First, thanks for all the folks who've stopped by to offer comments and well wishes.
I guess I titled my last post "Stranger in a Strange Land" for several reasons, not the least of which when it comes to authentic honesty about my own soul, I tend to do what many do - either ignore my own spiritual poverty, or excuse it with rationalizations.
But that's not the goal I tell myself is most important to me. My goal I like to think I have is to be an authentic, honest, Orthodox Christian. The goal I like to think I have is to actually be prepared to stand before Christ at that "awesome judgment seat" and have a right answer. That's what I'd like to think, but my behavior too many times betrays my "good intentions" with the reality of my life.
The fact is the faith gives me the Good News that there is no longer a need for me to be a slave to my passions and my weaknesses. Christ has defeated sin, death, and Satan. I don't have to obey the lusts of the flesh and the "pride of life" anymore. I can be free to become what I was created to become - an eternal companion with the Uncreated God Who means me no harm and loves me more than I, myself, know how to love.
But this Good News comes with Bad News as well. If I choose, in my freedom, to continue to be enslaved by my passions and spiritual poverty, I am promised that God will not diminish Himself or shade me from His eternal glory to accommodate my lack of ability to stand in the Uncreated Light of His presence.
God has poured out His eternal grace and mercy on this world and preserved in His Church all the wisdom any person will ever need to prepare for that awesome Day. He has even given humanity His Holy Spirit to guide His Church "into all truth." This abundant treasury of mercy and grace is lavished on every person at all times and in every place. My only act is the purposeful choice to embrace and be embraced by this mercy and grace. God will never turn me away. He will never reject me. He will never refuse me His forgiveness and love. In fact, He will continue to love me unconditionally even if I reject Him.
Now comes the greatest challenge of all, what am I to do with this unconditional and terrifying mercy? What excuse will I have on that Day? What am I to do?
Ah, we come back to the timeless wisdom of the Orthodox faith - repentance is my beginning, my practice, and my purpose. To learn how to repent without shame or without guilt, this is the work at hand.
No wonder the Church teaches me to cry out "Lord, have mercy" knowing full well He will certainly have mercy. The only question left up in the air is will I receive it?
The Mass Presents Christ
2 days ago