Why did the familial conflicts, the disagreements and the divorces multiply? Why do we go back home sometimes with the burdensome feeling of an obligation and the other one does not come to greet us, being in a mood similar with ours? Why the warmest and most welcoming place for the man which has always been his home it has become for so many a battlefield for primacy and power? There are many questions raised by the situation of the family nowadays and of the answer to them it depends the happiness of numerous families and of course of all the children they begot.
The theme is too wide to be treated in only a few pages, but we tried to begin this study with priest Constantin Coman, a well known professor, a true pedagogue and more than this, the spirital confessor of hundreds of families. The word may be a bit challenging, but the truth has always scandalized those attached with their hearts to the spirit of the world – but it comforted and healed those who sought Him sincerely.
`Father, we see around us so many misunderstandings in the family life and so many divorces. Why do you think that we reached this situation? And the rate of divorces is increasing every year, in Romania with at least 5 percentages per year.`
`I think that on one hand there are certain external factors that are responsible and they belong to the historical context, times, society, culture – and of course it is not the case to insist very much upon the attributes of our times and of the dominant culture because these aspects are accessible for all. There is too much freedom, too much liberalism. The abolition of the borders brings with it a certain estrangement, meaning the `chance` the man has to lose himself, to become invisible, to cease being a member of a closed society which is visible. And the man when he loses himself addicts himself to so many things, to so many weaknesses. Then there is that prevailing individualism and the rights of men. The temptations are exacerbated at maximum for making him satisfy his most shameless and hidden instincts.
Of course the temptations always existed but in our times they are exacerbated cause of this globalism, cause of the media and especially of the Internet which pervaded even the hidden chamber of each one of us.
It has never happened until now something like this: that the man in his deepest intimacy, in his loneliness is able to enjoy all this harming, exciting and destroying pornographic show. This is I think another very destructive factor and a great victory of the enemy.
The family crisis is a crisis of the person
But the determining factor is ultimately the man himself, his inner self. The great battle is fought inside. And the situation of the families or as you said the evidence of the increasing rate of divorces is caused by the crisis of the person. Thus the family crisis is a crisis of the person. I am convinced about this and for the reason that the Gospel of Christ, our Saviour does not focus primarily on the institution of family, the, the major point of interest being the person. Christ, the Saviour Himself is not preoccupied by the family issue, as He is not preoccupied by any other institution, or society, or association, or foundation or organization. He is interested in the human person whom He calls to stand honestly before God and before the others.
And the healthy and correct position before God and the other men transforms the man into a self-aware and responsible person. Thus the cultivation of the person would generate a healthy family, as the crisis of the person generates the family crisis, like any other crisis – because we notice not only the family crisis, but also the crisis of the bigger families, of the rural communities, of the parochial communities, of the nation, of the counsciousness of nation etc. But of course the family is not confounded with them, it is a special establishment depending of the human nature, of the creation of God.
Therefore if we wanted to approach seriously the situation, the major investition must be made in the purpose of raising the person’s awareness. It is a great delusion to believe that our situation depends absolutely on the external factors (on the family which raised us, on school, kindergarden, Church, state and times) Overwhelmed by such beliefs, we don’t engage ourselves in a personal effort of cultivating virtues, as the Holy Fathers say, and for struggling against passions. Because if the man is unbalanced from this point of view – of controlling his own primary instincts – he will make a family of his own being unprepared and vulnerable and as a result of this his family won’t have many chances. A good monk would be a very good family man too as well as a good family man would be a very good monk in the meaning of the investment someone makes in his own education.
The people establish a family being unprepared especially in what regards mastery and self-awareness. I tell them: `Brothers, a family means the union of the man with the woman and in order to unite at a high degree of self-awareness, you as a man need to have the clear and complete conscience of the manly nature and you as a woman of the womanly nature.
Thus I test people at confession and I used to do that in university as well and I saw that nobody can describe his own nature, or say which would be the main attributes of the manly nature – besides anatomy, anatomy being visible, but the manly nature is not limited at it – and how you define the womanly nature.
And the next step: if there is any specificity of nature which is obvious there must be a specific vocation deriving from that particular nature. There is an almost complete lack of concern for this matter. The people are not profound, don’t understand their own nature – this is a definition I find it adequate. And in order to have a good union the man must be very manly and have the complete awareness of his manliness and the woman must be very womanly and have the consciousness of her feminity. Each one of them needs to activate his own nature – cause if the natures are mingled, if they are under the pressure of decline, of temptations, of passions, of degradations the union is doomed. For this reason I say that the major investment and responsibility appertains to the person who has self-awareness.
You encounter a wall as well as you could be yourself a wall for somebody else
Let’s explain more deeply what means a personal relationship. The people don’t know anymore what means a person.
Why don’t they know anymore? Because they don’t reflect about that and they are not profound, they don’t turn to their inner self to see what means self as a personal presence. When I say person I refer at a human being with self-awareness. When someone has self-awareness has the conscience of the fact that he exists in the life of someone, that he is in dialogue with someone, that he is in dialogue with the surrounding people, with the surrounding world and in dialog with the Kind God. Dialogue means not to chat but the relation in itself which begins from the plain communication and is required to reach the plenitude of communion in love.
Thus a person is a human aware of this condition he has. First of all aware of the richness of his own existence.
Of course a mature person should be aware in the same time of the gifts and the weaknesses he has: there are weaknesses and gifts of the human nature in general but there are also some specific gifts and weaknesses. A mature person must be aware of these things to develop his gifts and diminish his weaknesses, strengthening his struggle against the irrational, obscure sometimes decadent inner tendencies, the struggle against sin if you want to call it so.
How could you be able to accomplish these if you are not aware of them, if you ask someone at confession and he doesn’t have the self-awareness, he is not able to express himself and he has not tried to understand himself better – to search his spirit as we say, meaning the most hidden level of his intentions, tendencies, to see what comes out of you, towards what you are drawn from your depth, what are your aspirations, what attracts you, what you like and what you dislike and fr what reasons?…
Many young men are completely absorbed by the exterior. On one hand they live exclusively outside themselves dissipated in the diverse spectacle of the world and on the other hand they are annihilated by the authority of their parents, by the authority of school, of law, of learning and so on and they don’t focus on their self anymore, they lose the habit of personal decision coming out from their inner self. There are some people who conform to some exterior things, who seek answers in the outer world at different authorities. Of course we conform to an exterior thing but having the self-awareness in our relation with that thing. And this in my opinion is a big lack of practice of man’s deepening in his own nature: in assuming the specific self-awareness of man or woman. This means person. The spirit of the man, says saint apostle Paul `knows the best his own thoughts.`Corinthians 2:11. The spirit of the man – and that spirit I say that it is this self-awareness which should reach your deepest self, till the last molecule.
I assimilate this thing to vigilance mentioned by the niptic Fathers – exactly that zone of awakening the self-awareness which means an awakening of the personal spirit manifested in the man’s increased capability of participating at reality, at encounter. You encounter someone and you see that there is a certain energy coming from him, a personal irradiance and you meet someone else who is like a stone, he doesn’t irradiate anything. You encounter a wall as well as you could be a wall yourself for someone else. This issue is essential for the union of the man with the woman and for the union and encounter of men, because if these men do not have a certain inner awareness this doesn’t work or it works only at a half conscious level , limiting himself at the physical needs, at the instincts – of hunger, f help, of reproduction and so on and this cannot last for a long time, cannot be satisfactory for anyone of them.
That’s why the men reach very soon a state of disgust, they are disgusted of each other. It is very hard to carry the other one if you don’t participate at the encounter with him. Thus first of all it’s about the mystery of the person, which in my opinion lies at the basis of any union, that’s why I find this basis in the attitude of Christ, the Saviour, Who is not preoccupied by institutions but by the human person and I think that there is found the cause of all the weaknesses and evils from all levels of the human existence and there is also found the solution for retrieving everything.
We see very clearly that the woman means something and the man means something else.
What would mean in fact a good relationship with the other, a healthy connection with the other one in the family life?
I think essential is that everyone should assume his specific vocation and contribution to this union. The man the manly vocation as I said and the woman the womanly one. Why am I saying this? Because this mentality disappeared, this perspective that there would be something specific it was annulled – although we see very clearly without any lenses or magnifying glass that the woman means something and the man something else. From their looks, the way they smile, they way they speak until the last molecule the woman is different from the man and from here the simplest logic would make us extract a certain specificity of the womanly nature and a certain specificity of the manly nature. If we agreed upon this issue, this would be the essential condition for a good beginning – to assume the specificity of their natures and vocations.
The man has the gift of self-possession and the woman that of obedience
What means this specificity?
I have this belief after a long experience and research I’ve been doing – since childhood I had this curiosity to see how the things are and why they work in a certain way and not in another one, or why they don’t work when they should and I remember many families starting with the family of my parents,my neighbours and so on until I came to have tens or maybe hundreds of families at confession at priest confessor and I came to the conclusion that there is a vocation, a contribution specific for the man which would consist in assuming responsibility, in assuming the leading role. I say that the man has the gift of mastery – but mastery not in the meaning of tyranny not in a worldly meaning, but with the significance that his nature has the quality of self-possession more powerful than the woman (but unfortunately this is not capitalized and this is another problem) this being the reason why the woman comes to him, seeking support in him, hoping that he controls the situation. But many times the man unfortunately disappoints the expectations of the woman because he didn’t use properly the gift of self-possession. I think that this is the specific vocation of the man. And the specific vocation of the woman is that of being obedient to the man. The woman has in her nature the gift of obedience. It is a great gift and implies a great strength. It is not easy to be obedient to the man.
Thus when there are two people it is like in the monastery, it is not possible to have two heads (bicephaly), it must be only one. And that one is the man, as saint apostle Paul says: `the man is the head of the woman`; `and the head of the man is Christ , he adds (Corinthians 11:3) and so on. I made this experience in the Holy Mountain staying with the fathers: I saw that where were two or more it was needed one head – in the meaning that the respective man assumed the responsibility to administer the affairs of that community and the others obeyed. This matter referring at the woman and the man relates to the nature. In monarchism does not relate to the nature. I think that the man is called to reign in the pure meaning of the word, to administer things, to assume responsibility, to lead and the woman is called to obey her man. Where it is fulfilled this thing peace and joy begin to reign and tension disappears, because the two natures complete each other with their specificities.
The man is content when the woman is womanly and the woman is content when the man is manly.
But the man is tempted to give up on this vocation because it is difficult to lead. To have a responsibility is the most difficult thing. You must decide – of course not arbitrarily, not abusively, not egocentrically, but taking int account the other one. The highest form of decision and its most natural support is your love for the other one. Thus your decision should be manifested sacrificially for the sake of the other one, but this doesn’t mean that it’s not yours.
And the woman would obtain exactly what she wants in a higher degree as a gift from the man not as a claim of herself. In this way it would be reached love, because the man sacrifices himself – he does not take decisions in his own interest, egocentrically, but out of love for the woman and his decision is like a gift for the woman and the woman receives the gift and she gets much more than what she would get from her own claims, nagging and arguments. But for being at that level the man needs to be mature, loving and assume his decision and responsibility, he must be very righteous and mature and this happens so rarely.
He should be self-possessed, restrained.
– Exactly. The man manifests his lack of self-possession in the most vulnerable form in what refers at the carnal desires in relation with his wife who expects from him self-possession and sees that he is not capable of that. There the man loses the test before his wife and he is not credible anymore. The woman expresses or not this thing, is aware of it or not, but deep inside for her the man is not what she expected anymore, because he loses at this chapter with his lack of self-possession.
I tell you not from books, from my own experience of confessor. The man who doesn’t have self-possession in what regards the carnal desires or the one who is possessed by gluttony, by sleep and all the rest proves to his wife that he is an incomplete man and becomes the cause of her fall.
She loses her respect for him.
She loses her respect, her appreciation for him. You cannot love what you don’t appreciate. And you cannot appreciate what has not price.