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Joy

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#41 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 22 May 2008 - 07:22 AM

It all comes back to the meaning of joy. How do we interpret this word? I believe most of us on this forum know that the joy we are referring to in our posts is a deep joy that comes from communion with God, that transcends ordinary everyday "feelings". We do not need to feel wildy happy with our lives every second in order to believe that joy, which is indeed a fruit or gift of the Holy Spirit, is a part of us. How can we be sad when we know that the Trinity is a part of us? We are saddened when we sin, no matter how small the sin, because sin prevents us from our ultimate goal - union with God. But, we also know that God is there is "giving us a helping hand", we know that we are one with him, because that is what we have decided to be. We are chosen by God but we need to decide that we want this, remember what is mentioned in Revelation. God knocks, we answer. First the brain, then our insignificant feelings.

This joy that we feel even in the midst of grief is from God.

I'm sorry but I'm going to include a personal experience because I am basically a practical person and what is religion if not a practical day to day application of God's laws.

When my son was in intensive care a few years back, my husband and I were waiting outside in the corridor and I was reciting the Jesus Prayer to myself, connecting with God. I can say with absolute certainty that He was with me, and underneath the anxiety and the grief, I was calm -however contradictory that sounds. Some might say that I was just numb, but I don't believe this. This serene feeling did not abandon me even when the doctors told us how close we had been to losing him. I believe that this is the joy we are speaking about.

At the least expected moments it comes flowing up from the depths and we are completely immersed in it.

Yesterday morning I went for a drive and to my amazement snapdragons of every colour were absolutely everywhere. They were even coming out of cracks in the paths! I realize that this unusual phenomenon has something to do with the weather, but I couldn't help thinking of how hardy this little plant is, it doesn't seem to need much water and a small amount of earth is enough for it to burst forth and magnify God. What indescrible joy I felt. I thanked God for just being alive and capable of experiencing this beauty.

Effie

#42 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 22 May 2008 - 07:30 AM

I think Mary's post helps me to see where we are at here. If I understand aright now, we are saying that joy as the world understands it (perhaps we can call it 'pleasure') is quite different in kind from Christian joy because pleasure is not spiritual but is at worst derived from gratification of the passions and at best an intellectual or emotional response. My own experience (as one who has been 'acquainted with grief') is that the tension between the emotional response to grief that all people feel and the proper spiritual response to grief one knows one should have is what causes the 'dilemma' to which Fr Dcn Matthew refers. I find that this dilemma is of the same kind as we always feel when our fallen nature tugs hither and our spiritual nature thither. It is an aspect of the struggle between the old man and the new. I found (and, I have to say, if I am not being too personal and particular here, still find) that the spiritual joy that grace bestows to console grief exists along side, as it were, the grief as it is more naturally felt. St Basil the Great deals with this very well in his letters of consolation to Nectarius and his wife. In fact, I adapted a brief passage from one of those letters for the inscription on my wife's grave stone: 'earth hath not covered our beloved but heaven hath received her'. This seems to me to sum up the dilemma: our being bound to the things of earth by our fallen nature but at the same time looking towards heaven as our spiritual nature impells us.

#43 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 22 May 2008 - 08:00 AM

Effie has put it much better than I did.

I'm sorry but I'm going to include a personal experience because I am basically a practical person and what is religion if not a practical day to day application of God's laws.


I agree - Christ in his mission on earth dealt with people's practical problems and pains.

This serene feeling did not abandon me even when the doctors told us how close we had been to losing him. I believe that this is the joy we are speaking about.



Yes, it is this joy we mean. You feel it even though it gets mixed up with other stuff.

To get a bit personal again. At my wife's burial, a young Cypriot woman who felt close to her burst into tears and was sobbing away. Father Zacharias, in genuine astonishment, turned to her and said, 'what's the matter with you? Why are you crying? Katerina's in heaven - is that something to cry about?'

#44 Mary

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Posted 22 May 2008 - 02:23 PM

To get a bit personal again. At my wife's burial, a young Cypriot woman who felt close to her burst into tears and was sobbing away. Father Zacharias, in genuine astonishment, turned to her and said, 'what's the matter with you? Why are you crying? Katerina's in heaven - is that something to cry about?'


Forgive me, but I think, that wasn't the right response from Fr Z. Andreas, you mentioned in the previous post, about a "Proper, spiritual response to grief"... And I honestly, and seriously and sincerely believe, that weeping is a proper, spiritual response to grief. Why did Jesus weep at Lazarus's tomb, when he knew that he was going to call him out in a few minutes?

I agree with Effie... I think we all sort of know what this Joy is that we're talking about, but we can't really talk about it. Perhaps it's just too deep for ordinary words. I felt it when my Dad died. I didn't feel it instantly. I had to weep first. And I didn't restrain myself, I cried whenever I felt like it. My uncle, was also filled with grief, but he had the responsibility of getting me home, so he tried to find strength in avoiding the topic of my Dad's sudden death and talked about wonderful things that God is doing in the lives of others. I was very angry with him. So I avoided him and wept alone. We could've wept together. It would've done us both good. But, 3 days later, when I got home, I was out of tears. My mom thought I must have the hardest heart in the world, because I couldn't cry even when I saw her cry. But in a while, she felt it too. We had peace. God was taking care of us. This is what we put on Dad's grave: "He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces." (Is 25:8) In fact, even before the burial, we all felt like death had indeed already been swallowed up, even though we couldn't see Dad anymore.

A few months later another friend died, also in an accident. His wife wept. There were people telling her that she shouldn't weep, because he was now in heaven. Seriously... just weep along, if you can weep, if you can't, then have the heart to remain silent, because wrong words are the worst things in a moment of grief. Grief, is something deep and sacred, it touches parts of your soul that nothing else can touch, and the only thing that best accompanies grief is silence. And tears.

So I let my kids cry when they need to, even if it's from self pity. I don't try to point out that it's useless to cry about it, or that it isn't even something to be cried about, or worse still - that they deserve the pain they've got. I just hold them and say nothing. Amazing how fast their pain disappears. And once they've stopped crying, then I talk (just because, i haven't mastered the art of remaining silent, and absolutely have to talk, even if it isn't well thought out... - I think the Fathers call it incontinence! Lord have mercy.)

In Christ,
Mary

#45 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 22 May 2008 - 06:48 PM

Dear Mary,

Many thanks for your post. There's a lot in what you say and I'm sure you're right about the need to cry.

#46 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 23 May 2008 - 06:39 AM

Yes, I agree with Andreas. Mary, your examples are good ones because they outline exactly what is meant by joy in grief when this touches our personal lives.

Pain is eased a little with crying. When my mother was reeling with shock after a tragedy in our family, my sister and I kept asking her (ordering her, really) to stop crying because we were concerned about her. An old woman (so much wiser than us and an old friend) approached and whispered that we should let her cry as much as possible because she needed to. She too had had a lot of tragedy in her life.

But God is our anchor and instead of spiralling down into depression, He is there to help us survive whatever tragedies happen in our lives. My priest has also told me that we should not grieve when someone dies, but because we are human and weak we need to.

Effie

#47 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 23 May 2008 - 09:14 AM

"When you are praying alone, and your spirit is dejected, and you
are wearied and oppressed by your loneliness, remember then, as
always, that God the Trinity looks upon you with eyes brighter
than the sun; also all the angels, your own Guardian Angel, and
all the Saints of God. Truly they do; for they are all one in God,
and where God is, there are they also. Where the sun is, thither
also are directed all its rays. Try to understand what this means.

St. John of Kronstadt"



"38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38,39"

And that is why we are filled with joy.

#48 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 23 May 2008 - 09:24 AM

One more quote from St. John of Konstadt :

"Oh, what great happiness and bliss, what exaltation it is to
address oneself to the Eternal Father. Always, without fail, value
this joy which has been accorded to you by God's infinite grace
and do not forget it during your prayers; God, the angels and
God's holy men listen to you.

St. John of Kronstadt "

#49 Mary

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Posted 24 May 2008 - 04:14 AM

But God is our anchor and instead of spiralling down into depression, He is there to help us survive whatever tragedies happen in our lives. My priest has also told me that we should not grieve when someone dies, but because we are human and weak we need to.

Effie


Well... I've been wondering if there's different kinds of grief, too, just as there is different kinds of joy?

I don't think it's wrong to be weak. I think it's wrong to pretend we're strong. Of course, I'm only saying that because all my life, I pretended I was strong. Trained myself to never shed a tear in public, especially, not in front of my mother. I cried alone. So I was never comforted. I did not know how to seek comfort. I always longed for it, but it meant making myself vulnerable and totally trusting someone else. It meant, being willing to completely surrender control of the situation. I didn't trust anyone to that degree.

I didn't trust God either.

There's two ways to weep, I think. One, is in anger - which is what I trained myself to do. That involves a lot of negative things, such as self pity, questioning God, self righteousness, etc. It's where you feel like you're a victim, you feel like you're hated and uncared for, etc. You know God is powerful enough to have prevented it, so you think, the reason he didn't prevent it is because he doesn't really care a whole lot.

The other weeping, is simply because it hurts. When you fall, it hurts. When a bone breaks, it hurts. When your friend dies, it hurts. Such things happen, because the whole world is broken. Even the earth is groaning in pain. When I find myself crying just because it hurts, I'm usually not accusing anyone of anything. I just feel like I'm holding a whole lot of broken pieces in my hands and crying because something broke. I take it to my Father because he can fix it. He doesn't just take it and fix it... he first holds me and lets me cry. And then, once all my crying has left me, maybe he'll even let me 'help' him fix it.

Forgive me. I live in the world of children, and I just wonder sometimes, if I'm not just a little child in the dimension of eternity. My kids, when they need to cry, they need to cry. I actually like the times when they need a good cry, because that's when they let me hold them and I really do like holding them. I know. Kinda selfish. But, what can I do. I just do like it when they cuddle with me. But when they're happy, they don't hang around, they go off to play with their friends.

It doesn't work when they're whining though, it only works when they're crying from pain. I don't try to comfort a whiny kid either. I send them to their room to listen to their own voices and annoy themselves. Perhaps that's the difference between one grief and another. One is just whining, and the other, is truly crying.

I feel God closest to me, when I'm hurting. And I like that closeness. If He'll only hold me so close when I'm hurting, then I hope I never stop hurting! Sadly, my weeping is mixed with my old kind of weeping, so I waste a lot of pain.

Now I'll have to go back and read all the quotes you posted. =)

In Christ,
Mary.

#50 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 27 May 2008 - 08:02 AM

Dear Effie and others,

Thank you for the recent quotations. I was particularly appreciative of this by
St John of Kronstadt:

"Oh, what great happiness and bliss, what exaltation it is to address oneself to the Eternal Father. Always, without fail, value this joy which has been accorded to you by God's infinite grace and do not forget it during your prayers; God, the angels and God's holy men listen to you.


This is slightly different than the emphasis of definitions of joy we've looked at before. Here joy resides in the act of presenting oneself before God. It is not as explicitly tied to the receipt of God's presence / communion in God as some earlier quotations; rather, its emphasis is on the privilege of being a creature able to stand before God and the angels with openness and freedom.

This adds an interesting dimension to any definition of joy. And it calls attention to a point Mary has recently made:

Well... I've been wondering if there's different kinds of grief, too, just as there is different kinds of joy?


This is a wise observation. Surely we face the same temptation on this topic as we do on any other: to attempt a 'hard-and-fast', 'ultimate answer' to the question. But joy, if it is truly bound up in the communion of God and man and the various dimensions associated with that communion, is utterly dynamic inasmuch as it is always personal.

XB, Dcn Matthew

#51 Peter S.

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Posted 27 May 2008 - 06:37 PM

But God is our anchor and instead of spiralling down into depression, He is there to help us survive whatever tragedies happen in our lives. My priest has also told me that we should not grieve when someone dies, but because we are human and weak we need to.

Effie


Dear Effie

This remembers me something I ve heard tsomething like this; that the only time its appropriate to cry is when your parents have died. Sometimes I ve smiled about times when I was crying or weeping for little reason maybe. (I ve heared that I weeped much when I was little, with my hands half rotating over my eyes and. Then I heard I was "driving the motorcycle", also because of the sound I made :) )

Later I have maybe cried too much as well, and its because I am weak as a human as your priest said, and forget why I should have joy in my heart. I should have joy in my heart because of remembering Christ the Reedemer and the life in him. To weep or to shed tears for your sins and sinfullness is better than crying, and maybe that is not crying after all? But that is a different topic.

Peter

#52 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 28 May 2008 - 06:19 AM

To weep or to shed tears for your sins and sinfullness is better than crying, and maybe that is not crying after all? But that is a different topic.

Peter


Hello Peter.



You write : To weep or to shed tears for our sins ........

You are so right.


"As the earth, long awaiting moistening and at last receiving it in abundance, suddenly is covered by tender and bright greenery, so also the heart, exhausted by dryness, and afterwards revived by tears, emits from itself a multitude of spiritual thoughts and feelings, adorned by the common flower of humility. The labor of weeping, being inseparable from the labor of prayer, requires the same conditions for success as prayer requires. Prayer needs patient, constant dwelling in itself; weeping requires the same. Prayer needs wearying of the body, and brings about exhaustion of the body; this exhaustion produces weeping, which must be born in the troubling and wearying of the body. Bishop (St.) Ignaty Brianchaninov, On Tears. Translation in OrthodoxLife, #5, 1969

"Greater than baptism itself is the fountain of tears after baptism, even though it is somewhat audacious to say so. For baptism is the washing away of evils that were in us before, but sins committed after baptism are washed away by tears. As baptism is received in infancy, we have all defiled it, but we cleanse it anew with tears. And if God in His love for mankind had not given us tears, those being saved would be few indeed and hard to find. St. John Climacus - The Ladder of Divine Ascent "

"St. Isaac the Syrian: 'Moisten your cheeks with the tears of your eyes, that the Holy Spirit may abide in you, and cleanse the filth of your malice. Move your lord with your tears, that He may help you' (homily 68)."

We are told that Jesus wept. Not for the above reason but once in sympathy, once when he beheld Jerusalem, and of course, in the Garden of Gethsame he must have been weeping when he prayed "let this cup pass from me; nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt." Matthew26:38 because we are told "he began to be sorrowful and troubled" Matthew 26:37..... His night of anguish. And I know he was weeping on the cross when he cried out : "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me" (I have read that these words are incorrect because of translation errors).

Also Hebrew 5:7,8

"In the days of his flesh, he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to Him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard for his godly fear.

Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered;
and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek. "

Effie

Edited by Effie Ganatsios, 28 May 2008 - 06:39 AM.





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