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St Paisios of Mt Athos: Does Material Abundance Hinder Spiritual Growth?

St Paisios of Mt Athos: Does Material Abundance Hinder Spiritual Growth?

An over-abundance of materialism is an obstacle to spirituality

Are we distracted in our spiritual growth by the abundance of material goods that support our modern way of life?  Have we become dependent on them for our well-being?  Does this not make them our new god?  What is the proper place of material goods in our life? They are all gifts of God are they not?

Elder Paisios has some interesting comments on this condition we find ourselves in today.

I have realized that the destruction of man lies in the abundance of material goods, because it prevents him from experiencing the presence of God and appreciating His benevolence.  If you want to take someone away from God, give him plenty of material goods.  He will instantly forget Him forever.

The key here is the word “abundance.” When we build our life around attaining material goods we find ourselves with an abundance of them. This, Elder Paisios says, prevents us from experiencing the presence of God.  This is our general condition of today.  As a result we find most people asleep spiritually.  Church becomes an obligation or a social gathering.  Many even see it as a form of entertainment as evidenced by the nature of many of the mega churches today.

Even though we have been Baptized and given the Holy Spirit we have fallen asleep and lulled into complacency with material well-being.  We treasure the appointments of our car. We seek the latest electronic gadgets. Life is not whole without an ipod (now an ipad), digital camera or cell phone. We brag about the size of our house which is on the average twice as big as it was 30 years ago. We buy it with a mortgage and then fill it with all kinds of things, few of which are essential to our life, and much which has been purchased on a credit card. Even the Holy period of Advent we are now approaching is filled with the purchasing of toys and gifts.  Most children today find a pile of things on Christmas day, few of which are essential or even related to the spiritual nature of the season. This is the reality we face.

Does this way of life provide a distraction for you in your spiritual life? What to do?

paisios

Reference: Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain, p 109

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