“Suffering is the reality of the human condition and the beginning of true spiritual life.”
~Fr. Seraphim Rose
(art: Save Me From My Demons, by J. Kirk Richards)
A contemporary of the Russian novelist, Dostoyevksy, whose name was Turgeniev, wrote that, “whatever a man prays for he prays for a miracle. Every prayer,” he said, “reduces itself to this: ‘Great God, grant that twice two not be four.'”
~ Harold J. Sala
52 Guidelines for Personal Prayer
“Lust is an inordinate desire of unlawful pleasures. It is a vice most widely spread in the world; one that is most violent in its attacks, most insatiable in its cravings. Hence St. Augustine says that the severest warfare which a Christian has to maintain is that in defense of chastity, for such combats are frequent, and victories rare.”
~ Venerable Louis of Granada,
The Sinner’s Guide, Chapter 32
The problem with labels is that they avoid complexity and ignore reality. As Christians, we’re guilty of labeling others too often, and we even do it when we read the Bible.
For example, we think of Bible characters as either good or bad. King David, Moses, and the disciples were good, while the Pharisees, Judas, and others were bad.
In reality, everyone had both their good AND bad moments.. Moses doubted and was violent, David killed a man just so he could sleep with his wife, and the disciples were far from perfect—Peter even chopped a guy’s ear off with his sword (the list could go on).
Contrarily, The Pharisees weren’t all bad, and Judas participated in Jesus’s ministry doing many good things before betraying Him.
This is probably why Jesus warns against judging others, because we rarely see—or understand—the whole picture of someone’s life.
— via SJ Mattson
Every day we are given opportunities for acquiring a grateful heart. Whatever comes our way, whether it be good or bad, are occasions for being grateful. When we realize that even difficulties and hardships are allowed by God for our salvation, we are more likely to received whatever comes, with a grateful heart. Whatever life places before us, all is an opportunity to give thanks to God.
The difficulties we face are opportunities to embrace with a trusting heart, that which God has allowed. Our willingness to please God governs our response, and in turn nurtures a humble heart, and a humble heart opens the doors to a peace that passes all understanding, and the Gates of Paradise are opened wide to us.
+ Abbot Tryphon
Millennials aren’t looking for a hipper Christianity. We’re looking for a truer Christianity, a more authentic Christianity. Like every generation before ours and every generation after, we’re looking for Jesus–the same Jesus who can be found in the strange places he’s always been found: in bread, in wine, in baptism, in the Word, in suffering, in community, and among the least of these.
– Rachel Held Evans, Searching for Sunday
[They’re seeking Orthodox Christianity, yet they likely don’t even know it.]
For the holy men of old, whatever they suffered, they suffered for God’s name, either to demonstrate their virtue and so to help everyone else, or to win greater reward from God. But we miserable fellows, how can we say this? Every one of us goes on sinning and suffering what we deserve. We have left the straight road of blaming ourselves and taken the crooked road of blaming our neighbor. Every one of us is very careful, on every occasion, to throw the blame on his brother and to strike him down with its weight. Every one of us is negligent and keeps none of the Commandments, and we demand in return that our neighbor keep them all.”
– Dorotheos of Gaza