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Joy

Past Theme of the Month:

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#1 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 11 May 2008 - 07:10 PM

Dear all,

As a new 'initiative' of this post-Paschal period, in order to help foster discussion of theological and practical themes in the fathers, we are beginning our 'Theme of the Month' programme. This idea behind this is relatively simple: a theme will be chosen for each month, with a thread dedicated to discussing it from the framework of the fathers. This does not mean (and should not be understood as) simply collecting-and-posting quotations / snippets from the fathers on these themes: such quotations will of course be helpful and part of the conversation; but the idea is to foster active discussion of the themes themselves, engaging with the patristic testimony in approaching the issues under address.

Everyone is invited to participate. The only preamble for participation is that all discussion of the theme should be of engagement with patristic testimony. This does not mean every post needs to be a quotation of the fathers; but that the discussion should be driven by striving to understand and articulate the theme from a patristic context, exploring, questioning, and reflecting on the testimony of the fathers on various issues.

We begin with the theme of 'joy', so appropriate to this Paschal period. May this endeavour be fruitful!

XB, Dcn Matthew
Monachos.net

NOTE: A thread has also been opened, to receive suggestions for future month's themes. If you would like to suggest a topic for focused address in this way, please make your suggestions in that thread.

Edited by M.C. Steenberg, 12 May 2008 - 08:33 AM.


#2 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 11 May 2008 - 07:11 PM

"When I consider the actual nature of compunction, I am amazed at how that which is called mourning and grief should contain joy and gladness interwoven with it, like honey in the comb." (St John of the Ladder, The Ladder of Paradise, 7.49)

I should like to 'open the discussion' with this quotation by St John, who was much read during the Great Fast, on the interrelationship of 'grief' and 'joy'. Like many of the fathers, before and after, St John identifies true joy as 'contained' within authentic spiritual grief, so that genuine grief becomes the doorway to joy.

Which raises the question, what is the nature of grief that leads to such a joy? And how is 'joy' to be understood as the 'honey' contained within the honeycomb of grief?

INXC, Dcn Matthew

#3 Kenaniah Stickles

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Posted 11 May 2008 - 07:34 PM

Before we actually start discussing joy, i would like to ask: What exactly is joy? It seems to me that our concept of joy would necessarily be different from that of the secular world (not that I understand their ideas about it either).

#4 Dcn Alexander Haig

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Posted 11 May 2008 - 07:34 PM

Which raises the question, what is the nature of grief that leads to such a joy?


The grief is suffering in a Christ-like way, it is the Cross: "For behold, through the cross joy has come to all the world" (Sunday Matins). It comes to those who are poor in spirit and mourn, who are meek and hunger and thirst for righteousness, who are merciful and pure in heart, who are peacemakers and are persecuted for righteousness sake (cf. Matt 6).

With love in the Risen Christ

Alex

#5 Matthew Namee

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Posted 11 May 2008 - 08:26 PM

Which raises the question, what is the nature of grief that leads to such a joy? And how is 'joy' to be understood as the 'honey' contained within the honeycomb of grief?

This question reminds me of a quotation from C.S. Lewis' The Problem of Pain:

And as to God, we must remember that the soul is but a hollow which God fills. Its union with God is, almost by definition, a continual self-abandonment -- and opening, an unveiling, a surrender, of itself. A blessed spirit is a mould ever more and more patient of the bright metal poured into it, a body ever more completely uncovered to the meridian blaze of the spiritual sun. We need not suppose that the necessity for something analogous to self-conquest will ever be ended, or that eternal life will not also be eternal dying. It is in this sense that, as there may be pleasures in hell (God shield us from them), there may be something not all unlike pains in heaven (God grant us soon to taste them).


I think that Lewis is getting at the idea that, as God is infinite and humans long to know God fully, there will always be "pain," as the human thirst for God will never be quenched. I don't propose this as a total answer to Dcn. Matthew's question, but it seems to me that this is a part of it.

#6 Kalomoira

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Posted 11 May 2008 - 08:28 PM

"When I consider the actual nature of compunction,


For lack of the original text I should like to ask: What is the original (greek?) word for "compunction"? (I have to translate the whole thing to german and I should like to get the basis of the quotation right... - I don't think the original word has the connotation of "remorse"...) - K.

#7 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 11 May 2008 - 08:35 PM

Mr Keneniah Stickles wrote:

Before we actually start discussing joy, i would like to ask: What exactly is joy? It seems to me that our concept of joy would necessarily be different from that of the secular world (not that I understand their ideas about it either).


This is a very good question. You indicate in your own comment that 'our concept of joy would necessarily be different from that of the secular world'. Have you a thought in mind as to how? This would be a good 'first step' to explore in the patristic testimony.

XB, Fr Dcn Matthew

#8 Matthew Panchisin

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Posted 11 May 2008 - 08:48 PM

The grief is suffering in a Christ-like way, it is the Cross


Dear Alex,

It is difficult here to suffer in a Christ-like way as you mention Alex. The reason I say that is because that is a very high way and I don't want to kid myself or be mislead by myself anymore.

Which raises the question, what is the nature of grief that leads to such a joy? And how is 'joy' to be understood as the 'honey' contained within the honeycomb of grief?


Dear Father Deacon Matthew,

It seems to me that the nature of the grief that leads to such a joy is the recognition of how short we often fall. What I mean by that is if not in action than certainly in thought the awareness of sin that we commit willingly or unwillingly is important. The seed of corruption is in us, but in the Orthodox Church one can in truth find joy. In other words we have to go down to go up. Since he who is forgiven much loves much and awareness of how much we are forgiven might move us to a place giving glory to God, so that we may raise on high the King of all. To help us in such ways the Church gives that joy freely. I think that in-depth and frequent confession are essential. What Priest does not desire that members of Christ's flock to be joyful in Christ? The Priest's also experience great joy rejoicing with the flock. The tomb could not contain Christ, so that we can truly say and understand together, O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? There is an anticipation liturgically of this when we are "plugged in" as much as we can be. It is as if the services of the Orthodox Church during Holy week move our souls along to a place where giving glory to God because of his love for all is natural. The reason that it is natural or right within man is because of the love of God, the word became flesh and dwelt among us, the hypostatic union. We can be grafted onto the true vine truly in communion and this is not a past tense situation in the Orthodox Church, today we have heard Orthodox Priest's say,

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God the Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with all of you.

In Christ,

Matthew Panchisin

Edited by Matthew Panchisin, 12 May 2008 - 11:27 AM.
typos


#9 Paul Cowan

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Posted 11 May 2008 - 08:53 PM

Well, this is from a Baptist point of view but seems to start to touch on the secularish side of Kenaniah's question. However the less than chrisitan world will have a bit longer list i suppose.

Paul

#10 Kenaniah Stickles

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Posted 11 May 2008 - 09:44 PM

Thank you, that helps, I think. I'm not sure because I don't really understand emotions, even when I can grasp the concept. I'd heard of the Jesus-Others-You acronym before; it's nice to be reminded of it.

#11 Father David Moser

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Posted 11 May 2008 - 10:26 PM

i would like to ask: What exactly is joy? It seems to me that our concept of joy would necessarily be different from that of the secular world (not that I understand their ideas about it either).


From an article by Archbishop Nathaniel (Lvov) entitled "What Happiness is":

Christ says the following about joy: "… that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full." He also indicates where this joy comes from: "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my father’s commandments, and abide in his love" (John 15: 10 – 11). Here we have the answer to the age-old question. True happiness, true joy, is God’s love, and being with Him. This is completely confirmed by St. Paul when he says: "For the Kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost" (Romans 14:17). John adds this: "…and your joy no man taketh from you" (John 16:22). This means, nothing and no one — neither suffering, nor deprivation, nor persecution, not even death itself.


Fr David Moser

#12 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 11 May 2008 - 11:50 PM

Fr David's quotation from Archbishop Nathaniel echoes what I was thinking. The gospel of St John, chapters 14-17has the greatest discourse on love and joy we have. In fact, I think these four chapters are the greatest words ever written. Joy is the peace of being a slave to God; in this are we free.

#13 Marianthy

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Posted 12 May 2008 - 02:04 AM

Reading the quote from St john, I would like to think that we recieve joy knowing that although we grieve for all our sins...both those we have commited and those we know we are to commit, since no man is ever without sin, that those sins, when grieved for, are taken away from us. How can one not find pure joy knowing that our loving Father washed away our sins through the suffering of His only Son? This in of itself causes us to grieve and mourn for our sinful nature, knowing that so much was suffered for our sake.

Truly humbling.

In Christ,

#14 Matthew Panchisin

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Posted 12 May 2008 - 02:41 AM

I think repentance is the heart of the nature of grief that leads to such a joy. We read that there is joy in heaven over one sinner that repents and certainly we can all bring to mind Saint John the Baptist saying repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. As such repentance must be a key, a list of quotes from the Church fathers would not be difficult to assemble but the most important thing is action by us. I think that action leads to theology in action, liturgical worship of the heart, being born of the Spirit knowing that heaven and earth will pass away but Christ's words will not. "They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." No human being is without sin, so if we are somewhat wise we should all be at Church the new Jerusalem as often as possible repenting. We can bring to mind when the Son of man comes will he find faith? It must be very important for us to go to confession and holy communion in short do what the Church tells us to do, in the fear of God with faith and love come forward. Everything salvific and right points in that direction, hope, love, charity, the longsuffingness of God, his mercy and great love for mankind.

In Christ,

Matthew Panchisin

Edited by Matthew Panchisin, 12 May 2008 - 03:45 AM.


#15 Mary

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Posted 12 May 2008 - 03:14 AM

"When I consider the actual nature of compunction, I am amazed at how that which is called mourning and grief should contain joy and gladness interwoven with it, like honey in the comb." (St John of the Ladder, The Ladder of Paradise, 7.49)

INXC, Dcn Matthew


Oh my goodness! This is beautiful!! It's just what I was trying to put into words a few hours ago!! I was going through Psalm 51, not reading it, but writing it out. Like I was seeing it for the first time, the words: "let the bones you have broken rejoice" stuck out to me. I realized that David is saying that God did the breaking, and he's not asking for healing (at least, not in that part), but he's asking that those broken bones, would rejoice! As I wrote it, I remembered the story someone told me a long time ago about the shepherd, who would break the leg of a runaway lamb, and then hold it till it healed - a method of teaching, and also getting to know the shepherd. I don't know if that's true or not, but it's a nice picture. Sort of.

Broken bones hurt. They don't sing. But I started to wonder, if there wasn't some kind of joy in having your shepherd break your bones and then hold you close. I always thought joy was something that came after some healing had happened. I never thought joy could be infused into the brokenness. Maybe joy is the glue that holds all the brokenness together while it heals.

Please forgive me for my jumbled thoughts. I am not answering any question. I've been feeling sort of all shattered, and sometimes I wonder if I'll ever get pulled together again. Weird thing is, I normally despair when I fall apart, but I haven't found anything to despair about. Is any brokenness so big that God can't fix it?

I can't talk about joy, I do not know what it is. But could it be the fact that I find two seemingly opposite reactions present in my heart at the same time? I see how totally pathetic and empty I am, and yet... I'm excited. Not sure what I'm excited about, but that excitement, seems to be able to energize me to do what I need to do, it even helps me to be patient, and truly listen, when the kids are talking non-stop. The misery that I feel, causes me to quickly ask for forgiveness, whenever I've failed to be as patient as I should.

I don't know. I see that my words are as mixed up as I am. Thank you for that quote, Fr Matthew.

Christ is risen!

Mary.

Edited by Mary, 12 May 2008 - 04:03 AM.


#16 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 12 May 2008 - 07:54 AM

Reading my bible this morning I came across this :

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the lands!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into His presence singing.

Know that the Lord is God!
It is He that made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving,
and His courts with praise!
Give thanks to Him, bless His name!

For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures for ever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 100

#17 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 12 May 2008 - 08:05 AM

Isn't the above the essence of joy?

No matter the circumstances of our lives, joy permeates our every hour, why? Because we are alive, because we want to be one with God, because, through His grace, we keep trying day by day to get rid of "the old man", a bit like King Bruce's little spider that we were taught about in school.

I have always believed that joy is part of God, that it is something that cannot be separated from Him. Some of our contemporary holy men and women were known for their joyful characters. They loved every little thing that was created by God. They were sad when they sinned but were joyful when they confessed their sins and knew that God had forgiven them because they had repented. Only joy can follow repentence and confession.

This is a wonderful topic.

Effie

#18 Misha

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Posted 12 May 2008 - 10:41 AM

"This is the way we should see Christ. He is our friend, our brother; He is whatever is good and beautiful.
He is everything.
Yet, He is still a friend and He shouts it out, "You're
my friends, don't you understand that? We're brothers. I'm not...I don't hold hell in my hands.
I am not threatening you. I love you.
I want you to enjoy life together with me."

Christ is Everything.
He is joy, He is life, He is light. He is the true light who makes man joyful, makes him soar with happiness;
makes him see everything, everybody; makes him feel
for everyone, to want everyone with him, everyone with Christ.

Love Christ and put nothing before His Love.
Christ is Everything.
He is the source of life,
the ultimate desire,He is everything. Everything beautiful is in Christ.

Somebody who is Christ's must love Christ, and when he loves Christ he is delivered from the Devil, from hell and from death. "

elder Porphyrios the Kafsokalyvite

#19 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 12 May 2008 - 11:52 AM

I was just rereading all the posts. Thanks Misha for posting something by Elder Porphyrios. I am rereading one of his books for the third time now I think. Each time it seems I missed half of what I was reading.

"Which raises the question, what is the nature of grief that leads to such a joy?" from post no. 2 by Dcn. Matthew

Elder Paisios said something about this in one of his books. From what I remember, it is as I have already mentioned in a former post : We are sad, feel grief when we realize that we have sinned, but we are filled with joy because of Christ and because we know that He will acknowledge our repentence and forgive us. Christ is our Joy. After confession it is impossible to feel sad.

I will try and find the exact quote.

Effie

When the Spirit of God comes down to man and overshadows him with the fullness of His inspiration, then the human soul overflows with unspeakable joy, for the Spirit of God fills with joy whatever He touches. - St. Seraphim of Sarov

Why do men learn through pain and suffering, and not through pleasure and happiness? Very simply, because pleasure and happiness accustom one to satisfaction with the things given in this world, whereas pain and suffering drive one to seek a more profound happiness beyond the limitations of this world. - Fr. Seraphim Rose

One can be spat upon and reviled, and yet in this suffering there is such a deep, profound peace that one finds it impossible to return to the lifeless state one was in before the suffering. One blesses life and all that is around one, and this blessing becomes universal. Such love can only come from God. This is the only love that Christ is truly interested in the love He came to earth to show and teach humanity. With this love He gave up His Spirit on the Cross. - (Monk Damascene, Orthodox Word #175)


The above quotes are from

http://www.stinnocent.com/

#20 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 12 May 2008 - 12:52 PM

"St. Gregory of Nyssa said that birds and other animals rejoice because of their lack of awareness, while man, being endowed with intelligence, is never happy because of his grief. For, he says, we have not been found worthy even to have knowledge of the blessings we have lost. For this reason nature teaches us rather to grieve, since life is full of pain and effort, like a state of exile dominated by sin.



But if a person is constantly mindful of God, he will rejoice: as the psalmist says, "I remembered God, and I rejoiced" (Psalms 77:3). For when the intellect is gladdened by the remembrance of God, then it forgets the afflictions of this world, places its hope in Him, and is no longer troubled or anxious. St. Peter of Damaskos, "JOY" (from "The 24 Discourses), "The Philokalia"




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