world into compromises, hypocritically living with perverted principles, regardless of Goodness.
Such was the division of Europe in the second millennium. However, in the third millennium, there emerged yet another important difference between Christian Europe and Judeo-Christian Europe.
On the one hand, the former Christian Europe has begun to understand the folly of its recent errors and is slowly returning to the New Jerusalem, the wisdom of its ancestors, seeking out Holiness again. On the other hand, Judeo-Christian Europe is still unable to see Holiness, for Holiness requires humility of mind. As a result of its proud secularist ‘culture’, Judeo-Christian Europe continues blindly on its downward hellish spiral. Producing not a single saint and, having lost the sense of the sacred, denying even the power of the saints, from Beauty, Truth and Goodness it descends into Ugliness, Falsehood and Evil. It justifies itself, trying to undermine Christian Europe for which it has only contempt, attacking in turn Cyprus and Greece, Serbia and the Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania and finally Holy Russia.
And yet this restoration of Christian Europe is now the only chance of salvation not only for itself, but also for Judeo-Christian Europe and the rest of the Judeo-Christianized world. For all concerned there is only one path upward out of the mutual pit of hell of the past twentieth century – the path of repentance, the first step towards the restoration of Holiness and reintegration with the saints, without whom there can be no restoration of the spiritual genius of each people of Europe and real Beauty, Truth and Goodness.
15/28 July 2006