Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Human Remedy

The son of God assumed human nature, and in it he endured all that belongs to the human condition. This is the remedy for mankind, and a power beyond our imagining. Could any pride be cured, if the humility of God's son does not cure it? Could any greed be cured, if the poverty of God's son does not cure it? Or any anger, if the patience of God's son does not cure it? Or any coldness, if the love of God's son does not cure it? Lastly, what fearfulness can be cured, if it is not cured by the resurrection of the body of Christ the Lord?

Let mankind raise it's hopes, and recognize it's own nature: let it observe how high a place it has in the works of God. Do not despise yourselves, you man: the son of God is assumed manhood. Do not despise yourselves, you women: God's son was born of a woman. But do not set your hearts on the satisfactions of the body, for in the son of God we are neither male or female. Do not set your heart on the temporal rewards: if it were good to do so, that human nature which God's son assumed would have thus set it's heart. Do not fear insults, crosses and death: for if they did harm man, the humanity which God's son assumed would not have endured them.

St. Augustine of Hippo. On the Christian Struggle

Saturday, March 28, 2015

11 ways to be saved according to the New Testament

As part of my lenten reading I searched and found 11 ways to be "Saved" by God  in the New Testament (for clarity sake, to be saved means to be made victiorious-Heb, and to be made whole-Grk).

By judging ourselves - 1 Cor 11:31.
For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged.

By confessing our sins and being absolved - Jn 10:23, 20: 19-23.
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us... So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”  And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you (referring to the apostles and thus the successors to the apostolic office) forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” 

By belief in Christ and baptism into Him - Mk 16:16.
He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

By receiving the Eucharist - Jn 6:54.
Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.

By Hearing God’s word and believing those words - Jn 5:24.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.

By the faithfulness of others - Mark 2:3-5.
Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying.  When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.”

By loving and doing what Christ instructed - Jn 14: 21.
He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”

By a working (incarnate) faith and not by faith alone - Jam 2:24
You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. 

By doing what God’s has given us as therapy (His Commands/precepts/ways, &c…) -Mat 19:16
Now behold, one came and said to Him,do that I may have eternal life?” So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” 

By believing Christ and publicly confessing him to be the Lord - Rom 10:9
If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

By the loving mercy of God - Eph 2:4.
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,  that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Knowing What Is Good

"Abbot Macarious was absent one day, and a thief entered into his cell. When he returned he found the thief loading everything he had in his cell onto a camel. He then went into his own cell and took some of the things and laid them on the camel, Finally, when the thief had loaded everything onto the camel, it would not move. Not until the thief emptied the whole load, would the camel depart."

There are certain things that seem right to me, and other things that seem wrong. These inklings are not to be ignored, there is usually a reason for my inclinations. However, I realize that these inclinations can be the result of certain inculcations upon my mind and spirit that are not truly correct.  How can I know for certain if what seems right tome is truly right? Can it be learned from a book?

It seems that the answer is a bit intricate. Surely I can learn from a book, but not because someone wrote their opinions. Opinions are like, --- everyone has one. What makes the difference between opinion and truth when it comes to rightness,is the goodness, purity, and rightness of the individual giving the opinion. It is one thing to hear the opinion of Adolf Hitler, and quite another to hear the opinion of St. John Chrysostom. What I learn from the above quotation is that when a person is good and holy, both what they say and do approximates the truth, and the end result is goodness. It is the person who speaks and does right and good that is worthy of my attention. Holiness is the deciding factor.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Discipline and Humanity

"Discipline is a word connected with the word disciple. Discipline is the condition of the disciple, the situation of the disciple with regard both to his master and to what he is learning. First of all, discipleship mean sincere desire to learn and the determination to learn at all cost. So the first condition if we wish to become disciples fruitfully and learning discipline which will give results, is integrity of purpose. This is not easily acquired. Discipleship begins with silence and listening. If however, we are satisfied with simply listening and interest, without ever doing what we're told, quite soon we shall hear nothing anymore. God does not speak to our mind or to our heart if he does not receive allegiance and obedience from us. God speaks once and he speaks twice, then he withdraws sadly until we are hungry for God; Hungry for truth." 

Metropolitan Anthony of sourozh. Meditations

I found the words of Met. Anthony both insightful and practical. Especially because our western world is becoming more “virtual” with each passing day.  It seems that all of us, at least all of us who engage in the world of computers and the internet, find ourselves living in a cyber-world for an extensive part of our day. I like and appreciate technology, and I realize that there is no going back to precyber-life if we can help it, cyber-life is here to stay.

Nevertheless, I also realize that I must struggle to maintain my feet planted in the true, physical earth. Why? Because cyber-life is incomplete, there is no one truly there, cyber-life is full of only thoughts and images. And these thoughts and images, as important as they are, are not the fullness of life. In the cyber-world I can know and think about good things and never truly do them, I can think kind thoughts yet have true kindness far from me. 

For this among other reasons, the above quote from Met. Anthony seems so powerful. With his words, he makes it clear that I can listen, and try to learn and understand the precepts and concepts of goodness all day long, yet if I fail to put them into practice these thoughts are only a phantasm, a delusion of my imaginations.  This failure to take on the desired act then makes me worse off than when I began. Why? Because now I know the “GOOD”, but find myself unable to be moved by it.  I believe that this is what the author means when he says, “If however, we are satisfied with simply listening and interest, without ever doing what we're told, quite soon we shall hear nothing anymore.”  

If I truly believe that Christ is God in human flesh, and as thus the true human being in his fullness (at least that is what I am convinced of intellectually and emotionally),  then I must assess my moment by moment living. When I do this and I find seismic shortcomings. Why? Because the life Christ presents to me in His gospel and through the church wherein He abides cannot be topics for my mere thought.  His very life must be taken on, I must actively take on Christ’s discipline. This means that I must have a plan, a way with real and actual steps that are to be carried out. Salvation is nothing less that being made into Christ's image.  That process cannot stop at my thought/image world, but must be made flesh in me.  It is with the acknowledgment of this contemporary tendency that my life in the Orthodox Church becomes so precious. The Orthodox life is a way of life in this real world that if followed actually forms Christlikeness in me. It is no mere delusion.

To Him who gives us strength and grants us victory.

Welcome to Orthumanitas.

According “Word Press”, one of the largest blog hosts in the world., there are over 17.6 billion blogs in existence. Consequently, it is highly improbable that another blog will change much in the world, except of course for the blogger, and to a lesser degree the few persons who interact with the blogs content.

I have blogged, on and off, for about the last ten years. Initially, I thought that I had something  to say that others might find helpful or even educational and transformative. I quickly learned that it is pretty delusional to think you have something to say that is going to help the world. 

Consequently, I decided to stay away from blogging regularly for the last two years. During that time I have rethought the purpose and benefit of blogging. I am by no means sure I now have it correct, however, I want to blog again. I must say however that my intentions and expectations are very different this time. 

My primary intention is to use the blog as a public way of journaling my experiences and thoughts.  My desire is not to address mere random thoughts or experiences, but those that are most instrumental towards the journey of becoming a true human being, specifically becoming a Christlike person. This is not to say that homo-sapiens are humans. We are indeed human beings, however, we are not fully or truly human beings in the sense that we have not arrived at our full potential.  So then, the point of this blog is to publicly consider, and discuss the process of becoming fully human. Hence the name, “Orthumanitas”, right or true humanity.

My secondary intention is to dialogue with any all who might read the blog posts, in other words, I am making my private journal public for the sake of my own growth and increased understanding. I am convinced that each individual life, lived out as a person experiencing time and space on an individual platform, is very limited in scope and understanding. The more we share what we see with each other, the greater our possibility for a larger scope and  understanding. I am convinced that becoming fully human is not a private race run in ones own mind, but rather a corporate experience only understood through the eyes of all. 

The blog topics will mostly deal with issues of daily life, social issues, philosophical conundrums, and the like. Feel free to read, follow, or critique any post. Just one request, play nice.