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Orthodoxy of the heart often starts through suffering. The following is an excerpt from the "Orthodox Word" magazine. Much of what Blessed Father Seraphim mentions in this article has come to pass. One beautiful example is the movie "Ostrov". It is the fruit of a national revival. It is very much the result of a prolonged national, as well as personal, suffering and purification experienced by Russia and her people.

The Orthodox Revival in Russia---

AS AN INSPIRATION FOR AMERICAN ORTHODOXY

Spiritual Rebirth:

But most of all I want to speak about an almost paradoxical second aspect of Gulag [Soviet Prison Camps]: it reveals the evil of man\'s nature and the folly of the modern dream of earthly happinessbut at the same time it is also a starting place for man\'s spiritual rebirth, the condition which makes the spiritual rebirth of Russia so much more profound than the various "spiritual revivals" of the free world. Solzhenitsyn [Russian writer instrumental in revealing Soviet Gulags to the West] himself describes this in Part II of The Gulag Archipelago:

"It has granted me to carry away from my prison years on my bent back, which nearly broke beneath its load, this essential experience: how a human being becomes evil and how good. In the intoxication of my youthful successes I had felt myself to be infallible, and I was therefore cruel. In the surfeit of power I was a murderer, and an oppressor. In my most evil moments I was convinced that I was doing good, and I was well supplied with systematic arguments. And it was only wen I lay there on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first strivings of good. Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties eitherbut right through every human heartand then all human hearts And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains an unuprooted small corner of evil."

How much deeper is this observation than anything we in the West could say based on our own experience. And why is it deeper? Because it is based on suffering, and that is the reality of the human condition and the beginning of true spiritual life. Christ came to a life of suffering and the Cross, and the experience in Russia enables those who undergo it to see this profoundly. That is why the Christian revival in Russia is so deep.

And what of us in the West, and particularly in America? Do we have any image that explains our situation as well as Gulag does that of Russia? I am afraid there is an image, most unflattering to us, which is almost our equivalent of Gulag. It is "Disneyland"an image which exemplifies our carefree love of "fun" (a most un-Christian word!), our lack of seriousness, our living in a literal fool\'s paradise, unaware or barely aware of the real meaning and seriousness of life.

Anyone who has met or read the writings of people who come from the USSR and other Communist countries, cannot but notice how serioussometimes to the point of grimnessthese people are. I am not saying that we should be grim like thatthat would be fakery on our partbut only that we should realize that our experience in freedom and prosperity has to a great extent crippled us spiritually, and that therefore we must expose ourselves to and take deeply to heart the message of men like Solzhenitsyn. We must study the Gulag and make it, to the extent we can, a part of our own experience.

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