suffering


January 16, 2013 + A Letter of Condolence to the Wife of Nectarius

by St. Basil the Great
From
The Fathers of the Church: A New Translation, Vol. 13, p. 19

“...When you became a mother, and seeing your son gave thanks to God, you realized fully that you, a mortal mother, had given birth to a mortal child. What wonder, then, if this mortal son, subject to death, has died. But the untimeliness of his death grieves us. Yet, that this is not a timely death is not certain, since we ourselves do not know how to choose most advantageously for our souls nor how to determine the limits appointed for the life of men. Consider the whole universe in which you live, where all things visible are mortal, and all are subject to annihilation. Look up toward the heavens which also will some day be destroyed. At the sun not even it will remain. The stars, each and every one; living creatures on land and in the sea; the beauties of earth; the earth itself all are perishable, all in a short time will have ceased to exist. Let this thought be a consolation in your misfortune. Do not measure your suffering in itself alone, for in this way it will appear unbearable to you, but compare it with all human happenings, and therein you will find consolation. Above all, I have this to say most forcibly: 'Have consideration for your husband; be a comfort one to the other; do not make the affliction harder for him to bear by wearing yourself out with grief.' On the whole, I do not think that words alone suffice for consolation, but I believe that there is need of prayer under the present circumstances. Therefore, I pray the Lord Himself, by touching your heart with His ineffable power, to enlighten your soul through the good use of reason, so that you may have from within yourself the sources of consolation.”

Dealing with Brokenness in the World

by Fr. George Morelli
Originally published in July 2006

Does any one need any more evidence that brokenness exists in the world? We see it everywhere: in business, government, education; even in churches, synagogues, and mosques. Brokenness also exists among individuals called to noble conduct: judges, lawmakers, law enforcement officials, medical practitioners, military leaders, religious personages, teachers and more. No level of society or occupation is exempt.

What is brokenness? Where does it come from? Brokenness is the term that describes the fundamental disorder that exists in creation that affects a person's relationships and creative activity. We experience it inwardly in a way that St. Paul described as that pull between right and wrong where we know what is good but choose the opposite. Outwardly it is expressed by the scandals of greed, sexual abuse, and other crimes that seem ever more prevalent year by year.

Where does brokenness come from? The Church tells us to look to Scripture, particularly the narrative of creation in the book of Genesis. The source of brokenness does not begin with Adam and Eve, or even with God speaking the world into existence. Rather, brokenness has its source in another creature of God: the angel who at one time was chief of the angelic hosts - Satan and his cohorts.

One does not need to believe in a personal God to hold to this precept. Human beings are constituted toward order, and function with a presumption of an ordered universe whether or not they believe in God. How they perceive that the world is ordered is at question here, and their presuppositions are unavoidably religious even if they eschew any faith in God.

November 7, 2012 + Out of My Way, Satan!

by St. Ignatius Briachaninov
From The Arena, translated by Archimandrite Lazarus, Printshop of St. Job of Pochaev, Jordanville, N.Y., pp. 58-59.

It needs to be known that every thought in the nature of contradiction and resistance to the judgments of God comes from Satan and is his offspring. Such a thought, since it is opposed to God, must be rejected at its very inception. An example of this has been given us by our Lord. When He told the disciples about His impending sufferings and violent death, then the Apostle Peter, moved by the natural compassion of the old man, “began to rebuke Him saying, ' Mercy on Thee O Lord! This shall never happen to Thee'.” The Lord answered Peter by exposing the origin of the through that he had expressed: “Out of My way satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are thinking not the thoughts of God but the thoughts of men” [Mt. 16:21-23].

Why is our spirit troubled by the judgments and providence of God? Because we do not honour God as God; because we do not surrender ourselves to God as God; because we do not give ourselves to our proper place before God; because of our pride, our blindness; because our fallen, spoilt, perverse will is not mortified and renounced by us.

Then I shall not be ashamed,
when I regard all Thy commandments.
I will praise and thank Thee with an upright heart,
as I learn the justice of Thy judgments [Ps. 118:6-7].

Thou, O God art my Saviour,
and on Thee do I wait all day [Ps. 24:5],

by bearing generously and good-naturedly throughout my life on earth all the troubles and sufferings which it please Thee to allow me to have for my salvation.

+++

"I Love God!" + The Legacy of Deacon Philip Gilbert

by Fr. Gregory Rogers
from Again Magazine, Summer 1997

The core of Deacon Philip's service to everyone, whether as paramedic, husband, father, or deacon in the church, was his love for God. And that love has touched hundreds, even thousands, with God's mercy.

I cannot remember a time in my ministry when Deacon Philip Gilbert (also known as Frank Delano Gilbert, or affectionately as “Lane") wasn't somewhere around, helping, strengthening, and encouraging me. He was one of the most remarkable young men I have ever known.

We began working together when Lane was quite young. Even as a teenager, Lane was special. He was one of those who was always involved in church services, in special programs, in Bible study groups. At school, he was an outspoken witness for Christ. He was quite talented - an athlete, intelligent, musical. He devoted his summers to teaching children about Christ, working as a counselor at the Lake Region Christian Assembly in Crown Point, Indiana. His enthusiasm was contagious; he could be entertaining and still bring young people to see that loving Christ was what life is all about. And his sincerity made the music and teaching all the more special.

When l served as youth minister at the Deep River Church of Christ in Hobart, Indiana, Lane was in my youth group, as was his wife-to-be, Kimberly. God had his reasons for bringing us all together, for as future events would reveal, we would all make the journey to Orthodoxy at Holy Resurrection Church - first in Gary, then in Hobart. l would one day watch with joy as these two fine Christians were married, and celebrate with them the birth of their three children, David (now 13), Christine (11), and Emily (8).