Awkward questions

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If God Chooses Whom to Show Mercy to And Whom He Likes, Then What Is Our Role in Our Own Salvation

God does not love certain persons in a subjective manner, He loves everyone in a perfect manner because subjectiveness is a consequence of not loving everyone, that is of an imperfect love. He loves us all the same either we are saints or flagrant sinners.

That is the very reason why He was crucified for everyone, for everyone’s salvation and He wants all of us to open our heart and mind and receive Him within our person continuously.

How we open up to Him and what we do out of love for Him and for our fellow humans, for whom He let Himself be put to death in a shameful manner so that the world may have life, is part of our contribution to our own salvation which is a co-production/co-operation with God.

According to Saint Gregory Palamas, Our Most Holy Lady has not received special grace to live a Godly life, but the same grace all people receive in order to save their souls. But her longing for God was so great that She did not commit any personal sins in Her entire holy life.

The same for our Saviour, Saint Maximus the Confessor says, He facilitated the receiving of so much grace by the human nature which He assumed within His Person, that it was necessary for Him to bear the tremendous anguish of crucifixion. And He did that in order to strengthen His human nature, that is to fill it with grace, to make it become fully godlike so that we can appropriate from His deified humanness the strength to fight against the passions within us and to defeat them just like the Lord did: through the struggle of our entire being while being fortified by His grace.

Therefore, our Lord Christ did not show favouritism towards Himself while on the Cross or in any other moments of His earthly life, nor did He show favouritism towards His Mother or His Holy Apostles. On the contrary He told them and us: if they persecuted Me, they shall persecute you as well.

However, beyond any reasonable doubt the tripersonal Love, our Trinitarian God shows His overwhelming love in all those who love Him and live a holy life in communion with Him.

And the Gospels which speak of “His beloved apprentice” refer to the Lord’s most loving response to the apprentice’s complete love. That is why Saint John was loved by the Lord in a special manner: because the former also loved Him tremendously.

(Father Dorin Picioruş – The Series “Awkward questions”)

Translated by Claudia

 

 

 

 

 

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Why Does God Tolerate Those Who Hurt Others so Badly?

64032A while ago my mother said to me in a given context: „Son, I want to ask you something: Does God not see what these people do? How can the earth bear them, being so evil?” Our conversation referred to someone who had influenced our lives in a negative way and who we knew that had hurt other people as well. He was a person who had been in a leadership position for a long time and became more and more relentless over time.

Two weeks ago I attended my grandfather’s funeral in the countryside and one of my uncles, who was suffering injustice by his younger brother, told me: ‘Claudiu, will you tell me, is this what the Bible says? That one should trample on his own brother and take away everything he has? Where is the justice here? Does God not see all this?’

I have also asked myself the same question many times and sometimes I would stumble and fall into despair. Is God asleep? Why does He allow for someone to hurt other people so badly, repeatedly, for years in a row? Why don’t they get punished? Why doesn’t anyone stand up to them?

Theoretically, I understand that people are free and that God gave them this freedom and they will receive payment for the choices they make. But still, the world is permanently and every second of the day watched, protected and led by God, and yet, it sometimes seems like He doesn’t intervene, although He could.

As I was reading Chapter 2 from the Epistle to the Romans today, I came across the following verses:

Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.’ (Romans 2,1)

Should we stop judging, should we close our eyes, is this the solution? No, it is not! This is not the answer to the question in the title, the following verse is:

‘But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.’ (Romans 2,2)

So, even if we are filled with indignation at the evil around us, we must be aware of two things:

  1. We ourselves do the evil that we blame others for
  2. God will judge each man fairly when the time is right and nobody can deceive Him.

There is one more very important thing. Let us imagine that I would be in God’s shoes starting tomorrow and that I would rule the world for a year. What would I do? I would be more trenchant against evil, I would presumably nip it in the bud…
Yet we forget that aggressive measures bring a temporary solution, but constraint does not turn evil into good, only love and forgiveness have the power to do that. In His ruling the world, God does not only use punishment and constraints, instead He uses plenty of mercifulness and forgiveness as well, tolerating and waiting for people to become aware of the evil at some point and for them to change.

If I were to rule the world instead of God starting tomorrow, I would surely not have such patience and understanding as He does with each and every man, knowing their every hidden thought in their hearts. Here is what Paul the Apostle says next:

‘Or do you show contempt for the riches of His kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?’ (Romans 2, 3)

This indignation of ours regarding evil people is also a consequence of our very weak power to forgive and to have patience towards those who hurt us.

Why does God tolerate those people who hurt others so badly? Because He has the power to do that, because He is void of passions and evil and nothing inside Him urges Him to cast revenge.

Our indignation also comes from our inability to do something in order to solve the problems. God sees the evil done by others and He does have the power to neutralize its effects and nothing stands in His way of arranging everything instantly. Yet His patience and forbearance have a very wise pedagogical purpose, beneficial for the entire humanity.

Our indignation regarding the fact that God doesn’t punish the evil ones is indirectly a disdain for the richness of His kindness, of His forbearance and great patience.

His Eminence Bartolomeu Anania said while commenting on this verse: ‘God’s goodness is not a divine weakness, but the chance given to man to improve himself.’

Here is what Paul the Apostle says next:

But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when His righteous judgment will be revealed.’ (Romans 2,5)

And in case we fear that God doesn’t know what happens and does not repay, Paul says:

‘Who will repay each person according to what they have done: to those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life, but for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.’ (Romans 2, 6-8)

There is one thing we all should be aware of: those who do evil and don’t repent, will not only end up in the hell of eternal torment, but they also bear the consequences of sin in their hearts right after they commit it: ‘There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile’ (Romans 2, 9)

And those who do good will not only inherit the kingdom of heaven prepared for them ever since the creation of the world, but they also receive God’s grace in their soul immediately, which brings joy and peace: ‘but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.’ (Romans 2, 10)

And the conclusion of this speech is clear at the end:

‘For God does not show favoritism.’ (Romans 2, 11)

That is, God does not show favoritism to anyone, He is kind and just and desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.

In order to better understand this topic, we can reread the parable with the man who planted the good seed in his garden but his enemy came that night and planted tares and the tares grew and started to choke the good seed.

Upon his workers’ proposal to pull out the tares, the master refuses, arguing that by doing that they might also pull out the good harvest. When He explains this parable, the Savior says that the good seed are the sons of the kingdom and the bad seed are the sons of the evil one.

Their cohabitation should be beneficial for both of them; the evil ones should follow the example of the good ones and repent, and the good ones should grow in virtue, being put to the test by their relationship with the evil ones.

Why does God tolerate the people who hurt others so badly?

Because He loves the evil ones and shows them love in order to make them repent for their mistakes.

Because He can give the good ones the power to overcome the suffering caused by the evil ones.

Because God can take the greatest evil and turn it into an even greater good.

Because God moves in a mysterious way which is difficult to understand and memorize by us.

Because only Christ has the power to love His enemies.

And we can do the same only through Him, through God’s grace which we receive as a gift.

(Claudiu)

Translated by Claudia

Why do children in Africa starve to death?

africa

In this article we reply to Daniel, one of the readers of our webpage whose comment was:
‘Because if we were to blame God for all the evil in the world and if His job description included fixing it and having no debt, I, for one, would fire Him due to poor performance. If this is all that a supreme being can do, I am not at all impressed, on the contrary, I would accuse Him of negligence in employment, abuse of position and incompetence.
It suffices to see that 6 million children die from starvation and illnesses in Africa every year, babies burnt alive in maternity hospitals (like the case of Giulesti – a maternity hospital in Bucharest, Romania), poverty, diseases, fires, earthquakes, disasters, etc. Let me remind you: 6 million children die from starvation and illnesses in Africa every year. How does He pay his debt to those people?’

You are right, millions of people die from starvation in Africa and around the world every year, but at the same time think about how much food we throw away, think about how greedy we are… about how we eat 4 or 5 times a day…
Think about the fact that we, the ones living in the ‘good’ world have a daily food basket much larger and more expensive than those living in Africa.

Remember that our main concern, the westerners, is to live in comfort and delight, always seeking large salaries, big houses, luxury cars, trips abroad, social life during weekends, ever new and trendy clothing, daily gastronomic whims, expensive hobbies and many others…
Whoever in Europe thinks about the poor in Africa?
What country in Europe gave up the grand prize in their national lottery which usually amounts to hundreds of millions of euros in order to donate it to African children?

We accuse God for keeping His hands in His pockets and letting those children starve to death… but we are the ones to blame, the selfish westerners who forgot about God, who gorge ourselves silly.
How much clothing does Europe throw away?
How many cars does Europe scrap every year although they are between 10 and 20 years old? Cars that could just as well have been used. How many new cars does Europe produce annually despite the fact that the automotive market is overloaded?
How much does Europe produce for the delight and selfishness of its own citizens without thinking about the starving people in the world?
It is we that are the great hypocrites.

The poor on street corners in your city and in mine starve to death because of you and me. When we become aware of his, there will be no more poor people.
How many European billionaires stash their money in bank accounts thinking about what funds to invest them into?
Why do the European Union and the USA that handle billions and billions of euros every year not offer help to poor African countries, selflessly, without expecting anything in return? Why is there so much money for cultural projects but there is never enough money for helping our starving brothers?

If every European citizen gave one euro per year there would be 830 million euros which can be invested in Africa in order to give the poor bread and clean water. If we, European citizens, gave at least the annual interest to our bank deposits, it still would be something extraordinary.
The list of ways to give up at least 10% of the comfort of western living is long, and the aids gathered this way would be enormous. Nobody claims we have to raise the standard of living in African countries to that of European countries, but let us at least offer them basic food and hygiene products.

God is not the problem, I am. In the same way that in a family the parents and their child have the means to live and after a few years, 4 or 5 more children are born to them and they all have enough food to eat, in the large family of our world, if we shared what we have, everyone would have the necessary nourishment.
‘You give them something to eat!’ (Matthew 14, 16) our Saviour says in His Gospel. Yes! Let us give the poor something to eat and after we all shared our bread with the one next to us and when the wheat is over, only then let us cry out to the Lord: ‘Oh, Lord, we are starving, have you forsaken us?’

God’s answer to your question ‘Why do millions of people die from starvation in Africa every year?’ is the answer that He gave to the wealthy man in the Gospel who saw what a good crop he produced and had no room to store it and torn down his barns to make them larger thinking to himself he had enough goods to enjoy himself. God then said to him: ‘Fool! This very night your soul is required of you!’
This ‘Fool!’ describes the madness of the one who cries out to his father that his brothers are starving while his pantries are full of food.

Why do we experience afflictions? Why do we experience illnesses, fires, natural disasters, accidents, etc.? For the same reason that God put an end to the wealthy man’s life. Because we can’t get enough of living just for ourselves and we cause so much suffering to those around us who wait for a little help from our side. Our larceny and greed are the voice of the suffering of the poor constantly crying out to God. ‘In what way can I set before your eyes the suffering of the poor so that you can understand from what sighs you gather your fortunes?’ Saint Basil the Great says.
How much longer should God tolerate us? We murder our babies through abortions because we fear we can’t feed them. Brothers and sisters quarrel with one another because of money and fortune. People trample on one another for the sake of worldly glory and power, no matter who their victims are.
The world experiences afflictions after years and years God has tolerated us in our meanness.
Why does it experience them? So that we don’t think we are the masters of the Earth. So that we don’t forget that the Lord is our Creator and everybody’s Judge and that it is Him that rules the world, not the higher-ups, as we often falsely think.

If the rich don’t reach down into their pockets out of their own free will in order to help the poor, after years of God tolerating them due to His love, He will punish them out of love and they will lose the money in their bank accounts due to bad business, they will spend it on doctors when they become ill, they will withdraw it from their accounts… unwillingly.

In consequence the conclusion is this: the poor starve to death because we the people don’t give them food and don’t help them and the world experiences afflictions because it is only through suffering that people are awakened to reality and stop being selfish.
The land produces enough crops for everybody every year, the barns are always full… but our greed leads to the starvation of others.

(Claudiu Balan)

Translated by Claudia

Is it a sin to make love before marriage?

Because intimate relationships before marriage are so common and so widely promoted through the media nowadays that they have long ago ceased to seem a sin, I would like to talk again about a few serious7440336-lg both short-term and long-term consequences of these relationships:
1. First of all, making love before marriage is a sin and sin always affects everybody either directly or indirectly because it excludes God and without God’s help there is deep suffering and anguish and nothing goes right.
2. Secondly, it makes a boy look only for that in a girl, sleep with her and after having gotten bored with her, he will look for someone else. It is like eating a bar of chocolate, without caring about feelings, the consequences of intimate relationships… he just leaves and that’s it.
3. intimate relationships before marriage often end up in countless abortions, beastly baby slaughter because nobody takes responsibility for raising a child and at their age young people don’t fully comprehend the great mystery and joy of having a baby.
4. If we agree to make ‚love’ before marriage, how early before getting married should it be? At the age of 20? 18? Or 15? More recently 14 year old girls are given birth control pills… and an 11 year old boy has become a father in England. What madness! What is the limit?
When you are 18 it is easy to say that making love before marriage is not a sin but at 25-30 when you have a little girl or boy you are not that certain anymore, you start to think that at 13 or 14 your little girl is just a kid… you start to think that you wouldn’t want her to get into the wrong hands…
Making love before marriage results in situations where the future husband or wife has had 5 or 6 previous partners which will definitely harm the future family and will lead to arguments and sometimes to serious medical problems as well.
Bodily love between spouses is often confused especially by young people, for a physiological need like hunger, sleeping, etc. Father Arsenie Boca used to say with sadness that when people will stop believing in the mystery of marriage they will be like animals. Unfortunately those days are here. The bodily union between spouses is naturally preceded and dependant on the union of the souls through the mystery of marriage. When we interfere with this harmonious arrangement created by God, sooner or later we will experience the consequences as well.
Intimate relationships outside of marriage also affect those around us via the domino effect, making young people who don’t have a boyfriend/girlfriend feel diffident although they are in no way inferior. They make them try to look better, to do everything possible just to comply with others. In short, intimate relationships before marriage gave birth to an entire industry which produces a lot of money (provocative clothing, cosmetics, beauty parlors for the cult of the body, etc.) all this in order to be attractive and beautiful or handsome and good-looking.
Making love before marriage places intimate relationships among social pleasures, common entertainment, like billiards, going out, seeing a movie, etc although they used to always take place in the intimacy of the family and in the perspective of eternity.
The matter is so serious and causes so much evil that the subject is inexhaustible… but we’ll get back to it.
I’m telling you in all honesty, God had mercy on us, my wife and me, and helped us stay away from this sin, and for that we have received great help and much joy from Him. And we are always in His hands and we never suffered, we never had serious problems, but He has always been by our side and never left us.
If I were 15 again I would do things the same way because I lived the great miracle of our life by obeying the Lord. I have seen what making love before marriage does to a couple, it never brings anything good, nothing but bodily pleasure and very many problems of all sorts. Due to the experiences I’ve witnessed, the people I’ve met and everything that I’ve heard, today I know for sure that making love before marriage is a ‘disease’ which only brings even more ‘diseases’.
On the other hand I’ve seen how full of joy and peace the young people who stayed away from this sin are, they are so full of hope, so peaceful that one can see that sin brings death while doing God’s will always brings light and joy and makes everything in your life go well.

(Claudiu)

Translated by Claudia



					
				

Small catechism for the Young

1. Why should I be moral if those around me aren’t?

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.

(Laurentiu Dumitru)

If God exists, why does nobody have seen Him ?

This question is a trap but it is meant to begin a timeless debate: if God exists, why does nobody have seen Him? Why can I not see Him right now? Although I know He helps me and He is always besides me, although I feel how He often interferes in my life many times a day, anyway I cannot see Him. There were times when many peoples had seen God and spoke with Him.

In the beginning, Adam and Eve talked with God face to face in the way we speak with our loved ones, and they were always enjoying His presence. But being tempted by the devil, they fell in the proud, thinking that they would be like God if they would eat from the tree of good and evil. God had warned them before, if they taste from that tree, they would die. Once they sinned, the following happened:

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.

And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”

So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?” ” (Ge 3, 6-11)

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Why does God work in mysterious ways?

Saint Apostle Paul said: “Who has known the mind of Lord or who has been his counselor?” and folk wisdom reinforces this statement by saying: “God works in mysterious ways.” His “ways” refers to his thoughts on us, in fact his plans about our future; they are “mysterious” because they are confusing and very difficult for our minds to comprehend.

We all have asked God, at one time or another, to give us something and He, although we really wanted it, gave us something else instead. There are cases when we don’t get what we want because we desire wrong things. But how can you know if what you ask for is good or bad?

One of the conditions is that what we ask for us to have positive effects for those around us. Our demands should be beneficial for our family, our friends and the society in which we live.

God has a plan with each of us, but God’s plan for me is very much connected to his plan for the people around me. That is the reason we sometimes wonder why we get into certain situations, near certain people in certain places … It happens because God is taking us in a certain place to be useful to others more than to ourselves.

Everything happens for a reason. The Saints say that all people who come into our lives are sent by God to change us, help us love God more.

But there is one more very important thing to mention: God does all these things taking our choices into consideration. Our freedom does not hinder God’s freedom. That is, our freedom to choose does not prevent God from fulfilling His plan. How is this possible? Because God has the solution for every problem, and no matter how many bad choices we make, He will always try to give us a way out of trouble. His solutions come to us often through the people that He sends into our lives.

I strongly believe in the fact that everything happens for a reason, nothing is random! The person who passed me by on the street at 09.45 in the morning, the car waiting at the traffic lights, the roommate I had in college, the math teacher … they are all part of a plan, the great plan of salvation.

I must confess that, at this point in my life, I do not understand God’s plan with me and my family. I’ve seen so much, I had so many plans and so many thoughts about the future but often life took another turn. I am telling you honestly that I do not understand His plan for me.

When God makes a decision, He makes it in such a way that He may reconcile everyone at once. I ask Him for something, you ask Him for something else…. Think about it, there are tens and hundreds of thousands of people who ask God for something. Certainly some of the demands and desires overlap; on the other hand, there are demands and wishes that damage or hurt the wishes of others. Thus God acts as a mediator between our thoughts and our future plans.

Think about the fact that God’s decisions for us are connected not only to the decisions of the members of our present society but also to the lives of people who died and the lives of the people who are yet to be born. Why? Because our choices affect the future of our descendants and our prayers help the people who passed away and are in hell.

That being told, God’s plan for me is related to the plan He had for my ancestors and to the plan He has for my children and my grandchildren, who are yet to be born. Everything is thought through by God, so that all men have the chance to know the truth and be saved.

The conclusion is as simple as this: when you are angry and do not understand why God does not help, or why He will not change your life like you asked Him, remember that your life is closely linked to that of those around you. An earlier article states that the decisions that each of us makes, affect the world at a greater or lesser extent.

Why does God work in mysterious ways? His ways are mysterious and confusing to us, to our minds, because our understanding is limited, but they are perfectly designed, fully optimized to help people as much as possible, according to their choices. Lord’s thoughts seem confusing because they are too complex; millions of lives are affected by each of His decision.

Often we understand God’s intentions with our lives long after the events occurred. In the short run, the reason why some things happen seems to be a mystery for the most of us.

Not a single hair moves without the will of God, as He himself says in the Gospel. By this we mean that the slightest movement in the universe does not happen outside of God’s plan for humanity. God does not intervene sometimes or sporadically but continuously, moment by moment. Nothing is unknown to Him; He is always connected to our lives.

Father Stephen said that the secular world today sees the creation as a two-story universe. On the first floor humanity and on the second floor God. Each floor exists independently; there is not much interaction and influence between them. By thinking in such a way, we exclude God from our lives, from our consciousness, mostly because His presence shows us our sins and mistakes.

Either way people think or imagine the reality is only one: God created the world and will take permanent care of it until the end of time. Nothing is accidental and everything goes according to a plan, but not a fixed plan, but one that always adapts to our decisions.

The life we live is a result of decisions we have taken, sometimes in cooperation with God, sometimes alone.

(Claudiu)

If God is good, why is there so much evil in the world?

This is one of the questions we are frequently asked by those who are more of a skeptic in the matter of faith in God or by those who do not pass over the church threshold very often. If God does exist, why doesn’t He put an end to evil? If God is almighty, why doesn’t He have the power to set things straight so that nobody would suffer anymore?

I would like to answer this question by telling you about what happens to me as a father in my relationship with my little girl, Sofia, who is almost 2. It is often good to compare our relationship with God to that with our parents, in order to understand more easily what happens to us.

Sofia is now at the age when she can walk very well, she can even run, she climbs everything, she talks, she pulls everything she can get her hands on, she disassembles, she dismantles, she explores everything inside and around the house. Sometimes she falls or gets hurt while playing and that is why I have to watch her most of the time. Sofia is a bit spoiled and she has a personality which becomes more prominent by the day, and that is why we come to “quarrel”. She wants to climb the chair in order to reach the window, she wants to climb the furniture, she wants to touch the stove, or play with the plug, hold her hands under the running water at the sink, etc.

I admonish her and tell her not to do that, otherwise she will get “a bump”. She stops for a little while, listens to me and a few moments later she tries to do it again. I admonish her once more. She stops again feeling a bit ashamed, listens to me carefully and then she tries to do it again. As my words don’t get through to her, I punish her by spanking her and then I emphasize once more that she is not allowed in that place, otherwise something bad will happen to her. It is only then that my admonishment takes effect… although sometimes it happens that she is not afraid even after that and she tries to do it again. That is how I understood that she is not conscious of the danger she exposes herself to, even if I try hard to explain to her.

But sometimes it is too late for me to help her and she falls, gets hurt, hurts herself and starts to cry. She touches the hot pan on the stove stealthily and she gets burned and then she really understands what her mother and I tell her about that place being “ouch” and that she is not allowed over there. She remembers where she got hurt and she no longer has the courage to play over there, moreover she even says all by herself “no, no, no…!” and then she walks away.

I love Sofia very much and I want all the best in the world for her and I wish she would never get hurt, but though I can’t tell her what’s wrong and right all the time, I can’t admonish her every second. I want her to do what’s right, not because I told her so, but because she realized that thing will harm her now or later. I don’t want her to do what’s right due to constraint, because I can see her, and do what’s wrong when she’s by herself. Based on the experience she has achieved until now by playing, on the advice I have been giving her until now and with my help, I want her to manage to keep away from bad and always do good and have a beautiful life.

Thus, the title question related to my relationship with Sofia would sound like this: “If I do exist as a father, then why does Sofia make mistakes?” if Sofia makes mistakes, it doesn’t mean that I want her to make mistakes, or that I don’t exist, but only that I want her to learn to do what’s right willingly.

It’s the same thing in our relationship with God. He wants us to do only good things, and He gives us His help in order for us to do that, but He can’t constraint us, because otherwise He would annul us as individuals, He would turn us into little robots which respond to orders, or into slaves who do what’s right unwillingly and not due to their own conscience. Although He could protect us from suffering all the time, God lets us fall and get hurt sometimes, in order for us to understand from our own experience that defying His Will brings suffering both to us and to those around us. God allows suffering in our lives so that we can see that sin (a wrong choice of our will) only brings us more torment, instead of joy.

But we have to make a clear specification: God allows us to suffer partially and not the way we should as a consequence of our sins….On the one hand we realize why God accepts suffering in the world, but on the other hand we don’t understand his entire plan.

Undoubtedly, God has a plan. As long as God knows everything, He is not surprised by the presence of sin and evil in the world, which bring so much suffering. But if God knows everything since eternity, then He is perfectly capable of using the suffering in the world in order to accomplish His salvation plan. The best and simplest example is Christ, Who suffered in the hands of some evil people. Through His suffering on the Cross and through His Resurrection, we have the certainty of victory over death. It was God’s plan since eternity for Christ to die for our sins, although He was crucified by some people just like us. This means that God included evil and suffering into his salvation plan as a reality in order to fulfill His Will. This doesn’t mean that God is the author of evil, but only that He is above all things and He can even use suffering in order to accomplish a greater good.

If God must stop all evil in the world, then He must put an end to all evil. This means that the killer must be prevented from killing and the thief must be prevented from stealing. But evil firstly begins from the thought and then it would mean that God should prevent us even from thinking sinfully. Thus, in order for God to put an end to evil and suffering, it means He should annul people’s ability to choose and to do what they want. So if God put an end to all evil, would we be free anymore?

Here is in brief why God allows us to suffer:

  • God accepts for evil to happen for reasons that we partially know and on the other hand that we don’t fully understand
  • He uses suffering to teach and discipline people
  • If God chose there were no more suffering in the world, then He would eliminate people’s power to choose according to their will and nature, and thus He would degrade or minimize them, by not trusting them that at some moment they will be able to do the good by themselves
  • He allows suffering in order to prevent even greater future suffering
  • Suffering is a consequence of sin and sin is a choice of our free will
  • Suffering works as a warning for those who intend to do more evil in the future
  • The suffering caused by our bad deeds shows how good God’s commandments are, if we abide by them
  • Suffering breaks us apart from our body and lifts our mind to God. It reminds us that we are as material as the created world and as spiritual as the Uncreated God
  • Suffering reminds us of death, death of the Heavenly Kingdom, the Heavenly Kingdom of our sins, and the sins urge us to repentance, and repentance urges us to change and to good deeds
  • Suffering reminds us that we can’t do anything by ourselves, but only together with the others and with God.

(Claudiu)

Translated by Claudia