Orthodox Spirituality and the Natural Environment

A scenic view of nature illustrating the profound link between Orthodox spirituality and the preservation of the environment.

Creation: A Constant and Defining Factor

From birth to death, human beings are constantly surrounded by their environment, which shapes and influences their lives. This environment, whether material or spiritual, plays a significant role in defining our existence. Drawing from the observations of Saint Gregory the Theologian, Orthodox theology emphasizes humanity’s participation in both the visible and invisible worlds.

Adam: A Steward of Creation

According to Orthodox theology, Adam was created as a steward over the visible world, tasked with protecting and preserving it. Adam’s purpose was to serve as a royal steward, glorifying the divine benefactor while participating in both the spiritual and material realms. This unique position called for the recognition of dignity and humility, as Adam was destined for deification and to look solely towards God.

The Difference in Worldview

Orthodox spirituality differs from contemporary deep ecology in its worldview. While both share a desire to preserve and protect the natural resources of the world, Orthodox theology places emphasis on humanity’s stewardship and ministry within creation. This perspective fosters a profound sense of justice and moderation, recognizing the need to preserve creation by serving its Creator.

Preservation and Celebration: Intimately Connected

Orthodox theology interprets the scriptural command “to till and to keep the earth” as a mandate to serve and preserve the earth. Acting as faithful and prudent stewards, humanity is called to act in humble acknowledgment of God as the Creator. All authority to regulate and minister comes from God and is directed towards the glory of God. Preservation and celebration are intrinsically linked in this understanding.

The Concern of the Church

The entire world, created by God for the privilege and preservation of all, is a central concern of the Church. The Church prays earnestly for both things in the world and things above the world, acknowledging the interconnectedness of all creation. Prayers are offered for favorable winds, peaceful rains, abundant fruits, and the overall well-being of the earth and its inhabitants.

A Prayer for Creation

Orthodox spirituality calls for prayers to be offered for the various elements of creation, including favorable winds, beneficial freshness, abundant fruits, balanced river levels, and fruitful crops. These prayers reflect the understanding that the natural environment is intricately connected to human well-being and should be approached with reverence and care.

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