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Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: mardukm] #343995
02/20/10 11:21 AM
02/20/10 11:21 AM
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theophan Offline OP
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It seems to me, after more meditation and prayer on the idea of human suffering, our response to it as people of faith, and its link to the suffering of Christ, that suffering gives the Christian clarity.

Suffering wraps the body and the mind in pain and, by it, strips the whole person of every care, every concern, and every focus that usually surrounds a person in his pilgrimage, clouding the mind, heart, and soul in such a way that the important reality of life is obscured. In the usual course of a life, all of us become weighed down with concerns—some large, some small, some weighty, and some not so. But the fact that every one of us is so often so “busy” that we think we have no time to pray or to read Scripture or to attend to our spiritual life shows how the concerns of this life—a life which, as one of the prayers says, “. . . passes so quickly away”—can cloud our whole self to what is important.

Suffering, on the other hand, comes to us, as it did Our Lord, Jesus Christ, from the loving Hand of the Father to bring us clarity. Clarity is the refocusing that comes with suffering. Clarity allows the one suffering to assess the priorities of life and to discover that most of what we are so anxious about—food, clothing, shelter, getting ahead, buying that next thing that we cannot live without—is exactly what Jesus mentioned in the Gospel when He said that Our Father knows we need these things and will provide us with what He knows we need.

Suffering strips the person of concerns about people, things, and priorities that so often cloud relationships. A man in my Bible study group remarked about losing his job and the fact that within days all those he thought were his friends from work had suddenly become unavailable, as if he were carrying a disease and not simply being no longer part of the work group. Others have had the same feeling and realization when illness or disease has changed their lives and family and friends have suddenly become strangers.

I have had the task of cleaning out the accumulations of three men in my life: grandfather, father, and great uncle. In each case, the accumulations were things intended for projects to be completed in the future. And in each case, all of the accumulations went to the dump. Why? Time ran out and everyone left behind had his own accumulations and future projects, and no time to take on those projects and dreams of another. The clarity that has come to me in the face of my own suffering and watching the suffering of these men who meant so much to me has shown me that we need to unburden in so many ways. We need to take a look at time, talent, and treasure, knowing that we are stewards of all three, but masters of none of them.

The clarity that suffering brings to the believer comes down to the realization that we are not here in this place permanently, that we are on pilgrimage, that, as the psalmist says, “man’s days are like those of the grass; like a flower of the field he blooms, the wind passes over him and he is gone, and his place knows him no more.”(Psalm 102:15-16)

There is a song by a rock group, Nickleback, that puts it so well. “Every day is a gift and not a right.” “If today was your last day, would you forgive your enemies?” “If today was your last day, would you contact friends you never see?” If today was your last day, would you say goodbye to yesterday?”

If today were your last day, what would be important? Better yet, Who would be important? Would all the petty things we argue about matter a hill of beans? Remember what the Lord said about faith, hope, and love. Faith and hope will pass away and only love will remain. Why? Because all love—that deep caring for another that means we want the same thing(s) for him or her that I want for myself—arises from and is the very Person of Jesus Christ. Heaven and earth will pass away, but He will remain—the Eternal Logos. Clarity in the face of suffering reveals that if I am in Him all my suffering has eternal value because it is joined to Him as we are joined to Him in Baptism, eternally part of the New Covenant He has made with us in His Blood. And when I am in Him, everything else is of small importance. He is the prism for our focus in assessing what is important in this life and in the life He gives us now, the participation in eternity that the Holy Spirit gives to the believing soul now in and through the Church.

One year ago on February 19, I had a heart attack that came without warning. In the space of about ten minutes I faced the fact that, as Scripture puts it, “it is appointed to a man once to die and after that the Judgment.” I knew in my head that this was true, but, like everyone else, I believed that this day would be a long way in the future. But, too, it hit me right between the eyes that this could be it. And the only thing that ran through my head was my father’s counsel from long ago: “A man is a success in this life if he can face Jesus Christ and say that he has not compromised His teaching.” Was I really ready and able to do that?

The people who had harmed me and on whose actions I have often wasted time being angry over—weren’t there and weren’t important. The details I filled my life with—weren’t there and weren’t important. The only thing that was important was, was I ready? I had enough time before the ambulance arrived to utter the end of the night prayers, commending myself, soul, mind, and body into the Lord’s Hands and to make one Act of Contrition.

This experience, like so many others, brought me a clarity that I have had before and then let dim as I returned to the daily clutter that squeezes God into the background and into being sometimes an after-thought. But Lent is upon us and the chance to obtain the same sort of clarity is here. That’s the point behind the ascetic practices—the extra prayer time, the limiting of the diet, the forgiveness called for by Forgiveness Sunday.

The question that we have is whether we will see this holy season and our own suffering for what it is, what it really is meant to be, and how it is meant to change our lives radically back to being followers of Christ. Pascha comes and very often we throw away the lessons that can be learned by the discipline of Lent, just as we often throw away something used or abandon something distasteful. Can we keep the clarity Our Father wants us to have from suffering and our focus on Him?

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: theophan] #343998
02/20/10 12:12 PM
02/20/10 12:12 PM
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Thanks, Theophan, for this reflection.

Unfortunately, many of the truths you speak of are unavailable to people consumed with our modern-day pseudo-culture, i.e., as JP2 put it - the culture of death.

Many people are completely scandalized by the phenomenon of suffering, and can't grasp why the all-powerful God allows it. The reasons are not obvious and are also mysterious.

As long as we keep on falling down in sacreligious worship before the unholy trinity: Privacy, Convenience and Choice - we are going to have a lot of problems coping with reality.

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: sielos ilgesys] #344003
02/20/10 01:31 PM
02/20/10 01:31 PM
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It seems to me that suffering in relation to Christ makes sense to the person of faith. To those without faith in Christ, suffering makes as much sense as the Cross, which, as St. Paul says, is a scandal to the Jews and folly to the Gentiles. For us, the only thing that makes sense is Christ, how we relate to Him, and how everything that occurs to us is related to the Father's Providential Hand.

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: theophan] #344031
02/21/10 10:39 PM
02/21/10 10:39 PM
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Originally Posted by theophan
It seems to me that suffering in relation to Christ makes sense to the person of faith. To those without faith in Christ, suffering makes as much sense as the Cross, which, as St. Paul says, is a scandal to the Jews and folly to the Gentiles. For us, the only thing that makes sense is Christ, how we relate to Him, and how everything that occurs to us is related to the Father's Providential Hand.


Amen. Excellent points.

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: theophan] #344871
03/09/10 03:50 AM
03/09/10 03:50 AM
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Originally Posted by theophan

All their sufferings will be forgotten and their tears will be wiped away. In their place a light will point to the horrors they underwent and the mystery of the glory that was the result. The greatness of human fortitude will be revealed along with the power of the merciful acts of God. Suffering will be seen to be almost ludicrously light in comparison with the glory that results from it. Everyone will see that suffering was a sacred trap prepared by God to catch us and bring us to glory. The bearing of suffering is more powerful than worship.


I am still trying to understand suffering. Part of my life was spent in the Assemblies of God, and they believe that God does heal (so do I), and the only reason that someone doesn't "get" their healing is that they don't have enough faith (I don't agree there).

I know someone that has an incurable condition. He has been suffering, in constant pain, for the past ten years. It is not a question of faith. He has the faith. He has asked his parish priest to anoint him. He goes to confession regularly, and he receives the Eucharist almost every time he is there. He even goes to Pre-Sanctified on Wednesday. He loves the Lord, and is an example of piety in his parish.

So, why is he not healed? Because healing is from God, and God follows His own timeline. God will heal my friend when there is nothing more to be gained from this suffering

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Fr Brendan] #344880
03/09/10 09:58 AM
03/09/10 09:58 AM
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Father Brendan:

Father bless!!

The quote you ascribe to me is from the original work I started this thread with--from the Communion of Love, by Father Matta, the Coptic Orthodox monk. This quote is his take on those found in eternity to be martyred.

We touched on this type of suffering--the suffering of your acquaintance--and there seems to be no reason this side of eternity. The same question was posed to Jesus about why some people were cured and others not.

As much faith as it takes, I think the answer lies in a story of the Desert Fathers wherein Anthony asked this very question in prayer and God answered him by saying that these were His judgments and not for Anthony to know or understand. The little story doesn't say any more--how Anthony resolved this; if he did or was still troubled in spirit by it.

Another story that I'm reading this Lent is "Mother Teresa: The Private Writings of the Saint of Calcutta." She struggled throughout her religious life with an incredible darkness that required her to live on pure faith because she felt that God had utterly abandoned her and that nothing she did seemed to bring her the peace of Christ, the peace from above.

I don't have an answer to this part of human life. I myself have suffered for almost 17 years with the effects of a set of work injuries that has no end and no relief. I'm now faced with the fact that nothing that has previously been administered for pain management can be taken now or in the future. I just have to "tough it out." Maybe some day I'll have an answer, but I'm not bitter. I can still function, but not at the same level or intensity or the same duration that I did 20 years ago. Maybe it's to remind me of a verse in the Psalms that says we have no permanent home here: it's a reminder of the verse used on Ash Wednesday--"Remember that you are dust and unto dust you shall return." I also mentioned above the clarity all this has brought me. It's made me remember what's important and break off things that are a waste of time and effort in relation to what's really important: building communion with Christ and leavening the place He's put me for as long as He puts me here.

Bob

Last edited by theophan; 03/09/10 04:36 PM. Reason: spelling
Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: theophan] #344882
03/09/10 10:04 AM
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Thank you Bob, Sielys and Father Brendan for resurrecting this thread. It is both profound and spiritual and very appropriate for our forum and for Lent.

Yours in Christ,
Alice

P.S. Father Brendan: This is a little belated, but welcome to the forum! It is heartening to have your contributions! smile

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Alice] #344897
03/09/10 04:40 PM
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I guess it can be said that, by grace and our faith commitment, we come to live with what the Hand of Providence gives us. Sometimes it seems like there is no rhyme or reason. Sometimes it seems like we are abandoned. Sometimes we can lose sight of the Hand of Providence. Smetimes we just sit and wonder.

But then sometimes we get a chance to do something for another person and our own concerns can drop to the background. Sometimes we are confronted with someone who has a far heavier cross than we have and--I can only speak for myself--I find myself ashamed that I even think of making a complaint about what I have to bear.

Sometimes I think the best we can do is encourage another when we come across a brother or sister who seems to be crushed by the weight of his/her cross. Somehow picking up another seems to lighten my own load.

Bob

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: theophan] #351371
08/19/10 01:05 PM
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Christ is in our midst!! He is and always will be!!

A good friend sent me this recently as a further addition to this exploration of suffering as it relates to the spiritual life and our pilgrimage toward the Kingdom. St. John Maximovitch links suffering to holiness, a link I have wondered about and prayed about.

Bob

Quote
What Did Christ Pray about in the Garden of Gethsemane?
By Saint John Maximovitch


When the Lord had finished the Mystical Supper with His disciples and given them His Instructions, He went with them to the Mount of Olives (Matt. 26:30; Mark 14:26; Luke 22:39). On the way He continued His final teachings, after which He addressed the Heavenly Father with a prayer for His disciples and those who would believe their word (John 17).

On crossing the stream of the Cedron, the Lord and His disciples went into the garden of Gethsemane, where He had been accustomed to gather with them earlier (Matt. 26:36; Mark 14:32; John 18:1-2). Here He left His disciples, except for Peter, James and John, telling them to sit down for a time while He prayed. Then He Himself with Peter, James and John went on a little further. He wanted to be on His own as much as possible, but knowing all that was going to happen, He began to sorrow, to be distressed and horrified (Matt. 26:37; Mark 1:.27), and He said to those with Him: "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death. Stay here and watch with Me." And going a little further off, He fell face down on the earth and prayed,

Twice the Lord interrupted His prayer, and went up to Peter and the sons of Zebedee. Alas! They were there, but not watching: sleep had overcome them. In vain did their Divine Teacher exhort them to watch and pray, so as not to fall into temptation: "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Matt. 26:41; Mark 14:38). The disciples again fell asleep immediately the Savior departed from them in order to continue His prayer, which ended only when the hour of the betrayal of the Son of Man into the hands of sinners drew near. Jesus' intensity of prayer reached the highest degree - He came out in a bloody sweat which fell in drops on the earth (Luke 22:44).

What did Jesus pray about with such fiery intensity? What did He beseech the Heavenly Father, falling face down to the earth three times? "Abba, My Father! All is possible to Thee; O if only Thou wouldest grant that this cup be taken from Me. If it is possible, let this cup pass by Me; take this cup from Me. However, not as I will, but as Thou willest; not My will, but Thine be done. My Father, if this cup cannot pass by Me, but I must drink of it, may Thy will be done."

The Lord Jesus Christ was the God-Man. The Divine and human natures, without merging into each other and without changing, "undivided and unseparated" (the dogma of the Chalcedonian Council) were united in Him in one Person. In accordance with His two natures, the Lord also had two wills. As God, Jesus Christ was of one substance with God the Father and had one Will with Him and the Holy Spirit. But as perfect man, consisting of a soul and a body, the Lord also had human feelings and a human will. His human will was completely obedient to His Divine will. The Lord subjected His human will to the Divine will - He sought only to do the will of the Heavenly Father (John 5:30); His spiritual food was "to do the will of Him Who sent Me and to finish His work" (John 4: 34). But the work which was set before Him to finish was greater than any other, and even unfeeling, soulless nature was bound to be amazed at it. It was necessary for Him to redeem man from sin and death, and reestablish the union of man with God. It was necessary that the sinless Savior should take upon Himself all human Sin, so that He, Who had no sins of His own, should feel the weight of the sin of all humanity and sorrow over it in such a way as was possible only for complete holiness, which clearly feels even the slightest deviation from the commandments and Will of God. It was necessary that He, in Whom Divinity and humanity were hypostatically united, should in His holy, sinless humanity experience the full horror of the distancing of man from his Creator, of the split between sinful humanity and the source of holiness and light - God. The depth of the fall of mankind must have stood before His eyes at that moment; for man, who in paradise did not want to obey God and who listened to the devil's slander against Him, would now rise up against his Divine Savior, slander Him, and, having declared Him unworthy to live upon the earth, would hang Him on a tree between heaven and earth, thereby subjecting Him to the curse of the God-given law (Deut. 21:22-23). It was necessary that the sinless Righteous One, rejected by the sinful world for which and at the hands of which He was suffering, should forgive mankind this evil deed and turn to the Heavenly Father with a prayer that the Divine righteousness should forgive mankind, blinded by the devil, this rejection of its Creator and Savior. Such a holy prayer could not fail to be heard, such a power of love was bound to unite the source of love, God, with those who even now would feel this love, and, understanding how far the ways of men had departed from the ways of God, would manifest a strong determination to return to God the Father through the Creator's reception of human nature.

And now there came the time when all this was to come to pass. In a few hours the Son of Man, raised upon the cross, would draw all men to Himself by His own self-sacrifice. Before the force of His love the sinful hearts of men would not be able to stand. The love-of the God-man would break the stone of men's hearts. They would feel their own impurity and darkness, their insignificance; and only the stubborn haters of God would not want to be enlightened by the light of the Divine greatness and mercy. But all those who would not reject Him Who called them, irradiated by the light of the love of the God-Man, would feel their separation from the loving Creator and would thirst to be united with Him. And invisibly the greatest mystery would take place - mankind would turn to its Maker, and the merciful Lord would joyfully accept those who would return from the slander of the devil to their Archetype. "Mercy and truth have met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other" (Psalm 84:10); righteousness has pressed close from heaven, for the incarnate Truth has shone out on the cross from the earth. The hour had come when all this was about to take place.

The world did not suspect the greatness of the coming day. Before the gaze of the God-Man all that was to happen was revealed. He voluntarily sacrificed Himself for the salvation of the human race. And now He came for the last time to pray alone to His Heavenly Father. Here He would accomplish that sacrifice which would save the race of men. He would voluntarily give Himself up to sufferings, giving Himself over into the power of darkness.

However, this sacrifice would not be saving if He would experience only His personal sufferings - He had to be tormented by the wounds of sin from which mankind was suffering. The heart of the God-Man was filled with inexpressible sorrow. All the sins of men, beginning from the transgression of Adam and ending with those which would be done at the moment of the sounding of the last trumpet - all the great and small sins of all men stood before His mental gaze. They were always revealed to Him as God - "all things are manifest before Him" - but now their whole weight and iniquity was experienced also by His human nature. His holy, sinless soul was filled with horror. He suffered as the sinners themselves do not suffer, whose coarse hearts do not feel how the sin of man defiles and how it separates him from the Creator. His sufferings were the greater in that He saw this coarseness and embitteredness of heart, the fact that "men have blinded their eyes that they should not see, and do not want to hear with their ears and be converted, so that they should be healed". He saw that the whole world was even now turning away from God Who had come to them in human form. The hour was coming and had already come (John 16:31) when even those who had only just declared their readiness to lay down their lives for Him would be scattered. The God-Man would hang in solitude upon the cross, showered with a hail of insults from the people who would come to see this spectacle. Only a few souls remained faithful to Him, but they, too, by their silent grief and helplessness would increase the sufferings of the heart of the Virgin's Son, overflowing with love. There would not be help from anywhere...

True, even in these minutes He would not be alone, for the Father was always with Him (John 8:19; 10:30). But so as to feel the full weight of the consequences of sin, the Son of God would voluntarily allow His human nature to feel even the horror of separation from God. This terrible moment would be unendurable for His holy, sinless being. A powerful cry would break out from His lips: "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" And seeing this hour in advance, His holy soul was filled with horror and distress.

Still earlier, when some Hellenes came to see Jesus, He allowed His human nature to experience the approach of that dreadful hour. When these "sheep from another fold" came to Him, the God-Man saw that the hour when everyone would come to Him as He was raised upon the cross, was near. His human nature shuddered, His soul was in distress. But Jesus knew that without His sufferings the salvation of men was impossible, that without them His earthly activity would leave a trace as small as that of a grain which lies for a long time on the surface of the earth before being dried up by the sun. It was therefore at that time that He appealed to His Father not to allow human weakness to prevail over all the thoughts and feelings of His human nature: "Now is My soul troubled, and what shall I say? Father, save Me from this hour? And yet for this purpose have I come to this hour" (John 12:27). And as if heartened by the remembrance of why He had come to the earth, Christ prays that the Will of God for the salvation of the human race be carried out: "Father, glorify Thy name" (John 12:28) - glorify it on earth, among men, show Thyself to be not only the Creator but also the Savior (St. Basil the Great, Against Eunomius, book 4). "I have glorified it and will glorify it again" (John 12:28) came a voice from heaven announced that the time for the fulfillment of the Mystery which had been hidden from the beginning of the age was coming (Col. 1:26; Eph. 1:9; 3:9).

And now that time had already come. If before the human nature of Christ had shuddered and been troubled at the thought of what was to come, what did it experience now, when in expectation of the coming of His enemies and betrayer He for the last time prayed alone to God? The Lord knew that every prayer of His would be answered (John 11:42), He knew that if He would ask the Father to deliver Him from torments and death, more than twelve legions of angels would appear (Matt. 26:53) to defend Him. But had He not come for this? So that at the last moment He should refuse to carry out that which He had fore-announced in the Scriptures?

However, the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. The spirit of Jesus now burns (Rom. 12:11), wishing only one thing- the fulfillment of the Will of God. But by its nature human, nature abhors sufferings and death (St. John of Damascus, An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Book 3, chapters 18, 20, 23, 24; Blessed Theodoret; St. John of the Ladder, The Ladder, word 6, "On the remembrance of death"). The Son of God willingly accepted this weak nature. He gives Himself up to death for the salvation of the world. And He conquers, although He feels the approaching fear of death and abhorrence of sufferings (The Ladder, op, cit.; Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith 3, 24). Now these sufferings will be particularly terrible, terrible not so much in themselves, as from the fact that the soul of the God-Man was shaken to its depths.

The sin of man that He takes upon Himself is inexpressibly heavy. This sin weighs Jesus down, making the sufferings that are to come unendurable.

Christ knows that when His sufferings reach their peak, He will be completely alone. Not only will no man be able to relieve them - "I looked for one that would sorrow with Me and there was none, for one that would comfort Me and none was found" (Psalm 68:21). "I looked, but there was none to help; I was appalled, but there was no one to uphold" (Isaiah 63:5). But in order that He should feel the full weight of sins, He would also be allowed to feel the burden of separation from the Heavenly Father. And at this moment His human will can wish to avoid the sufferings. But it will not be so. Let His human will not diverge for one second from His Divine Will. It is about this that the God-Man beseeches His Heavenly Father. If it is possible for mankind to reestablish its unity with God without this new and terrible crime against the Son of God (cf. St. Basil the Great, Against Eunomius book 4), then it is better that this hour should not come to pass. But if it is only in this way that mankind can be drawn to its Maker, let the good Will of God be accomplished in this case, too. May His Will be done, and may the human nature of Jesus, even at the most terrible moments, not wish anything other than the fulfillment of the will of God, the completion of God's economy. This is precisely what Christ prayed for in the garden of Gethsemane: "He offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to Him Who was able to save Him from death" (Heb. 5:7).

He offered up prayers and supplications to Him Who was able to save Him from death, but He did not pray for deliverance from death. It is as if the Lord Jesus Christ spoke as follows to His Father: "Abba, My Father, the Father of Him Whom Thou has sent to gather into one the people of Israel and the scattered children of God - the people of the Gentiles, so as to make out of two one new man and by means of the cross reconcile them with Thee. All is possible to Thee, all is possible that is in accord with Thy boundless perfections. Thou knowest that it is natural for human nature to abhor sufferings, that man would always like 'to see good days' (Ps.32/34?)... But he Who loves Thee with all his heart, with all his soul and with all his mind wishes only that which is pleasing to Thy good and perfect will. I have come down to earth to fulfill Thy wise will and for this purpose I have communed with flesh and blood, assuming human nature with all its weaknesses, except the sinful ones. I also have wished to avoid sufferings, but only on one condition - that this is Thy holy will. If It is possible that the work of economy should be completed without a new and terrible crime on the part of men; if it is possible for Me not to experience these mental sufferings, to which in a few hours' time will be united the terrible sufferings of the human body; if this is possible - deliver Me then from the experiences and temptations which have already come upon Me and which are still to come. Deliver Me from the necessity of experiencing the consequences of the crime of Adam. However, this request is dictated to Me by the frailty of My human nature; but let it be as is pleasing to Thee, let not the will of frail human nature be fulfilled, but Our common, pre-eternal Council. My Father! If according to Thy wise economy it is necessary that I offer this sacrifice, I do not reject It. But I ask only one thing: may Thy will be done. May Thy will be done always and in all things. As in heaven with Me, Thine Only-begotten Son, and Thee there is one will, so may My human will here on earth not wish anything contrary to Our common will for one moment. May that which was decided by us before the creation of the world be fulfilled, may the salvation of the human race be accomplished. May the sons of men be redeemed from slavery to the devil, may they be redeemed at the high price of the sufferings and self-sacrifice of the God-Man. And may all the weight of men's sins, which I have accepted on Myself, and all my mental and physical sufferings, not be able to make My human will waver in its thirst that Thy holy will be done. May I fulfill Thy will with joy. Thy will be done."

"The Lord prayed about the cup of His voluntary saving passion as if it was involuntary" (Sunday service of the fifth tone, canon, eighth hirmos), showing by this the two wills of the two natures, and beseeching God the Father that His human will would not waver in its obedience to the Divine will (Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, book 3, 24). An angel appeared to Him from the heavens and strengthened (Luke 22:43) His human nature, while Jesus Who was accomplishing the exploit of His self-sacrifice prayed still more earnestly, being covered in a bloody sweat. And for His reverence and constant obedience to the will of the Father, the Son of God was heard. Strengthened and reassured, Jesus rose from prayer (Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, book 3, 24). He knew that His human nature would not waver any more, that soon the load of the sins of men would be taken away from Him, and that by His obedience to God the Father He would bring human nature that had gone astray to Him. He went up to His disciples and said: "You all sleep and rest. It is finished, the hour has come: lo! the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Arise, let us go, he who betrays Me is at hand. Pray that you do not fall into temptation."

Coming out to meet those who had come for Him, the Lord voluntarily gave Himself into their hands. And when Peter, wishing to defend His' Teacher, struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear, the Lord healed the servant, and reminded Peter that He was voluntarily giving Himself up: "Put your sword into its sheath: am I not to drink the cup which the Father has given Me? Or do you think that I cannot now ask My Father and He will send Me more than twelve legions of angels? How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, that this must come to pass?" And willingly drinking the whole cup of mental and physical sufferings to the bottom, Christ glorified God on earth; He accomplished a work which was no less than the very creation of the world. He restored the fallen nature of man, reconciled Divinity and humanity, and made men partakers of the Divine nature (II Pet. 1:4).

Having accomplished the work which "the Father gave Him to do", Christ was glorified also in His human nature with that glory which He as God had "before the world was" (John 17:5), and sat in His humanity at the right hand of God the Father, waiting until His enemies should be laid at the footstool of His feet (Heb. 10:13).

Having been made for all those who obey Him the cause of eternal salvation (Heb. 5:9), Christ remains even after His ascension "known in two natures without con fusion" (Dogmatikon of the sixth tone), "bearing two wills according to each nature unto the ages" (Sunday canon of the fifth tone, troparion of the eighth irmos), but His glorified body cannot now suffer and does not need anything, while in accordance with this His human will, too, cannot diverge from His Divine will in anything. But with this flesh Christ will come again on the last day "to Judge the living and the dead", after which, as King not only according to His Divinity, but also according to His humanity, He will be subject to God the Father together with the whole of His eternal kingdom, so that "God may be all in all" (I Cor. 15:28).

Last edited by theophan; 09/27/10 08:55 AM.
Suffering #362281
03/26/11 04:46 PM
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sharonl
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I know this topic must be covered frequently. I know I have consulted many religious and brothers and sisters in Christ on the topic. Still...the mystery.
The ultimate (and possibly only?) suffering necessary in this world was that of Christ's. Yet, we know the Blessed Mother, co-redemtrix suffered immensely. Many people go through life knowing unspeakable sufferings, some obvious and public, others no one would even suspect the suffering of their heart. I have read much on the subject of the salvific nature of suffering. I do not think that God WANTS us to suffer, but I believe that He is pleased when we agree to share many burdens especially in reparations for others in great need.
Questions - why if Christ has suffered is more suffering necessary? I think it quite complex how suffering can benefit the sufferer's soul, besides glading offering the virtue of charity. What does suffering do to change the sufferer's soul. Many would say it brings them closer to the suffering Christ, the suffering Blessed Mother. I think I agree and feel this.
But what about dispair? Job dispaired, yet had faith. What does one do with dispair and how could this feeling be good in any way. Is dispair not contrary to faith and hope??
Thank you,
Sharon

Re: Suffering [Re: HandmaidenByzC] #362287
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theophan Offline OP
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Quote
For Christ, the mystery of the cross is the mystery of His glory. The overwhelming suffering the Lord underwent, His psychological torment at the injustice and crookedness of his trial, the desertion of His disciples, the treachery of Judas, and the knowledge that the high priests had agreed with one of His disciples to put a value of just thirty pieces of silver on His life all this was a path for Him to leave the world of passing trivialities and enter into the glory of the Father. We in every time and place must tread the same path. The cross with its enormous suffering cannot be compared with the glory it brought forth. The cross did not come by chance into the life of the Lord; He was born for it. For this purpose I have come to this hour (John 12:27). Man is born for suffering, and suffering was born for man.


sharonl:

Christ is in our midst!!

I moved your query to on ongoing thread we have on suffering from an Eastern Christian point of view. It may not be the only one, but it is a radical look at suffering from a different worldview--radical only when compared to our Western mindset that sees suffering as an evil that must be eradicated. If you read through the the thread, it may answer some of the questions you pose. I include part of the quote printed out from a book entitled "The Communion of Love" in the initial post. The sheer number of people who have viewed this thread speaks to the fact that all of us wrestle with this question.

In Christ,

Bob

Re: Suffering [Re: theophan] #406600
06/26/14 06:41 AM
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Christ is in our midst!!

I have had some time to reflect on this thread and the idea of suffering since the last post.

It seems to me that when we think of suffering, we tend to think of great things like serious bodily injury, surgery, and like things. But suffering can be many small things taken together that make one's life difficult. Discrimination, slights by one's family or friends, unjust condemnations by others can also be areas of suffering that cause one mental and psychological pain. These, too, are sufferings that we have as Christians that are also part of the suffering that Our Lord endured. Prior to His Passion, He found Himself in situations wherein He was misunderstood--take the reaction He received when He went ot His hometown and was rejected; almost thrown over a cliff, for example. Read through the Gospels for other examples, too.

I think the lesson here is that we should accept everything that the Father sends us, imitating Our Lord at all times and in all things. Some have approached what has been termed "white martyrdom" by the number of such events over a lifetime. While we may not approach this level, we must still keep in mind that we have won the battle already because He has won the victory with His Cross and Resurrection and has graciously included us into all that that means by the covenant of Baptism. We simply need to remain close to Him by our lives.

Bob

Re: Suffering [Re: theophan] #406627
06/28/14 04:38 PM
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Good points, Bob.

Re: Suffering [Re: Alice] #411133
04/10/15 09:42 AM
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Christ is Risen!!

Last week at the Paschal Vigil, I was asked to proclaim the Epistle appointed for the Liturgy. In addition to our suffering being plunged into Christ, His Passion, and His Resurrection, St. Paul says in his letter to the Romans that our whole lives have been plunged into all that the Risen Christ is and we should live accordingly. The following is not the translation but modified for proclamation.

Quote
Brothers and sisters:

Are you unaware that we who were baptized--that is, plunged--into Christ Jesus were baptized--that is, plunged--into his death?

By being baptized into His death, we were buried with Him so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the Glory of the Father, we, too, might live in that same newness of life He has.

For if we have grown into union with Him through a death like His, then we shall also be united with Him in a resurrection like His.

We know that our old self was crucified with Him, so that our sinful body might be done away with, so that we might no longer be slaves to sin, because a dead person has been freed from sin.

If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him.

We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, dies now no more; death has no power over him.

In His death, He died to sin once and for all; in His life, He lives for God.

Consequently, since you have been plunged into His death by Baptism, you must think of yourselves as being dead to sin in the same way and live only for God in Christ Jesus.

Re: Suffering [Re: theophan] #411192
04/17/15 01:18 PM
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Paul writes: Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. ◄ Colossians 1:24 ►

Everything of Paul was Christocentric. if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort that you experience in your patient endurance of the same sufferings that we also suffer.

I think one of the most beautiful ways I've understood suffering, besides suffering, is an awesome Akathist. Glory to God in All Things

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