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Author Topic: do we have to be miserable to be saved?  (Read 1889 times) Average Rating: 0
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erracht
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« on: November 07, 2003, 10:01:29 AM »

I've read the following quote from a priest - "whoever is happy in life will not go to heaven" - more or less. Is this literally true? Is having a contented life (and just so it doesn't come to a misunderstanding, I am talking about secular pleasure, not about being happy in Church-related situations), a sign that you're going to hell?
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« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2003, 10:30:31 AM »

I think its harder to go to Heaven when you have a contented life. Suffering in a way makes faith stronger and leads us closer to God. I think maybe the quote could mean that we should never be content in our spiritual life, or better yet we should not get too happy with our spiritual lives. Being happy and content could lead to us letting our guard down and this could lead to our downfall.

These are just some opinions I have. I'm not sure if that really answers your question or not.

Take Care!
Innocent
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Justinianus
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« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2003, 12:05:51 PM »

I agree with Innocent.  We should always be part of the struggle in our spiritual lives.  There are always sins we repeat that we need to struggle against.  We always need more prayer time in our life.  How well are we at following the rules of fasting?  How well do we treat our fellow man?  Do we read and reflect on the Scriptures daily?

We do not need to be in a situation like Job to be saved.  Sometimes the greatest struggle is a spiritual one and the "pains" asssociated with spiritual growth.
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« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2003, 06:01:50 PM »

I don't think "miserable" is the point here, Erracht.  Rather, there is great joy in being Christian:   Joy in knowing that our sins are forgiven as long as we partake in the mysteries of our faith (asceticism, confession, eucharist et al) and repent our sins.  The joy of being Christian lies in that we, as poor, fractured, fallen, sinful and undeserving creatures, who selfishly pursue that which is pleasing to ourself first and foremost without considering the will and pleasure of God, are accepted back into His loving arms as the Father received back the Prodigal Son!  The joy is that, despite our failings,  we are eligible to recieve God's Grace and tender loving Mercy!  What, then, could be more joyful?

Ah, but being a Christian is also quite sorrowful.  When we truly look at ourselves and assess how Christian we truly are, we cannot help but feel great sorrow due to our distance from God.  If God is Love, and we are on the path to Theosis (but not there yet), and we aspire to be with God, then we must acknowledge that our present state is a fallen state, and we cannot let our personal "comfort" convince us of anything other than our overwhelming distance from God.  What, then, is the opposite of being with God and His Love?  Hell?  In the extreme, yes.  Here on Earth?  Truly, great sorrow and struggle.  Furthermore, we experience sorrow and struggle as we face increasing temptations from the Evil One, including the temptation to fall into despair.

Many Orthodox therefore speak of the "sorrowful joy" of being Christian.   I particularly feel this sorrowful joy at Church, listening to the choir, confessing, or partaking in the Eucharist.  I can cry tears of sorrow while simultaneously feeling great joy in the promise of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  If you are feeling only sorrow, or only joy, some aspect of your spiritual life requires attention.  Speak with your spiritual Father about this matter.

Dear Erracht, if you find yourself at time feeling too comfortable, look upon it as a sign that there is something in your life that is missing - something which should be "unsettling".  The Evil One wishes for us to be comfortable and settled.  Bishop Kallistos Ware tells a joke about three new graduates from hell's school of evil spiritology.  The headmaster, before sending the evilspirits to Earth to trip up humans, conducts interviews to find out what the evil spiritss have in store for the humans.  The headmaster says to the first:  "And what will you do on earth?"  The first evil spirit says "I will tell them that there is no God."  The headmaster replies "That is no good.  Too many know Him personally."  The second  evil spirit says "I will tell them there is no Hell," to which the headmaster replies "That won't work either.  Too many are already living in Hell already.  You must be more original."  The third evil spirit graduate says "I will tell them that there is NO HURRY. "  "Splendid," said the headmaster!  

So you see, we cannot be too comfortable with ourselves.  We must be continually vigilant, self aware and humble at all times, for we know not when He returns!  

I leave you with something from "The Pilgrim Continues his Way."   I know I quoted this elsewhere, but I think it is particularly meaningful in this context.   While preparing himself for confession, the Pilgrim (feeling quite comfortable, I might add), after consulting with his spiritual Father, is admonished thusly:  "You did not acknowledge the fact that you do not love God, that you despise your neighbour, that you do not believe in the words of God in Scripture, and that you are filled with pride and ambition.  The entire abyss of evil and all our spiritual corruption reside in these four sins."  If you have this book, find this passage, and read the elder's explanation of these four points.

Your fellow spiritual traveller and friend in Christ,
the aspiring and all-too-often stumbling Christian

Karamazov
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nicodemus
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« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2003, 08:19:06 PM »

I've always heard my priest talk of "joyful sorrow."  Joyful in the hope we have in Christ, His Mercy and His Resurrection, sorrowful in the sense that we know we are powerless without Christ and that we will struggle with sin in this life.
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Linus7
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« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2003, 08:42:36 PM »

"Now godliness with contentment is great gain" (1 Timothy 6:6).

I do NOT think a Christian has to be unhappy or sorrowful at all.

Of course, a certain amount of sorrow is inevitable, but it is not something to be cultivated.

It is the pursuit of worldly pleasures that leads to unhappiness and sorrow.

The Christian has every reason to be happy.

Step 13 of St. John Climacus' Ladder of Divine Ascent involves overcoming despondency.

May God drive sorrow far from us all!
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« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2003, 06:16:01 PM »

Question: what are we as Christians to be happy over or about?  This life? or the life that is to come?  I can be happy IN this life so long as I do not find my happiness in this life.  Store up your treasures in heaven were moth and rust cannot corrupt them. Smiley Be joyful in ther Lord not in the things he gives you that will pass into dust.
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« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2003, 07:07:32 PM »

"Now godliness with contentment is great gain" (1 Timothy 6:6).

I do NOT think a Christian has to be unhappy or sorrowful at all.

Of course, a certain amount of sorrow is inevitable, but it is not something to be cultivated.

It is the pursuit of worldly pleasures that leads to unhappiness and sorrow.

The Christian has every reason to be happy.

Step 13 of St. John Climacus' Ladder of Divine Ascent involves overcoming despondency.

May God drive sorrow far from us all!

Hope my posting above didn't imply that I believe we should cultivate sorrow.  Rather, I agree with you that the ultimate over-riding condition of humanity is joy:  joy in that we may (by God's Grace) be saved!

Wishing you all Gods great blessings,

K

PS. agree with you too, Br. Max.  Nice having you aboard!  I'm just so agreeable today...
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« Reply #8 on: November 26, 2003, 09:24:30 AM »

Whenever there is a discussion on happiness...I am reminded that the word Blessed....may be substituted with the word happiness in the Beatitudes to give us a quite different picture of what happiness is like in the Godly person.

Try it.

Peace,
Dismas
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sinjinsmythe
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« Reply #9 on: December 14, 2003, 03:11:27 PM »

I've read the following quote from a priest - "whoever is happy in life will not go to heaven" - more or less. Is this literally true?

That is how some in the church view it. We are suppose to build up treasure in heaven. Yet being miserable can lead one away from God. This is my situation, I am so full of misery, despair, and pain that I feel alienated towards God and life itself. I don't think I will ever find happiness whether it be here or in heaven. Frankly, at this point in my life I could care less about eternal life. I don't see much value in life itself. Life is pain, sorrow, and then some. But we are suppose to "look" forward to the next life. I rather have some happiness here than later in heaven. Who knows if heaven actually exists? What if there is no point to life?
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« Reply #10 on: December 14, 2003, 08:23:47 PM »

I think it's helpful to remember that God is a loving father who cares about us.  He organizes our lives, and has a purpose in everything that happens to us.

This view of God is very difficult for a person who was raised by, say, distant or abusive parents -- it's quite tough for them to view God as a loving Father, since as far as they're concerned, Fathers are not loving by definition.

Also, our culture has built up a view of God as a distant and cold one, as a God who hates women, as One who allows horrible things to happen here on earth.  We forget that it is men (not God) acting through the evil one who allows horror to happen here, and the "angry God" concept we can thank protestantism for.

Yes, suffering is a part of life, and as Christians we must learn HOW to suffer, but joy is part of the Christian life as well.
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« Reply #11 on: December 14, 2003, 08:28:22 PM »

As an addendum to above:  I remember talking about this topic with friends in college, and uniformly no one viewed God as a loving Father.  It's rare among college students (excepting for Christian groups) to view God as a loving Father.  

The Holocaust happened; genocide in Rwanda happened; slavery and racism happened -- the concensus was "how could a God who is a loving Father allow these?"

What they forgot is that these acts were the result of MEN (not God) -- and uniformly of men who did not know, honor, or acknowledge their loving Father.
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« Reply #12 on: December 15, 2003, 04:13:23 AM »

This is my situation, I am so full of misery, despair, and pain that I feel alienated towards God and life itself.

I will keep you in my humble prayers Sinjin.
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Byzantino
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« Reply #13 on: December 15, 2003, 06:07:04 AM »

The saints were joyful people despite their imperfections and sufferings; how can someone who possesses the Spirit of God be unhappy in life?? I've heard similar things before in some Roman Catholic and Fundamentalist circles...I even came across a Fundamentalist webpage once that said laughing and having a sense of humour was a sin.  Roll Eyes

Sinjin, I've been in your predicament before and I know how painful it is...you search for God, you search for signs of life and even just a little bit of solace, but you find no respite, regardless of how much you pray. I was in such a state for 3 years. At the beginning of the year (when I was still Roman Catholic) I decided enough was enough, I bolted out the door and went to my former parish and asked to talk to the new priest, whom i'd seen several days before in the chapel where i'd gone to pray. Anyway up until several months ago he was kind enough to provide some spiritual counseling and also convinced me to see a specialist to get some medication. It took a few months, but the combination of God's grace, medication, my discovering Orthodoxy and a change of lifestyle/diet has done wonders for me. Find the right formula for yourself but don't leave God out of it; remember Christ experienced exactly what you're going thru.

Regards and prayers,

Byz
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amhalaba
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« Reply #14 on: December 16, 2003, 03:53:04 PM »

Great post!
I bolted out the door and went to my former parish and asked to talk to the new priest...provide some spiritual counseling...see a specialist to get some medication...God's grace, medication, my discovering Orthodoxy and a change of lifestyle/diet has done wonders for me. Find the right formula for yourself but don't leave God out of it; remember Christ experienced exactly what you're going thru.

Sinjin:

This is good, solid advice. I struggle with depression, too, which begets a lot of self-destructive habits and negative self-talk. Mental illness and alcoholism seem to be hereditary in my family.

I have found counselling to be beneficial when it was behaviourally focussed, rather than psychotherapy (I don't know the appropriate terms, here... maybe someone more knowledgeable about the different schools of counselling can help me clarify this?).

Psychotherapy tends to take you into your past to study the reasons for your depression... which can exacerbate some depressions by rewarding self-centered indulgence and victimhood.

Behavioural therapy (DBT?) asks you to look at specific patterns you are stuck in, identify what the "payoff" is, and look to change your reward system to reinforce positive behaviours. This isn't easy...not a quick fix by any means, but an anti-depressant may be able to get you out of your hole far enough to commit to the work needed to make some lifestyle changes that can truly help you.

Get some real help, Sinjin, this kind of despair is difficult to overcome alone. Many here will be praying for you.

I don't know you personally, but I have been following your posts and praying for you for weeks now. I hope you will not be offended.

All God's peace to you,

Amie
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