The Greatest Pandemic (perhaps)

The greatest pandemic we might be currently undergoing is one of anxiety.


  • AN EPIDEMIC is a disease that affects a large number of people within a community, population, or region.

  • A PANDEMIC is an epidemic that’s spread over multiple countries or continents.

And if you have studied the evolution of the word epidemic which for some reason I have had the time to do these days you will find that it has evolved from simply meaning 'on the people' of a certain country, to being used medically first by Hippocrates describing plague, then eventually, involving microbial and noninfectious diseases (ex. cancer) and finally in our day and age is used even to describe anything that negatively impacts the health or welfare of a large number of people in the population. Now, to return to my original statement "The greatest pandemic we might be currently undergoing is one of anxiety.", I believe it is clear to observe that somehow or someway anxiety has grown to become a world wide pandemic in and of itself.


What is anxiety, anyway?


The American Psychological Association (APA) defines anxiety as “an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure.”


Anxiety is a normal and often healthy emotion. However, when a person regularly feels disproportionate levels of anxiety, it can become very unhealthy. I have found in writings of the Holy Fathers throughout the early centuries of Christianity where it has been written that God did not create anything bad. I choose to believe this statement and so in using it to look into anxiety, we can deduce that a healthy amount of anxiety can help us avoid many dangers in life which is a good thing. And as with any good thing, the antithesis is quickly suggested by evil which in this case is an unhealthy amount of anxiety which can be paralyzing in the sense that even beyond real and present danger one imagines some calamity(ies) that may or may not occur and at this point fails to function.


Okay, captain obvious not touching the hot stove because you are afraid you might get burned is good and never eating again because you are afraid you might get burned while cooking is bad. But, if so obvious and so common sense then why is it estimated that 40 million people in the USA alone suffer from anxiety disorders? And, true to my self, I try to seek solutions not just see problems and so what are the possible solutions?


Medical News Today suggest the following for Self Treatment of anxiety:

  • Stress management: Learning to manage stress can help limit potential triggers. Organize any upcoming pressures and deadlines, compile lists to make daunting tasks more manageable, and commit to taking time off from study or work.

  • Relaxation techniques: Simple activities can help soothe the mental and physical signs of anxiety. These techniques include meditation, deep breathing exercises, long baths, resting in the dark

  • Exercises to replace negative thoughts with positive ones: Make a list of the negative thoughts that might be cycling as a result of anxiety, and write down another list next to it containing positive, believable thoughts to replace them. Creating a mental image of successfully facing and conquering a specific fear can also provide benefits if anxiety symptoms relate to a specific cause, such as in a phobia.

  • Support network: Talk with familiar people who are supportive, such as a family member or friend. Support group services may also be available in the local area and online.

  • Exercise: Physical exertion can improve self-image and release chemicals in the brain that trigger positive feelings

furthermore, they conclude:

  • An active lifestyle with a balanced diet can help keep anxious emotions within healthy limits.


Sticking with the scientific world for now...

Science News from research organizations


Hope is a key factor in recovering from anxiety disorders


Date:October 15, 2019

Source:University of Houston

Summary:A psychologist is reporting that hope increases in therapy and is a trait that predicts resilience and recovery from anxiety disorders, an important mechanism for therapists to restore in patients to move them forward toward recovery.


Medical doctors also tell us that loss of hope often hastens the arrival of death in patients. Emil Brunner wrote, “What oxygen is for the human lungs, such is hope for the meaning of human life…as the fate of the human is dependent on the supply of oxygen, so the fate of humanity is dependent on its supply of hope.” Without food man can survive for close to thirty days; without water he can survive only three days; without air he survive only three minutes; but without hope he might destroy himself in an even shorter time.


So, from the above science we can deduce that leading a life of hope coupled with a healthy diet and an active lifestyle can help us attain the right balance of anxiety somewhere between a reckless nonsense and an ultra anxiety that paralyzes us.


In conclusion, life is full of struggle and there are certainly things that are going to cause us anxiety but we must learn to separate them into two categories, those that are in our control and that which is not. In response to what is in our control we must do all that we can in an effort to meet these challenges and when it comes to that which is not in our control, this is where hope or trust becomes the main factor. Hope or trust in what, some may ask? In the USA all you have to do is look to your currency for the answer...no, not trust in money as many in society by their actions would have us believe but rather the statement "In God We Trust".


Remember, there are no hopeless situations in life, only people who have grown hopeless about them. This virus is not breaking the world, it is only reconfirming the brokenness that already exists in the world. It is my hope and prayer that many more people find their own hope and prayer.


These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."(John 16:33)




Below is a list of virtues and the passions that can result from misuse of the virtues. These lists are from writings found on the Holy Mountain Athos, which I have been Blessed with 6 pilgrimages to. These writings are compiled in the Philokalia by St Nikodimos and St Makarios, they are currently being translated into English by Palmer, Sherrard and Bishop Kallistos Ware. I believe they have published 5 out of 8 volumes in English. These lists are found in Volume III in writings by St Peter of Damaskos. I have highlighted lack of anxiety about all things but feel free to read the rest. I assure you this can be of great value to those of understanding.



***** A LIST OF THE VIRTUES *****

The virtues are: moral judgment, self-restraint, courage, justice, faith, hope, love, fear, religious devotion, spiritual knowledge, resolution, strength, understanding, wisdom, contrition, grief, gentleness, searching the Scriptures, acts of charity, purity of heart, peace, patient endurance, self- control, perseverance, probity of intention, purposiveness, sensitivity, heedfulness, godlike stability, warmth, alertness, the fervor of the Spirit, meditation, diligence, watchfulness, mindfulness, reflection, reverence, shame, respect, penitence, refraining from evil, repentance, return to God, allegiance to Christ, rejection of the devil, keeping of the commandments, guarding of the soul, purity of conscience, remembrance of death, tribulation of soul, the doing of good actions, effort, toil, an austere life, fasting, vigils, hunger, thirst, frugality, self-sufficiency, orderliness, gracefulness, modesty, reserve, disdain of money, unacquisitiveness, renunciation of worldly things, submissiveness, obedience, compliance, poverty, possessionlessness, withdrawal from the world, eradication of self-will, denial of self, counsel, magnanimity, devotion to God, stillness, discipline, sleeping on a hard bed, abstinence from washing oneself, service, struggle, attentiveness, the eating of uncooked food, nakedness, the wasting of one's body, solitude, quietude, calmness, cheerfulness, fortitude, boldness, godlike zeal, fervency, progress, folly for Christ, watchfulness over the intellect, moral integrity, holiness, virginity, sanctification, purity of body, chasteness of soul, reading for Christ's sake, concern for God, comprehension, friendliness, truthfulness, uninquisitiveness, uncensoriousness, forgiveness of debts, good management, skillfulness, acuity, fairness, the right use of things, cognitive insight, good-naturedness, experience, psalmody, prayer, thanksgiving, acknowledgment, entreaty, kneeling, supplication, intercession, petition, appeal, hymnody, doxology, confession, solicitude, mourning, affliction, pain, distress, lamentation, sighs of sorrow, weeping, heart-rending tears, compunction, silence, the search for God, cries of anguish, lack of anxiety about all things, forbearance, lack of self-esteem, disinterest in glory, simplicity of soul, sympathy, self-retirement, goodness of disposition, activities that accord with nature, activities exceeding one's natural capacity, brotherly love, concord, communion in God, sweetness, a spiritual disposition, mildness, rectitude, innocence, kindliness, guilelessness, simplicity, good repute, speaking well of others, good works, preference of one's neighbor, godlike tenderness, a virtuous character, consistency, nobility, gratitude, humility, detachment, dignity, forbearance, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, discrimination, accessibility, courtesy, tranquility, contemplation, guidance, reliability, clearsightedness, dispassion, spiritual joy, sureness, tears of understanding, tears of soul, a loving desire for God, pity, mercy, compassion, purity of soul, purity of intellect, prescience, pure prayer, passion-free thoughts, steadfastness, fitness of soul and body, illumination, the recovery of one's soul, hatred of life, proper teaching, a healthy longing for death, childlikeness in Christ, rootedness, admonition and encouragement, both moderate and forcible, a praiseworthy ability to change, ecstasy towards God, perfection in Christ, true enlightenment, an intense longing for God, rapture of intellect, the indwelling of God, love of God, love of inner wisdom, theology, a true confession of faith, disdain of death, saintliness, successful accomplishment, perfect health of soul, virtue, praise from God, grace, kingship, adoption to sonship -- altogether 228 virtues. To acquire all of them is possible only through the grace of Him who grants us victory over the passions.

A LIST OF THE PASSIONS

The passions are harshness, trickery, malice, perversity, mindlessness, licentiousness, enticement, dullness, lack of understanding, idleness, sluggishness, stupidity, flattery, silliness, idiocy, madness, derangement, coarseness, rashness, cowardice, lethargy, dearth of good actions, moral errors, greed, over-frugality, ignorance, folly, spurious knowledge, forgetfulness, lack of discrimination, obduracy, injustice, evil intention, a conscienceless soul, slothfulness, idle chatter, breaking of faith, wrongdoing, sinfulness, lawlessness, criminality, passion, seduction, assent to evil, mindless coupling, demonic provocation, dallying, bodily comfort beyond what is required, vice, stumbling, sickness of soul, enervation, weakness of intellect, negligence, laziness, a reprehensible despondency, disdain of God, aberration, transgression, unbelief, lack of faith, wrong belief, poverty of faith, heresy, fellowship in heresy, polytheism, idolatry, ignorance of God, impiety, magic, astrology, divination, sorcery, denial of God, the love of idols, dissipation, profligacy, loquacity, indolence, self-love, inattentiveness, lack of progress, deceit, delusion, audacity, witchcraft, defilement, the eating of unclean food, soft living, dissoluteness, voracity, unchastity, avarice, anger, dejection, listlessness, self-esteem, pride, presumption, self-elation, boastfulness, infatuation, foulness, satiety, doltishness, torpor, sensuality, over-eating, gluttony, insatiability, secret eating, hoggishness, solitary eating, indifference, fickleness, self-will, thoughtlessness, self- satisfaction, love of popularity, ignorance of beauty, uncouthness, gaucherie, lightmindedness, boorishness, rudeness, contentiousness, quarrelsomeness, abusiveness, shouting, brawling, fighting, rage, mindless desire, gall, exasperation, giving offence, enmity, meddlesomeness, chicanery, asperity, slander, censure, calumny, condemnation, accusation, hatred, railing, insolence, dishonor, ferocity, frenzy, severity, aggressiveness, forswearing oneself, oathtaking, lack of compassion, hatred of one's brothers, partiality, patricide, matricide, breaking fasts, laxity, acceptance of bribes, theft, rapine, jealousy, strife, envy, indecency, jesting, vilification, mockery, derision, exploitation, oppression, disdain of one's neighbor, flogging, making sport of others, hanging, throttling, heartlessness, implacability, covenant- breaking, bewitchment, harshness, shamelessness, impudence, obfuscation of thoughts, obtuseness, mental blindness, attraction to what is fleeting, impassionedness, frivolity, disobedience, dullwittedness, drowsiness of soul, excessive sleep, fantasy, heavy drinking, drunkenness, uselessness, slackness, mindless enjoyment, self-indulgence, venery, using foul language, effeminacy, unbridled desire, burning lust, masturbation, pimping, adultery, sodomy, bestiality, defilement, wantonness, a stained soul, incest, uncleanliness, pollution, sordidness, feigned affection, laughter, jokes, immodest dancing, clapping, improper songs, revelry, fluteplaying, licence of tongue, excessive love of order, insubordination, disorderliness, reprehensible collusion, conspiracy, warfare, killing, brigandry, sacrilege, illicit gains, usury, wiliness, grave-robbing, hardness of heart, obloguy, complaining, blasphemy, fault-finding, ingratitude, malevolence, contemptuousness, pettiness, confusion, lying, verbosity, empty words, mindless joy, day-dreaming, mindless friendship, bad habits, nonsensicality, silly talk, garrulity, niggardliness, depravity, intolerance, irritability, affluence, rancour, misuse, ill-temper, clinging to life, ostentation, affectation, love of power, dissimulation, irony, treachery, frivolous talk, pusillanimity, satanic love, curiosity, contumely, lack of the fear of God, unteachability, senselessness, haughtiness, self- vaunting, self-inflation, scorn for one's neighbor, mercilessness, insensitivity, hopelessness, spiritual paralysis, hatred of God, despair, suicide, a falling away from God in all things, utter destruction -- altogether 298 passions.

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