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Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Ray Kaliss] #278690
02/15/08 06:44 AM
02/15/08 06:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Ray Kaliss
One must be very careful with the concept of holy suffering. It is not easy to understand. Even saints have, at times, gotten it wrong. Biographers (of saints) have often misunderstood it and presented suffering as holy and a virtue.

I am not saying that anyone in these posts has it wrong. But I post this post as a balance to the whole thing.


[ . . .]

The reason why I bring this up .. is that many souls called by God .. do go through a period of coming to grips with suffering. There are two extremes, two mistakes, often made on the way. One is to avoid suffering all together (that is a mistake) and the other is to imagine that it has some hidden secret value and to either desire suffering or become in some way entirely passive to it (this is also a mistake).

[ . . . ]

The reason why some saints embraced suffering (for a time) is that at a certain stage of spiritual growth we become aware that our habitual fear of suffering has often caused us to do things against our conscience. These saints came to a realization of the habitual nature of that human fear of suffering ... and tried to counter that habit through the use of seeking suffering and 'embracing' suffering where they had sought to escape all suffering before.

Suffering that is unavoidable because we are following conscience ... should be accepted. It should not be a cause of us avoiding to do what we should (by conscience) do. Providence, is the best doctor .. and we should leave it to Providence.

[ . . .]

A priest I knew put it very well one day (a long time ago) ... Do not ask for suffering. If you insist .. He may give it to you. Do not tell God how to make you holy. Let God decide for himself when and what you are to suffer. You abandon yourself to Providence day by day that is all you do. That is much more difficult than ... suffering.

[ . . . ]

We are required ... to do our reasonable best, for ourselves, and for others, to relieve suffering when and where we can. The gospel example to cure the sick and alleviate the suffering of the poor and orphaned ... applies to ourselves also.

[ . . . ]

The gospel imperative to seek justice for the oppressed .. includes ourselves. There is no holiness in abuse .. neither for the one abusing nor for the one being abused. We are required by the church and even more so by conscience .. to do all that we reasonable can to have justice prevail. If not love .. at least justice.

God may, if He wants to .. God may have some situation in which we suffer ... turn out to our spiritual benefit .. that is God's part. But our part what is required on us .. is to do our own reasonable best to to avoid suffering and alleviate suffering.

[ . . . ]

In all things, including suffering, our conscience must be our guide. The person who has spiritual maturity does not lose attention to the guide of his conscience on account of a fear of suffering. But neither does he seek suffering nor become passive to it ... nor does he avoid it as the cost of his conscience.

Suffering is not the path to God .. Providence is the path to God .. but we will have occasion to suffer some on the way. [empasis added]

So it seems to me.

-ray




Ray, that was brilliantly put !

I agree very much with what you wrote, especially the part I put in bold.

-- John

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: harmon3110] #278696
02/15/08 09:51 AM
02/15/08 09:51 AM
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theophan Offline OP
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Ray and John:

You present a balance to Father Matta's position on suffering. I have a couple questions.

Do you think his position, which might seem so radical to us, is the fruit fo the Coptic Orthodox Church's centuries of suffering under Islam? Could that have something to do with his position?

Are we all missing his point? Is this so much about "sacred suffering" which can be self-induced under the mistaken notion that the body is evil and must be brought under by any and all means? Or is this about making the suffering that comes my way--that I have not caused deliberately or willed or sought out--somehow sacred by bearing with it and offering it to the Lord as His servant? (Taking the lead from Him in forgiving those who hate and maltreat us.)

I wonder.

In Christ,

BOB

Last edited by theophan; 02/15/08 12:36 PM. Reason: spelling
Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: theophan] #278722
02/15/08 12:35 PM
02/15/08 12:35 PM
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Bob,

I think the basic point of the essay by Matthew the Poor is very commendable. It is that we should allow God to make our suffering redemptive. As you wrote, the gist is:

Quote
making the suffering that comes my way--that I have not caused deliberately or willed or sought out--somehow sacred by bearing with it and offering it to the Lord as His servant.


In that sense, suffering really is our path to glory . . . because we partake of His glory of the life-creating Cross.

However, I think that suffering can be overemphasized, too. I have read some Christian authors who seem to be bordering on masochism in their extolling of suffering. Others make some good points, but they forget that a lot of suffering happens by others' evil or by seemingly random disasters; and saying that God wills it makes God into a sadist.

No, before the mystery of suffering there is only the greater mystery of the Cross. Suffering is part of life, sometimes unjustly. But God is with us; and He can even make it redemptive.

My two cents.

-- John



Last edited by harmon3110; 02/15/08 12:39 PM. Reason: typos
Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: harmon3110] #278724
02/15/08 12:49 PM
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theophan Offline OP
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Quote
However, I think that suffering can be overemphasized, too. I have read some Christian authors who seem to be bordering on masochism in their extolling of suffering. Others make some good pioints, but they forget that a lot of suffering happens by others' evil or by seemingly random disasters; and saying that God wills it makes God into a sadist.


JOHN:

I have to agree with you.. Indeed, suffering can be overemphasized as if it were something to be sought out. I get that creepy, crawly feeling when I think of those whose religious practices include self-flagellation and other such practices.

On your last point, I am a firm believer that God does not "cause" evil, hurt, sadness or any other sort of suffering that might cause us to think of Him as a "gotcha" kind of god--like the pagans used to believe in.

I would rather think of the things that come our way that are tinged with--or even saturated with--evil things He ALLOWS to happen for our testing: as in the verse He "chastises the sons He loves." In which case, I've been given to paraphrase Tevja from The Fiddler on the Roof: "Lord, I know You chastise the ones You love, but could You love me a little less?" I stopped believing in a "gotcha" god who kept a big accounting book to trap us at every step a long time ago. That kind of god isn't worth believing in or serving.

I've come to the idea of suffering for the believer as being something like Jesus' stripping before His crucifixion. It reminds us that (1) we have no permanent home here, (2) we should not be attached to things and "stuff" here because it will all turn to dust, and (3) no matter how hard we try we are not the master of our lives, but the servants of One Who loves us enough to preserve us in the Palm of His Hand through every step of this pilgrimage. This last, I believe, is the stance of the martyrs: what's the worst you can do to me? Death? Yeh, throw me into the Hands of my Father Who is waiting for me. No matter what happens to me here I know that God is at my side, will not abandon me, and gives me all that I need.

I think this whole topic is something, though, that counters our culture's attempts to make all suffering go away as evil. And while it can be evil in and of itself it is not necessarily so.

BTW, your two cents are always more valuable than you think.
In Christ,

BOB


Last edited by theophan; 06/17/09 03:21 PM. Reason: spelling
Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: theophan] #278753
02/15/08 03:34 PM
02/15/08 03:34 PM
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Marian Offline
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Christ is our path to glory. If we suffer, then we must suffer for Christ. If we are joyful, then we must enjoy for Christ. Christ is at any beginning, Christ is at any end, Christ is all.

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Marian] #278835
02/16/08 06:07 AM
02/16/08 06:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Marian
Christ is our path to glory. If we suffer, then we must suffer for Christ. If we are joyful, then we must enjoy for Christ. Christ is at any beginning, Christ is at any end, Christ is all.


Amen ! Amen ! Amen !

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: harmon3110] #278846
02/16/08 09:23 AM
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Thank you for your excellent posts Bob and Marian.

In Christ,
Alice

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Alice] #286482
04/16/08 10:09 AM
04/16/08 10:09 AM
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theophan Offline OP
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Christ is Risen!! Indeed He is Risen!!
Christ is in our midst!! He is and always will be!!

This thread lends itself to a brief tangent. Another thread appeared some time ago dealing with grief over the loss of a spouse. I have permission to add a link here.

http://www.byzcath.org/forums/ubbthreads.php/ubb/showflat/Main/3005/Number/41802#Post41802

BOB

Last edited by theophan; 04/17/08 10:26 AM. Reason: correcting link
Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: theophan] #286533
04/16/08 09:16 PM
04/16/08 09:16 PM
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I'm not sure why Bob's link didn't work, but this one should.

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Penthaetria] #286581
04/17/08 07:11 AM
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I have been watching series II of the Tudors on Showtime...In a segment where Saint Thomas More chances to take a visit of honour to the unjustly exiled Queen Catherine (first and legitimate wife of Henry VIII, from Spain, and very, very pious and devout), he asks her how she is and she responds in this profound statement:

If I were to choose between extreme happiness and extreme sorrow, I would chose sorrow, because when one is very happy, one tends to forget God, but when one is in sorrow, one feels God's presence all around them.

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Alice] #286634
04/17/08 03:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Alice
... Queen Catherine (first and legitimate wife of Henry VIII, from Spain, and very, very pious and devout), ... responds in this profound statement:

If I were to choose between extreme happiness and extreme sorrow, I would chose sorrow, because when one is very happy, one tends to forget God, but when one is in sorrow, one feels God's presence all around them.

I'm sorry, dear sister Alice. I have been in both extremes of happiness and sorrow, and based on my experience, I'll take the happiness every time!

Those who walk in gratitude for the goodness of life are no farther away from or less aware of the loving presence of God than those who walk in tears for the losses of life.

IMHO, of course.

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Penthaetria] #286656
04/17/08 07:29 PM
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Dear Alicia,

I understand what you are saying, and I believe that those who walk in the gratitude and goodness of life are spiritual persons to begin with, but I also understand what Queen Catherine is saying...

When one has lots of money, lots of family, good health, few worries and problems of their own and/or of their children, and has opportunity to socialize happily and have fun and all material luxuries one desires, etc. (I am drawing upon the lives of many fortunate people I know), they generally have no need to cling to God in their lives, and their faith becomes quite marginalized...they cling to the material
security they have amassed for themselves and they fret and obsess over quite trivial thing of the world-- but Jesus said 'the Son of Man has no place to lay his head'...(in other words, according the Orthodox Study Bible, do not depend upon things of the world for your security, but depend on God in all things)

When one is sorrowful due to the pain of being slandered, being unloved, being alone, being destitute, being jobless, being homeless, being moniless, being ill, etc., (or seeing one's children or other loved ones in any of these situations), I believe that one feels the spirit and grace of God close to them in a unique way, if they seek Him.

Some don't, ofcourse. Some commit suicide out of hopelessness.

But we do have HOPE, and His Name is Christ!

Just my own thoughts on the above statement which I found to be much food for thought.

(Not that I would ever CHOOSE sorrow either, but from what I assume, the Queen saw to make the best of her sadness of being unloved, humiliated and exiled to her best spiritual advantage)

With love in our Lord,
Alice


Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Alice] #286713
04/18/08 12:48 PM
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Elizabeth Maria Offline
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Suffering makes us more dependent on God and more open to His grace.

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Elizabeth Maria] #286724
04/18/08 03:03 PM
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Gratitude for God's mercy we need. At good and bad, at pain or comfort, at dark days or bright times, at loss or gain, we must be grateful to God for his mercy, we must have an inner smile and pray gently and patiently. No matter how is our life, we must think that our life is now, and think that Christ is with us: now and ever and unto of ages. It is good and beautiful that we be good children of the merciful God and think that this life is a joy, a reason for learning and preparing. Most Holy Mother of God, pray for our souls, now and in the time of our passing. Amin.

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Marian] #335144
10/16/09 03:54 AM
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I would just like to drop a note of appreciation for this thread. I have met Eastern Orthodox who mock the Latins' Stations of the Cross, or Latin imagery and meditations on the sufferings of Christ in general. As a Copt whose Tradition includes penitential spirituality, I could never understand that. I have also met Eastern Orthodox who claim that suffering has no place in Eastern Byzantine spirituality, going so far as to place the Sacrifice of Christ (on the one hand) and his Resurrection (on the other) in theological opposition to one another.

I am glad for this website that has a very balanced approach to Eastern Byzantine Christianity.

Blessings

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