MAGNANO, Italy, SEPT. 11, 2009 (Zenit.org).- An international conference in the Bose Monastic Community, located outside Magnano, is underlining the importance of the Christian struggle to dominate one's passions and egoism.
This idea of "spiritual combat" is something that Benedict XVI is urging Christians to cultivate, in his message to the 17th annual International Ecumenical Conference on Orthodox Spirituality currently under way.
The meeting, involving Catholics, Lutherans and Orthodox, is focused on the theme "Spiritual Struggle in the Orthodox Tradition."
The conference, which began Wednesday and ends Saturday, is important in advancing Christian ecumenical dialogue, the Pope affirmed in a Sep. 4 statement to the participants.
This idea was also emphasized by the patriarchs of Constantinople and Moscow, who sent similar messages to the congress.
Bartholomew I, Orthodox patriarch of Constantinople, said that these meetings enrich "academic and ecumenical discourse" and are "ample evidence of the unique contribution of monasticism to ecumenical relations among Christian confessions."
Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia stated, "In the world we see an uninterrupted struggle between the forces of good and evil," in which it seems that the latter "were never as strong as today."
He continued, "When we see how the contemporary world takes what is black to be white, when deceit appears as truth, and what in the whole of human history was considered sin now no longer is, we understand that the very foundations of the moral and spiritual health of society are threatened."
Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, sent a message to the congress to underline the "present importance" of the spiritual struggle, "perhaps more than in the past."
He added, "Both in private life as well as in society we are bombarded by many temptations which take us away from our relationship with the Lord."
This "spiritual struggle against evil" takes place in the heart of every man, said Prior Enzo Bianchi, head of the monastic community, during the opening of the symposium.
He asserted that this struggle "stems from man's fear of death."
Bianchi explained, "Moved by the fear of death, man wants to continue his life by any means; he wants to possess for himself the goods of the earth, he wants to dominate others," believing that in this way "he ensures for himself an abundant life, and justifies all behavior directed to obtaining it, even at the cost of harming others or himself."
Hence, the prior said, it is in the heart "that the return to God can begin," either in "conversion, or succumbing to the seduction of sin and the slavery of idolatry."
He concluded, "It is a very hard struggle to try to have a united heart, able to collaborate with the new life wrought in us by the Father, through faith in Christ, dead and risen, in the power of the Holy Spirit: But it is precisely to this fundamental battle that the Christian is called."
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