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Suffering is our path to glory #265219
11/28/07 08:06 PM
11/28/07 08:06 PM
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theophan Offline OP
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(from The Communion of Love, Matthew the Poor Man, St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1984, pp. 138-139)

Suffering is our path to glory

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the crucified, for they shall be transfigured.
Blessed are those who are totally crushed, for they shall rule.
Blessed are the hungry, for they shall be filled.

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.

One of the saints says that he saw in a vision a group of martyrs more dazzling in glory than the angels who appeared with them. Around the necks of those who had been beheaded he saw garlands of red flowers in the place where the sword had struck, and these shone and sparkled more brilliantly than any other light in the vision.

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. But at the same time the cross was not an irrevocable imposition on the Lord. We feel this from His words and are sure of it in view of His holiness and divinity. He made it irrevocable for Himself—“Shall I not drink the cup which the Father has given Me?” (John 18:11)—in order to share with us the inevitability of suffering. God manifested Himself in the person of Christ His Son as one compelled to suffer, in order to make suffering under compulsion equal to suffering by choice, so no one would be deprived of the mercy of God and the cross would be extended to include all who suffer unjustly.

Last edited by theophan; 01/21/08 09:58 PM.
Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: theophan] #265221
11/28/07 08:17 PM
11/28/07 08:17 PM
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Even so. Amin.

Edmac

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Edmac] #265304
11/29/07 09:30 AM
11/29/07 09:30 AM
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Thank you, BOB, for the spiritually edifying material and thoughts which you offer us.

May our good Lord bless you always,
Alice

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Alice] #265741
12/01/07 10:46 AM
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I would love to say something about the mystery of suffering .. to carry on with what Bob started... but I am aware I do not explain things well and have odd opinions.

If someone is interested I will try.

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Ray Kaliss] #265744
12/01/07 11:28 AM
12/01/07 11:28 AM
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Beloved Brother in Christ, Ray,

I would love to see your thoughts about the mystery of suffering. Please, be aware that I understand your words, even if I am not an English speaker, and your opinions and thoughts are absolutely not odd for my soul, but very welcome.

Please, share. I am a person who is often overwhelmed by suffering.

May God fill your soul with eternal life and bless you together with all your beloved ones. Amin.

In Christ,

Marian+

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Marian] #265749
12/01/07 11:47 AM
12/01/07 11:47 AM
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I agree with Marian...

We are called to edify, uplift, and inspire each other...

Please share your thoughts Ray! I missed you while you were on your long hiatus from Byzcath.

In Christ,
Alice

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Marian] #265825
12/02/07 12:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Marian
Beloved Brother in Christ, Ray,

I would love to see your thoughts about the mystery of suffering.

Marian+


For you Marian and for you Alice .. I will try.

Give me a day or two as I did write something ... but as usual .. it was far too long and not easy to read yet (if ever!).

Let me just say for now ... that one should be radical (whole hearted - full speed ahead!!) in listening to and following one's own conscience - no matter the personal cost.

This is - not easy. And one usually does this in steps. Habits (old ways) are not easy to change. Our old view of the world (devoid of being aware of the acts of Providence within the events that happen to us each day) is deeply rooted in the subconscious. God - must make these changes in us. He needs our cooperation to transform us. I will tell you how later.

Without this ingredient .. (radically following our conscience) ... suffering is .. well just suffering ... and has no value at all for our sanctification.

-ray

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Ray Kaliss] #265841
12/02/07 06:42 AM
12/02/07 06:42 AM
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“SPE SALVI facti sumus”—in hope we were saved, says Saint Paul to the Romans, and likewise to us (Rom 8:24).

II. Action and suffering as settings for learning hope

35. All serious and upright human conduct is hope in action. This is so first of all in the sense that we thereby strive to realize our lesser and greater hopes, to complete this or that task which is important for our onward journey, or we work towards a brighter and more humane world so as to open doors into the future. Yet our daily efforts in pursuing our own lives and in working for the world's future either tire us or turn into fanaticism, unless we are enlightened by the radiance of the great hope that cannot be destroyed even by small-scale failures or by a breakdown in matters of historic importance. If we cannot hope for more than is effectively attainable at any given time, or more than is promised by political or economic authorities, our lives will soon be without hope. It is important to know that I can always continue to hope, even if in my own life, or the historical period in which I am living, there seems to be nothing left to hope for. Only the great certitude of hope that my own life and history in general, despite all failures, are held firm by the indestructible power of Love, and that this gives them their meaning and importance, only this kind of hope can then give the courage to act and to persevere. Certainly we cannot “build” the Kingdom of God by our own efforts—what we build will always be the kingdom of man with all the limitations proper to our human nature. The Kingdom of God is a gift, and precisely because of this, it is great and beautiful, and constitutes the response to our hope. And we cannot—to use the classical expression—”merit” Heaven through our works. Heaven is always more than we could merit, just as being loved is never something “merited”, but always a gift. However, even when we are fully aware that Heaven far exceeds what we can merit, it will always be true that our behaviour is not indifferent before God and therefore is not indifferent for the unfolding of history. We can open ourselves and the world and allow God to enter: we can open ourselves to truth, to love, to what is good. This is what the saints did, those who, as “God's fellow workers”, contributed to the world's salvation (cf. 1 Cor 3:9; 1 Th 3:2). We can free our life and the world from the poisons and contaminations that could destroy the present and the future. We can uncover the sources of creation and keep them unsullied, and in this way we can make a right use of creation, which comes to us as a gift, according to its intrinsic requirements and ultimate purpose. This makes sense even if outwardly we achieve nothing or seem powerless in the face of overwhelming hostile forces. So on the one hand, our actions engender hope for us and for others; but at the same time, it is the great hope based upon God's promises that gives us courage and directs our action in good times and bad.

36. Like action, suffering is a part of our human existence. Suffering stems partly from our finitude, and partly from the mass of sin which has accumulated over the course of history, and continues to grow unabated today. Certainly we must do whatever we can to reduce suffering: to avoid as far as possible the suffering of the innocent; to soothe pain; to give assistance in overcoming mental suffering. These are obligations both in justice and in love, and they are included among the fundamental requirements of the Christian life and every truly human life. Great progress has been made in the battle against physical pain; yet the sufferings of the innocent and mental suffering have, if anything, increased in recent decades. Indeed, we must do all we can to overcome suffering, but to banish it from the world altogether is not in our power. This is simply because we are unable to shake off our finitude and because none of us is capable of eliminating the power of evil, of sin which, as we plainly see, is a constant source of suffering. Only God is able to do this: only a God who personally enters history by making himself man and suffering within history. We know that this God exists, and hence that this power to “take away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29) is present in the world. Through faith in the existence of this power, hope for the world's healing has emerged in history. It is, however, hope—not yet fulfilment; hope that gives us the courage to place ourselves on the side of good even in seemingly hopeless situations, aware that, as far as the external course of history is concerned, the power of sin will continue to be a terrible presence.

37. Let us return to our topic. We can try to limit suffering, to fight against it, but we cannot eliminate it. It is when we attempt to avoid suffering by withdrawing from anything that might involve hurt, when we try to spare ourselves the effort and pain of pursuing truth, love, and goodness, that we drift into a life of emptiness, in which there may be almost no pain, but the dark sensation of meaninglessness and abandonment is all the greater. It is not by sidestepping or fleeing from suffering that we are healed, but rather by our capacity for accepting it, maturing through it and finding meaning through union with Christ, who suffered with infinite love. In this context, I would like to quote a passage from a letter written by the Vietnamese martyr Paul Le-Bao-Tinh († 1857) which illustrates this transformation of suffering through the power of hope springing from faith. “I, Paul, in chains for the name of Christ, wish to relate to you the trials besetting me daily, in order that you may be inflamed with love for God and join with me in his praises, for his mercy is for ever (Ps 136 [135]). The prison here is a true image of everlasting Hell: to cruel tortures of every kind—shackles, iron chains, manacles—are added hatred, vengeance, calumnies, obscene speech, quarrels, evil acts, swearing, curses, as well as anguish and grief. But the God who once freed the three children from the fiery furnace is with me always; he has delivered me from these tribulations and made them sweet, for his mercy is for ever. In the midst of these torments, which usually terrify others, I am, by the grace of God, full of joy and gladness, because I am not alone —Christ is with me ... How am I to bear with the spectacle, as each day I see emperors, mandarins, and their retinue blaspheming your holy name, O Lord, who are enthroned above the Cherubim and Seraphim? (cf. Ps 80:1 [79:2]). Behold, the pagans have trodden your Cross underfoot! Where is your glory? As I see all this, I would, in the ardent love I have for you, prefer to be torn limb from limb and to die as a witness to your love. O Lord, show your power, save me, sustain me, that in my infirmity your power may be shown and may be glorified before the nations ... Beloved brothers, as you hear all these things may you give endless thanks in joy to God, from whom every good proceeds; bless the Lord with me, for his mercy is for ever ... I write these things to you in order that your faith and mine may be united. In the midst of this storm I cast my anchor towards the throne of God, the anchor that is the lively hope in my heart.” 28 This is a letter from “Hell”. It lays bare all the horror of a concentration camp, where to the torments inflicted by tyrants upon their victims is added the outbreak of evil in the victims themselves, such that they in turn become further instruments of their persecutors' cruelty. This is indeed a letter from Hell, but it also reveals the truth of the Psalm text: “If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I sink to the nether world, you are present there ... If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall hide me, and night shall be my light' —for you darkness itself is not dark, and night shines as the day; darkness and light are the same” (Ps 139 [138]:8-12; cf. also Ps 23 [22]:4). Christ descended into “Hell” and is therefore close to those cast into it, transforming their darkness into light. Suffering and torment is still terrible and well- nigh unbearable. Yet the star of hope has risen—the anchor of the heart reaches the very throne of God. Instead of evil being unleashed within man, the light shines victorious: suffering—without ceasing to be suffering—becomes, despite everything, a hymn of praise.

38. The true measure of humanity is essentially determined in relationship to suffering and to the sufferer. This holds true both for the individual and for society. A society unable to accept its suffering members and incapable of helping to share their suffering and to bear it inwardly through “com-passion” is a cruel and inhuman society. Yet society cannot accept its suffering members and support them in their trials unless individuals are capable of doing so themselves; moreover, the individual cannot accept another's suffering unless he personally is able to find meaning in suffering, a path of purification and growth in maturity, a journey of hope. Indeed, to accept the “other” who suffers, means that I take up his suffering in such a way that it becomes mine also. Because it has now become a shared suffering, though, in which another person is present, this suffering is penetrated by the light of love. The Latin word con-solatio, “consolation”, expresses this beautifully. It suggests being with the other in his solitude, so that it ceases to be solitude. Furthermore, the capacity to accept suffering for the sake of goodness, truth and justice is an essential criterion of humanity, because if my own well-being and safety are ultimately more important than truth and justice, then the power of the stronger prevails, then violence and untruth reign supreme. Truth and justice must stand above my comfort and physical well-being, or else my life itself becomes a lie. In the end, even the “yes” to love is a source of suffering, because love always requires expropriations of my “I”, in which I allow myself to be pruned and wounded. Love simply cannot exist without this painful renunciation of myself, for otherwise it becomes pure selfishness and thereby ceases to be love.

39. To suffer with the other and for others; to suffer for the sake of truth and justice; to suffer out of love and in order to become a person who truly loves—these are fundamental elements of humanity, and to abandon them would destroy man himself. Yet once again the question arises: are we capable of this? Is the other important enough to warrant my becoming, on his account, a person who suffers? Does truth matter to me enough to make suffering worthwhile? Is the promise of love so great that it justifies the gift of myself? In the history of humanity, it was the Christian faith that had the particular merit of bringing forth within man a new and deeper capacity for these kinds of suffering that are decisive for his humanity. The Christian faith has shown us that truth, justice and love are not simply ideals, but enormously weighty realities. It has shown us that God —Truth and Love in person—desired to suffer for us and with us. Bernard of Clairvaux coined the marvellous expression: Impassibilis est Deus, sed non incompassibilis 29—God cannot suffer, but he can suffer with. Man is worth so much to God that he himself became man in order to suffer with man in an utterly real way—in flesh and blood—as is revealed to us in the account of Jesus's Passion. Hence in all human suffering we are joined by one who experiences and carries that suffering with us; hence con-solatio is present in all suffering, the consolation of God's compassionate love—and so the star of hope rises. Certainly, in our many different sufferings and trials we always need the lesser and greater hopes too—a kind visit, the healing of internal and external wounds, a favourable resolution of a crisis, and so on. In our lesser trials these kinds of hope may even be sufficient. But in truly great trials, where I must make a definitive decision to place the truth before my own welfare, career and possessions, I need the certitude of that true, great hope of which we have spoken here. For this too we need witnesses—martyrs—who have given themselves totally, so as to show us the way—day after day. We need them if we are to prefer goodness to comfort, even in the little choices we face each day—knowing that this is how we live life to the full. Let us say it once again: the capacity to suffer for the sake of the truth is the measure of humanity. Yet this capacity to suffer depends on the type and extent of the hope that we bear within us and build upon. The saints were able to make the great journey of human existence in the way that Christ had done before them, because they were brimming with great hope.

40. I would like to add here another brief comment with some relevance for everyday living. There used to be a form of devotion—perhaps less practised today but quite widespread not long ago—that included the idea of “offering up” the minor daily hardships that continually strike at us like irritating “jabs”, thereby giving them a meaning. Of course, there were some exaggerations and perhaps unhealthy applications of this devotion, but we need to ask ourselves whether there may not after all have been something essential and helpful contained within it. What does it mean to offer something up? Those who did so were convinced that they could insert these little annoyances into Christ's great “com-passion” so that they somehow became part of the treasury of compassion so greatly needed by the human race. In this way, even the small inconveniences of daily life could acquire meaning and contribute to the economy of good and of human love. Maybe we should consider whether it might be judicious to revive this practice ourselves.

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Pani Rose] #265842
12/02/07 06:46 AM
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I was able to get through to it about 5:30 this morning. Here is the link...
ENCYCLICAL LETTER
SPE SALVI
OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF
BENEDICT XVI
TO THE BISHOPS
PRIESTS AND DEACONS
MEN AND WOMEN RELIGIOUS
AND ALL THE LAY FAITHFUL
ON CHRISTIAN HOPE
http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/b...f_ben-xvi_enc_20071130_spe-salvi_en.html

IT IS SO EASY TO READ. AMAZING!

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Pani Rose] #265918
12/02/07 05:39 PM
12/02/07 05:39 PM
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Quote
40. I would like to add here another brief comment with some relevance for everyday living. There used to be a form of devotion—perhaps less practised today but quite widespread not long ago—that included the idea of “offering up” the minor daily hardships that continually strike at us like irritating “jabs”, thereby giving them a meaning. Of course, there were some exaggerations and perhaps unhealthy applications of this devotion, but we need to ask ourselves whether there may not after all have been something essential and helpful contained within it. What does it mean to offer something up? Those who did so were convinced that they could insert these little annoyances into Christ's great “com-passion” so that they somehow became part of the treasury of compassion so greatly needed by the human race. In this way, even the small inconveniences of daily life could acquire meaning and contribute to the economy of good and of human love. Maybe we should consider whether it might be judicious to revive this practice ourselves. (emphasis added)


Talk about a return to tradition! This was exactly what we were taught as kids by our mother: "I don't want to go to school!" "Offer it up." etc. We knew to Whom we were supposed to be offering it up also -- she taught us that, too.

This wonderful encyclical is very timely -- the beginning of the Advent Season (in the West), a time of hope, in which we meditate on the two major comings of the Lord: the Incarnation and the Last Judgement.

Infant Babe of Bethlehem, come and take birth in our hearts this Christmas Day!


Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Marian] #266175
12/03/07 07:20 PM
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Quote
I am a person who is often overwhelmed by suffering.


Quote
. . . 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.


Marian:

Take a look at this kernel of the passage I quoted. We are made for suffering. That is, we are born to be "plunged into Christ" (Greek, baptizein) and participate in His suffering by accepting our own in this world in order to participate in His glory and have Him give us a glory of our own at the same time. We are also called by this baptism into His suffering to "leave this passing world" by becoming detached from "stuff" and "habits" and anything else that can come between us and our God. Suffering is a purification, a way that we can come to realize that our true home is not here; that we are on pilgrimage here; that our best made plans are not necessarily those of the One Who wants to give us "every good gift and every perfect gift" from above.

I, too, suffer continuously from a work-related injury some years ago. It and the years of rehabilitation taught me a few things and continue to teach me. One of the things I learned was that there is one important thing that no one can take from you: your faith relationship with Jesus Christ. Everything else can be taken: spouse, children, house, riches, even your good name among men. But this latter--a good name--should be something we are concerned with in relation to Christ. In the end, what He thinks of me is the only thing that matters. And this is a second thing that impressed me deeply in my rehabilitation.

The idea that we are already in Resurrection by accepting our suffering is another that has caught me and I have yet to work it out completely. Somehow we are already rising with Christ prior to our own death, just as He was already the Risen Lord at the Last Supper. We are rising to glory as we accept this gift of Christ--this purification gift--now and see in it His boundless love for us. Because we are already baptised into Him, our suffering has eternal value--a value we cannot see except vaguely because our bodies, bound to the earth, rebel against pain, suffering, humiliation, limitation, etc.

Suffering is often associated with some physical limitation that reminds us as it progresses that we will never be an olympic athlete, that we will never be the most handsome man that attracts all the women, that we will never be the great ones of the earth. But the fact that Jesus, during His lifetime, was none of these ought to remind us that we are not called to be the great ones of the earth. We are called to be like Him: to do the work that the Father gives us to do in the place He has put us and with the gifts He has given us. Most of us will never leave a great impact on the world: much like the man who tries to write his name on the surface of a bucket of water, most of us will pass and be forgotten by the world. But we attach our suffering to the One Who came here to suffer for us--to bridge the gap left by sin. Christ obtained again His glory when He returned to the Kingdom and made it possible that we, by our own suffering, might also have glory in the Kingdom with Him by being in communion (that intimate relationship established in and through the Church in the Mysteries) with Him now. By Christ's coming, returning to the Father but still remaining with us in the Mysteries, He has enabled those of us chosen to be part of Him to share what He has had before the foundation of the world--so that everything He allows us to have has an eternal value, especially, as Father Matta says, our suffering.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that suffering is for our purification now. It helps us to remember the One thing necessary--a Person with Whom we have communion, a "coming into union" relationship.

In Christ,

BOB

Last edited by theophan; 12/04/07 08:18 AM. Reason: spelling
Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: theophan] #266231
12/03/07 10:19 PM
12/03/07 10:19 PM
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That is awesome, from the heart and true.

Humbly,
Alice

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Alice] #266286
12/04/07 09:48 AM
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Marian:

To add to what I've already sent to you, ponder this. The Lord Himself tells us that God chastises the son(s) He loves. What does that mean? It seems to me to mean that He ALLOWS us to have the suffering of this age as a gift, the same gift He gave His Only-Begotten Son and the same gift the Son accepted as the Father's Will. Now, Jesus did not accept this with a sullen attitude. I believe that He accepted everything that the Father gave Him with love, joy, peace, and faith that each thing, including His Suffering, was for a benefit not only to Himself but to all who would be part of Him.

We are part of Him. We benefit by His suffering. We also have our own suffering made part of His Suffering so that it has an eternal value, both for us and for others. And this latter is an important part, often missed. Our suffering is not in a vacuum. It is part of Christ because we are part of Him. So when we suffer, our suffering--like the suffering of Christ--has value for others. I once made this point to my spiritual father and asked him to consider what he would feel like if he walked into Heaven and someone completely unknown to him ran up and revealed that through his suffering this person had his entry into Heaven--that the Lord had used his suffering for the benefit of another.

I believe that this stems from how God is: other-directed. The Trinity is a model of other-directedness in the relationships of the Divine Persons to each other and to all created beings. So our participation in Christ makes us part of that other-directedness (or should).

(The opposite of other-directedness, the Enemy's stance, is self-centeredness, selfishness: the "me first and only me" attitude.)

In Christ,

BOB

Last edited by theophan; 12/04/07 02:49 PM.
Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Michael McD] #266708
12/05/07 09:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Michael McD

This was exactly what we were taught as kids by our mother:



I was taught this by a very good priest .. and have done it ever since (not every day). In the Prayers forum ... I ask for prayers for Melony .. and mention that I had given up my day for her.

Another devotion I used to practice was giving up my day for the souls in purgatory.

During the day one gives up .. one is especially mindful of accepting those troubles one should accept. Any merit gained (virtues) are shared with the person one gave up the day for.

If the day goes smooth for me (no particular troubles) I think to myself "Well... this person is not in need of much help." but if real troubles come my way I think to myself "Well... now .. I am doing something! Now ... I am helping. Now I am gaining something for that person." and am mindful of trusting in Providence for how things turn out.

-ray

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: theophan] #266722
12/05/07 10:59 PM
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Dear Bob ...

Well said.

I had been fumbling around to try to write something ... but you said it all so very well. I wish I could write like that and put it as well as you can. Hey! I seemed to me I said that before smile

Allow me to try to expand just a bit more on the good foundation that you laid.

St. John of the Cross mentions two Dark Nights. The dark night of the senses and the dark night of the spirit.

For those in progress toward God .. the dark night of the senses is most often ... times of physical suffering. Its purpose is to purify the senses from any obsessive attachments to the things of the senses. Otherwise we might become too attached to material things and chase after luxury homes, expensive cars, wealth and public fame .. and do anything necessary for this type of self-providence and personal gain. And so God uses physical suffering to 'cut us off at the pass' and prevent us from becoming too obsessively attached to material life. While this type of physical troubles are rightly called pain ... the suffering part is mental and in degree to our attachments. But one should remember ... these pugations are not only to detach us from the things of the material world .. but also to prevent us from developing attachments to the material world (which attachments we humans would develop if it were not for God 'cutting us off at the pass').

This night (of the senses) is a necessary purgation of the senses and must take place before the person can progress any further.

The dark night of the spirit (the mind) is a spiritual suffering which detaches us from pride, self-providence, and from spiritual things. This dark night has the purpose of changing our habits ... a purgation of the subconscious mind. And for this reason sanctification is said to be the re-formation of our habits (into habits of virtue).

While many Christians who have some dedication to God will experience the dark night of the senses ... only those few who have progresses into contemplation will expereince the purgation of the spirit ... in preparation for union. And of these ... only fewer still will accept this type of suffering - and go all the way to mystical union.

The dark night of the spirit can be mistaken for depression. The person can think that his spiritual life has gone wrong. And since the sweetness and security he had before (in thinking of God) is taken away ... he can also think that God has abandoned him. And so he may stop contemplation and return to lower forms of prayer in which he was so well satisfied before.

While we can pass through the occasions of purgation to our senses ... without being aware that God is doing it, what God is doing, and why ... the purgations of the spirit (mind) are much more violent .. and the person needs to know that it is God doing this to him .. so that the person can cooperate. And the person needs to know exactly how to cooperate with God when he is plunged into this type of spiritual suffering.

I hope I have contributed a bit.

Peace to you.
-ray



Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Ray Kaliss] #266800
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Dear Ray,

You have contributed greatly. The dark night of the soul is difficult indeed...it can also be a time when the Providential hand of God, which may have consistently been present and obvious through a person's life, just seems to go away--seeming to leave the person alone in a tempest of confusion and dismay.

Alice


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Dear Ray:

This dark night of the spirit/soul is, indeed, frightening. One seems to be utterly abandoned. Prayer comes with great difficulty. Often one is only left with parts of Psalm 50: "restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation" and "take not Thy Holy Spirit from me." Family and friends seem to be distant and cool.

But the other portion is the intense desire to pray for others and to do for others, even as one seems to feel that one's own need for both prayer and support is utterly limitless.

BOB

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Alice] #266895
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Originally Posted by Alice
Dear Ray,
when the Providential hand of God, which may have consistently been present and obvious through a person's life, just seems to go away--seeming to leave the person alone in a tempest of confusion and dismay.


yes! Yes. In fact seem like Providence himself has turned against us.

Near to panic! but nowhere to turn!

Forced and driven deep into your own soul looking for refuge!

A terror to enter - but heaven itself when done.

(so I read).

-ray


Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Ray Kaliss] #266909
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(I expaned my post but editing time elapsed)

Originally Posted by Alice
Dear Ray,
when the Providential hand of God, which may have consistently been present and obvious through a person's life, just seems to go away--seeming to leave the person alone in a tempest of confusion and dismay.


yes! Yes. In fact ... it may seem like Providence himself has more than abandoned us but has also turned against us.

Now .. I will tell you of some of the advise I have heard about from a few people who have experienced the night of the spirit. See if it is similar to what you have been told or read.

Here is what I have been told ....

One wonders "what is happening to me??" ... but if the person has been through it a few times the person can soon recognize, not the onset (that always sneaks up unless one has been warned in some way it is coming) - but when the event goes far deeper than ordinary life ... one recognize that it is far more than just a psychological depression.

Near to panic! but nowhere to turn!

Searching your soul for the wrong you had done ... finding nothing good ... and no reason why God should save you. Only in the center of this psychological cyclone .. is there even a hint of peace .. and so you know that is your refuge and that is where you need to go.

Forced and driven ... deep ... into your own soul looking for refuge! Looking for the smallest bit of peace.

A terror to enter ... but heaven itself ... when done. The result (when it is over) is always the most rest and peace which one can experience. Intellectual enlightenment may follow immediately – but most often comes days later out of nowhere.

While contemplation is voluntary on our part ... the dark night of the spirit is God forcing the person into a deep contemplation at the time and in the place where God chooses. In some sense it is true to call it 'involuntary contemplation' in as much as the person did not initiate it – but God did. When we go voluntarily into contemplation - we pick the time and the place ... but the night of the spirit is God picking the time and the place.

And knowing that (that God is actively forcing the person into deep contemplation by cutting off the senses and the mind) .. knowing that makes it easier. One should just accept that God has called out "Come to me - right now" and abandon one's self to this deep contemplation.

If one can ... it is good (when it comes upon the soul) it is good to set yourself aside and accept that it is 'time for contemplation' by sitting in a quiet room and letting contemplation take hold. It may not be easy ... but ... I know someone who has passed many a 'night' with a lot less panic that way. However – this cooperation – one must be aware – is an invitation to God to 'go ahead .. do it' and God may decide to deepen the whole experience ... near to what you can not stand.

One must try to remember that – it will pass – once God sees that what he intended to do ... is completed.

One person I know told me that when they first began to come ... he had no warnings and they were mentally very violent. But once he passed a few of these (he did not know how) ... he was given the gift of a Providential warning before others came. This was (in the beginning) the appearance of a single dove. You see – here in New England the type of doves here mate for life .. and so you always see two together and seeing a single dove is very rare and a sad thing. It means his mate has died. A single dove – alone and sick at heart longing for his mate. This would happen before a 'night' came.

Another person told me that he was warned of the coming dark nights by street lights mysteriously going out overhead as he passed by. Not just one (that would be coincidental) but several in the same night. They would go out just as he passed underneath and when he had gotten to the next street light .. that would go out too and the last one (now behind him) would light up again. A very dark night was on its way from God.

No matter any fore-warnings ... they do not come when you expect or are looking for them .. or wanting them. Inevitably your watching is fruitless – and bang – when your not looking – you find yourself deep into it. God does it this way so that the soul has no grounds whatsoever to think to himself that his own subconscious is somehow responsible for the occasion.

Now this is what I have been told by some people I know... or perhaps I read a few of these in a few books.

I have been told that Jesus once told a man ..”My people perish – for the lack of knowledge of me.” (meaning many Chritians do know know God works in a soul). Many people are called into this spiritual night – but – (unlike the night of the senses) it requires cooperation on the part of the person it is happening to. And so many begin these nights but mistake them for other things (normal depression and such) ... and do not know how to cooperate.

And it seems to me a great pity that most priests today – do not know anything about these things. They are trained in running the parish, and doctrines, and theology – but are not trained in mystical theology much at all. They really do not know how to help someone in these 'nights' and hardly know what these nights are. And so they may send those who are having spiritual nights – to social therapists.

Now I consider myself very lucky indeed to have spent so many years with a priest who was a genuine mystical director with good experience ... just in case such things might happen to me one day.


The best gift, left behind by such nights .. is a sensitivity to Providential actions taking place in the person's everyday life. A heightened awareness of occasional synchronism between the what is interior (in our conscience) and exterior (events that happen to the person). One has become more a tuned to the 'language' which God uses to speak to the soul. In the old days of the old telephone you used to be able to call the operator and tell her there was static on the line and she would - clear the line - so you could better communicate.

Dear Alice ... if you have heard about anything that might be beneficial ... or read anything on the subject. Please post it here because I would guess that Marian (as well as others) would be greatly interested.

Peace to us all.
-ray

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: theophan] #266916
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Dear Bob...

If you have heard or read about things that might be useful to know on the subject .. please share with us.

It is very difficult for people who might have an interest in these things to find good knowledge ... and we would all be interested and perhaps learn something which might .. some day .. be useful.

-ray

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Ray Kaliss] #266948
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Ray:

I cannot say that I have read much about this experience but have fumbled with dry periods where I could not pick up a prayerbook, could not open the Scriptures, could not even find the desire to do something kind for anyone or even myself.

But I have been lead over many such periods and many years to a faint understanding and some conclusions that seem to make some sense of it. The loneliness of this experience stems from a feeling of utter and complete abandonment--the sort of feeling that Jesus must have felt on the Cross, though never as intensely as that lest one give in to despair that can lead to self-destruction. It seems to me to be a feeling of being utterly alone--almost divorced from the whole remainder of creation, somehow without the will or means to move and no reason to do so in any event. At times the temptation is to give in to the thought that everything is an illusion, that everything is meaningless, that nothing is real, and that all of life and effort is worthless. It often can feel like some kind of oppression.

But the teaching here--and there is always a teaching in every situation if one calms one's soul and asks to be taught it--is that whatever discipline I may have undertaken, whatever I may have written, whatever I may have done IS NOT MINE BUT THE GIFT OF GOD GIVEN TO ME TO GIVE TO OTHERS AND BY WHICH HE ALLOWS ME A PARTICIPATION IN HIS DIVINE LIFE. When I cannot pray, it is to let me understand that the Holy Spirit has been close by and inspiring the prayer discipline that I have had for so long. When I cannot seem to pick up the Scripture, it is to let me know that it is the Holy Spirit Who moves me to study, to learn, and to incorporate it into my faith life and whole being. When I cannot seem to want to do anything for another or for myself, it is to remind me that "without Me you can do nothing."

And in every step of these periods, I have stayed ever closer to my spiritual father and poured out everything to him, asking always for his prayers, his encouragement, and some help. This is not a "do it yourself" walk through the spiritual life.

But this is beginning to be too much about me so let's go back to topic.

In Christ,

BOB

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When we become so conscious of our frailty that our spirit despairs, somehow, in an unknown fashion, a wondrous light appears, proclaiming life incorruptible. When the darkness within us is so appalling that we are paralyzed with dread, the same light will turn black night into bright day. When we properly condemn ourselves to eternal infamy and in agony descend into the pit, of a sudden some strength from Above will lift our spirit to the heights. When we are overwhelmed by the feeling of our own utter nothingness, the uncreated light transfigures and brings us like sons into the Father's house. How are these contrasting states to be explained? Why does our self-condemnation justify us before God? Is it not because there is truth in this self-condemnation and so the Spirit of Truth finds a place for Himself in us?"

Archimandrite Sophrony (His Life is Mine)

Alexandr

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Slavipodvizhnik] #267000
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Originally Posted by Slavipodvizhnik
When we become so conscious of our frailty that our spirit despairs, somehow, in an unknown fashion, a wondrous light appears, proclaiming life incorruptible.

Alexandr


Yes .. these statements by genuine mystics have always interested me. Some times there is a translation problem caused by the translator not really understanding what the saint is talking about . Another thing that sometimes shades the text is that back at that time in Christianity ... there was, what I would almost describe as, a competition to out-pious the other guy. Everyone was writing is a self-abasement mode – trying to express more humility than the next guy. So at times – reading the early mystics can be a bit tricky.

I am not being critical of this quotation .. I am just making comments in general about the genera .. this type of literature.

In later times (around the Middle Ages just before the Reformation) at the time when it became popular to write biographies about the lives of some of the current saints ... the biographers began to expand on mystical phenomenon as if its presence were the seal of a saint. And that caused two impressions which were misleading.

The first being an impression that the holiness of the person in whom God is working .. can be measured by the amount and flamboyance of phenomena in his life. And the second being that this phenomena and the depth of suffering the saint has – is always increasing and the saint lives mostly up in heaven and barely has any connection with earthly life anymore. Both impressions are wrong ... and people reading these books and trying to gauge their own spiritual life by them .. are mislead.

In a mostly good biography of Saint John of the Cross that I have ... I can detect that several legends became attached to his childhood years ... and that in the years after his imprisonment ... John had a bit of trouble keeping himself from going into exstacy(sp) when in public (as if God was always wanting to transport him into exstacy more and more. The biographer write that John had to do things like rap his knuckles on the wall in oder not to be transported into exctasy while with other people. However it seems to me that John rapped his knuckles on the wall in order to assist him to keep his concentration .. to be present in the here and now (while surrounded by distractions).

Sorry for going off into a muse smile

Thanks for the quote Alexandr

Peace be to you and to your church.
-ray

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Ray Kaliss] #267004
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Ray, I am confused. Archmandrite Sophrony died in 1993, and wrote in English!

Alexandr

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: theophan] #267009
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Originally Posted by theophan

And in every step of these periods, I have stayed ever closer to my spiritual father and poured out everything to him, asking always for his prayers, his encouragement, and some help. This is not a "do it yourself" walk through the spiritual life.

But this is beginning to be too much about me so let's go back to topic.

BOB


But I think - this is the subject smile

On the other hand Bob, having known several mystics and their directors, I have witnesses a few of them go to ruin - cause by their directors (priests mind you). Ruin of both types. In some cases the spiritual directors encourage phenomena (even if they do not do this our right) and to the other side of ruin - project a disgust at phenomena (as if the soul should entirely reject anything odd).

Two sad scenarios follow ... one is that the mystic 'goes public' thinking that he/she has some messages which God has commanded he/she cary out to the public ... and the second (when the director totally discourage any phenomena (that God is not given a free hand to accomplish what he wants to in the soul and the soul is in needless confusion.

I have also seen some who have progressed well - mostly because he/she had a very good director available. And I have seen some progress well all by themselves (Providence himself directs them) where any director would not have helped them and probably been a hindrance.

One of the saddest things is that there are so few directors who have any real experience or good grounding in mystical theology. Modern priests are simply not given good 'training' in how God works in a soul. The mystical life (how God works in us) is simply lacking in their formation. It seems to me that any priest who really does have good knowledge - has to get it himself - as his preistly formation had lacked it.

And so in total, I have found, that each case is individual (as far as if a director is doing any good or is actually hindering the soul). I have actually found it a rare case that a soul and his/her director ... are both doing very well.

However a director who is truly very humble (and very human and treats the soul as a true friendship) never hurts the soul. If the director admit that he doesn't know what God is doing ... but helps the soul to remain grounded in daily conscience and just to handle his normal life on a day to day basis - all goes well.

But I have found, that it is always best that the soul remain hidden and out of the public eye. Nothing will ruin a soul in whom God is working .. more and faster .. than his mystical life being taken out into the public.

It is rare case where God actually wants something (some message) or someone brought out into the public .. and in these cases ... the extra burden of having that done requires an added amount of suffering to that soul in order to keep it safe. The additional suffering of such as Padre Pio was being misunderstood and held to a measure (by the public) which is impossible for the soul to feel adequate to. It is a personal isolation from everyone including close friends. Very very difficult. Rarely desired by God and one can see that God has prepared the soul for this 'isolation' from childhood.

These are just my impressions from my long experience with people such as these.

I am not contradicting you Bod in anyway .. or trying to teach anyone ... I am just tossing the subject around a bit. If there is anything I have learned from being with a few of these saints-to-be over my years .. it is that I am not a director .. I am just a witness.

-ray






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Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Slavipodvizhnik] #267011
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Originally Posted by Slavipodvizhnik
When we become so conscious of our frailty that our spirit despairs, somehow, in an unknown fashion, a wondrous light appears, proclaiming life incorruptible. When the darkness within us is so appalling that we are paralyzed with dread, the same light will turn black night into bright day. When we properly condemn ourselves to eternal infamy and in agony descend into the pit, of a sudden some strength from Above will lift our spirit to the heights. When we are overwhelmed by the feeling of our own utter nothingness, the uncreated light transfigures and brings us like sons into the Father's house. How are these contrasting states to be explained? Why does our self-condemnation justify us before God? Is it not because there is truth in this self-condemnation and so the Spirit of Truth finds a place for Himself in us?"

Archimandrite Sophrony (His Life is Mine)

Alexandr




That is such an excellent quote. Thank you, Alexandr, for sharing that. It is so true.

-- John


Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Ray Kaliss] #267016
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Originally Posted by Ray Kaliss
One of the saddest things is that there are so few directors who have any real experience or good grounding in mystical theology. Modern priests are simply not given good 'training' in how God works in a soul. The mystical life (how God works in us) is simply lacking in their formation. It seems to me that any priest who really does have good knowledge - has to get it himself - as his priestly formation had lacked it.


Ray, I can emphatically agree with you on this point. The same was true in my experiences with priests and other ministers in the Western Churches. God bless them, they just didn’t seem to know about the Christian mystical way of life anymore -- except the few who, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, were self-taught or who rediscovered the ancient Western traditions about theosis.

I think the Eastern Church does a much better job of this because theosis remains at the core of Eastern Christianity. Being an Eastern Christian does not make the dark night of the soul go away. But it does increase the likelihood that a priest will be able to knowledgably advise someone on the mystical side of it and of life in general.

-- John


Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: harmon3110] #267314
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Originally Posted by harmon3110

I think the Eastern Church does a much better job of this because theosis remains at the core of Eastern Christianity.

-- John



This has been my experience also. Eastern priests seem to treat the whole man and recognize that life is not cut and dry. I have been to Greek Orthodox and Russian Orthodox priests ... and never disappointed. Kind of like the old family doctors used to be (showing my age now!).

-ray


Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Slavipodvizhnik] #267316
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Originally Posted by Slavipodvizhnik
Ray, I am confused. Archmandrite Sophrony died in 1993, and wrote in English!

Alexandr


No no .. apparently I am the one confused!

Well this is a whole other ball game!

In THAT case .. PLEASE point me to something of his to read. Is there anything on the web? Which book of his do you recommend? I will order it for Christmas.

-ray

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Ray Kaliss] #267319
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http://sophrony.narod.ru/indexe.html

I found him.

Please tell me which book of his to get.

and my thanks for pointing him out!

-ray

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Ray Kaliss] #267322
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ray--

On Prayer and His Life is Mine are both available from St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, Crestwood, Tuckahoe, NY.

BOB

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: theophan] #267438
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Originally Posted by theophan
ray--

On Prayer and His Life is Mine are both available from St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, Crestwood, Tuckahoe, NY.

BOB


Thank you.

I already told my wife this is the one Christmas present I want.

Peace be with us all
-ray

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Ray Kaliss] #267539
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ray:

You might also enjoy the work that I originally cited: The Communion of Love by Matthew the Poor, also from SVS Press.

This work has taken me some time to really understand--and many years of life experience. I bought my copy in 1990 and just recently pulled it back off the shelf to reread. It has taken me the years in between to have enough life experience and faith experience to BEGIN to understand the vision articulated by this holy monk of the Coptic Orthodox Church.

I think that's the challenge in the spiritual life: NOT to try to jump into works that are far beyond one's experience and faith development. And to be sure to always run the works one is reading by one's spiritual father and/or confessor.

In Christ,

BOB

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Originally Posted by theophan

I think that's the challenge in the spiritual life: NOT to try to jump into works that are far beyond one's experience and faith development.
BOB


That seems true Bob..

I was trained in St John of the Cross for several years a longggg time ago ... very confusing ... only in the past 5 years do I understand him and think 'this is so simple - why didn't I get it before?' and that is some 30 years later!

Peace to you and your church Bob.
-ray

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Ray Kaliss] #267768
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St. John of the Cross speaks to a spiritually mature audience. Last time I attempted reading him it was past my head. I can understand it could be be 30 years before I understand him as he understood his subject.

Terry

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TERRY:

Did you attempt to read him in conjunction with an experienced spiritual director? Sometimes that makes the read a bit easier. If you approach your confessor and ask him to read a chapter or two and then meet with you so you can discuss it and ask questions you may definitely benefit from St. John of the Cross. No need to wait 30 years.

I picked up this work and no one that i knew had ever heard of the man or of this work. So I tried it and kept my spiritual father informed, but he did not read it at the same time so it never went anywhere.

You might be able to find someone online with whom you could study and profit from some of St. John's work.

But on a side note, one ought to always begin a spiritual--or any study--with a prayer that asks the Holy Spirit to enlighten our minds with the study we are about to undertake. I use this one:

Lord Jesus, send down on us the grace of the Holy Spirit to endow and confirm our spiritual powers, so that, giving heed to learning, we may increase therein for Your greater honor and glory, for the benefit and building up of Your Holy Church, for the benefit and building up of the community of which we are members, and for the benefit, comfort, and support of our families. AMEN.

In Christ,

BOB

Last edited by theophan; 12/10/07 08:40 PM.
Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: theophan] #267784
12/10/07 08:46 PM
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Bob,

My intention has been that before I try any of St. John of the Cross' works, I will read Interior Castle. St. Teresa of Avila is, to me, a comfortable read.

Your suggestion is a good one. I grasp his imagery enough that, as when I read Dante the first time, I could see that the depth of meaning in his language requires keener eyes. Perhaps I will find someone who will help guide the sight of my understanding.

Terry

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Ray Kaliss] #269031
12/17/07 06:48 PM
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But I have found, that it is always best that the soul remain hidden and out of the public eye. Nothing will ruin a soul in whom God is working .. more and faster .. than his mystical life being taken out into the public.


Ray:

So say the Desert Fathers. "A virtue made public is soon spoiled (or destroyed)." I would venture to say that it is destroyed because of the attention of others that can easily lead to vainglory, self-love, and the destruction of humility that comes when one focuses on oneself rather than on God and the gift given.

In Christ,

BOB

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: theophan] #269666
12/20/07 09:36 PM
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Theophan,

Quite a commendable title for this thread! In the Syriac and Malankara Churches, today is the commemoration of Mar Ignathios (St. Ignatius) of Antioch who is quoted as saying: "True, I am in love with suffering, but I do not know if I deserve the honor."

Amen and Amen!

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Michael_Thoma] #269757
12/21/07 01:44 PM
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Mar Ignathios (St. Ignatius) of Antioch who is quoted as saying: "True, I am in love with suffering, but I do not know if I deserve the honor."


Michael Thoma:

In the context of this whole thread, what a profound next step in the meditation on Christian suffering and its eternal value. I think I'll have to print this all out and use it for some meditation after the whole Nativity festivities are over.

Thank you so much for this addtion.

Quote
". . . I am in love with suffering, but I do not know if I deserve the honor."


In Christ,

BOB

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: theophan] #269934
12/22/07 10:05 PM
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As a tangential note to this thread and in light of Ignathios (St. Ignatius) of Antioch's quote, it has occurred to me that he is speaking of Jesus.

When we think of suffering in the context of our Christian commitment and in light of Christ's suffering for our sake and the way in which we can participate in it for eternal value, it might be well to think of "suffering" as the Person of Jesus Himself. In the same way that He says that He is Truth--that is, that Truth originates in His Person and is identical to Him; He is Truth as Being--so He is Mercy because it, too, originates in His Person and there is no mercy or truth apart from Him. So, too, is suffering a Person--all suffering that has eternal, redemptive value originates in His Person as Being.

So when the venerable Mar Ignatios says that he is in love with suffering, he is saying that he is in love with Christ; and then wonders, as we all ought, if he is worthy of Christ. He has pierced the Mystery of God coming here in the coming Feast of the Incarnation of God in the flesh, Jesus Christ's Nativity. No, we all fall short of His Glory, but He makes us worthy by plunging us into His Mystery--His redemptive act.

In Christ,

BOB

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: theophan] #271278
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These few paragraphs from Metropolitan Anthony Bloom's work seems to fit into this whole idea of our suffering as Christians and how we live with it.


From Living Prayer, by Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom), Templegate Publishers, Springfield, IL, c. 1966, pp14 to 19.

“Love your enemies, bless them that hate you” (Mt 5:44), is a command that may be more or less easy to follow; but to forgive those who inflict suffering one one’s beloved is altogether different, and it makes people feel as if taken in disloyalty. Yet, the greater our love for the one who suffers, the greater our ability to share and to forgive, and in that sense the greatest love is achieved when one can say with Rabbi Yehel Mikhael “I am my beloved.” As long as we can say “I” and “he” we do not share the suffering and we cannot accept it. The mother of God at the foot of the cross was not in tears, as shown so often in western paintings; she was so completely in communion with her son that she had nothing to protest against. She was going through her own death. The mother was fulfilling now what hat begun on the day of the presentation of Christ to the temple, when she had given her son. Alone of all the children of Israel he had been accepted as a sacrifice of blood. And she, who had brought him then, was now accepting the consequence of her ritual gesture which was finding fulfilment in reality. As he was then in communion with her, she was completely in communion with him now and she had nothing to protest against.

It is love that makes us one with the object of our love and makes it possible for us to share unreservedly, not only the suffering but also the attitude towards suffering and the executioner. We cannot imagine the mother of God or John the disciple protesting against what was the explicit will of the son of God crucified. “No one is taking my life from me, I lay it down of myself” (Jn 10:18). He was dying willingly, of his own accord for the salvation of the world; his death was this salvation and therefore those who believed in him and wanted to be at one with him could share the suffering of his death, could undergo the passion together with him; but they could not reject it, they could not turn against the crowd that had crucified Christ, because this crucifixion was the will of Christ himself.
We can protest against someone’s suffering, we can protest against someone’s death, either when he himself, rightly or wrongly, takes a stand against it, or else when we do not share his intention and his attitude towards death and suffering; but then our love for that person is an incomplete love and creates separation. . . .

But to share with Christ his passion, his crucifixion, his death, means to accept unreservedly all these events, in the same spirit he did, that is, to accept them in an act of free will, to suffer together with the man of sorrows, to be there in silence, the very silence of Christ, interrupted only by a few decisive words, the silence of real communion; not just the silence of pity, but of compassion, which allows us to grow into complete oneness with the other so that there is no longer one and the other, but only one life and one death.
On many occasions throughout history people witnessed persecution and were not afraid, but shared in the suffering and did not protest; for instance . . . martyrs who helped one another but never turned against the tormentors. The spirit of martyrdom . . . in itself, its basic attitude (is) a spirit of love which cannot be defeated by suffering or injustice. A very young priest . . . imprisoned at the beginning of the Russian revolution, and came out a broken man, was asked what was left of him, and he answered: :Nothing is left of me, they have burnt out every single thing, love only survives.” A man who can say that has the right attitude and anyone who shares his tragedy must also share in his unshakeable love.

. . . a Russian bishop . . . said that it is a privilege for a Christian to die a martyr, because none by a martyr can, at the last Judgment, take his stand in front of God’s Judgment seat and say, “According to thy word and thy example, I have forgiven. Thou hast no claim against them any more.” Which means that the one who suffers martyrdom in Christ, whose love is not defeated by suffering, acquires unconditional power of forgiving over the one who has inflicted suffering. And this can be applied . . . on the level of everyday life; anyone who suffers a minor injustice (and is in Christ)** from someone else can forgive or refuse to forgive. But this is a two-edged sword; if you do not forgive, you will not be forgiven either.
_____________________________________________________
**my addition

It would seem that one who has been plunged into Christ acquires the ability to “put on Christ” and give every bit of his suffering an eternal value, even the most minor slights inflicted by others. It would also seem that it is a privilege for a Christian to suffer wrongs without complaint because of Christ’s example and our baptismal commitment to become like Him, thereby giving them eternal value. To refuse forgiveness, is to refuse Christ because He is calling us in every situation to join Him in His salvific suffering for the whole of mankind.

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: theophan] #271308
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What exactly do you mean by--

crazy [size:8pt] But to share with Christ his passion, his crucifixion, his death, means to accept *unreservedly all these events, in the same spirit he did, that is, to accept them in an act of free will, to suffer together with the man of sorrows*, to be there in silence, the very silence of Christ, interrupted only by a few decisive words, the silence of real communion; not just the silence of pity, but of compassion, which allows us to grow into complete oneness with the other so that there is no longer one and the other, but only one life and one death.
On many occasions throughout history people witnessed persecution and were not afraid, but shared in the suffering and did not protest; for instance . . . martyrs who helped one another but never turned against the tormentors. The spirit of martyrdom . . . in itself, its basic attitude (is) a spirit of love which cannot be defeated by suffering or injustice. A very young priest . . . imprisoned at the beginning of the Russian revolution, and came out a broken man, was asked what was left of him, and he answered: :Nothing is left of me, they have burnt out every single thing, love only survives.” A man who can say that has the right attitude and anyone who shares his tragedy must also share in his unshakeable love.

. . . a Russian bishop . . . said that it is a privilege for a Christian to die a martyr, because none by a martyr can, at the last Judgment, take his stand in front of God’s Judgment seat and say, “According to thy word and thy example, I have forgiven. Thou hast no claim against them any more.” Which means that the one who suffers martyrdom in Christ, whose love is not defeated by suffering, acquires unconditional power of forgiving over the one who has inflicted suffering. And this can be applied . . . on the level of everyday life; anyone who suffers a minor injustice (and is in Christ)** from someone else can forgive or refuse to forgive. But this is a two-edged sword; if you do not forgive, you will not be forgive
n either.
[/size]
[Is there a difference between from what you state here about suffering and forms of abuse?.

I am a little confused about what is considered suffering and abuse.
Jesus doesn't want us to be abused and yet he accepted it?
and as a Christian are we suppose to do what we can with in our means for ourself or our neighbor and just sit there and not try to defend ourself as opposed to being martyr?]

{I do not know why the Lord always puts my mind in a contrary mode in trying to figure these things out}.

Thank You & God Bless,

Dandelion

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Dandelion] #271343
01/04/08 08:58 AM
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[Is there a difference between from what you state here about suffering and forms of abuse?.


Dandelion:

I'm quoting Metropolitan Anthony and relating this passage to the one first posted on this thread. It relates to personal suffering--disease, chronic illness, our limitations and other things with which we bear in life that bring to our attention the facts that we are on pilgrimage, that we have no permanent home here, and that we are being stripped as Christ was stripped of His garments of our earthly attachemtns in order to be ready for our eternal home with Him.

That having been said, abuse has no place in this understanding if you mean that women should accept abuse at the hands of their husbands or significant others--or the reverse for men who suffer abuse at the hands of their spouses and significant others--as a religious duty. Certainly one has the right to distance oneself from further abuse and should do so.

On the other hand, whatever suffering we have can have eternal value, whether it is considered abuse or not. It seems to me that this is a profound set of insights into the value of suffering in the life of the Christian. The problem here is that so few of us come to the full understanding of what Baptism is about and how it links our every life activity to Him. We tend to recoil at anything that involves suffering--I even listened to a lecture by a Catholic bishop last evening who stated that suffering is an evil that we should pray to be delivered from. Having suffered at the hands of another, we ought to come to understand that we are called to forgive the person who has caused our suffering. I think that as in so many areas of the spiritual life, we are called to follow as the Lord has given us capacity to follow. The vision that these two holy men have outlined is difficult and can even be said to be "the narrow way." Whether any of us has the grace and capacity to walk it is another matter.

In Christ,

BOB

Last edited by theophan; 01/04/08 10:33 AM.
Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: theophan] #271555
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Thank you Bob for an excellent post!

In Christ,
Alice

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Alice] #271672
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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. Which balance is often missing from the books of biographies of saints and the saying of some of the early fathers (monastics and ascetics). 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).

As I say, even some saints have had it wrong for a time. For example: St. John of the Cross .. after his months of suffering in prison .. realized that not having been able to avoid that suffering .. what he did suffer was instrumental to his spiritual change which began his period of great spiritual enlightenment. For many months (after his release from prison) St John made himself suffer. He would punish his body by whipping his back, and by wearing things under his shirt which caused him pain. {i]However [/i].. .. this period of intentionally embracing suffering only lasted a short time ... because he continued to spiritual mature and finally came to realize that while he could reproduce the suffering that he had while in prison ... suffering itself had no value and was not advancing him in spiritual growth .. and God wanted him to stop. So John of the Cross stopped and never advocated (as a spiritual director) any love of suffering to the nuns he directed. Instead .. he advocated 'no-thing, no-thing, no-thing'. This wonderful maxim also applies to suffering. Neither embrace it (desire it) nor fear it (avoid it at any cost). Yet ... one of the most famous paintings of John of the Cross has him holding a whip with which he used to beat his back and this painting is a fine example of the promotion of this misunderstanding regarding suffering.

Francis of Assisi also went through a season where he punished and abused his body .. but later .. he ceased that nonsense and had regrets for how he had treated his body.

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.

However ... their method (seeking suffering) was their own method and did not contribute in any way to their sanctification. It may help someone break the human habit of having a fear of suffering ... but that is as far as any spiritual good that may come of it. There is abetter way to break the habit of fear of suffering.

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) ... after a person who was reading many lives of the saints and noticing that some of them suffered greatly and had profound consolations in the form of holy visits etc.. etc.. this person felt he had a desire to become a victim soul. So this person fortified himself .. and began to ask the Lord to accept him as a victim soul. He told the good priest about his desire and the priest responded “No. Don't ask for that. 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.”

Suffering is a tool which God will sometimes use (for a time) to help form us. It is best to let God decided how, when, where, and for how long. We should not take that tool into our own hands. The way we make sure that we do not take it into our own hands .. is that we do all that we reasonably can do .. to avoid it and alleviate it in others and in ourselves. That which we can not change is ordained by God.

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.

Those who are under real and sustained abuse (physical or mental) .. are the victims of injustice, hate, and someone else's psychological problems. 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.

God may have us suffer for a season .. in order to detach us from some attachment or from some fear .. in such cases we will not be able to avoid the suffering. But we are still required to do all we reasonable can to lessen suffering.

The suffering one has within the Dark Night ... is not directly willed by God. God permits and allows it he does not directly desire it. The spiritual suffering is associated with the strength and resistance of our attachments and past habits. Any physical suffering (pain) is part of our human nature and has its good purpose on the level of the function of our body.

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.

So it seems to me.

-ray

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: theophan] #271716
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Greetings all, and a blessed Christmas and Theophany...

[I apologize if this comment derails the thread, I have no such intention, I personally think it is relevant...]

In light of all that has been stated here, what does one think of the (basically traditional) notion that the Holy Theotokos did not suffer the pains of a natural childbirth?

Personally, I always had a hard time absorbing that. Also, is the opinion that she endured a natural childbirth an acceptable one from either the Catholic or Orthodox viewpoints? I would think so, but I don't know...

Michael


Christ is Born, and has been revealed to us!

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Hesychios] #271817
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Dear Bob ...

I think my last post here was off target and is hard to read.

Would you delete it please ASAP so that no misunderstandings arise.

I am not sure if any of my late posts are any good smile


Thank you.

-ray


Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Hesychios] #271830
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In light of all that has been stated here, what does one think of the (basically traditional) notion that the Holy Theotokos did not suffer the pains of a natural childbirth?


Hesychios:

This thread was started to examine a quote from a monk of the Coptic Orthodox Church and his take on suffering as he viewed it through the prism of Christ's Saving Action. His whole book takes that approach to every topic he discusses. I found it to be something that caused a seismic shift in my own thinking and thought I'd share it with the brethren here and see if it resonated. Viewing EVERYTHING through the prism of how it relates to the new man by Baptism who is now part of Christ and how everything about our suffering helps to do what St. Paul says about "filling up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ" is headly stuff for me and I'm still working on absorbing and integrating it into my thinking and living. This is simply something that continues to help me understand what it means to be "in Christ."

If the Mother of God suffered no pain in childbirth, this topic is irrevelent to her situation. Is it not? As for the rest of your questions, I simply have never read about these theologumena and have never had these questions cross my mind. So you'll have to find someone more knowledgeable than me to answer this for you.

In Christ,

BOB

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Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Ray Kaliss] #271832
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Ray,
Thank You for the explanation, that cleared up alot of questions I had about this subject.

God Bless,
Dandelion

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Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Hesychios] #271844
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Dear Hesychios,

The Mother of God experienced NO pain in giving birth to Christ owing to her great holiness and sanctification as the Temple of the Holy Spirit and the God-bearer of our Lord, God and Saviour, Jesus Christ - as is deeply celebrated in our liturgical prayers.

Her death was also so light and sweet that it is called a 'falling asleep' or a "dormition."

However, she more than made up in the pain department at the Foot of Her Son's Cross . . .

The pain she felt on Calvary is often juxtaposed with her painless birthgiving in the liturgical prayers of the Octoechos especially.

Her birthgiving was above nature and her virginity was in tact before, during and after her birthgiving (signified by the three stars on her head and shoulders respectively). Then again, the Person she gave birth to was Himself simply . . . Divine!

Alex

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Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Orthodox Catholic] #271846
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Dear Bob,

Thank you for sharing your deeply moving thoughts on this important subject!

This was a topic that was also raised by the early Church, especially in the wake of the experience of martyrdom.

The vocation to be a martyr for Christ is just that. Our Lord grants His martyrs the grace to witness to Him as He bestows this calling upon them (which, like all vocations, can be rejected).

We are reminded of the 40 Martyrs of Sebastea in Armenia, one of whom gave up and was taken to a warm bath where he immediately died. Another soldier watching all this said, "There were forty before. Why should there not be forty now?" And he took off his clothing and joined the other 39 on the frozen lake.

In addition, Christ in the Gospels just doesn't go around "asking for it."

When He was struck in the face before the Jewish elders, our Lord immediately turned to the fellow who hit Him and demanded an explanation as to WHY he hit Him, that he wasn't justified etc.

Christ is always the supremely Divine Mystery - we can never predict how He will act at any given time and why. He was both the Man of Peace and Suffering Servant as well as the Man Who cast the money-lenders out of the temple and referred to Herod as "that fox."

As believers, we are called upon to act variously depending on the circumstances, in immitation of our Lord.

There was an abusive fellow I knew against whom I restrained myself.

But I was later told by others that the best thing for him would have probably been a knuckle sandwich from Moi! smile

Cheers, my Mentor!

Alex

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Ray Kaliss] #271877
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Dear Bob ...

I think my last post here was off target and is hard to read.

Would you delete it please ASAP so that no misunderstandings arise.

I am not sure if any of my late posts are any good


Thank you.

-ray


Ray:

I don't think that's the case. You have made something clear for one other of our brethren on this board and so, with your kind permission, I won't delete your post. I may need some clarification, but I admit to NOT being the sharpest tool in the shed. laugh biggrin

In Christ,

BOB

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Dear Bob,

I also agree with you and would also like to hear the difference between suffering and abuse clarified in church during a homily. I think it would help immensely.

Thank you again,

Dandelion

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Dandelion] #271906
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Dandelion:

I think it's rather simple. Abuse can cause suffering in another. It is but one form of suffering. We can suffer physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically.

The point that is being made from an Eastern Christian perspective--and I do not want anyone to think I am making a statement that this is either exhaustive or official--that suffering by one who is injured can be of eternal value when viewed through the prism of Christ's Saving Actions--Passion, Death, Resurrection, Ascension, Second Coming. Both of the sources I cited sketch this out and then avoid being specific as to cases. That seems to be the Eastern approach: being comfortable with mystery and ambiguity, trusting to the Lord in all things.

I am still working on absorbing and integrating this concept because it seems to be a bigger perspective than the one I have been formed to see. While traditional Western approaches want to define, pigeon-hole, dissect, and understand every detail and define all possible cases, this approach seems to ask us to take a broad, eternal view that is radically Christocentric and calls for a radical leap of faith.

This is not to say that either Western or Eastern approach is wrong or needs to correct the other. The Mystery of Jesus Christ, true God and true Man, is bigger than all of our expressions of it. We approach it from different perspectives. But the cover of the first book cited, The Communion of Love, contains a commentary by a Western theologian who makes the point of this radical Christocentric approach that will leave modern Western Christians with something to think about. We tend to like to fill in the faith gaps with psychology and our own pop culture. The works cited leave no room for anything but Christ and a profound faith leap toward and with Him.

As far as clarification of the abusive situation, while it is not tolerable, the authors seem to imply that the abused one must forgive the abuser, even though one is not required to stay and take more. The thrust is that in all things we must put on the Mind of Christ and forgive in all situations the wrongs done to us no matter how difficult this may be, using His example as He was lead to the Cross. To cite the authors again, we will be forgiven in the same measure that we forgive. So we are always called to pray

Forgive, O Lord, Lover of the souls of men, those who hate us and those who maltreat us, and cause not one of them to be lost because of me a sinner, but let all be saved by Thy Grace and Great Mercy.

And, trust me, this is not easy, though I've repeated this prayer dozens of times over the course of my life.

In Christ,

BOB

Last edited by theophan; 01/08/08 07:39 AM. Reason: spelling
Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Orthodox Catholic] #272259
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Originally Posted by Orthodox Catholic
Dear Hesychios,

The Mother of God experienced NO pain in giving birth to Christ owing to her great holiness and sanctification as the Temple of the Holy Spirit and the God-bearer of our Lord, God and Saviour, Jesus Christ - as is deeply celebrated in our liturgical prayers.

Her death was also so light and sweet that it is called a 'falling asleep' or a "dormition."

However, she more than made up in the pain department at the Foot of Her Son's Cross . . .

The pain she felt on Calvary is often juxtaposed with her painless birthgiving in the liturgical prayers of the Octoechos especially.

Her birthgiving was above nature and her virginity was in tact before, during and after her birthgiving (signified by the three stars on her head and shoulders respectively). Then again, the Person she gave birth to was Himself simply . . . Divine!

Alex
Dear Alex,

Thank you for your opinion.

Michael

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Orthodox Catholic] #272362
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There was an abusive fellow I knew against whom I restrained myself.

But I was later told by others that the best thing for him would have probably been a knuckle sandwich from Moi!

Cheers, my Mentor!

Alex


ALEX:

I bow to your greater experience.

I remember reading that martyrdom can be either "red" (blood) or "white" (the endurance of a prolonged experience of great and/or small experiences of injustice).

In Christ,

BOB

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Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: theophan] #272574
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Very informative posts Bob.

-ray

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Ray Kaliss] #273304
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Way of the Ascetics
By Tito Colliander

THE weather shifts from cloudy to clear and then back to rain: thus it is with human nature. One must always expect clouds to hide the sun sometimes. Even the saints have had their dark hours, days and weeks. They say then that "God has left them" in order that they may know truly how utterly wretched they are of themselves, without His support. These times of darkness, when all seems meaningless, ridiculous and vain, when one is beset by doubt and temptations, are inevitable. But even these times can be harvested for good.
The dark days can best be conquered by following the example of St. Mary of Egypt. For forty-eight years she dwelt in the desert beyond Jordan, and when temptations befell her and memories of her former sinful life in Alexandria beckoned her to leave her voluntary sojourn in the desert, she lay on the ground, cried to God for help and did not get up until her heart was humbled. The first years were hard; she sometimes had to lie this way for many days; but after seventeen years came the time of rest.
On such days stay quiet. Do not be persuaded to go out into social life or entertainment. Do not pity yourself, seek comfort in nothing but your cry to the Lord: Haste thee, O God, to deliver me! Make haste to help me, O Lord (Psalm 70:1)! I am so fast in prison that I cannot get forth (Psalm 88:8), and other such appeals. You cannot expect real help from any other source. For the sake of chance relief do not throw away all your winnings. Pull the covers over your head: now your patience and steadfastness are being tried. If you endure the trial, thank God who gave you the strength. If you do not, rise up promptly, pray for mercy and think: I got what I deserved! For the fall itself was your punishment. You had relied too much on yourself, and now you see what it led to. You have had an experience; do not forget to give thanks.

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: JGC] #273309
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JGC:

Fabulous. Another great addition to the perspectives of how Christians ought to deal with, endure, persevere in, and find God's Providential Hand in suffering.

Thank God for your addition and thank you.

In Christ,

BOB

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: Ray Kaliss] #278690
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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
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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

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Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: theophan] #278722
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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 11:39 AM. Reason: typos
Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: harmon3110] #278724
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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 02:21 PM. Reason: spelling
Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: theophan] #278753
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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
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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
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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
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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 09:26 AM. Reason: correcting link
Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: theophan] #286533
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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

Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: mardukm] #343995
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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

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Re: Suffering is our path to glory [Re: theophan] #344882
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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
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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
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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 07:55 AM.
Suffering #362281
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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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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 05:41 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
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Good points, Bob.

Re: Suffering [Re: Alice] #411133
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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
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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. â—„ Colossians 1:24 â–ş

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

Re: Suffering [Re: theophan] #411194
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When we learn to turn our hearts and minds into Praise of God like Paul did, it becomes so much more tolerable for everyone, and we begin to see the fruits of our sufferings in us, and for those around us.

My favorite Kontakions are 8, 11, and 12. It's just all awesome!

The link on the post above is on YouTube for listening. Oh my, it is prayed so beautifully! Here, for your meditation.

The Akathist Hymn: "Glory to God for All Things"

This Akathist, also called the "Akathist of Thanksgiving," was found among the effects of Protopresbyter Gregory Petrov upon his death in a prison camp in 1940. The title is from the words of Saint John Chrysostom as he was dying in exile. It is a song of praise from amidst the most terrible sufferings attributed to Metropolitan Tryphon of Turkestan.

Kontakion 1

Everlasting King, Thy will for our salvation is full of power. Thy right arm controls the whole course of human life. We give Thee thanks for all Thy mercies, seen and unseen. For eternal life, for the heavenly joys of the Kingdom which is to be. Grant mercy to us who sing Thy praise, both now and in the time to come. Glory to Thee, O God, from age to age.

Ikos 1

I was born a weak, defenseless child, but Thine angel spread his wings over my cradle to defend me. From birth until now Thy love has illumined my path, and has wondrously guided me towards the light of eternity; from birth until now the generous gifts of Thy providence have been marvelously showered upon me. I give Thee thanks, with all who have come to know Thee, who call upon Thy name.

Glory to Thee for calling me into being
Glory to Thee, showing me the beauty of the universe
Glory to Thee, spreading out before me heaven and earth
Like the pages in a book of eternal wisdom
Glory to Thee for Thine eternity in this fleeting world
Glory to Thee for Thy mercies, seen and unseen
Glory to Thee through every sigh of my sorrow
Glory to Thee for every step of my life's journey
For every moment of glory
Glory to Thee, O God, from age to age

Kontakion 2

O Lord, how lovely it is to be Thy guest. Breeze full of scents; mountains reaching to the skies; waters like boundless mirrors, reflecting the sun's golden rays and the scudding clouds. All nature murmurs mysteriously, breathing the depth of tenderness. Birds and beasts of the forest bear the imprint of Thy love. Blessed art thou, mother earth, in thy fleeting loveliness, which wakens our yearning for happiness that will last for ever, in the land where, amid beauty that grows not old, the cry rings out: Alleluia!

Ikos 2

Thou hast brought me into life as into an enchanted paradise. We have seen the sky like a chalice of deepest blue, where in the azure heights the birds are singing. We have listened to the soothing murmur of the forest and the melodious music of the streams. We have tasted fruit of fine flavour and the sweet-scented honey. We can live very well on Thine earth. It is a pleasure to be Thy guest.

Glory to Thee for the Feast Day of life
Glory to Thee for the perfume of lilies and roses
Glory to Thee for each different taste of berry and fruit
Glory to Thee for the sparkling silver of early morning dew
Glory to Thee for the joy of dawn's awakening
Glory to Thee for the new life each day brings
Glory to Thee, O God, from age to age

Kontakion 3

It is the Holy Spirit who makes us find joy in each flower, the exquisite scent, the delicate colour, the beauty of the Most High in the tiniest of things. Glory and honour to the Spirit, the Giver of Life, who covers the fields with their carpet of flowers, crowns the harvest with gold, and gives to us the joy of gazing at it with our eyes. O be joyful and sing to Him: Alleluia!

Ikos 3

How glorious art Thou in the springtime, when every creature awakes to new life and joyfully sings Thy praises with a thousand tongues. Thou art the Source of Life, the Destroyer of Death. By the light of the moon, nightingales sing, and the valleys and hills lie like wedding garments, white as snow. All the earth is Thy promised bride awaiting her spotless husband. If the grass of the field is like this, how gloriously shall we be transfigured in the Second Coming after the Resurrection! How splendid our bodies, how spotless our souls!

Glory to Thee, bringing from the depth of the earth an endless variety of colours, tastes and scents
Glory to Thee for the warmth and tenderness of the world of nature
Glory to Thee for the numberless creatures around us
Glory to Thee for the depths of Thy wisdom, the whole world a living sign of it
Glory to Thee; on my knees, I kiss the traces of Thine unseen hand
Glory to Thee, enlightening us with the clearness of eternal life
Glory to Thee for the hope of the unutterable, imperishable beauty of immortality
Glory to Thee, O God, from age to age

Kontakion 4

How filled with sweetness are those whose thoughts dwell on Thee; how life-giving Thy holy Word. To speak with Thee is more soothing than anointing with oil; sweeter than the honeycomb. To pray to Thee lifts the spirit, refreshes the soul. Where Thou art not, there is only emptiness; hearts are smitten with sadness; nature, and life itself, become sorrowful; where Thou art, the soul is filled with abundance, and its song resounds like a torrent of life: Alleluia!

Ikos 4

When the sun is setting, when quietness falls like the peace of eternal sleep, and the silence of the spent day reigns, then in the splendour of its declining rays, filtering through the clouds, I see Thy dwelling-place: fiery and purple, gold and blue, they speak prophet-like of the ineffable beauty of Thy presence, and call to us in their majesty. We turn to the Father.

Glory to Thee at the hushed hour of nightfall
Glory to Thee, covering the earth with peace
Glory to Thee for the last ray of the sun as it sets
Glory to Thee for sleep's repose that restores us
Glory to Thee for Thy goodness even in the time of darkness
When all the world is hidden from our eyes
Glory to Thee for the prayers offered by a trembling soul
Glory to Thee for the pledge of our reawakening
On that glorious last day, that day which has no evening
Glory to Thee, O God, from age to age

Kontakion 5

The dark storm clouds of life bring no terror to those in whose hearts Thy fire is burning brightly. Outside is the darkness of the whirlwind, the terror and howling of the storm, but in the heart, in the presence of Christ, there is light and peace, silence: Alleluia!

Ikos 5

I see Thine heavens resplendent with stars. How glorious art Thou radiant with light! Eternity watches me by the rays of the distant stars. I am small, insignificant, but the Lord is at my side. Thy right arm guides me wherever I go.

Glory to Thee, ceaselessly watching over me
Glory to Thee for the encounters Thou dost arrange for me
Glory to Thee for the love of parents, for the faithfulness of friends
Glory to Thee for the humbleness of the animals which serve me
Glory to Thee for the unforgettable moments of life
Glory to Thee for the heart's innocent joy
Glory to Thee for the joy of living
Moving and being able to return Thy love
Glory to Thee, O God, from age to age

Kontakion 6

How great and how close art Thou in the powerful track of the storm! How mighty Thy right arm in the blinding flash of the lightning! How awesome Thy majesty! The voice of the Lord fills the fields, it speaks in the rustling of the trees. The voice of the Lord is in the thunder and the downpour. The voice of the Lord is heard above the waters. Praise be to Thee in the roar of mountains ablaze. Thou dost shake the earth like a garment; Thou dost pile up to the sky the waves of the sea. Praise be to Thee, bringing low the pride of man. Thou dost bring from his heart a cry of Penitence: Alleluia!

Ikos 6

When the lightning flash has lit up the camp dining hall, how feeble seems the light from the lamp. Thus dost Thou, like the lightning, unexpectedly light up my heart with flashes of intense joy. After Thy blinding light, how drab, how colourless, how illusory all else seems. My souls clings to Thee.

Glory to Thee, the highest peak of men's dreaming
Glory to Thee for our unquenchable thirst for communion with God
Glory to Thee, making us dissatisfied with earthly things
Glory to Thee, turning on us Thine healing rays
Glory to Thee, subduing the power of the spirits of darkness
And dooming to death every evil
Glory to Thee for the signs of Thy presence
For the joy of hearing Thy voice and living in Thy love
Glory to Thee, O God, from age to age

Kontakion 7

In the wondrous blending of sounds it is Thy call we hear; in the harmony of many voices, in the sublime beauty of music, in the glory of the works of great composers: Thou leadest us to the threshold of paradise to come, and to the choirs of angels. All true beauty has the power to draw the soul towards Thee, and to make it sing in ecstasy: Alleluia!

Ikos 7

The breath of Thine Holy Spirit inspires artists, poets and scientists. The power of Thy supreme knowledge makes them prophets and interpreters of Thy laws, who reveal the depths of Thy creative wisdom. Their works speak unwittingly of Thee. How great art Thou in Thy creation! How great art Thou in man!

Glory to Thee, showing Thine unsurpassable power in the laws of the universe
Glory to Thee, for all nature is filled with Thy laws
Glory to Thee for what Thou hast revealed to us in Thy mercy
Glory to Thee for what Thou hast hidden from us in Thy wisdom
Glory to Thee for the inventiveness of the human mind
Glory to Thee for the dignity of man's labour
Glory to Thee for the tongues of fire that bring inspiration
Glory to Thee, O God, from age to age

Kontakion 8

How near Thou art in the day of sickness. Thou Thyself visitest the sick; Thou Thyself bendest over the sufferer's bed. His heart speaks to Thee. In the throes of sorrow and suffering Thou bringest peace and unexpected consolation. Thou art the comforter. Thou art the love which watches over and heals us. To Thee we sing the song: Alleluia!

Ikos 8

When in childhood I called upon Thee consciously for the first time, Thou didst hear my prayer, and Thou didst fill my heart with the blessing of peace. At that moment I knew Thy goodness and knew how blessed are those who turn to Thee. I started to call upon Thee night and day; and now even now I call upon Thy name.

Glory to Thee, satisfying my desires with good things
Glory to Thee, watching over me day and night
Glory to Thee, curing affliction and emptiness with the healing flow of time
Glory to Thee, no loss is irreparable in Thee, Giver of eternal life to all
Glory to Thee, making immortal all that is lofty and good
Glory to Thee, promising us the longed-for meeting with our loved ones who have died
Glory to Thee, O God, from age to age

Kontakion 9

Why is it that on a Feast Day the whole of nature mysteriously smiles? Why is it that then a heavenly gladness fills our hearts; a gladness far beyond that of earth and the very air in church and in the altar becomes luminous? It is the breath of Thy gracious love. It is the reflection of the glory of Mount Tabor. Then do heaven and earth sing Thy praise: Alleluia!

Ikos 9

When Thou didst call me to serve my brothers and filled my soul with humility, one of Thy deep, piercing rays shone into my heart; it became luminous, full of light like iron glowing in the furnace. I have seen Thy face, face of mystery and of unapproachable glory.

Glory to Thee, transfiguring our lives with deeds of love
Glory to Thee, making wonderfully Sweet the keeping of Thy commandments
Glory to Thee, making Thyself known where man shows mercy on his neighbour
Glory to Thee, sending us failure and misfortune that we may understand the sorrows of others
Glory to Thee, rewarding us so well for the good we do
Glory to Thee, welcoming the impulse of our heart's love
Glory to Thee, raising to the heights of heaven every act of love in earth and sky
Glory to Thee, O God, from age to age

Kontakion 10

No one can put together what has crumbled into dust, but Thou canst restore a conscience turned to ashes. Thou canst restore to its former beauty a soul lost and without hope. With Thee, there is nothing that cannot be redeemed. Thou art love; Thou art Creator and Redeemer. We praise Thee, singing: Alleluia!

Ikos 10

Remember, my God, the fall of Lucifer full of pride, keep me safe with the power of Thy Grace; save me from falling away from Thee. Save me from doubt. Incline my heart to hear Thy mysterious voice every moment of my life. Incline my heart to call upon Thee, present in everything.

Glory to Thee for every happening
Every condition Thy providence has put me in
Glory to Thee for what Thou speakest to me in my heart
Glory to Thee for what Thou revealest to me, asleep or awake
Glory to Thee for scattering our vain imaginations
Glory to Thee for raising us from the slough of our passions through suffering
Glory to Thee for curing our pride of heart by humiliation
Glory to Thee, O God, from age to age

Kontakion 11

Across the cold chains of the centuries, I feel the warmth of Thy breath, I feel Thy blood pulsing in my veins. Part of time has already gone, but now Thou art the present. I stand by Thy Cross; I was the cause of it. I cast myself down in the dust before it. Here is the triumph of love, the victory of salvation. Here the centuries themselves cannot remain silent, singing Thy praises: Alleluia!

Ikos 11

Blessed are they that will share in the King's Banquet: but already on earth Thou givest me a foretaste of this blessedness. How many times with Thine own hand hast Thou held out to me Thy Body and Thy Blood, and I, though a miserable sinner, have received this Mystery, and have tasted Thy love, so ineffable, so heavenly.

Glory to Thee for the unquenchable fire of Thy Grace
Glory to Thee, building Thy Church, a haven of peace in a tortured world
Glory to Thee for the life-giving water of Baptism in which we find new birth
Glory to Thee, restoring to the penitent purity white as the lily
Glory to Thee for the cup of salvation and the bread of eternal joy
Glory to Thee for exalting us to the highest heaven
Glory to Thee, O God, from age to age

Kontakion 12

How often have I seen the reflection of Thy glory in the faces of the dead. How resplendent they were, with beauty and heavenly joy. How ethereal, how translucent their faces. How triumphant over suffering and death, their felicity and peace. Even in the silence they were calling upon Thee. In the hour of my death, enlighten my soul, too, that it may cry out to Thee: Alleluia!

Ikos 12

What sort of praise can I give Thee? I have never heard the song of the Cherubim, a joy reserved for the spirits above. But I know the praises that nature sings to Thee. In winter, I have beheld how silently in the moonlight the whole earth offers Thee prayer, clad in its white mantle of snow, sparkling like diamonds. I have seen how the rising sun rejoices in Thee, how the song of the birds is a chorus of praise to Thee. I have heard the mysterious mutterings of the forests about Thee, and the winds singing Thy praise as they stir the waters. I have understood how the choirs of stars proclaim Thy glory as they move forever in the depths of infinite space. What is my poor worship! All nature obeys Thee, I do not. Yet while I live, I see Thy love, I long to thank Thee, and call upon Thy name.
 
Glory to Thee, giving us light
Glory to Thee, loving us with love so deep, divine and infinite
Glory to Thee, blessing us with light, and with the host of angels and saints
Glory to Thee, Father all-holy, promising us a share in Thy Kingdom
Glory to Thee, Redeemer Son, who hast shown us the path to salvation!
Glory to Thee, Holy Spirit, life-giving Sun of the world to come
Glory to Thee for all things, Holy and most merciful Trinity
Glory to Thee, O God, from age to age
Kontakion 13

Life-giving and merciful Trinity, receive my thanksgiving for all Thy goodness. Make us worthy of Thy blessings, so that, when we have brought to fruit the talents Thou hast entrusted to us, we may enter into the joy of our Lord, forever exulting in the shout of victory: Alleluia!

(repeat Kontakion 13 and Alleluia three times)

Ikos 1

I was born a weak, defenseless child, but Thine angel spread his wings over my cradle to defend me. From birth until now Thy love has illumined my path, and has wondrously guided me towards the light of eternity; from birth until now the generous gifts of Thy providence have been marvelously showered upon me. I give Thee thanks, with all who have come to know Thee, who call upon Thy name.

Glory to Thee for calling me into being
Glory to Thee, showing me the beauty of the universe
Glory to Thee, spreading out before me heaven and earth
Like the pages in a book of eternal wisdom
Glory to Thee for Thine eternity in this fleeting world
Glory to Thee for Thy mercies, seen and unseen
Glory to Thee through every sigh of my sorrow
Glory to Thee for every step of my life's journey
For every moment of glory
Glory to Thee, O God, from age to age

Kontakion 1

Everlasting King, Thy will for our salvation is full of power. Thy right arm controls the whole course of human life. We give Thee thanks for all Thy mercies, seen and unseen. For eternal life, for the heavenly Joys of the Kingdom which is to be. Grant mercy to us who sing Thy praise, both now and in the time to come. Glory to Thee, O God, from age to age.

 

Last edited by Pani Rose; 04/17/15 12:39 PM.
Re: Suffering [Re: theophan] #411195
04/17/15 12:49 PM
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You know, I struggled with not reading or praying the Akathists, because for me they took a lot of energy and strength. I finally figured out the Jesus and Blessed Mother, all the Saints are just really happy that we take the time to pray them. I don't get all the things in i.e. Bouws, +, prostrations. I think in a case where someone is weak from illness, is not mobile, and is trying to do what we can do, the Eternal Father is just happy we do. They bring such peace, and renew our strength. Just read them!

Here are some, especially Inexhaustable Cup, for those who struggle with addictions.
http://www.saintjonah.org/services/akathists.htm

Re: Suffering [Re: theophan] #417781
11/21/17 11:00 AM
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theophan Offline OP
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Christ is in our midst!!

Quote
Romans 6:3-11
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.


In addition to our previous consideration of suffering as being part of our "communion"--"coming into union"/ongoing relationship--that we are developing with Christ and He with us, there is the Covenant of Baptism that has "plunged" us into Him, into His Passion, His death, His Resurrection and all that this mystery contains and implies.

While the idea of suffering may be something that rational minds cannot wrap around, the mystic sees this in a different way.

Christ's Perfect Sacrifice lacks nothing in and of itself. But in His immeasurable generosity to those who believe in Him and accept Him, He has opened His Perfect Sacrifice to all of us who are "plunged" into Him in Baptism. In this way, our pain, sorrow, sighing,and suffering has been, by anticipation, already nailed to His Cross 2000 years ago and thus gained eternal value for us who are part of His Mystical Body because He has willed it to be so. He has made us part of Him and wants so very much to be part of us that He has given us this absolutely breathtaking gift.

Now, it is difficult to see the value, the eternal value, when one is immersed in some ongoing pain. And no one seeks out suffering for its own sake. But it is well to remember the Hope that we have in Him when we read St. Paul's line to the Colossians in 1:24.

Last edited by theophan; 11/26/17 06:51 PM. Reason: Add citation of quoted Scripture text
Re: Suffering [Re: theophan] #418143
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"Now, it is difficult to see the value, the eternal value, when one is immersed in some ongoing pain. And no one seeks out suffering for its own sake. But it is well to remember the Hope that we have in Him when we read St. Paul's line to the Colossians in 1:24."

We must remember what St. James has taught us as well, to consider it joy when we go through trials and tribulations. He teaches us this because we have a tendency to let our feelings dictate our responses. During times as these, we must remember to ask and thank the Holy Spirit for the opportunity to be mistreated as Christ was [and still is]. Sufferings are wonderful opportunities for us to grow in our theosis. Thank you for your post, Theophan.

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