St. John Chrysostom’s sample on Easter:
Rejoice today, both you who have fasted and you who have disregarded the fast. The table is fully laden; feast sumptuously. The calf is fatted; let no one go hungry away. Enjoy the feast of faith; receive all the riches of loving kindness. Let no one weep for their iniquities, for pardon has shone forth from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Savior’s death has set us free: he that was held prisoner of it has annihilated it. By descending to hell, he made hell captive.
Hell was embittered, for it was abolished. It was embittered, for it was mocked.
O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory? Christ is risen, and you are overthrown. Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen and life reigns. Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave. For Christ, being risen from the dead, is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen.
How are you (western) faithful out there celebrating holy week?
Richard Neuhaus says, “from the beginning God knew what he would do about a humanity he created free to love him, and therefore free to hate him…From the beginning ‘God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.’ This is what it means to love; this is what it means to be love; this is what it means to say that God is love…What was separated by an abyss of wrong has been reconciled by the deed of perfect love.”
It has come to my attention that our discussions are a bit esoteric and confusing. Our current discussion is on hell. We have talked about things like Gnosticism, Christian martyrs and all sorts and conditions of topics. My basic premise is that the church is in captivity to the Matrix. How do we ‘unplug?’ Therin lies our discussion.
Let’s return to the topic of Islam that we discussed on a previous post. Are Muslims a part of the ‘matrix?’ or is that reserved for secularism?
Fr. Neo, your boy St. Isaac seems to be quite a guy. But if this young Padowan may be so bold, I think he’s somewhat misplaced. Exactly what is the point in weeping for “birds, animals, and every creature”? Were they made in God’s own image? Are their “souls” even comparable to ours? To whom exactly did God send His Son to rescue? Is God more concerned in a relationship with His children or Toto, too?
And as for having tears for demons, I have a hard time considering anything of the sort [see Rev. 18:20]. If the very essence of God is Love, and not just an attribute, then God’s very essence is also Truth, Righteousness, Holiness, and Justice (to name a few). These perfections are inseparable.
Ergo, in striving to be Christ-like, we must of course exhibit love and mercy, but should we not also remember that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, the powers, the world forces of this present darkness; against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places?
You are not a Jedi yet–too much of your father in you.
St. Isaac’s musings on animals were in the context of their suffering. Here’s what you need to do. Unlearn. You must unlearn. Transcend the categories that you are tempted live into. Consider the ‘butterfly effect’ that the ONE brought to our pathetic little planet. Don’t think of his death simply as a payment to the Father’s righteousness and holiness (attributes that the ONE also has), or his life simply a way to cancel the Law of Moses. Think of his birth, life, temptations, death and resurrection as a great reversal of everything we know of as disordered and evil– a reversal similar to what physicists would call the ‘butterfly effect.’ The eternal ONE invades the temporal world to bring a Kingdom in which love reigns. This is not some sissy ecological-hug a puppy-kind of love, this is love of an alien sort. This is the kind of love that encompasses all that is righteous and all that is holy. Even God’s retributive love is never meant to be vengeance. It is love that penetrates the darkness and invades the powers of hell. If we had a fraction of that kind of love, the kind that St. Isaac describes, we would weep for all things that are not in the circle of the THREE. Let me repeat, this is not some liberal fuzzy wuzzy was a bear love, it is, like Constantine said, God’s very essence.
I like your style. I juxtaposed the ‘Rescue’ with Constantine’s portrayal of eternal damnation for just the reason you gave. An article I really like on the topic of hell was written by Dr. Alexander Kalomiros and can be found at:
Basically, he says that the love of God in Christ is the purging fire of heaven and hell. For some it is glorious, for others it is quite painful.
Beyond that, I like St. Isaac the Syrian’s desire:
From the Saint’s eighty-first Discourse:
‘And what is a merciful heart?’ And he said: ‘the burning of the heart for all creation, for men, birds, animals, and demons, and for every creature. From the memory and contemplation of them, his eyes pour forth tears. Out of the great and intense mercy that grips his heart, and from great fortitude, his heart is humbled, and he cannot bear to hear or to see any kind of harm or the least distress come over creation. And for this reason, he offers tearful prayer at every hour, even for irrational creatures, for the enemies of the Truth, and for those who injure him, that they might be kept safe and receive mercy, and likewise for the genus of reptiles, out of the great mercy that is aroused in his heart boundlessly, in the likeness of God.’
If a monk has this kind of compassion, to have mercy on even the evil ones, surely Christ’s mercy is greater and his rescue extends beyond the grave. To paraphrase Bishop Kallistos, it is presumption to expect God to save everyone, but we can surely hope and pray that he does!
Constantine? What did ye think?
I thought it showed some fatherneo moments…
St. Basil reports that lay folk would walk for hours in the cold to hear a priest that was not plugged in.
St. Athanasius was unplugged. Why? Because he was able to withstand the onslaught of plugged in bishops. No brown-nosing from this one. He was close to the ONE even while living in a plugged in imposed dark world.
Being the idealist and the maximalist that I am, I can’t help but look to the Church of the 2nd and 3rd Century. Of course I have no romantic notions that the Church in that era (or any era) was perfect, but it’s funny how dedication increases when the lions are breathing down your neck.
Still, what can we be today? “How they love one another”–Epistle to Diognetes. There’s a start. “True religion is caring for orphans and widows”–James. That would be nice.
I sure would like to see more than a “form of godliness” that doesn’t deny its power. As Constantine said, through the waters of baptism we are unplugged from the Matrix. We are given the Holy Spirit, but where is the power? I don’t mean charismatic emotionalism, but the apostolic power that is supposed to coarse through the veins of those who participate in the Sacramental life?