Rocks, Desert and No Rain

Jerusalem is in a desert. Water is easily the most essential element. There are great aquifers in the area and the politics of water underlies much of the political reality on the surface of the ground.

It was observed by one of our pilgrims that the early Christians left the cities to enter the desert, there to fight with the demons and to find God. But in our modern period, the cities themselves have become deserts, and we tend to see the wilderness as a place to flee the arid emptiness of the city and find something of value (whether God or something else).

This I think is part of the testimony of Christians of that desert place through the ages. Christianity, where water is a rare treasure, places us in a different relationship with the land. Our cities, of course, have plenty of water (in the spiritual sense), but not all of the water is fit to drink. Thus our struggle includes an effort not to be poisoned.

We do not live in a world where religion is a rare phenomenon, but where it is all too common. But we live in a world where the truth amidst all that religion is rare indeed.

All of which brings us back to the heart. For it is the task of the heart to discern between good and evil – sometimes a difficult task indeed. For a Christian, more than ever, our modern world forces us to look not to ourselves, but to the wisdom that has gone before us. The truth as found in Jesus Christ is not new – but is the same truth through the ages. It does not need improvement but obedience.

May God give us the early and the latter rain.

7 Responses to “Rocks, Desert and No Rain”

  1. eneubauer Says:

    “We do not live in a world where religion is a rare phenomenon, but where it is all too common. But we live in a world where the truth amidst all that religion is rare indeed.”

    True indeed. Religion has become just another commodity in the midst of many choices. This is why we have to discern, be careful and ask questions. It requires an open mind and a person who is willing to investigate (a desire to find TRUTH) – and one who will surround him/herself with wise teachers from an orthodox perspective.

    Orthodox Christian perpsective I mean…

  2. Lucias Says:

    “The truth as found in Jesus Christ is not new – but is the same truth through the ages. It does not need improvement but obedience.”

    Father Stephen this is precisely it. So simple and profound. The realization that most of the travesties of faith, even in the protestant view, were from folks inventing new truth is a big part of what has lead me down the path that now has me pondering Orthodox.

    I have been quite enamored with the Commonitories by Saint Vincent of Lerins. Would that we all have followed that. Now we are forced to search for truth amongst the error until we find it.

  3. logismon Says:

    […] Thus our struggle includes an effort not to be poisoned … We do not live in a world where religion is a rare phenomenon, but where it is all too common. But we live in a world where the truth amidst all that religion is rare indeed.

    A monk once told me, “That which imitates the Truth, seeks to work as an immunization. It’s attempt is too give us ‘enough’ so we can catch the ‘real’ thing.”

    St. Ignatius Brianchininov said: “Do not dare to raise your weak hand to stop the elemental tide of apostasy. Avoid it, protect yourself from it, and that is enough for you. Get to know the spirit of the times, study it so you can avoid its influence whenever possible.”

    Archbishop Averky of Jordanville said:

    “The Orthodox Church is not any kind of “monopoly” or “business” of the clergy, as thing the ignorant and those alien to the spirit of the Church. It is not the patrimony of this or that hierarch or priest. It is the close-knit spiritual union of all who truly believe in Christ, who strive in a holy manner to keep the commandments of Christ, with the sole aim of inheriting that eternal blessedness which Christ the Saviour has prepared for us, and if they sin out of weakness, they sincerely repent and strive “to bring forth fruits worthy of repentance” (St. Luke 3:8).”

    He continued: “The Church, it is true, may not be removed completely from the world, for people enter her who are still living on the earth, and therefore the “earthly” element in her composition and external organization is unavoidable; yet the less of this “earthly” element there is, the better it will be for her eternal goals. In any case, this “earthly” element should not obscure or suppress the purely spiritual element—the matter of salvation of the soul unto eternal life—for the sake of which the Church was both founded and exists.”

    He further said: “One must realize and remember that Orthodoxy is not only and always that which is officially called “Orthodox,” for in our false and evil times the appearance everywhere of pseudo-Orthodoxy which raises its head and is established in the world is an extremely grievous but, regrettably, an already unquestioned fact. This false Orthodoxy strives fiercely to substitute itself for true Orthodoxy, as in his time Antichrist will strive to supplant and replace Christ with himself.”

    Anything outward can become a counterfeit.

    Lord have mercy !
    _

  4. logismon Says:

    EDIT:

    A monk once told me, “That which imitates the Truth, seeks to work as an immunization. It’s attempt is too give us ‘enough’ so we CANNOT catch the ‘real’ thing.”

  5. shevaberakhot Says:

    This is a wise monk. Imitation by definition, is NOT the real thing.

  6. elizabeth Says:

    Father Bless!

    I would love to hear more about the discernment you mention. I find it hard to discuss (or even to think of discussing) the concept of discernment between good and evil with many who are more liberal in their beliefs. I also find it hard to understand God’s will and what that (understanding God’s will) means as an Orthodox Christian. What does it look like? To discern these things…

    Thank you.

  7. Margaret Says:

    Yes, Fr. Stephen, if you could reply to elizabeth’s post, I am also interested. I have read that it is wise to say “I don’t know much about that” but there are times when (it seems especially with children) I need to be more positive about discernment.

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