in a video by SAGE.
These are things that Anthony Trufant says he wishes he knew 29 years ago when he started ministry.
note: He messes up a little bit on his own numbering so don't get to confused with my list if you read it along with the video
1) Relationship with Jesus is healthy (open, honest, dynamic, grounded)
2) Relationship with Self is healthy (Intellectual, physical, relationally, psychologically, holistically)
3) Relationship with Family is healthy (They are your primary responsibility not the church)
4) Relationship with friends is healthy (authentic, intimate and accountable with integrity)
5) Relationship with Church is healthy (empower the gifts of others)
6) Be willing to take risks! (you will make mistakes, but make NEW ones)
7) The first "No" is not the final "no" give people room to discern with you. (YOU have lived with an idea for a while, others haven't)
8) Learn that conflict is not an enemy but an ally (invitation to revelation and transformation about self and others)
9) Develop different "styles" of conflict management (consiitory, consensus builder, direct, diplomatic, fill your tool box!)
10) Enter with an exit strategy (be faithful and fruitful, but don't leave baggage behind)
11) Be clear about what your personal baggage is. (Then we can address our issues with humility and honesty)
All of these things are great reminders to me. I have recently found myself in a place of discernment, and don't know where God is calling my family and me to next. We are in seminary now, but depending on how God guides us we could be any number of places a year from now.
For me personally here is where I am at with the 11 points:
1) This one is key, if I don't have it in place I will fall (and have fallen) into intellectualism, and confusion. My options become to overwhelming and I can't figure out which way I should move forward.
2) At this point in my life this is something really important to me. It's not about making time for yourself, it's about making real CONCERN for yourself. This is NOT going to be fun all the time. For me this mens a few very concrete things. I have a strict diet, I seek out spiritual direction, I exercise, I spend time reading fiction, I spend time talking with friends, I have fun with my wife, and I play with my son.
3) My relationship with my family is a KEY issue for my own personal health. I am a servant of my wife, and son. That is my role. One of the few times I can know FOR SURE I am living God's perfect will for my life is when I am changing my son's diapers.
4) This is an area that I would love to be healthier. I am busy (3 Jobs, full time school, family) the first thing that gets the ax in my life is HONEST and OPEN conversation with peers. This is something I enjoy so much sometimes I forget it's important and it gets put on the back burner. If anyone wants to come over for good conversation and beers... it's something I really need more of.
5) This one is less relevant to me where I am at now. I am not leading any ministries these days (except for http://theorant.com I suppose), but I do need to always keep my eyes open for where others are shinning. I can be a leader at home, in class, and even at work, by affirming other people's gifts
6) Taking risks is hard... I could actually use prayer about this one. Keep me in prayer if you could.
7) As I look for ways forward in my life it's really important that I can help guide people so that they understand what I'm doing and why. this is a good reminder that my decisions effect others and sometimes people need time to work things out. ALSO sometimes we need time to work out what God's vision for US is too... I know I do :-)
8) I often treat conflict like an enemy, because it's not easy. I think it's important not to treat conflict like a goal either. Some people like to argue for arguments sake (I know I do sometimes), this isn't healthy. Keeping the right perspective in the MIDST of arguments is key.
9) Managing conflict is one of the few "ministries" I get to be a part of. By dealing with conversations online with http://theorant.com I have to learn to help people with VASTLY different perspectives actually talk to each other. I liked the list that Anthony gave, and would like to spend more time developing some of those models in my own life.
10) I have always kept this in mind. One of my earliest mentors told me that ministry was all about working yourself out of a Job. When we build in a way that we won't be needed the structures can last even when we're gone.
11) My wife is my personal TSA agent, she is honest with me about my baggage and helps me deal with it. She helps me be a better person and helps me live with more humility when I'm not. Thanks Joan!
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
In the book of Philippians there is a small section of poetry. This little set of verses has raised many questions. Is this one of the first Hymns we have from the christian community? Where did it come from? What can it tell us about what the EARLIEST christians believed about Jesus Christ. This short book seeks to examine the so-called "Christ Hymn" what it means, and how it can inform us today.
Friday, May 20, 2011
View Eastern Orthodox churches in Union with one another in a larger map
People = autocephalous churches that don't have other churches under them
Circles with black dot = autocephalous churches with other churches under them
Pin = Churches that are under the circle of the same color
Circles with black dot = autocephalous churches with other churches under them
Pin = Churches that are under the circle of the same color
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Monday, May 16, 2011
The parable of the wicked tenants is enigmatic in many ways. It’s a parable that has created a great deal of controversy both in how it is interpreted and within the world of textual criticism. Those who seek to exegete what the text means are faced with not only a diverse rage of historical opinions on the subject, but also with an almost unprecedented number of images, parallels, and symbols.
Many scholars have struggled with the ways in which this parable seems to fly in the face of many of the assumptions that have been made about Jesus, his teaching style, self understanding, and message.
This is a book that I hope will help open your eyes to how much this parable can teach us about God and the world we are called to live in. Please let me know what you think about it!
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Reconciling a Changing World
The world that we live in today is faced with new ethical challenges everyday. We find that the patterns that have helped us live our lives for decades or even centuries at a time are quickly shifting away and new paradigms of normalcy have emerged. We are faced with new questions of sexuality, science, biology, technology, globalization, diversity, pluralism, and a host of other challenges that we simply have no easy answers to. The world is becoming polarized, discordant, and is in desperate need of reconciliation. In the midst of this tumolt there is a temptation to succumb to the bitterness of pragmatic disenchantment, or settle for the euphoric oblivion of ignorant naiveté. I do not believe that these are the only options for us. I believe that the best hope for a way forward that the world has in these times is The Christian Church.
The assertion that hope is in The Christian Church might strike many as odd. In the minds of contemporary people today that church is an old and antiquated body that is bogged down with centuries of superstitious traditions and is too clunky and cumbersome to navigate the shifting tides of the contemporary world today. I however have a different perspective.
I am a christian, and I believe that in all times and in all places the greatest hope that the world has for reconciliation is in the person of Jesus Christ. In many ways the world will never know peace until it knows it through Christ, as Augustine once wrote, “our hearts our restless until they rest in [God].” I believe that on the cross Jesus Christ became the reconciler of all things to God and in Him all things can find their reconciliation with one another. Jesus is both the power and the paradigm of reconciliation. In him we see an example of the best way to live, and in him we find the power to do it. I believe the church is the best hope of reconciliation that the world has today, because I believe that the church is a path to Jesus.
The Church Is A Path To The Jesus Paradigm
The church has wrestled with what it means to be a follower of Jesus through hundreds and hundreds of years. They have thought about what it means to follow Jesus through epochs and empires, and in every continent, country, and under every constitution. The church had learned not just how to read about the ministry of reconciliation in Jesus, but how to live it. By being in conversation with the church you enter into a conversation that spans millenia that all focuses on how to follow Jesus. The church has long realized that they are in a position where they must constantly take the themes of the gospel and the heart of the christian ethic and improvise with them as the context that they live in changes. Through this, the church, as masterful improvisation artists has taken the paradigm of Jesus and reworked it into the story that the world tells over and over. They have lived with the ethical mandates of the gospel and have struggled over how and how not to do it for many many years. In the wisdom gleaned through both their successes and failures we can see a way to live like Christ, not only today but also in the shifting sands that will surly come.
The church is a path to Jesus’ Power
Even more than the valuable wisdom the church offers, I have hope in the church because in them I see power. Jesus did not simply show us how to live he made a way to join him in living that way. The heart of the Christian ethic is not simply imitation but conjugation. The church offers us a place where we can meet with Christ both in a community and in the sacraments. In church we are fed with the bread of life in the Eucharist and joined in the death that reconciles all things to him in baptism. It is only as we live into THAT reality that we can experience the power needed to actually see reconciliation take place where new challenges arise. Without this power all of our efforts at reconciliation will be met with frustration, and failure.
A Case Study: Osama Bin Laden
All this talk of church so far is only theory. Some might argue that in light of recent abuses in the church and statistics that Christians are no “better” than other people that the church has proven itself to have lost sight of Jesus and has become powerless. This critique is too real to ignore. The church is a broken institution just like anything else, but that is not because of the ways that we follow Jesus, but the ways we don’t. In spite of all the missteps and stumbling in the church, it is hard to deny, that there are times that the church GETS IT. They pick up on the story that God is trying to live through them and they deliver deliver a brilliant performance of the Gospel.
I recently saw this in the response of the Vatican to the assassination of Osama Bin Laden.
"Osama bin Laden, as we all know, bore the most serious responsibility for spreading divisions and hatred among populations, causing the deaths of innumerable people, and manipulating religions for this purpose. In the face of a man’s death, a Christian never rejoices, but reflects on the serious responsibilities of each person before God and before men, and hopes and works so that every event may be the occasion for the further growth of peace and not of hatred." -Vatican Press Office
As much of the rest of the western world rejoiced in the death of Osama (including, unfortunately some in the church that seemed to have missed their lines) they Catholic Church responded brilliantly. They recognized that Osama was a sinner in need of God’s mercy, and that in his death there was a close to a chapter of human history that was very dark at times, but they emphasized even more strongly that Osama was a person who had the dignity of all men and women made in the image of God. They reminded us that, regardless of how much a person might hurt us or the world, as reconcilers we must never rejoice in the death of a person, because death is an enemy that is defeated when the reconciling work of Christ is consummated. As ministers of that reconciliation we must sorrow in violence, even violence against the purveyors violent.
Being Vocational Christians
So how should we live as ministers of reconciliation? How should we work out the ethical mandates of the Gospel of Jesus Christ today? We need to live as if our lives are actually part of what God is doing. We need to live out whatever setting we find ourselves in as a holy vocation. We need to join in the conversation of improvisation with the church; taking the story that the world tells us and reincorporate God’s truth into them. As people that believe that God will reconcile us in the final consummation of the kingdom, when we are wronged we should start the work of radical forgiveness. This way we can still name evil when we see it, but are able to move beyond retribution and actually give up our desire to respond with evil. We are called, in every vocation, to cultivate a culture of virtue around us. By doing so we will join with the church in declaring that even as what we do shifts to how and why we do it does not. Most importantly its important to stay in the church, for in the church we hear the hope in the Gospel declared, join with a community that has promised to support us, and meet with Jesus, who continually empowers us. In the church we find a way to engage the world with real power to change the world. This is why I have hope in the church.
Posted by Billy Kangas at 11:03 AM
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Family is a great gift from God. It is a community, created by God, that is designed to foster love and create trust. Our families form for us the foundations of how we see the world, and help support us as we live into our individual dynamic voices. There is arguably no context that helps us learn to live and serve those around us better than a family.
What makes a family however is not always clear. Normally we look for some standard markers (Mom and Dad, maybe a sister or two, possibly a brother). These people would certainly be called members of our “family,” and each of them is certainly a blessing and helps define the disposition of any family that is blessed enough to have them. There is a danger, however in making these standard markers of family into the “ideal” family. Many times families have grown out of irregular circumstances, happenstance, and providence. As Christians we can never forget that our OWN induction into the family of God is not through standard markers but rather though the irregular circumstance of adoption (Romans 8:15,23; 9:4; Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:5).
There are some today that argue that because many of the family structures that exist in our contemporary society are not “traditional” they must therefore also be in some ways “inferior” or less “holy”. Although, it is true that having a healthy family with both a mother and a father is a great blessing, there can be equal blessing in other arrangements as well. In light of our irregular reception to God’s family, the appropriate response for a Christian to make in light of the multiplicities of non-traditional family structures that we are faced with today must look towards affirming that which forms Christ rather than that which simply fits an ideal.
There are some within the church today who would oppose the formation of a good family simply because the family doesn’t fit the image of the ideal family. For example, some single women who feel called to the vocation of motherhood, but have not found a husband (or have even desired a husband) have been discouraged from adoption because they would then be creating a “single parent family”. This kind of thinking is putting the carriage before the horse in all of the worst ways. In this case the opponents of adoption are seeking to deprive a child of the good of a mother simply because the good of a father is not present. This is a fallacy of the worst kind. Any time a child without a stable family is brought into relationship with someone who can give them a context of security and help them to grow into a healthy and whole person this is a good thing. This relationship is made even better if the person who helps create that stable environment is willing to commit to that person as a family member. The role of the church when these new kinds of families emerge is not to reject the new structure for not fitting into a neat paradigm, but to serve the place in which this new paradigm may need extra support.
The Church is a community of broken people who have been adopted into God’s own family, we have found support for our brokenness and a source of healing in the power of the cross. THIS community is the primary family that we are all called to be members of and serve within. In the Bible there is a call to live our whole lives, even our family lives, in radical ways. For example, in early Christianity families were instructed to live in mutual submission to one another (Ephesians 5:22-33), instead of submitting to the pater familias ethos of the world of the Roman Empire, which called for the man to rule over his home absolutely. Christians were called out of the structures of cultural stability into a form of christological humility. This principle is still at work today. If we let cultural norms, or even biological normailty to govern what is and is not good than we have ceased serving God and have become idolaters (putting cultural constructions in the place of christian charity).
Although I believe that God did create all of us to have both mothers and fathers, I don’t believe that the only thing that can determine who our fathers and mothers are should be if their genitals were involved in creating us or if we happen to share an address with them. To be the church reflected in Holy Scripture is to become fathers to the fatherless and mothers to the motherless. In fact this is one of the few things that we are told can make us truly religious in the best sense of the word (James 1:27).
What fosters a good family is not the kind of people that make it up, but the quality of the love that is shared. I don’t care who makes up a family as long as its members are growing in love, joy, peace, and all the rest of the attributes we read about in Galatians 5: 22-23. No matter how perfect the outside might look, it’s what is growing inside that matters, and anytime a new member is invited in to share in that growth, that is a moment to rejoice in. That is indeed exactly what Jesus own mother did when she found out that she was soon to be the mother in a very untraditional family:
My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid.
- Luke 1:46
May we respond with the same attitude of humble praise and faith to all the people God calls into our own families. For in doing this we becomes a demonstration of the unconditional and untraditional love found in the family of God.
Posted by Billy Kangas at 11:31 PM
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
I recently wrote a little handbook on one of my favorite prayers, "The Jesus Prayer." The Jesus prayer is the simple prayer, “Κύριε Ιησού Χριστέ, Υιέ του Θεού, ελέησόν με, translated: “Lord Jesus Christ Son of God have mercy on me.” It is one of the central prayers of the Eastern Christian traditions. Take a look at this brief introduction, and let me know what you think.
Monday, May 2, 2011
I have published another FREE E-Book. This time it's a simple curriculum. I wrote it out of frustration that the book of Esther (which I love) was not taught very often in churches. It's a five week plan that brings you through a number of different angles. Feel free to use it! Let me know how it works for your context. I would love to hear about it. Have a blessed day!
One of the most interesting things that we as human beings do is to weep. From a purely scientific perspective tears are a lubricating fluid that pours across the cornea. They are created when the lacrimal gland is stimulated by the neurotransmitter acetylcholine through the nicotinic and muscarinic receptors. Although this tells us a bit about the physicality of tears it doesn’t tell us much about why we cry, and how it impacts us spiritually. Tears are a unique specimen of human behavior. Tears connect us with a part of ourselves and an expression of our deepest feelings that is far beyond our words or even our thoughts. Tears are a way that our bodies express our hearts. In Christian history there were few people as concerned with the activity of the heart, and with the accompanying tears, as the desert fathers. These were people who lived in the third and fourth century. In an effort to find healing and live a life of submission to the kingdom of God, these men and women lived lives of penitent tears in the deserts of the ancient Roman Empire.
Lives of Penance
Penance at this time in the history of Church was quite a bit different than the life of penance that we find among the Roman Catholic Church today. At this time penance was done as a response to grave sins (like murder or adultery) that were done after a Christian was baptized. Penance was a way that a Christian who had committed a grave sin could be restored to the community. It was an act of contrition done by an individual in cooperation with the standards set out by the church, an act of both personal and corporate piety.
Penance in the early centuries of the Church was considerably harsher and longer (lasting years) than its contemporary corespondent. It involved a change of attire, a regimen of strict fasting, prayer, and alms giving. These were all things that the Desert fathers also did; they wore distinctive attire, fasted extensively, and in many cases gave away everything that they owned.
On top of these basic lifestyle changes the penitent Christian often had to move through four stages of life within the Christian community. These four stages helped point the heart of the sinner back to a submission to God, and the healing grace of Christ. The stages can be summarized as follows:
- The Mourner – At this stage the penitent Christian was not even allowed back into the church building. They would sit outside as the liturgy was being prayed, begging their fellow believers to pray for them
- The Hearer – At this stage the penitent Christian was allowed back in the church, but was not allowed to stay for the celebration of the Eucharist. After the reading of scripture and homily were completed the penitent Christian had to leave.
- The Faller – At this stage the penitent Christian would be permitted to remain in the church for the whole service, but would be required to lay prostrate on the floor during the sacred rite.
- The Stander – In this final stage the penitent Christian would be allowed to stand during the Eucharist, but would not be able to partake in it.
After all of these stages had been passed a monk was allowed again to join in the blessed sacrament.
Desert Christians viewed their whole lives as an act of Penance. Sometimes they did this because they had actually done some great wrong. For example, there was one monk named Abba Apollos who took up the monastic life after becoming consumed with guilt when he murdered a pregnant women just to see how a child looked within her. After seeing the child he was convicted of his horrendous crime and become a monk the remaining years of his life. There were other monks however who's penance was not a response to any grave sin, but simply came from a conviction that they must live life in a state of humility. They lived their lives in a similar way to the mourners who were going though the steps toward reconciliation. Although they did not refrain from joining in the table of the Eucharist, they did seek to live every moment in sorrow over their sins. They sought to spend their lives with a tearful heart.
Tears of Penthos
Living lives of sorrow and compunction is often called “penthos” in the desert literature. Penthos was not about being sad or depressed, but a Godly sorrow that took its foundation in the Gospels. It is defined by Richard Foster as · “a broken and contrite heart... inward godly sorrow... blessed, holy mourning... being cut to the heart over our distance and offense to the goodness of God... [and a] Prayer of Tears.” This attitude can be seen all over the sayings of the fathers. On one occasion Abba Poeman was asked what do do about his sins. Poeman responded, “he who wants to pay the ransom for sins, pays for them with tears... Weeping is the path the Scriptures and the Fathers handed down to us. They say 'weep!' truly there is no other path than this one ”.
Another father is recorded to have said, “the Lord will not reproach us for not having worked miracles, nor for not having understood the mysteries [of the sacraments], nor for not having possessed the eloquence of the ancients nor theology. But he will judge us for not having lived with tears and lamentations all the days of our lives because of our sins-yes, for this he will reproach us.” This attitude may seem extreme, but it was by no means uncommon among the fathers of the desert. A similar attitude is seen in a saying of Macarius who, when asked by a monk for a "word" by which he might be saved told him, "Sit in your cell and weep for your sins.” It’s not often that those in the Protestant church today look at their tears as a way to salvation, but that is how powerful the desert father saw their tears.
Although the practice of tears may seem odd to many in the church today, the reason the fathers had such a strong emphases on tears was because they took the teaching of Jesus very seriously, and Christ declared “blessed are those who morn”. Interestingly the concept of penthos was so integral to the identity of these early monastics that the Syriac word for penthos and the Syriac word for monk were the same. Both were called 'abila.
What the Tears Were Not Like
Because we live in a culture that is so different than that of the Desert Fathers it is easy to misunderstand what they meant when they talked about weeping and tears. We can easily import a host of meaning that was never intended to be brought in. Because of this I think it is important to clarify a few things that the desert father did NOT mean when they talked about this practice of penthos.
- The Fathers did not mean you should be gloomy or depressed. This sort of attitude is actually considered deadly by the fathers, and goes by the name lupe. Gloom and depression are seen by the fathers as pointing to a sorrow over what was given up by becoming monks, rather than a hope for the holiness they seek to gain.
- This sorrow was also not about focusing on individual sins. Having an attitude of sorrow was supposed to be a way of life, not just a response to wrongs done in the past. Keeping a catalog of sins could actually act as a distraction to fighting the fight in the present moment. Repent and move on, but keep on repenting.
- The tears of penthos were not just tears with prayer, but had to be tears of repentance and sorrow for one's OWN sin. St. Augustine writes of people who would come to church with a bad practice of tears saying, “They bend their knees, touch the earth with their foreheads, sometimes moistening their faces with tears. And in all this great humility and anguish, they pray: 'Lord, avenge me. Kill my enemy.'” This was not the sort of tears that the desert fathers looked on as virtuous.
What the Tears Were Like
I don't want to spend too much time focusing on what this practice was not like, but rather would like to see what ways the fathers viewed their lives of tears as being like. In the literature of the desert fathers there are a few examples that are pointed to that help us get a better grip on what the tears of the fathers were similar to.
- One example used to parallel the life a monk should aim for was given by Abba Poeman. After he saw a women weeping in a cemetery over her husband, son, and brother, who had all died, he told Abba Anoub that the monks life should be like this. Just as that women's “whole life and spirit [were] sorrow” so too the Monk's should be.
- Another example of what this life should be like is seen in the person of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Abba Poeman looked to the Mother of Jesus as an example in her sorrow. He wished he too could weep at the foot of the cross. In the deep love in sorrow of Mary, the fathers of the desert found inspiration.
- A third example of what this is like is solidarity with sinners. One story tells of a time when Abba Besarion joined a brother who was refused communion and put out in the place of the mourners saying, “I also am a sinner.”
- Fourth the desert fathers lived with a keen awareness of the eschaton. They believed that the kingdom of God was coming and that they needed to be prepared for it. This attitude is reflected in the sayings of Abba Ammonas. He said that the mindset of a monk should be like that of a criminal who are in prison, saying, “They ask where the judge is, and when he's going to come, and, while waiting for him, weep. The monk should be that way: always attentive and reproaching his soul, saying: 'How unhappy I am! How will I ever stand before the judgment seat of Christ the judge? And what will I have to say in my defense?' If you meditate so all the time, you can be saved.”
The Power of Tears
We have talked a great deal about how the Desert Fathers saw their tears, and also a bit about how the fathers did not see their tears. We have not talked about why they believed their tears were so important. What is it about tears that can save us? What is it about tears, that the fathers believed they would be that by which we were judged on the last day?
To understand what the Fathers meant when they said that the tears could save, it is important to understand the perspective of the Fathers on salvation, because it is different than many peoples understanding of salvation today. To do this we need to begin by making a distinction between forgiveness and salvation. In protestant theology these two things are often conflated into one instance; a person is said to have been saved when they repent of their sins and are forgiven. The Desert fathers did not have this perspective. Do you remember the story of the man who spent the last half of his life as a monk after killing a pregnant women? Well that monk spent many years in sorrow after his deed, and could never be free from the sorrow and grief he felt from the death of the baby in the women's womb. Late in life he was told by another monk, “God has forgiven you even the death of the child, but he leaves you in grief because that is good for your soul.” Tears of repentance our not meant to convince God that we are worthy of forgiveness, but are meant to assist in healing the sinner and bring their life into submission to the kingdom of God.
The Desert fathers saw salvation as a more holistic sense of healing. Forgiveness is part of being saved, but there is a great deal more to it than that. The desert fathers read through the bible and discovered the language of salvation and the language of healing are interwoven. As we are healed we are saved. This understanding of salvation as healing is actually so important in contemporary Orthodox theology, it has come under fire by some as taking over the whole conversation of salvation. In the mind of the Desert Fathers healing begins in the heart, and tears are a powerful balm. The attitude of the desert fathers is summed up well in the words of Gregory of Nyssa who states, “tears are like blood in the wounds of the soul.”
Because tears deal with a person's heart they are a powerful tool in the healing of a person from the inside out. Saint Anthony believed the best posture that a person could have was to place guilt for sins upon himself and himself alone before God. Tears of repentance and compunction engage the heart, the mind, and the body before God in humility. From that posture God could use and form a person. Because of this tears were something that were sought after by the fathers, and many of them achieved them as a condition of life. It is said that Abba Arsenius wept so much that he actually hollowed out a cavity in his chest from all of his tears.
One prayer written at this time connects tears to the miraculous water that comes from the rock in the time of the Exodus. It states, “O Lord God, Who pours out mercy and kindness, Who always invites me, the one who always turns away from Thee and yet is benefited by Thee, send compunction upon me, the wretched one; and, as Thou didst in the past with the rock in the desert, make my stony and petrified heart gush forth fountains of tears.” Tears are a source of life to those who are hard of heart, and lifeless.
Tears For All
Those who weep find themselves in good company. Not only are tears an important part of the spirituality of the desert fathers, they are also an important part of the lives of many in the scriptures. Indeed the fathers were inspired by the scriptures to live out their life of tears. In Job we read the righteous Job cry out, “My eye weeps to God.” The prophet Isaiah “drenches” those he prays for with tears. Jeremiah says that he prays day and night, and compared his eyes to a fountain of tears. In the book of Lamentations, the author calls the people in Jerusalem to cry so much that their tears form a torrent day and night. The book of Psalms also point to tears as a witness to God. Finally and most importantly Jesus Christ himself is described as one who wept. Crying is not only reserved for strange Ascetics, but makes up the spiritual life of people of faith in Scripture and throughout history.
The fathers and mothers in the desert found healing and life in the kingdom of God through lives of penitent tears. Today we do not need to flee to Egyptian deserts to find this same life. We too can sit at the feet of three cross; we too can live our lives in light of the judgment; we too join with those who are cast out; and we can embrace a way of life that reflects the promise of Jesus Christ that those who morn are indeed blessed.
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Merton, Thomas, and Patrick F. Connell. Cassian and the Fathers: initiation into the monastic tradition. (Kalamazoo, Mich.: Cistercian Publications, 2005), 80.
Hannay, James. Wisdom of the desert . (S.l.: Revelation Insight, 2008), 51.
Allen, Joseph J., and Philip Saliba. Orthodox Synthesis: The Unity of Theological Thought : An Anthology Published in Commemoration of the Fifteenth Anniversary of Metropolitan Philip as Primate of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America. (Crestwood, N.Y.: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1981), 215.
Horton, Michael . "Maybe: An Orthodox Perspective: Responses." In Three Views on Eastern Orthodoxy and Evangelicalism by James J. Stamoolis, and Bradley Nassif. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2004), 261.
Patton, Kimberley C., and John Stratton Hawley. Holy Tears: Weeping in the Religious Imagination. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005), 258-259.
Psalm 56:8; 42:3; 119:136
Hebrews 5:7 and John 11:35
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