|Thoughts of nowadays (I)|
I would like to start by saying that years ago I couldn’t thought that I would ever be able to write this material (especially in English, this being my first article in this language). However, when thoughts are popping up in your mind and you realize that, unconsciously, some of them are constantly coming back in the spotlight of your brain, I believe it is better to take your time and write them down, organize them and see, in the end, if they make sense to you (and hopefully to other people). And this is what I am trying to do here and I do kindly ask for your patience and understanding when you read (if you are interested to read) what follows this short introduction. One more thing to be clear before starting; it was not my intention to offend anyone and I do respect everyone’s opinion and beliefs. The article presents strictly my point of view and I take full responsibility for everything written herein. Thanks and here it starts.
Since I was a kid, it was my nature to enjoy, at full extent and emotions, every single new event or fact that happened, every new situation or place that I was experiencing, every new people that I have met, or every significant or un-significant thing or object which I have come in contact with. And even if at different stages of my youth I was not quite externalizing these emotions, trust me, they were very intense and comforting for my soul. And this is why probably I consider that I evolved into a very optimistic person. Well, people who know me very well know that this is not quite true all the time. I do have my “dark” moments too, but they do not last long.
However, even though I have been enjoying whatever is new, during my life there was always something that remained as permanency within me; some people would classify it as “old” but for me it has always been new and challenging at the same time. And this is my Christian faith. For people who do not know me, I am following the Orthodox Christian faith, as my ancestors did too. Now, looking back into my early childhood I know that I got this treasure first from my family, especially from my grandmother, my father’s mother. God rest her soul in peace! She was the one who thought me for the first time Our Father! And introduced me to the Holy Trinity. She was the one who showed me how to do properly the sign of Cross and when to do it. She explained to me the Creation as well as the importance of the Incarnation and Resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ. She was the one who brought me to the Church for Sunday liturgy where I received the Holy Eucharist. She used to read to me at home from the Bible and tried to explain, in her simple words, what mean the Holy Mysteries of the Church, like Baptism, Repentance, Eucharist, or even Marriage. She told me why, when and how to fast. She was the one who taught me the respect to our Church, to our saints and icons, and she made sure we properly follow our yearly religious celebrations, taking her time to explain every single one, over and over again. But the most important thing that I got from my grandmother is the real meaning of love. In all her life, she was the perfect example for me (and for many other family members or friends), offering enormous love to God but also to her family, to her neighbors and friends, and to her enemies as well. Thus, I considered myself so lucky that God had such a wonderful plan in initiating me into His world, into Christianity.
Now, during my youth, as a teenager and then as a student, obviously I got exposed to a very different type of world, a society with “scientific” thinking. It was the time when I realized that in order to keep myself sane and safe I had to take care of the treasure received in my childhood through my grandmother, and make sure that I will never give up on faith and love. I am sure many people did the same thing during the communist era that we were passing at that time. And I am so happy that I was able to do this, even though the evil took many faces during those times.
Jumping many years ahead, and starting to live in a totally different society that is very little accustomed to our Christian Orthodox faith, the challenges remained, although somehow different. However, the Christian faith became stronger and stronger, keeping my family and me on the right way of life, at least this is what I hope to be true in our case. And not only us; just looking around to see how many Orthodox parishes have been founded in Canada, and North America in general, in the last two decades and you will realize that there are still lots of Christians on the journey to salvation.
Now, interestingly enough, in this third millennium, after 20 years since the abolition of the atheist communist system and propaganda, the fate (or somebody would say the evil) puts us back in front of the same challenge I have experienced in my youth, maybe with a bit cosmetic add-on. I think it is clear for anyone who keep eyes open that we are living in an era that promotes again a secular life, a preoccupation with earthy matters, a dismissal of “old” values, and the excitement of sensual pleasures. According to the “new school of thought” life has nothing to do with God and everything is reduced to “pleasure is good and I need to get it now”. I don’t want somebody to get me wrong; I do believe that life should give us pleasure too. However, in the modern reality the pleasure is totally separated from the spiritual pleasure, remaining solely within the sphere of bodily senses. In my opinion, some people have been trapped by this modern mirage, being preoccupied more and more by materialistic priorities. This way they have started to forget about the Holy Trinity, maybe, in the best case, hiding it somewhere at the back of their souls. Instead, their new life has begun to be dominated by three other “values”: money, power and lack of morality. It takes just a few minutes to browse your daily morning newspaper, any TV channel or internet site, and you will find at least one of these topics on the front page. In these circumstances, it is obvious to me, and I hope to everybody else, that the real meaning of love, as God left it to us, and as my grandma used to teach me as well, has no real place anymore in this type of world. Because love has been replaced with proudness, selfishness, greediness, shameless and false morality.
For me it is very disappointing to see this happening and I do hope and pray that this is not going to last too long. It is hard to see, and this is recognized by majority of Christian religions, Orthodox, Roman Catholic or Protestant, that some people are becoming indifferent to the spiritual life. I do not believe that they become atheists; however, they do not understand anymore the necessity in participation within the life of Church, they do not see anymore the utility of Sunday liturgies, or prayers. Secularism promotes a life estranged from God, stopping the communion and unity with Him. Instead, it is encouraged the attachment to the earthy matters, viewing all things and events in our life away from God’s will.
It is absolutely strange and sad to see in this type of society that the Old and New Testaments are treated very simplistic as two old and dusty books, that at most could be classified as a collection of legends. The Creation of our world by God is considered a fantasy. But, at the same time, Darwin’s theory of evolution of the same world, by accident (that has never been proven), is studied in schools. People who continue to attend the Church on a regularly basis are considered old fashion, and get weird looks from others, or are even avoided. But if you go to a palm reader or you check the astrologic horoscope on a daily basis, it is super cool.
So, what shall we do in this case?! I would say that we should never lose hope. Personally, I will never lose hope. Because as Apostle John said, “God is love”. Therefore, He loves everybody, just or unjust, caring of Him or not, equally. Because God never gets angry and He will never get offended. Just think a bit how much humility he showed when accepting the death on the Cross! His response demonstrates His eternal love for us: “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they do!”
However, Christ cannot make us love Him! We, as free persons, have a choice, if we want to love him or not. And love must be our free choice to respond to Him. As Christians, we know that those who love Him will be rewarded with eternal life and blessedness. But those who hate Him and reject Him will be led to the eternal death. The great Russian novelist Dostoevsky said very clear: “Hell is the suffering of being no longer able to love.” This might sound very harsh, but there is always a way to get back on track. We all know that as long as we live in this world, our attention will be easier pulled to the wonderful Creation, and we will keep forgetting who the Creator was. But here is the big role of the Church, to always call all of her estranged children to come home and to show them the way. And once back, one will realize that things that seem so important in this world, like money, power, social status, body pleasure, will be meaningless in the world to come. What really matter is one’s love, goodness, mercy, kindness, humility, and peace.
Before I finish, I just want to remember together one of the stories told by Jesus that, in my opinion, fits perfectly with the current world. It is about the younger son of a wealthy man, who decided that life in his father’s house was not satisfying him anymore. So, he asked for the share from his father’s estate and started living on his own. He had a good time until money ran out. And then a severe famine arose in that land. Therefore he ended up working for a farmer, feeding the swine. The story says that while in the pigsty and starving for a bread crust, he “came to himself” and realized how deep he had sunk. Coming back to his father’s house, he begged for forgiveness and he received it and even more.
We are living in a messy world, similar to the situation of the prodigal son before coming to his senses. But as the father of that son opened his arms and put him back to his place of honor, so also God, our Father, will welcome all of us who come back to Him in faith and love. This should be the way of life, because nothing can be done without His support. And let me finish with a true Orthodox prayer, the Jesus prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
Cristian Zamrii 4/17/2009