Adam, the forefather of the whole world, experienced, in the paradise, the sweetness of God’s love and that’s why, when he was driven out from paradise and he lost God’s love (because he sinned), he deeply suffered and with loud moan he was sobbing in the wilderness. His soul was tormented by a thought: “I sadden God, Who I love”. He didn’t feel so much regret for having lost the heaven and its beauty, but for loosing the love of God, that, in every moment and insatiably attracts our souls to God.
Every soul that met God through The Holy Spirit and, after that, he lost the grace, is passing trough the torments of Adam. The soul is ill and he experiences a painful repent when he upsets His Lord.
Adam was sorrowful and he was painfully sobbing and he didn’t like anymore the earth. He was longing for God, saying:
“My soul desires the Lord and I’m searching for Him with tears. How can I not search for Him? When I was with Him, my soul was happy and serene and the enemy didn’t approach me; but now, the evil spirit took over me and he disturbs and torments my soul, so my soul desires my Lord to the last and my spirit pines after God and nothing on this earth can bring me happiness. My soul doesn’t want to comfort itself with anything, but to see again the Lord. I can’t forget Him either for a minute and my soul is tormented; because of my of sadness I cry with sobs: “Lord, have mercy on me, Your fallen creature”.
In this way Adam was sobbing and his tears were falling from his face to his chest and then on the earth; his sighs were ringing out in the entire wilderness.
Animals were silent and grieved and they were crying. Adam was sobbing because of his sin the entire creation had lost the peace and the love.
Big was the Adam’s pain after his expulsion from the paradise, but when he saw his son, Abel, killed by his brother, Cain, his pain grew up and, with his tormented soul, he was sobbing and thinking: “Nations will rise and will breed after me and all the creation will suffer and live in enmity and the men will kill each other”. And his pain was deep as the ocean and it can be understood only by those humans whose souls experienced the Lord and know how much He loves us.
I’ve lost the grace too and now I scream with Adam: “Have mercy on me, Lord! Give me a humble and a loving spirit”.
Oh, love of the Lord! Who knows You is searching for You ceaselessly, day and night, screaming: “I yearn after You, Lord, and I’m searching for You with tears. You made me know You through The Holy Spirit and this awareness of God attracts my soul to search for You with tears”.
Adam had lost the mundane paradise and he was searching and crying: “My paradise, my wonderful paradise!” But, through His love, the Lord gave him, on the cross, another paradise, better than the first one, where is the Light of The Holy Trinity. What will you offer in return to our Lord for His love for us?
Silouan the Athonite – Between the hell of hopelessness and the hell of humility
Translated by Lazar Ioana
I woke up in the morning, and fell on my knees, praying … not too much … because I was not feel like praying. I had the same lifelessness and lack of desire to communicate with God that I have every day. Holy Spirit took the grace given to me, a new apprentice who had just discovered the church. My hopelessness led to a huge void in my soul. Once I came in contact with the world of faith, I felt inclined to go to church, to read spiritual books, to be a good person. I wanted to stay near God, but now it isn’t so anymore. Where? Where? How I lost my faith? Do I am so bad…? Have I really let devil enter in my soul?
Oh God, the same sins every day, the same sins that always afflict You. I’m aware… but what can I do? I cannot come back… or maybe I can. Will You forgive me, God? Will You receive me, the unworthy, with Your arms wide open?
You cannot find any place inside my soul to let your head on! I am weak, my soul is wounded by sins, splitted, and broken, my heart is chopped up by sadness and pain… I cannot see the Light of Truth anymore, but what can I see is the darkness, a hollow of sins! Help me, help me God because I cannot longer resist. I will backslide again and again … Oh! , my universe is “colored” in black….. my life is not life .. and I am no longer a human being…I am a slave of sin.
I am waiting for a sign; I am waiting for You, my dear Jesus. But how can I receive You as long as my life and my house is a mess? I annoyed, hated, gossiped and I envied all people around me … Oh God, if You want, help me change my way of thinking! I pray with all my strength and with the poor faith that I still have! And I know … I know You will not let me lose myself in the way of sin. God, You will come after me, won’t You? Will You come? … I will be waiting here; in the hollow of sins … I know You will not leave me! Thank You for being extremely good, thank You for your existence!
From the hollow of sin… there is a cry of despair to God!
With love, a sinner whose name does not matter…
Translated by Silvestru Bianca
As far is the sky from earth, this much surpass us, the sinners, the saints pleased to God; they are heavenly beings – we are flesh; they are saints – we are filled with the multitude of sins; they loved God from all their heart, with all their strength, hating themselves and the world – we love with an extreme enthusiast ourselves and the world; we love all its soul losing things and contrary to God; saints aquired a heavenly mind, a heavenly heart, a heavenly will, they loved God’s will and defeated their own bodily, damaged will– we are flesh and defile our heart and will, all our spiritual impulses and inclinations.
Therefore, every Christian should stand in reverence before the Saints, to honor with the proper honour and with which God Himself has glorified them for their dignity. Seek to follow their life, their faith; remember their fiery love for God and neighbor and your heart will be filled with passionate love and eternal hope. Always endeavour after where the eternal Love is, Who loves everything, where is the eternal True and Sanctity, there where is life and eternal praise and everlasting joy of the saints.
In church icons are painted with the face of the saints commemorated at the Divine Liturgy, Proscomidy (the preparation of the offerings)and to the Liturgy of the faithfull. Saints were messengers and prophets of our faith. They sealed the truth and the saving gift of faith with their blood, with countless tortures and with death, great ascetism, with fast and pray. They pray God for us. Saints are eternal witnesses of the true faith and of its power of life making in the most terrible tortures and under threat of death; they are the pillars of the Church around which they raise walls with their prayers, praise and glory to God.
(St. John of Kronstadt)
There is one thing we must understand clearly: once we are creatures of Good Lord, once we are guarded by Him, the One Who arranges for us both the small and the big things, it means that we cannot suffer anything without God’s permission and that no one of our pains is meant to harm us or something like that; consequently we should not imagine a better situation for us.
Death comes from God; but death is not a bad thing, only if you are talking about sinner’s death, because for sinner the liberation from the pains of this world means the beginning of hell’s tortures, which author is not God, but we ourselves, the beginning and the roots of the sin are into us and into the liberty of our will.
We may not have any pain if we estrange from vices; but because, through pleasure, we let ourselves tempted by the sin, what kind of reason could we evoke to prove that we are not the authors of our sufferings?
Evil can be of two types: related to us and evil itself.
Evil itself depends on us, for example: injustice, debauchery, madness, fear, envy, killing, poisoning, cunning and all the sins related to them, that defile the soul made by our Creator and darkens its beauty.
Evil related to us causes pains and sufferings to our senses, for example: the illness of the body, body’s wounds and the lack of necessary things for living, life without glory, the loss of money and the loss of our dear persons. Each of these bad things is brought to us by the wise and good Lord for our use.
The richness is taken from those who had used it wrong, to destroy the tool with which they made the injustice; illness is sent to those that is better to have bound their organs than to have them free, to estrange us from sins; brings death when the life is off, that is fixed by God’s right judgement from the beginning of each one; because God sees from distance what is useful for each of us.
Famine, drought, floods are common calamities which strike cities and nations to punish them when their evil overtakes all the limits. As the doctor is a well-doer even if he causes pains and suffering to the body (because he fights against illness, not the patient) so God is good when through punishments given to someone, He takes care of the salvation of everyone. You don’t accuse the doctor when he cuts some of your organs, burns other of them and draws out others from the body, but you give him money and you call him your saviour, because he stopped the sickness in a small part of the body, before it would be extended to your entire body. But when you see that the buildings crushes on its citizens because of an earthquake or that a ship is sinking in the sea with all the travellers, you don’t linger to open your mouth for a blasphemy against the true Doctor and Saviour.
And, nevertheless, you must understand that a careful treatment is needed when people’s illnesses are small and can be easily healed, but when their illnesses become impossible to be healed by a common treatment, then is necessary to estrange the disease from others not to infect them. Therefore, as well as the doctor is not guilty if he cuts or burns a part of your body, but the sickness, so the destructions of the cities have their origins in people’s sins, that overstepped the bounds. Therefore, don’t blaspheme God!
(Saint Basil the Great, Homily IX)
“I have been crucified with Christ;and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
We have become so cold regarding the words of Scripture, the teachings of the Fathers, regarding spirituality; there are questions over questions… not that the questions would be something bad, but one can only ‘taste’ the grace through faith, through altruism, through prayer or fasting; living and not theory, philosophy, or subjective critique.
The biblical verse from the beginning is given as a motto of what the faith, the living, and the spiritualization really mean; without applying this urge it is hard for us to understand it, to know Him, to receive His Grace.
We live in a secularized world, irrational, in my opinion, because it is irrational as the human beings are, a nothing when compared with the universe to believe that only that which fits their own rationality is true and good to be followed; a society like a graveyard of dead ideas, lacking spirituality and being exclusively processed by a biological organ called brain, stifling the inner longing after spirituality; all these determine us to become more and more alienated from the true sense, from the calling that we have been called to, and to become gods, without knowing from our own ideas and concepts which govern us, and that we worship, without being aware of it.
But despite all these Christ is present; He waits for us to become conscious of our own state and to unite with Him! So much stress, so many needs, problems, troubles and questions; only Christ can offer us the answer, the tranquility, the spiritual peace… and these words are not philosophy, are not theory, they are… findings of life experiences lived by people who searched for peace, tranquility, in a word – for the meaning of life.
There are too many conjunctions between Christ and peace so that one could consider them the product of hazard.
In the fight of your faith you can find support in St. Paul’s encouragement: “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Romans 8:35); abide in the first love, in the love of Christ, and with it take courage, you will conquer the world (its sins) as He conquered it; abide in His peace, abide in His Body and you will taste the true joy, one that, as the saints affirmed, the world cannot offer.
I will conclude with the biblical exhortation: “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15).
Translated by Radu Iacob
„Try to spend at least one day keeping the commandments of God and you will realise yourself. Your heart will tell you how good it is to do God’s will (and for us to do God’s will means life, means eternal bliss). Love God with all your heart; at least as you love your relatives and your well-doers: value as much as possible love and kindness that He shows you, His great and countless blessings.
Try to grasp these with the heart: how He woke you to life, sharing all His good things, how He endures your sins endlessly, how He forgive them endlessly, waiting for your wholehearted repentance, in the power of His sufferings on the Cross and of His death, the Son of God, the One Borned; remember the eternal happiness promised you if you remain faithful.
Love everyone as you love yourself, namely do not deny anything that you do for yourself, banish from the heart all remembrance of the evil that the others have done to you, just as you would want others to forget the evil you have done them.“
(St. John of Krondstadt – My life in Christ)
In this chaotic, foreign and quite stiff world, every day I see how sadness is born easily in our inner blanket. Blanket covered by states and noble feelings, by infected memories and melancholy. In reality, we can’t be otherwise than sad. Someone once told me with great conviction that we cannot be happy all the time because when we will be elated, we’ll find out that everything was just in our imagination, an ephemeral illusion. This statement rose many thoughts in me. Thirsty thoughts that still haunt me.
Let’s start from the previous premise, that we can’t be happy in this society. Let’s see… what things, facts or events had generated this sadness in our hearts?
It’s been a long time since the crisis became an exhaustible topic, so there’s no point to exhaust it once more with my idle words. Otherwise, the same daily dish is consisting of rapes, murders, thefts, accidents, losses, kidnappings…all are known. Why are you sad? Teenagers are increasingly sad because of the poor results obtained at school-leaving exam, prospective students because of the failure, teachers because of the exams, unemployed due to lack of jobs, elders because of incapacities and diseases and the list goes on.
But Christians… wait, what does this have in common with our sadness? Are not Christians those mentioned above? Or, to be “a Christian” has become, recently, a job?
At the very beginning, when I entered in the Church, I asked a single question: “why do people smile?”. Well, don’t imagine that everyone was laughing, on no account. On the most of the faces around me could be read a single word: happiness. I didn’t understand too much at that time. I thought it is fashionable to be happy in the House of the Lord and to show this to everybody.
But the truth wasn’t in my dull thinking. To be Christian means to smile no matter the difficulties of life that gradually push us, no matter the amount of sorrow, bitterness and anguish. In the Church, the Holy Spirit is the one who gladdens the heart and lights the faces, so smile is a result of the state of calm and peace.
“I am Christian so I smile”. Christ loves me, I smile! The essence of Orthodoxy is love, and love spreads happiness. How can we be so sad when we have all this? We should rather grieve because of our sins, crimes and because of the darkness in which our souls stay even by now, from early life. But in no case because of the events we encounter in life.
If we grieve for our own mistakes and sins, the grief will turn later in happiness and rivers of relief. As the Apostle says: “You will grieve, but your sorrow will be turned into joy”( John 16: 20)
Nobody says it’s easy, on the contrary, the struggle with ourselves is the hardest fight, the hardest possible war. But if we win, the results will be as we had expected. In fact, there is no measure, because Kingdom of Heaven has no measure and no limits. Some say that to overcome your fear is a mighty thing; I think that to defeat your sadness and to put off this dirty clothes forever is something unbeatable.
To sum up, I remind you a phrase full of wisdom of Ecclesiastes; by reading this, I hope that God will flow into your souls, His immeasurable grace, His unsurpassed joy, His infinite and eternal love. Amen.
„Don’t grieve your heart, remove the sadness from it. Because from sadness comes death and sorrow of the heart weakens the virtue”.
In Philokalia, Taisie the Libyan and African says: „Lack of pleasure arises sorrow and the pleasure is bond with passion”.
Translated by Badea Patricia Elena
A: An eastern philosopher once urged: “Don’t try to adapt, reality has a problem!” I don’t think that it really helps us to align ourselves by all means to fashions and trends. Where would we attain to, if we adjusted, without any judgment, the behaviour of those around us? We would steal, drug, slander and we would justify it by saying that … so do others, also. Everyone choose to live life as he wishes, but, in the same time he is responsible for his choices, too. We try to be moral with reference to God, not those around us.
2. Why are social networks defamed? I see that young people gather together, communicate and are together.
A: If you’ve heard bad things about these social networks, it means that you’ve also heard the arguments of the critics. Commonly psicoterapists warn that social networks (like facebook, twitter) have stolen the life of youth, making them sedentary, as chained by the web connection, that the so called socialization moved from real life in the online space, making many no longer meet to a juice out with their friends, but chatting online. Critics speak increasingly alarmist about the addiction created, about anxiety and depressions, about predisposition on psychiatric disorders of the addicted ones to social networks. Sure, social networks have positive parts also, but troubles created are stronger.
3. Today various fasting products have replaced meat producs (eg. fasting cheese, soy milk). Is so our post authenting?
A: This subject has often been aproached in recent years. While the opinions are shared, most authors consider that exceed of fasting products which imitate the meat and cheese is actually imitate the period of meat food, so we can not enjoy the fruits of post. Fasting means first of all restraint, it is an exercise of ascetism, ascetic. If we watch the way in which Christ fasted, we find that while He was fasting …He actually starved. (cf Matthew 4.2) If the difference between the meat and cheese products and their equivalents in soy is just of label, it means that fasting like this, we remove bodly asceticism, and implicitly, the spiritual benefits while suppressing the fight against greed. Especially when food markets are full of vegetables and fruits, it is good to have discernment and to fast eating traditional fasting products.
4. Is it good to give up to the wordly music for the peace of our soul? Why some say that is a sin to listen to music?
A: Your question contains already the answer. Yes, it will be good to give up, especially if we are already aware that the soul has lost its peace. But before, we must first know what is tranquility and peace of soul, and this can be found in quiet prayer and in contemplation of the visible world. Sin is what separates us from God. Sometimes music can be also sinful, if it stirs up our senses to sins, if the rhythm is crazy, if the message of the lyrics is a vulgar and immoral one. There is also good music, harmless; the one that soothes the soul. When King Saul was inner troubled, the young shephered, David, ingenious harp singer, sang him psalms and so the king became peaceful. It is known that the music of Prophet David drove away the demons (an argument for the power of music). He urges: Sing to God, sing to Him, prepare His way on the path of the wilderness (Psalms 67, 4), and in the same Psalm says: The captains went in front, then those who sang the strings and in the middle were the maidens who were beating tambourines (Psalms 67, 26) Saviour Christ Himself and His Holy Apostles sang. We have the testimony of Scripture that after the Last Supper they sang hymns and went out to the Mount of Olives (Mark 14, 26; Mathew 26, 30) From all this we deduce that we can not remain impassive towards music, so it’s right to say that music can be good or bad.
5. Why should I go to church if those from church go only formally? They don’t recognize the Christian virtues of those who don’t attend church.
A: Above all, we don’t go to church for others, we go for God and for our soul. It’s true that often many go formally and I am glad that you don’t want to go for the sake of appearance. This means that you are dealing with seriousness all the things in life. Don’t let people stand between you and God! Don’t let people to be an obstacle in your way to the house of God.
6. How do you get rid of the reproaches of the others when they observe that “negative” change since you have started to go to church?
A: Reproaches will always be and will have to bear them with Christian dignity, as for Lord’s sake. Christ warns his believers, whom He calls little flock (Luke 12, 32): I have spoken these things to you so that you shall have peace in me. You shall have suffering in the world, but take heart, I have overcome the world.”” (John 16. 33). So let’s be brave, not afraid. Don’t give water to the mill, not nag, not label and you will see, over time, that the reproaches will be transformed into secret admiration for you determination.
7. Why children today live under the impression that if they wear crosses and pentagrams turned and they call themselves Satanists, they are more interested, even better than others?
A: Many believe that what is new, strange, different is automatically interesting. There is an age when the eccentricity says its word, but once they grow up, these habits are left behind. Don’t take into account, don’t give them importance and mention those who, for a while, fall into this trap.
8. All religions are good, is it true?
A: Not all religions can be true, simply because their teachings are often contrary. To believe that all are true means to minimize all the sacrifice that Christ did for us. He is not one of the ways, He is the way. Jesus Christ says about Himself: I am the door (John 10, 9), I and the Father are one (John 10, 30), I am the Light of the world (John 8, 12), I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14, 6). Judaism is also true, but it is not complet, it is not perfect. About the others religions, commonly called pagan, we can say they have a part of truth, but we can not call them good religions and completely true. This doesn’t mean necessarily that those people are lost. We belong all to God, but we can not accredit non–Christian religions as good, divine, because they are human fantasies, reminiscences of primordial revelation.
9. It gets easier for me to lie. How to get rid of this habbit?
A: The lie is a bad addiction and brings us only troubles. Even when we justify the lie trying to spare or not to annoy anyone, we suffer. It needs a sustained effort to get rid of this unnatural tendency of flowering things, to distort them or invent, because, during time, nobody will put value on what we say, we lose our friends and even so called self esteem. The conscience of this problem is a huge step toward solving it. Ask God’s to help you get rid of this! He will surely help you fight against lie and evil. I am saying this because Scripture associates lie with the work of evil, calling the devil – liar and the father of lies. Let What you say be simply ‘Yes‘ or ‘No‘; anything more than this comes from evil. So, those who lie are not a very nice company, but God is good to take us out (also) from this.
10. My friends consider me a fanatic because I believe in God. What will I do if I remain without friends?
A: What kind of friends can be those who don’t respect your choices, aspirations and dreams? Over time, when we are mature, we try to choose friends depending on common interests and values. I am convinced that in your environment are, however, some friends who feel and think like you. Close the ranks! Bring together! It’s difficult to be without friends, it’s true, but is even worse to have unfaithful friends, who do not understand you and who don’t know the values of faith and who, probably, entice you toward a sinful life.
11. I have an eyebrow piercing. Everybody told me they are so cool. I am very happy. I think I will never be hurt, I will always be fashionable.
A: I once put myself two earings in my ear, and that time there were not too many guys with earings. But, the happiness you speak about didn’t last long and really it can not last because it does not come from passing things, perishable. Happiness is a deep soul condition and is related to our relationship with others and with God. Read Beatitudes that Christ speaks about (Mathew 5, 1 -12) and you will understand more. I believe with all my strength that exactly fashion and trends that are hunting our nature, forcing a change that we don’t want deeply, is the cause of dissatisfaction, sufferings, and unhappiness. Take care!
12. These Christians are some bigoted Christians, indoctrinated, mentally limited. Fanatics! I don’t want to be like them, I want to be with my gang, always elated. I don’t make any harm to anyone, do I?
A: Once I thought the same thing. Time passed and I see things differently. Now I see true Christians as great people, wise, virtuous, honest, keeping their temper, happy and loving. There will come a time when, probably, your gang will fall apart. So the second gang, and the third. If the heights of happiness are not reached through the amusement of the gang?
13. My parents don’t let me pray in the evening. What shall I do? If I don’t pray, I feel I’m dying inside, slowly. What is the solution?
A: I think that, as far as possible, it is good to avoid such conflicts. Let’s seek peace, as far as possible. There are solutions for such unfortunate situations. First of all, you can choose another time to read prayers, when parents are not at home or when they are busy with something else. For such situations you can focus more on inner prayer, the prayer “Lord Jesus…” which can be spelt in the quiet night and without consuming electric power. But the best is the direct advice of the confessor. I recommend patience and constant prayer for the weakness and blindness of parents. This is also a form of contemporary martyrdom.
14. What is a true friend?
A: Manz books were written on this theme, countless studies and articles. It is difficult to embrace the valencies of a true friendship, so to this question will be more answers. In Capernaum, Lord Jesus Christ received the “visit” of some people who brought their friend to be healed. And the Holy Evangelist says that Lord saw their faith and He healed the poor who was tormented by his disease. I see here the picture of the true friendship. The one who carries you to Christ and doesn’t leave you when it is difficult proves true and sincerely friendship. And the highest point is to put your soul for your friends, as Christ says.
15. Is the disease something very bad, negative or has also a positive side?
A: As you well guessed, indeed, the disease can also have a positive side. There is a quite widespread tendency to call illness as evil. Evil is only sin, the only one we can name really bad. Disease, suffering, helpless, often, when they are carried with faith and patience, give us the chance to look into ourselves, revalue the happenings of life in a different light and learn to live beautifully.
In these troubled times, the devil passes by us every day, in different ways. Summer is the season of holidays, of fun which passes all bounds. Many of us go to the seaside, to participate to various music festivals (that serve them only as a reason to consume alcohol in industrial quantities) or simply to scour discos about and thus to go astray.
If we do a survey among the teenagers described above, questioning them: “Do you think you conform to the motto: live each day as it were your last? the overwhelming majority of the responses will be positive. You might say: “Yes it is normal to give such answers,” thinking that fun is a priority for teenagers.
But let’s see the things from another point of view. This motto applies to a good Christian? I think so. Unfortunately few apply it . We make medium and long term plans and we see them as accomplished, but we don’t realize that tomorrow may never come for us.
And yet God sends us signals. We bear some of them in mind a few days, as in situations when a car was to hit us , or we see a young person’s funeral. Other warning signs are downright painful, as the situations when one of our beloved ones leaves this world, and what’s more is that person dies young.
Only then we can truly think at our death. Or not even then. I personally went through such a situation and I think about how things will look like if I lose the other parent, but rarely do I think of what will happen if I die myself.
It would be such a good thing if each of us saw today as if it was our last. Certainly we would try and succeed to be better in hope that we will have a place in heaven. Unfortunately, too often we do this and we amuse God, making long term plans for periods of years or falling into the devil’s stretched net, that urge us to entertain us a little, (you know that the original meaning of the word: ”fun, diversion”- is distracting from an important action) now while we are young and then we will have time to redeem our sins.
If God’s kindness left me, I would remain an old man, completely sinful; the sins that had began in my youth and a part of them still exist in me, and I would be all in darkness, impurity and rottenness. But the goodness of God cleans me, blesses me, lights me, embalms me and adorns me ceaselessly. Thanks God for this!
(St. John of Kronstadt – Latest notes)
I see in my imagination, with eyes of the heart, how my heart breathes Christ Himself in, how He enters into it, bringing, suddenly, peace and sweetness. I will not miss you, Lover of people, You are my breathing and my joy! I am sick without you.
(St. John of Kronstadt – My life in Christ)
When the devil is in our heart, we feel something like a deadly weight, unusual, a flame in chest and heart; our soul feels that something crushes and darkens him; everything annoys us; we feel disgusted against every good deed, misinterpret every word and every gesture of others towards us. We see bad actions against us, made with evil intentions, we see an injury of honour and thus we cherish that deep deadly hatred and thought of anger and revenge. “By their fruits ye shall know them”. There are days when the evil spirit troubles me too.
(St. John of Kronstadt – My life in Christ)
When I first heard saying “What kind of God is the one who says believe and do not question ? That is blind faith! That means constraint”, I tell you frankly that I did not feel well. I felt between hammer and anvil because in my mind a bitter struggle started. On one hand I was saying that if Lord said that it means that He knew better why He had said so, but still I felt that the liberty of thought and knowledge was taken away from me. I felt this situation as a noose around the neck. On the other hand I wanted to know why God had said so. But from the reason to investigate everything, I still thought to look in the Bible where it is written that statement and especially in what context the word had been given.
After looking through the Holy Scripture, I found the expression “believe and do not question” nowhere. I was puzzled and eager to find out the cause of the dispute that the atheists and those lazy by nature find as an excuse for their unbelief, but also as a charge against faith of believers. Thus, I prayed the Lord to show me the truth about it and to know what to do. One day I found the answer to my unrest by buying Faith World magazine where I finally found an article that delt the matter “believe and don’t question”.
Atheists and Free-thinkers assert that the quatation “believe and do not question” would be found in Holy Scripture. Of course if we ask them to show us the passage they will not find it anywhere, because this term does not exist in the Bible, but this expression had been deeply rooted among ignorant people at Marxist courses against religion. However, we find a passage in Scripture with this urge, but given in another spirit than the one raised by atheists and free-thinkers:
“Seek not what is too difficult for you, nor investigate what is beyond your power. Reflect upon what has been assigned to you, for you do not need what is hidden. Do not meddle in what is beyond your tasks,
for matters too great for human understanding have been shown you. For their hasty judgment has led many astray, and wrong opinion has caused their thoughts to slip. “(Wisdom of Jesus Sirach, III, 20-23)
Because we didn’t respect these human limitations shown by Jesus Sirach, today exist a lot of atheists, heretics and philosophers which don’t distinguish truth from lies and speculation from reality. They believed that human reason is unfailing and self-sufficient, when only true knowledge about the world comes when you connect your will to the absolute truth of things: God, the omnipresent rational being, timeless and incorruptible.
Even St. John Chrysostom reminds us that there is a limited extent in human capacity for knowledge, beyond which there is only failure:
“It is with much gratitude we receive words of Scripture, not to exceed our measure, nor pry into those above us, as enemies of truth experienced and wanted to explore everything with their own thought. They did not thought that for a human is impossible to know completely the creation of God…”
This is the reason why Hellenes were lost, they allowed all their mind and did not want to know that the human mind is weak, they thought of things beyond their powers, exceeded their own measures abroad and fell from their proper dignity … And once they strayed from the right path, went to the cliff and they rolled in the depths of evil …”
Moreover, knowing that we are limited in knowledge and naive, St. John the Theologian tells us to test the spirits, the essence of all things, putting them in the light of truth: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (I John 4:1)
So, the urge “Believe and do not question” does not belong to the Church, but on the contrary, Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition together contain many exhortations designed to draw us closer to God and to increase faith, thorough research and real knowledge.
Even saints gave the example of researching not only the Holy Scripture, but also human sciences. St. Gregory Palamas tells us so: “It is better to deal less with the study of languages, rhetoric, history, the secrets of nature, the science of logic and geometric figures. And this, not only to use the knowledge gained for something, but for training the eye of the soul to discern things. But to remain attached them all the time is bad “.
Now I ask myself … how could I doubt in all that time, for even the faith comes through knowledge.
Did God put in us the thirst for knowledge to torment us or to reveal to us with all his works?
Is it from thirst for knowledge that is not observed human desire to seek the origin and sense of his existence?
God didn’t make man passive, apathetic, uninterested, but left this thirst for knowledge in his nature to investigate, to search, always to want to know more about him and everything that surrounds him, to know where he comes from and where he goes, to polish himself, but not in cold knowledge, without help, but to increase in faith and love.
A man without knowledge and research would be totally blind but their expression often saves even from unbelief. One of the most striking examples is the Apostle Thomas, who after so many wonders which were seen in the presence of the Savior, also doubted the testimony of the other ten apostles that Saviour resurrected, and says:
“Unless I see in His hands, the nails, and do not put my finger where the nails were, and if I don’t put my hand into His rib, I will not believe.”
So he wanted to investigate to make sure that so is. To his disbelief was scold, but at least he got rid of it.
But we know that Christ the Lord said:
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you, for everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened .” (Heb. Matthew 7:7-8)
So let’s not hesitate, and get out of the darkness of ignorance into the light of faith, following the advice of our Saviour to investigate things, but with right count:
“Search the Scriptures; in them ye think ye have eternal life. And those are which testify of me.”