Thursday, March 27, 2014

Take Heart My Friends

"We need to be people who are faithful to the Church and her teachings and who witness the joy of Jesus Christ to others."  I have heard that line all my life, and in fact it is true in what it says, but it doesn't say enough. Here is the same truth stated more completely, "We need to be people who are faithful to Jesus Christ and his Body, the Church, who enter HIS LIFE, share HIS heart, and witness the TRUTH of it and the joy that unreasonably sustains us in our work and play,  in our pleasure and suffering."  


All this talk about "happiness" that exists in the "Christian Experience" is a truncation of the truth, maybe even an outright lie.  In the pitifully SHALLOW American Culture it equates to the self-help movements, and the human potential movement, and in Evangelicalism as we have seen witnessed, it leads to the inclusion of pure "hedonism" and "demonic delusions" and deems these pagan things, as compatible with The Way of the Cross.  


Here is a shocker: 
Scripture and the holy fathers speak NOTHING about happiness. 
But rather speaks of "blessedness" wherein lies joy that cannot be spoken or explained. My best definition is that it is the underlying buoyancy of the Heart of Christ, His Holy Spirit, lifting our hearts, making our spirits stand, when all visible circumstances should, by natural view, lead us to utterly collapse in dejection and despair. It isNOT on the other hand "merriment," though upon occasion it may include it.  It is NOT exhilaration, though upon occasion it may include it.  It is NOT enthusiasm, or being positive, or good vibes . . . but it is the opposite of spiritual/psychic discouragement, gloom, letdown, depression and melancholy.   I'm reminded of the words of that old hymn, "It is joy unspeakable and full of glory." 


Why do we need to find this un-explainable joy, this "joy unspeakable"?  Because, today in the challenge to stand against the slavers and destroyers of human bodies and human spirits, so many people's hearts are crumbling and falling before the real battle begins, their hearts failing, unable to view the things to come.  So many cannot even begin to hear the Truth of the Challenges we face, because in faithlessness they are surrounded by fear and see the Truth Tellers as monsters tormenting them awake from their secure SLEEP.  Surely we know this latter is demonic delusion, surrounded in (sin) FEAR.  

We need to attain this unreasonable joy, because it sustained St Stephen the proto-deacon and proto-martyr, as he faced the mob that would kill him.  It sustained him as the stones crushed bones.  Nothing except unspeakable, unexplainable joy could give context to the wondrous path of Saint Polycarp, covering his journey to execution with many life changing and life sustaining blessings. Multitudes of people across his journey would NEVER be the same because of the "blessedness and unspeakable joy" of his witness. Even his Roman Captors traveled in shame and tears in his presence as they made their many days journey to his martyrdom. 


The Roman Catholic Bishop, Charles J. Chaput, stated the truth of it, "The world we live in is not a friend of the gospel, no matter how superficially 'religious' American culture may still seem."  


Is he right? 


He is absolutely right, as the vast majority of "christians" in America would reject the Gospel in revulsion, outright and quickly, if it were clearly explicated to them, because they DO NOT love Jesus, the REAL Jesus who says, "Take up the Cross and follow me."  

They resent talk of His Healing Blood, and scoff at the idea of sacrifice and "communing in his body and blood." "No pagan rituals for us" they say.  When the REAL Jesus took the CUP into his hands, on his last night before his execution and said, "THIS cup is the New Testament in my blood, which is shed for you . . . do this in remembrance (anamnesis - in the set aside eternal moment) of me." 
Their false Jesus says, "My New Testament is a book, interpret it as you wish, as you yourself FEEL the Holy Spirit enlightens YOU."  
Their false Jesus says, "give me money and I'll make you rich"  
Their false Jesus says, "follow me and I'll give you spiritual thrills."  
Their false Jesus says, "you don't need drugs and alcohol because I will make you 'drunk in the spirit',  trust me the "highs" I give you, your flesh won't miss a thing."
Their false Jesus says, "Sacrifice?  What sacrifice? You don't need no stinking sacrifice?" 
Their false Jesus say, "don't worry about the struggle for purification and sanctification, just name it and claim it and I'll make you a 'strong spiritual being.'"  
Their false Jesus says, "Don't worry about your own sins, and the things that have damaged your character,  just keep doing what you are doing, I got'cha covered man."  
Their false Jesus is a product of their on egoism and narcissism.  
Their false Jesus is a Marxist Environmentalist. 
Their false Jesus is a Gay Rights Advocate.  
Their false Jesus is a feminist.
Their false Jesus was the inventor of Marxist "Social Justice" and is the head of that "movement" the original communist.   
Their false Jesus is going to rapture them so that they never face real suffering. 
Their false Jesus is merely a wisdom teacher and really, (wink) never performed any signs and wonders.  That is just symbolic language others used later "for teaching purposes."
Their false Jesus was a political radical. That Christ thing was foisted upon him by later liars for profit. 
Their false Jesus never said, "I AM, THE Way, THE Truth and THE Life, no man comes to the Father except by me." 
Their false Jesus is into Yoga, secretly taught Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Jainism, etc, etc.
Their false Jesus created a "church" that is really no different than any other "belief system." 
Their false Jesus knows all religions are basically the same.  
Their false Jesus isn't even Jesus sometimes, but merely "the Christ Principle." 
Their false Jesus is just "Christic" which is short for "Christ-ish"  NOT "Christ-like."  
Bishop Chaput continues, "It (American Culture) has contempt for Jesus Christ, contempt for the people who carry their own cross and follow him.  In the years ahead, the kind of people we need are believers who will turn away from comfort, who will listen for the voice of God, who will follow Jesus Christ into the storm . . ." 

 

Such strength is impossible when "happiness" is your goal. Holy Feats of Godly Courage spring from unreasonable JOY, found is a heart possessed of the REAL Jesus Christ, having been baptized unto his suffering and death in the waters of Baptism, a heart that shares in his Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity through the Sacrifice of the New Testament, who is HIM.  THAT HEART, is a heart which simply cannot be "sunk", though it may weep in Truth-Bitterly, yet hides from nothing and seeing the horror of it all, yet in TRUTH, "Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things."


Take heart my friends. 
No, LITERALLY, take hold of the HEART, which cannot be sunk, cannot despair, cannot wallow in depression though it breaks a million times.  THAT heart belongs to Jesus Christ, and if you seek that heart he will share it with YOU. 

We cannot give what we do not ourselves possess. We cannot bear the unbearable unless our hearts are filled with grace. We cannot weep tears with the sorrowing and comfort them in their pain unless we have suffered brokenness ourselves and have turned to God in our darkness and asked Him for help like a small child full of trust.

Archpreist Symeon Elias
3.27.2014

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