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Author Topic: Orthodoxy and Love  (Read 1622 times) Average Rating: 0
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Karamazov
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« on: October 15, 2003, 08:56:21 PM »

Greetings, Earthlings!  And to those Canadian viewers out there, hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

I feel compelled today to write about that which (I believe)  brought me in to Holy Orthodoxy, and that is Love!  Capital "L" love.  The love of a Parent for His children.  A God who IS Love.  And how is that love manifest?  We try to love our neighbours.  And who is my neighbour?  Do I only love my straight, white Orthodox neighbour?  Or do I also love my black, homosexual Buddhist neighbour?  And, how about my enemies?  Do I love them too?

My father, a Greek Catholic, passed away last year.  I approached an Orthodox Priest about the possibility of having Panakhyda in my church for him (after explaining that my dad was not Orthodox).  He replied as follows:  'Of COURSE we will have Panakhyda for your father.  After all, as Orthodox Christians, we know that WE have a path to God's Grace, but we can not truly say if someone who is NOT in the Church is not perceived by God as being Orthodox.  Surely you know Orthodox who attend Church regularly, whom you would hesitate to call Christian, and you surely know others who may be Lutheran or Anglican whom you would consider to be very good Christians.  To deny your father Panakhyda would be like judging his goodness in God's eyes, which is entirely God's prerogative.  As long as your father has been baptized in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, we will perform this service'

I cried.  This was the spirit of Orthodoxy.  This was Christian Love in action.  It was non-judgemental.  Recall that even  the term "Anathema" means "left to God's judgement."  Individuals are anathematized when they are recognized as being outside of the Church.  We, then, choose to leave judgement of thos who choose to be outside the Church to God!    Our Christian call to love one another, including our enemies and other sinners (despite what their sins may be), is therefore our mandate.  It is on our path to Theosis, because God is Love!  When we love, we are being God-like.

I have encountered great loving words and outward displays of love by many Orthodox writers, theologians, clergy, and friends since my conversion  five years ago.  I have become very accustomed to being surrounded by this great Love, which can only be described as the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the participation in the Church which is the visible body of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour here on Earth.  So...I was (until a few short minutes ago) taken aback by the tone of a few contributions to OrthodoxChristianity.net.  That tone is fanatical, judgemental, lacking in Christian humility, and visibly short on Christian Love.  The sinners have been casting stones at one another, and it has made me feel distant from the Church, and a little ashamed of Orthodoxy.  That is, until I read the following two comments (quoted here entirely out of context for your reading enjoyment):

" Careful, though, pethi, that you yourself do not fall into hate."  - Vicki

and

" I ask for the the forgiveness of the board. " - Nektarios.

Aaah...the sound of reason and humility.  Signs of the Christian Love I so dearly desire!  There IS hope for us sinners!  Hang in there, troops!

Humbly submitted to you by boilerguy, a dreadful sinner.  

Oh Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me the sinner. Wink
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sinjinsmythe
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« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2003, 10:25:33 PM »

To love is to set yourself up for hurt. To love is to feel pain, heartache, and misery. Love brings only brings suffering. Why love? I never want to love or be loved by someone ever again.
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« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2003, 11:20:33 PM »

Love is wondeful. Yes, it brings suffering, but the suffering is worth it.  And I don't say that flippantly.  No one knows some of the things I go through in my personal relationships.

If we don't love, we are closing ourselves off to God, because Christ teaches us to love our enemies as ourselves.

anastasios
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« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2003, 11:43:38 PM »

To love is to set yourself up for hurt. To love is to feel pain, heartache, and misery. Love brings only brings suffering. Why love? I never want to love or be loved by someone ever again.


How depressing!  Yes, love brings everything you mentioned.  But Jesus Christ experienced pain, heartache, and misery Himself!  We, too, must experience these things if we wish to be close to our God!  We must cast off the comfort of the world, especially in our days, for it is so prevalent!  If you don't experience life as Christ did, if you don't love as He did, if you don't experience the pain that He did, you simply are not living!!!
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sinjinsmythe
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« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2003, 01:20:48 AM »

To love is to set yourself up for hurt. To love is to feel pain, heartache, and misery. Love brings only brings suffering. Why love? I never want to love or be loved by someone ever again.


How depressing!  Yes, love brings everything you mentioned.  But Jesus Christ experienced pain, heartache, and misery Himself!  We, too, must experience these things if we wish to be close to our God!  We must cast off the comfort of the world, especially in our days, for it is so prevalent!  If you don't experience life as Christ did, if you don't love as He did, if you don't experience the pain that He did, you simply are not living!!!

Believe me, I have experienced enough pain and suffering already. I have experienced some of the pain he has felt, so by your logic, I am living.  Yet, I don't feel any closer to God.  I am so sick of this argument that we must suffer since
Christ suffered. I have and do and will suffer for the rest of my life!  Suffer, suffer, suffer that is all Orthodoxy is!!! I suffer enough as it is, what is wrong with having a break from it?
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sinjinsmythe
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« Reply #5 on: October 19, 2003, 01:27:08 AM »

To love is to set yourself up for hurt. To love is to feel pain, heartache, and misery. Love brings only brings suffering. Why love? I never want to love or be loved by someone ever again.


Sinjin, your past posts have been quick to speak against "the world"....consider whether "the world" has shaped and colored your expectations of "love" in ways perhaps too subtle for you to realize.   That is not a judgment...but maybe you need to discuss this with your spiritual father.

Vicki

Uh, yes, since I live in the world of course it has jaded my view of love.   What are we suppose to do, live in a vacuum? Everyone who is living is 'affected' by the world.'
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« Reply #6 on: October 19, 2003, 01:26:14 PM »

sinjinsmythe,
I am not writting this to have a discussion of whether anyone has suffered more than I have, but I have suffered quite a lot.  It took over a decade of greiving(yes pathological greiving)  I had my heart ripped out of me but I had to learn that forgiveness is as much for the one forgiving as it is for anyone else.  It is the begining of healing.  Love is the first commandment.  It is through Love that one grows toward God.  the pain you've suffered is not the result of Love but of sin.  Certainly, Love can leave one open but it is only through relationship that one grows.  If one refuses to Love others he also refuses to Love God.  This is not my idea but comes straight out of the Epistles.  I had to realize that my anger and resentment was closing me off to God.  I'm an old guy who is back in school trying to become a registered nurse.  Why?  This is a tough perfession that allows me to serve the Icons of God made by God's hand.  Let me tell you a whole lot of the patients I encounter are not very lovable, but I see it as my path of metanoia to work within me to see the Image of God there.  But make no mistake nursing has no time for impragmatics, or "combiya"(sp) emotionalism. It requires that a nurse act with concrete realities.  Also, I seldom get "thank you"s but it's the doing the job, the giving of me without expecting to get appreciation that is making this path so rewarding.  Love has nothing to do with recieving, but what I have begun to get out of it are abunduce I never hoped to find.

with love from a simpleton
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« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2003, 03:17:20 PM »

Irish Orthodox, you put it so much better than I could.  I have been going through a lot of what you described, especially in the 2-1/2 years since my conversion.  I got an entire month to enjoy being Orthodox before God started opening the many wounds.  It has been a very painful time, but I have grown through it.  I am learning to be vulnerable and not be scared to death of it.  I remember telling Fr. a couple of years ago that I absolutely hate to be vulnerable.

Sinjin, don't shut yourself off from others so that you don't get hurt.  It isn't worth the price you pay.  When you build up walls to keep others out, you not only keep other people out, you keep God out as well.   Thank goodness God does most of the breaking down of the walls if we'll let Him do it because I wouldn't know where to start.  Even if I did, I wouldn't be able to do it without Him.  I built the walls starting when I was quite little, and I don't know what it is to live without the walls.  When you build up walls to keep others out so that you don't get hurt, you just survive--you don't even begin to know what it is to live.  Well, I've had over 40 years of that, and I want to learn to live.  It is hard to forgive--it takes blood, sweat, and lots of tears, but it is worth it.  Once you do forgive, your wounds will start to heal.    It truly is not worth the price you pay to cut yourself off from others and God so that you won't get hurt.  It is so hard to let yourself love and be vulnerable after you have built up walls to protect yourself.  

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Karamazov
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« Reply #8 on: October 19, 2003, 06:33:12 PM »

Dear Sinjinsmythe

I am moved by your response to the Orthodoxy and Love thread; however, I've been unable to think of a suitable response.  I am concerned for your well-being, and i will keep you in my prayers, so that God may show you extraordinary mercy and love during these troubling times of yours.  I would like you to be aware that I feel great despair at times, which leads me to mini bouts of depression.  Until recently, I was unaware that the thoughts that were leading me to despair were "logismos" from the evil one and his minions.  I was encouraged by a friend and my parish priest that the attacks of despair-inducing thoughts, and other troubles I was experiencing, were indications that my spiritual journey was leading me closer to God, and therefore I was becoming increasingly a threat to the evil one.  I was warned that Christians will be attacked by dark thoughts and troublesome circumstance as they approach nearer to God.  Though I at times suffer, I am encouraged by my faith in God and hope for God's Grace, and am committted to fighting off despair, which is a weak spot of mine for attack.  I pray that you too find the strength to do the same, and act like Job of the Old Testament.

I would like to share with you some words from Dostoevsky's "The Brothers Karamazov."  These are the words of the Russian Orthodox monk "Elder  Zossima", a character in the book:

Young man, be not forgetful of prayer. Every time you
pray, if your prayer is sincere, there will be new feeling
and new meaning in it, which will give you fresh courage,
and you will understand that prayer is an education.
Remember, too, every day, and whenever you can, repeat
to yourself, ‘Lord, have mercy on all who appear before
Thee to-day.’ For every hour and every moment
thousands of men leave life on this earth, and their souls
appear before God. And how many of them depart in
solitude, unknown, sad, dejected that no one mourns for
them or even knows whether they have lived or not! And
behold, from the other end of the earth perhaps, your
prayer for their rest will rise up to God though you knew
them not nor they you. How touching it must be to a soul
standing in dread before the Lord to feel at that instant
that, for him too, there is one to pray, that there is a
fellow creature left on earth to love him too! And God
will look on you both more graciously, for if you have
had so much pity on him, how much will He have pity
Who is infinitely more loving and merciful than you! And
He will forgive him for your sake.
Brothers, have no fear of men’s sin. Love a man even
in his sin, for that is the semblance of Divine Love and is
the highest love on earth. Love all God’s creation, the
whole and every grain of sand in it. Love every leaf, every
ray of God’s light. Love the animals, love the plants, love
everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the
divine mystery in things. Once you perceive it, you will
begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will
come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing
love. Love the animals: God has given them
the rudiments of thought and untroubled joy. Do not
trouble it, don’t harass them, don’t deprive them of their
happiness, don’t work against God’s intent. Man, do not
pride yourself on superiority to the animals; they are
without sin, and you, with your greatness, defile the earth
by your appearance on it, and leave the traces of your
foulness after you — alas, it is true of almost every one of
us! Love children especially, for they too are sinless like
the angels; they live to soften and purify our hearts and, as
it were, to guide us. Woe to him who offends a child!
Father Anfim taught me to love children. The kind, silent
man used often on our wanderings to spend the farthings
given us on sweets and cakes for the children. He could
not pass by a child without emotion. That’s the nature of
the man.
At some thoughts one stands perplexed, especially at
the sight of men’s sin, and wonders whether one should
use force or humble love. Always decide to use humble
love. If you resolve on that once for all, you may subdue
the whole world. Loving humility is marvelously strong,
the strongest of all things, and there is nothing else like it.
Every day and every hour, every minute, walk round
yourself and watch yourself, and see that your image is a
seemly one. You pass by a little child, you pass by, spiteful,
with ugly words, with wrathful heart; you may not have
noticed the child, but he has seen you, and your image,
unseemly and ignoble, may remain in his defenceless heart.
You don’t know it, but you may have sown an evil seed
in him and it may grow, and all because you were not
careful before the child, because you did not foster in
yourself a careful, actively benevolent love. Brothers, love
is a teacher; but one must know how to acquire it, for it is
hard to acquire, it is dearly bought, it is won slowly by
long labour. For we must love not only occasionally, for a
moment, but for ever. Everyone can love occasionally,
even the wicked can.
My brother asked the birds to forgive him; that sounds
senseless, but it is right; for all is like an ocean, all is
flowing and blending; a touch in one place sets up
movement at the other end of the earth. It may be
senseless to beg forgiveness of the birds, but birds would
be happier at your side — a little happier, anyway — and
children and all animals, if you were nobler than you are
now. It’s all like an ocean, I tell you. Then you would
pray to the birds too, consumed by an all-embracing love,
in a sort of transport, and pray that they too will forgive
you your sin. Treasure this ecstasy, however senseless it
may seem to men.
My friends, pray to God for gladness. Be glad as
children, as the birds of heaven. And let not the sin of
men confound you in your doings. Fear not that it will
wear away your work and hinder its being accomplished.
Do not say, ‘Sin is mighty, wickedness is mighty, evil
environment is mighty, and we are lonely and helpless,
and evil environment is wearing us away and hindering
our good work from being done.’ Fly from that dejection,
children! There is only one means of salvation, then take
yourself and make yourself responsible for all men’s sins,
that is the truth, you know, friends, for as soon as you
sincerely make yourself responsible for everything and for
all men, you will see at once that it is really so, and that
you are to blame for everyone and for all things. But
throwing your own indolence and impotence on others
you will end by sharing the pride of Satan and murmuring
against God.
Of the pride of Satan what I think is this: it is hard for
us on earth to comprehend it, and therefore it is so easy to
fall into error and to share it, even imagining that we are
doing something grand and fine. Indeed, many of the
strongest feelings and movements of our nature we cannot
comprehend on earth. Let not that be a stumbling-block,
and think not that it may serve as a justification to you for
anything. For the Eternal judge asks of you what you can
comprehend and not what you cannot. You will know
that yourself hereafter, for you will behold all things truly
then and will not dispute them. On earth, indeed, we are,
as it were, astray, and if it were not for the precious image
of Christ before us, we should be undone and altogether
lost, as was the human race before the flood. Much on
earth is hidden from us, but to make up for that we have
been given a precious mystic sense of our living bond with
the other world, with the higher heavenly world, and the
roots of our thoughts and feelings are not here but in
other worlds. That is why the philosophers say that we
cannot apprehend the reality of things on earth.
God took seeds from different worlds and sowed them
on this earth, and His garden grew up and everything
came up that could come up, but what grows lives and is
alive only through the feeling of its contact with other
mysterious worlds. If that feeling grows weak or is
destroyed in you, the heavenly growth will die away in
you. Then you will be indifferent to life and even grow to
hate it. That’s what I think.

May God shower you with His tender loving mercy, and may you find the strength of Job, dear Sinjin!

-boilerguy
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