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Archive for December, 2010

A person going through a time of intense personal suffering was counseled that salvation would come precisely through these evil events.  Not salvation in spite of; nor salvation from.  But salvation through these very things. One can intuit that this pastoral counsel did not feel very comforting.

When confronted with suffering, the argument turns immediately and hard to the larger questions, albeit with a personal face watered by tears: how can a good God allow suffering? why this injustice? what good end can this evil possibly serve? But these are questions for philosophers and theologians. And their answers, to the degree such speculative questions can have any answers, do not suture and salve the wounded heart.

These sorts of speculative questions, however legitimate and necessary, however normal as a first existential cry, do not work the sort of transformation necessary to the suffering heart. They are questions whose answers are of the mind and do not, perhaps cannot, satisfy the heart. What the heart needs are asketical answers.

St Philaret of Moscow, in his prayer, asks of God:

O Lord, I know not what to ask of thee. Thou alone knowest what are my true needs. Thou lovest me more than I myself know how to love. Help me to see my real needs which are concealed from me. I dare not ask either a cross or consolation. I can only wait on thee. My heart is open to thee. Visit and help me, cast me down and raise me up. I worship in silence thy holy will and thine inscrutable ways. I offer myself as a sacrifice to thee. I put all my trust in thee. I have no other desire than to fulfill thy will. Teach me how to pray. Pray thou thyself in me. Amen.

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