Academic journal article Romanian Journal of Artistic Creativity

The Abundant Joy in Heaven over Sinners' Fervent Repentance. Meditationes E Sanctis Patribus

Academic journal article Romanian Journal of Artistic Creativity

The Abundant Joy in Heaven over Sinners' Fervent Repentance. Meditationes E Sanctis Patribus

Article excerpt

We all seek God. Some of us are like a child who, being in a major city, has let go of his mother's hand and has gone by himself, recklessly; all of a sudden, the child realises he has gone astray and he desperately calls his mother. Meanwhile, the child does not realize that she has not lost sight of him and that now she stands behind him. Likewise, this is what happens to some of our neighbours. Not without effort can they truly meet and know God, because those whom we call "civilized", "post-modern" have consciously let go of God's hand for generations to follow their own ways, drawing with a red pen over the plans of God for their lives, not involving Him in any way in their daily acts.

In other words, they do not establish in this world a curriculum vitae that places Christ and His Gospel at its centre. They consider themselves the masters of their own lives and faith, as an absolute virtue and religious value which is always subject to question. Despite this scenario, God waits, patiently, their return and to this end He calls them ceaselessly and lovingly. This sort of unhappy neighbour will find his or her joy, happiness, serenity, peace, hope, love and, most of all, the meaning of their lives, if they come to realize that the Most Good God has loved all of us first, with a love that is as unselfish and unconditional as it is incomprehensible and unbounded. He is the foundation of all love which is His essence, expressed in His substantial act of constantly reaching out.

To the extent that men know this and reciprocate His love with their love for Him, they may not remain readily compliant with the divine commandments--even of the most important of them all, that of love. From this perspective, however, they find the meaning of their life, they are set free from all obsolete aspirations, of all false engagements that prevent them from ascending to heaven, and in this way they become themselves. Thus, this way man finds out what is essential and crucial for him: since the Son of God has become man, he is not alone anymore. Since He died and was resurrected for us, we do not die "completely" because, through His Resurrection, He trampled down and defeated death and opened to the faithful the path to the eternal life. So man will live in eternity, either with Christ or with Mammon, but this depends on his will and actions. This aspect of overwhelming importance--eternal life after death--cannot be ignored or considered less relevant. For this very reason, in this article, we assume that men will "yearn" for heaven by the revealing of the irresistible and intense love of God for them, rather than by threatening them with the afflictions and torments of hell. In the public religious services of our Orthodox Church we celebrate the joy of the Resurrection of the Lord at every holy and divine liturgy during the year, except for one, when the universal judgment, that will punish with eternal torments sinners, is brought to our attention not to frighten and to threaten us, but to make us assume responsibility.

"The Foolishness" of God's love

Love, from a Christian point of view, is part of the nature of God (Clough 2006: 29). Man is called to answer the fundamental question of his existence: "Who is God?" Saint Gregory of Nyssa's answer to this was: "It is You, the love of my soul...." (Evdokimov 1993: 41)

God loves beyond nature (John Chrysostom 1994: 290) and His love "passeth knowledge" (Eph. 3:19). His love is like a sea or an ocean whose shores you are on can be seen, but the other side is out of sight; it is a love that is limitless, unbounded and it transcends man's understanding, a love that St. Maximus the Confessor and St. Nicholas Cabasilas called "maniac love" (Meaning love that is incomprehensible and unfathomable for the human mind--author's note) from this perspective (Clement 1997: 48), just for the reason that "our Lord's gifts are so great and innumerable that we could neither measure them nor estimate their abundance. …

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