I guess I am wondering how truly Orthodox this sort of behavior is-and you guys were pretty on the ball with your assessment. There just appears to be a knee jerk reaction to automatically state to a friend and fellow believer that their struggle/issue/need is irrelevant because someone in the past suffered worse. Well that's all fine and dandy that some saint suffered worse, I have no doubt that they did suffer. Yet what tortured a Saint endured for the sake of Christ isn't really directly correlated with your friend that needs prayer for a sick relative, or the ability to pay his school loans (ie, job) or whatever. When I am present for this sort of response to a believer in need of just some sort of support and encouragement, but I hear my Orthodox counterpart pontificate on how wonderful suffering is for the soul, for ''eternal good'', I want to scream. I assumed it was just me not understanding Orthodoxy well yet, but this has gone on for years. Is it truly the true nature of our Faith to just write people off by telling them their suffering or struggle has no merit?
Are we as Orthodox believers supposed to constantly be morose and dark focusin on such stories of the murders of grisly saints in the first place? And are we supposed to be using those stories to shrug off those who need compassion or aid? Everything in me says no, but I have been known to be wrong on various matters.
I am horrified to hear that you've gone through this.
For those who suffer, the Church's response should be consistent:
- Let us pray for an end to your suffering.
- Let us pray that no further suffering come upon you.
- Let us pray that the suffering that has occurred has strengthened you and your faith.
- Let us minister to you in whatever way we can so that we can minimize your suffering.
- Let us pray to those who have suffered that they give you strength to endure.
It is unacceptable to take the 3rd point above and use it to obliterate the other points. Christ healed the paralytic, blind man, demoniacs, woman with the issue of blood, etc. - He didn't preach to them about how their suffering both physically and socially (as outcasts) gained them place in Heaven, and then walk by them. Yes, He said the Beatitudes - but He also lived them, and healed those who lived them.
What do we do with exhortations like, "Is any among you sick? Let him call for the Elders of the Church..."
What do we do with the Great and Unmercenary Healers Cosmas and Damian, Panteleimon and Hermolaos, Samson and Diomides, Mokios and Aneketos, Thallelaios and Tryphon, and Nektarios of Pentapolis?
What do we do with the Gospel reading of Judgment Sunday?
What do we do with the great services of Paraklesis, which ask the Theotokos to fervently intercede for the living for healing and deliverance from all affliction and need?
The stories of the Martyrs demonstrate that sure faith and connection to God will allow someone to endure horrible punishments and tortures. But they are to be used by those who are willing to do as He commanded His Apostles: Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers! They are to be used to reassure people that what they have suffered, and what they may suffer, was/is not in vain;
however, we must do what we can to comfort, console, heal, and deliver our brethren. Anyone who uses them, or anything else in the Church, to pontificate without helping should be ashamed.