Suffering to Enter The Bridal Chamber

I see Thy bridal chamber adorned, O my Savior, and I have no wedding garment that I may enter there.  Make the robe of my soul to shine, O Giver of Light, and save me. (Canticle Nine, Holy Tuesday Matins).

O Bridegroom, surpassing all in beauty, Thou hast called us to the spiritual feast of Thy bridal chamber.  Strip from me the disfigurement of sin, through participation in Thy sufferings; clothe me in the glorious robe of Thy beauty, and in Thy compassion make me feast with joy at Thy Kingdom. (ibid)

The door of the bridal chamber is open; God’s wedding feast has been prepared within; the Bridegroom is at hand and calls us.  Let us then make ready. (Canticle Three, Holy Tuesday Great Compline)

For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ…And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation. (1st Corinthians 1:5,7)

that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death (Philippians 3:10)

For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake. (Philippians 1:29)

There’s a cleansing power in suffering that the false prophets of the worldly gospel refuse to acknowledge.  While forms of American “Christianity” teach health, wealth, and physical beauty, our Lord calls to us from the cross, blood dripping from His holy Body, “Join in my sufferings that you may partake in life.”

There are two roads before us: the “good life” of pleasure and amusement that the world offers us (sometimes cloaked as Christianity) and the road of the cross,  of suffering, and of death.  But through the death of this latter road, we find resurrection in this age and the age to come.

Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. (Revelations 22:20)

Calamities and the Wrath of God (St. Paisios)

St Paisios of the Holy Mountain (the Athonite)Locusts, wars, droughts, and disease, they are all scourges.  This is not God’s way of educating human beings; it is, rather, the result of our moving away from Him.  Scourges happen when we stray from God.  His wrath then comes to make us remember Him and ask for His help.  It’s not that He arranges and orders, so to speak, these calamities.  Rather, God allows them to happen because he sees how far human evil can go, and how unwilling we are to change our ways.  This is His way of bringing us to our senses.   But it is not something that He has arranged; rather, it is the natural result of our own self-will, our own actions.

God told Joshua [1] not to exterminate the tribe of the Philistines, because the Philistines were supposed to be a scourge to the Hebrews every time they would forget God.  So every time the Hebrews abandoned God, the devil acquired rights over them, and he would have his “cousins,” the Philistines, attack them.  They would take the Hebrew children, smash them on rocks and kill them.  Once when the Hebrews were attacked without being at fault, God fought on their side.  He sent big hail, the size of stones, and destroyed the Philistines, because in that case the Israelites had a right to divine intervention. [2] Continue reading Calamities and the Wrath of God (St. Paisios)

A Holy Degradation – The Way of Christ

from orthodoxroad.comThere is an unpopular teaching that I frequently see in the scriptures and in the Church Fathers. I say “unpopular” because I did not hear much about it in my Protestant years.

In 2nd Corinthians 12, Paul writes, “…a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me.” He goes on to say he pleaded with the Lord three times to remove this thorn, but the Lord replied:

My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.

Paul concludes:

Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Paul’s exact ailment has been speculated by many scholars. Continue reading A Holy Degradation – The Way of Christ

The UnAmerican Gospel

from http://calonarang.deviantart.com/art/Wolf-in-Sheep-s-Clothing-268960219Recently, a short clip of Joel Osteen’s wife, Victoria, preaching at their house of worship has been making the rounds on social media.

In it she essentially states that the purpose of church, worship, and prayer are to make us happy. That God wants nothing more than to see happy people is the divine reason behind everything. Why do we go to church? to make us happy. Why do we worship? to make us happy.

I don’t dislike the Osteens, but I do disagree with the message.  I chose this video because it is recent and it summarizes the Gospel According to America, though in an unveiled manner that shamelessly embraces its own narcissism.

MIXED MESSAGES

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus warns us, “False messiahs and false prophets will arise…” (24:24). It is worth noting that he does not tell us to beware of bad philosophies or crooked politicians. Rather, we are to beware of false christs/messiahs. This does not simply mean, “watch out for people pretending to be Jesus,” but includes the doctrines and lifestyle of anything that sets itself up against that which Jesus Christ Continue reading The UnAmerican Gospel

Understanding my pain

considering_by_aeraviI have been struggling with physical pain over the past couple of days; probably the worst I have ever experienced in my life.  On Monday, it constrained me to my bed for most of the day.  I couldn’t take care of myself at all; even rising up to go to the bathroom or sitting up to eat was almost unbearably painful.  My wife really came through for me, and I am forever grateful for her.

But I mention all of that not for your pity.  You can give it to others who continually suffer much more than I ever have.  I mention that because through my pain I have learned important lessons.

I have been blessed during most of my life with great health.  Most issues I have are related to food allergies, and if I avoid those things, then I have no problems.  I have come to expect myself to be strong, to be a provider for our family, to do anything I set out to do because it seems I usually have the strength, brains, and will-power to achieve my goals.

But not over these last couple of days.  Continue reading Understanding my pain