May God Grant Us To Weep

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From the writings of the Elder Sophrony:

Spirtual weeping is an abundance of life springing vigorously from potent love, whereas ordinary weeping prostrates mortal man…. The ascetic Fathers did not weep because they were deprived of temporal goods but they do insist on the necessity for spiritual weeping without which man’s stony heart is incapable of love as taught by the Gospel. The mind of the Christian who weeps is totally directed towards the sphere of Divine eternity. The commandments of Christ refer exclusively to this. A whole multitude of circumstances unacceptable  to those living the banal life of this world are disregarded by him who weeps according to God’s commandment. Poverty holds no terrors for him, he will not be dismayed by insults or slights from the sons of this generation, nor by blows of any sort, because not only his mind but his feet, too, are lifted high above ground. He feels compassion for people, sorrow over them before God, but he does not share their interests, inspired as he is by his striving after immutable Truth.

From We Shall See Him As He Is

For anyone who dares write for publication on the internet, there is a dangerous invitation. Unless you establish strict controls (my controls for this Blog are not wide open, but neither are they very tight) you have established yourself as a target. Part of the task of maintaining a blog is clearing out the spam on a daily basis which alone is disheartening because it consists primarily of comments that are seeking to plant links to pornography. Just the names for such links can be sickening.

On other occasions you have people posting who simply make no sense – and I don’t know what to say to nonsense.

I gladly write about Christianity, Culture and even Atheism because I think these are areas where conversation is useful. I am a missionary and I make no apology.

But this also has a way of inviting angry comments (I get the occasional one or two).

Most disheartening are the vituperative comments from Christians. Since I am Orthodox, I am not surprised that a large portion of my readers are Orthodox – and it is probably the audience I have most in mind when I write – that and those who may be interested in learning more about certain aspects of the Orthodox faith. Happily, comments from these readers are generally positive and supportive and are an encouragement to me that I value immensely.

I remain dismayed at comments from Christians which must be deleted either because of their anger, or because reading them would do harm to others. It is not unlike hearing confession. We all bring material to confession that we would prefer not to broadcast or for anyone but God to know – and we would like Him to forget. In such cases there is a ready forgiveness. But I would ask you to pray for those whose comments you will never see (because I will not publish them). May God’s mercy be with the angry, the mean, the misinformed and the violent (at least in language).

A monk once told me, “We need go no further than our own heart to find the cause of all violence in the world.” And it is true. May God help us all and teach us to pray for one another – “those who love us and those who hate us.” May paradise consume us all. Glory to God for all things.

27 Responses to “May God Grant Us To Weep”

  1. smijer Says:

    You expressed a concern over spam in your comments from pornographers & the like. I know this may seem a silly question, but I want to be sure that you are aware of the value of Akismet (or other such spam filtering software) and have something installed here. I use Akismet on my blog and it is *extremely* rare that anything slips through of that nature. I don’t moderate “human” comments very closely myself, as I am comfortable with people expressing anger or ideas I think are wrong, as long as readers understand that they are the anger and opinions of others. So, I don’t know any tools that would help you in that regard – but for the ordinary spam, I hope you are using the aid of one of these WordPress plugins.

    By the way – I enjoy your posts. I have long been interested in learning about Orthodox Christianity (which is very uncommon in the southeastern U.S. where I live), but your blog is one of the very few resources I have found that are helpful for me.

  2. Katia Says:

    Fr. Stephen Bless,

    I appreciate all your hard work to spread the Word!!! Thank you very much!!!

    Your blog since i joined it by accident (or providence) gave me a lot and i do not have words to express it. It feels as if i know you personally and your writings make me think about God and what i am doing wrong and trying hard to correct myself, it feels like you are my father who guides me through the hardships in life.

    With love in Jesus Christ

  3. handmaidleah Says:

    I understand, I have been there. To handle such with grace and love is always the goal. Thank you Father…

  4. Jane Says:

    Here is something from Metropolitan Anthony which was in “The Bible and the Holy Fathers” with today’s readings. It is not related to this post in particular, but perhaps to the blog as a whole. It certainly struck me to the heart.

    (Bishop Anthony is commenting on the meaning of the words “discipline” and “disciple”):

    “Discipleship begins with silence and listening … If we are satisfied with simply listening in interest, without ever doing what we are told, quite soon we shall hear nothing any more. 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, … and then … He withdraws sadly until we are hungry for God, hungry for the truth.” (Meditations, 1971, p. 15-17)

  5. Dianne Says:

    Thank you, Father, for the gatekeeping you do to keep the comment area of this blog edifying. It’s a dirty job, and you wouldn’t have to do it if you just closed up shop, and who could blame you? Since yours is the Orthodox blog I’d miss most if it disappeared (well, almost the only one I read anymore), I’m grateful for your labor of love here.

  6. elizabeth Says:

    Father bless! I am also greatful for your work in this blog. To live out the beatitudes and love those who persecute is a challenge. I do not know if I knew how hard it was to be a Christian before I joined the Orthodox Church. Again, my thanks.

  7. Zoe Says:

    Thank you, Fr. Stephen for this blog.

    Lord have mercy on me that I may weep more often because of the realization of how great God’s Love is and how enduring is his mercy and
    may I weep more out of compassion for others rather than self pity.

    When I feel apathetic, I beg the Lord to fill that void in my heart with the Love that is in Christ. Lord have mercy on us all.

    Fr. Stephen, I feel that apathy is as deadly as anger, please correct me if I’m wrong.

    Thank you for all your work in maintaining and keeping this site safe.

    May God bless you and all the work that you do.

  8. Meskerem Says:

    Father thank you for this blog.

    I appreciate also what you have done to allow us get one good thing to think about during the day in our way of life. (Orthodoxy). I hope soon there will be an easier way for you that will filter some of the gross ones.

    I have learned a lot from all your writings. May the Lord give you the strength and patience in this difficult work that consumes a lot of your time.

    God Bless!

  9. Karen Says:

    Dear Father, bless! The others have said it all, but I will join them. You show yourself to be a true spiritual Father to all in this labor of love. We lift you and your work up to the Lord that He might continue to give you wisdom and strength for this task.

  10. Isaac of Syria Says:

    Fr. Stephen,

    I hope the negative aspects of blog writing don’t work to dissuade you from continuing to write. Even if you had to turn off comments I hope you will keep writing.

  11. Deb Seeger Says:

    oh please Vater Stephen, usually people who are angry in word or action have a root in brokenness, hurt or disappointment in their lives. I pray you will not give up on the evils of the world but press on in prayer for those hurting and no discipline to vent properly. We love you, even though we have never met, we appreciate your labor and your dedication. Even though I do not get an opportunity to read your blog every day, it is almost without fail a parallel to my personal walk with God that I sometimes doubt its reality. Reading and hearing your words, helps me to confirm our God is an awesome God.

  12. Deb Seeger Says:

    PS Vater is Father in German.

  13. Jonathon Says:

    Father,

    I pray that you are granted the persaverence to continue! Although I may not understand all the topics that are discussed here, I am encouraged to find out more. You have a gift for bringing me to understanding, and I pray that many others find this true as well! Both of the Priests that I talk to regularly have recomended me to this site. God Bless you, Father, your efforts are not in vain!

  14. MaryGail Says:

    This blog has been an incredible blessing to me. I do thank Fr. for the unpleasant aspects of this work which we do not see on a daily basis. So many times the topics that Fr. discusses address exactly what is current in my life at the very time that I click over to this blog. I have learned so much from this blog and have discovered so many incredible authors and literature. Fr. Stephen is one of three people who lead me to Orthodoxy and I cannot thank him enough for that glorious gift.

  15. luciasclay Says:

    To the Sophrony quote. The hardest of all is not fearing poverty for those who you are responsible to support. For ones self alone it is easier. And harder still is to disregard the slights and insults.

    It occurs to me that one who weeps, who sees the world in this light, will be declared crazy by the modern world. Of course that may not be a bad thing.

    I will pray for myself, for those whose comments I do not see, but also for you Fr. Stephen. That you will also not succumb to the passions as you moderate these comments, and also that you will continue to be an instrument of God and continue publishing for many years.

    A sincere thanks for this blog.

  16. kay Says:

    Dear Father bless! We can’t say ‘thank you’ enough for this blog, this gift. We pray for you to continue, and read it every day.

  17. Margaret Says:

    This blog has been such a blessing to my life, thank you! God is constantly merciful and you have revealed that truth consistently. I pray that He bless you and your family in all you do.

  18. fatherstephen Says:

    Thank you all for the kind remarks and reminders. I’ve had that piece sitting in my drafts for months – ignoring it – though the hassles continue, not always as personal as others. I do not think I could stop writing any easier than I could stop breathing. I have no doubt of God’s call in it and the many kindnesses I receive grossly outnumber the hassles.

    Luciasclay, I especially appreciated the reminder from Fr. Sophrony. We must never forget to practice what we write – if what we write is of God!

    Thank you all for your prayers. These I deserve least of all and they mean the most of all.

  19. Fr Protodeacon David Kennedy Says:

    Father bless.
    Dear Father Stephen, this is an outstanding blog. It clearly speaks of Christ and proclaims Him as the Way, the Truth and the Life. It is free of ideology and subjective agendas. There is great substance in the words you offer the reader, a substance that can be taken to heart and which has the potential to change the heart. This blog is rooted in the Apostolic faith in the Lord, and the patristic witness and articulation of the faith as it is lived even to the present day.

    I thank God for you and because of you. I pray that God will strengthen you with His Divine Energies to run the good race to completion. Thank you for proclaiming the joyous news of Christ’s death and resurrection, and how we are to live it.

  20. Deacon Woodcutter Says:

    Father Stephen, God Bless you! When Jesus spoke walked in the throngs of people, the crowd would have been noisy, demanding and very disorganized. Writing a blog is something like that. As you edit you can imagine Jesus feeling the tug of the sick women on his clothing. He was able to discern the one in need. As you blog you give us the opportunity to tug on the shirt tail of Jesus. God bless you for feeling the tug!
    Deacon Woodcutter

  21. Mark Epstein Says:

    Father Stephen,

    I began blogging in 2005, and I know exactly what you are referencing with regards to spam. However, it wasn’t until I began writing on the topic of Christianity that virulent opposing views arose. Unfortunately, the hate-filled comments and emails came from those who believed their theologic sacred cows had been somehow maligned. The most gruesome comments were reserved to those who believed there was no other systematic theology in the universe but theirs. This latter group also left no room for any mystery and some even claimed to know God’s timeline for man, since they had read Annales veteris testamenti, a prima mundi origine deducti. What I learned from the experience was to press closer to God and focus on love and later mercy. In turn, God blessed me with a chance introduction to the Orthodox faith.

    Mark

    P.S. Frau/Fraulein Seeger: Wo kommen Sie aus?

  22. Sean Says:

    Deacon Woodcutter wrote:
    “… you can imagine Jesus feeling the tug of the sick women on his clothing. He was able to discern the one in need.”

    That was a wonderful parable. Christ was in the centre of a huge mob, being pulled and pushed, but when the sick woman tugged His robes He called “Who touched me?” as if there was only one human being that was touching him at that moment: He saw and knew that within all the noise and the comings and goings of benign and not-so-benign intentions there was someone desperate for His attention, for His mercy and His help. Thus Christ reaches, I strongly believe, through the words of this blog, to people thirsty or even desperate for Him, through all the noise of our benign or not-so benign remarks and reactions.

    I suspect Father Stephen does not really need our support and encouragement, although we offer it whole-heartedly: We are part of the mob (albeit the faithful part) and his work is the robe through which people in need find the Source of Life. I think he gets support from up high, a kind of support we could never have given!

  23. Katia Says:

    Father Bless,

    Something that had been sent to me and i would like to share it with you all:

    A farmer had some puppies he needed to sell. He painted a sign advertising the 4 pups And set about nailing it to a post on the edge of his yard. As he was driving the last nail into the post, he felt a tug on his overalls. He looked down into the eyes of little boy
    >>
    >> ‘Mister,’ he said, ‘I want to buy one of your puppies.’
    >>
    >> ‘Well,’ said the farmer,
    >> as h e rubbed the sweat off the back of his neck, ‘These puppies come from fine parents and cost a good deal of money.’
    >>
    >> The boy dropped his head for a moment.
    >> Then reaching deep into his pocket,
    >> he pulled out a handful of change
    >> and held it up to the farmer.
    >>
    >> ‘I’ve got thirty-nine cents.
    >> Is that enough to take a look?’
    >>
    >>
    >> ‘Sure,’ said the farmer.
    >> And with that he let out a whistle.
    >> ‘Here, Dolly!’ he called.
    >>
    >> Out from the doghouse and down the ramp ran
    >>
    >> Dolly followed by four little balls of fur.
    >>
    >> The little boy pressed his face against the chain link fence. His
    >> eyes danced with delight.
    >> As the dogs made their way to the fence,
    >>
    >>
    >> the little boy noticed something else stirring inside the doghouse
    >>
    >> Slowly another little ball appeared, this one noticeably smaller. Down the ramp it slid. Then in a somewhat awkward manner, the little pup began hob bling toward the others, doing its best to catch up….
    >>
    >> ‘I want that one,’ the little boy said, pointing to the runt. The farmer knelt down at the boy’s side and said, ‘Son, you don’t want that puppy. He will never be able to run and play with you like these other dogs would.’
    >>
    >> With that the little boy stepped back from the fence, reached down, and began rolling up one leg of his trousers.
    >>
    >> In doing so he revealed a steel brace running down both sides of his leg attaching itself to a specially made shoe.
    >>
    >> Looking back up at the farmer, he said,
    >> ‘You see sir, I don’t run too well myself,
    >> and he will need someone who understands.’
    >>
    >> With tears in his eyes, the farmer reached down and picked up the little pup.
    >>
    >> Holding it carefully he handed it to the little boy.
    >>
    >>
    >> ‘How much?’ asked the little boy. ‘No charge,’ answered the farmer,
    >> ‘There’s no charge for love.’
    >>
    >> The world is full of people who need someone who understands

  24. Love: We all need to give and receive — “no charge” « ULTIMATE TRUTH Says:

    […] Courtesy of Katia […]

  25. coffeezombie Says:

    Father Stephen, I, also, would like to thank you for all the work you put into this blog. Not only for your writing, which has been immensely helpful to this recent convert from Southern Baptistry😉, but also for the unseen work you put into keeping the discussions on this site edifying.

    I’m sure you run the risk of offending people even more when their comments are rejected. We have come to expect every site on the Internet to be a free-for-all, and feel like we have the right to say whatever we want, and if someone censors our comments, that person is violating our rights. Thank you for having the courage to censor (such a nasty word these days) the comments that would be harmful despite that attitude.

    Spam is a terrible thing, but I think harmful, intentional comments are worse. Spam may tempt us, but for someone who spends much time online, you learn to mostly just ignore it. Besides, spam filters get better every day.😉 Actual comments, of a harmful nature, however, more easily, I think, lead us into sin. How sad it would be for such a helpful blog to hijacked by such harmful things!

  26. Darla Says:

    Father, I have not been to the blog for a few days and just now read through this post and the comments. I add my wholehearted thanks that you press on with publishing your writings here. I’ve said it before, buy my husband and I both read regularly.

    We’ve now officially become enquirers of Orthodoxy as we’ve spoken with the pastor of our protestant church and have left that congregation. We will be attending our local Orthodox mission church mostly, with trips to the “mother” church (45 minutes away) from time to time. We were wonderfully blessed to attend this mother church for the first time yesterday for a hierarchical divine liturgy as Bishop Joseph was visiting. It was so beautiful! Both the church and the service. After Pascha we will be taking the enquirer’s class with our Father Joseph.

    More often than not, someone we meet will inevitably apologize for the length of the Orthodox service which makes me chuckle! We’re enjoying the long services of true worship to God. It’s so refreshing.

    So, yes, please — we ask that you keep publishing and we humbly thank you for handling the yuck that you have to deal with by doing so.

  27. Kevin - Isaac Says:

    Dear Father Stephen,

    Your blog is a staple of my internet usage and a source of constant encouragement. As one raised in protestant evangelicalism (efca) who entered the Orthodox church as an adult (goarch) I greatly appreciate your thoughtful insight and perspective on the Orthodox faith. It is often my desire to leave a comment, but I usually refrain from doing so, mainly because I find no worthy response within me, save to sit silently, thinking and nodding in agreement.

    I’m quite sure there are many like me, watching daily at the gates, as it were, and reaping blessing. I hope this knowledge will help in some small way to dilute the poison of the few, who for whatever reason, engage in the negative expression that seems to occur so easily in an environment such as this.

    Blessing and Peace

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