Pestilence, Perfidious Persistence, and Penitence

Past and present, God’s will prevails. Hence, understanding is always best and a prudent mind” Beowulf.

Godless persons will use even the greatest of tragedies for wicked ends. I think that it is very important to be soberly aware of such goals. I have already indicated this in some of my past posts.

I find the stirring up of fear and panic to be more concerning than any virus. The agenda of fear is demonic. As Christians, we should live without fear. Or, more properly, we live fearing God alone (fear of God is drastically different from the fear of the world).

I will not grow tired of saying, do not succumb to the fear-mongering. Be sober. Be mindful. Take meaningful precautions. But do not fear.

The Scriptures tell us, “Fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Is. 41:10). Further, we are told, “The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what men shall do unto me” (Ps. 117/118:6). And St. Paul reminds us, “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2. Tim. 1:7). And again remember the words of our Lord, “Fear not little flock …” (Lk. 12:32).

When we give in to the current virus of fear we are letting a demonic state into our being.

plague

What then is the proper response to tragedy in its various forms? Repentance. Ultimately these things come upon humanity because we forget God, in fact, we actively seek to be our own God. Tribulations and oppressive rulers are the fruit of sin; not some other person’s sins but my own. Thus the call to repentance starts in my own person and must flow out from there. Archbp. Averky reminds us, “While struggling resolutely against the most minute manifestations of sin and evil in our own souls, let us not fear to uncover and point our evil everywhere it is to be found in modern life.”

Great tribulations reveal much. In the book of the Last Age (which began when our Lord ascended into heaven), the book of the Apocalypse, this is made clear. In basic Apocalypse means to uncover, to reveal, to make clear. The simple point that I want to bring forward is that the various tribulations in the Apocalypse reveal the existent state of humanity. To whom will they look for salvation? What does the heart of humanity desire? Most importantly, will humanity repent? A few times in this book it is recorded that humanity chose rather to “curse the name of God who had power over the plagues. They did not repent and give Him glory” (Cf. Rev. 16:9). The clear implication in the book of the Apocalypse is that since humanity did not repent more tribulations came. That is, the spiritual antidote was refused and thus the symptoms grew even more severe and terrible. They become acute and cause complete spiritual death. God allows this. He allows humanity to eat the bitter fruit of its carnal desires.

Perfidious persistence in sin only brings ultimate death.

Simply, one may postulate that sorrows and tribulations are the fruit of sin (starting with my own); yet even in the midst of reaping the tragic harvest redemption is proffered. This comes through repentance. And yet, the culmination of humanity’s refusal to repent will be the Anti-Christ because he will offer an anti-salvation, which is a seeming salvation without God. I’m not saying we are all the way there. All I’m doing at present is attempting to point out a spiritual principle. But I’m beginning to feel that I did not take Fr. Seraphim’s, of blessed memory, quote as seriously as I should have, “It’s later than you think! Hasten, therefore, to do the work of God!”

So what should the ultimate Christian response be during times of intensified tribulation? Repentance. (Yes, we should also be striving to support and help one another in a spirit of Christian love.)

One of the great Saints of the Church, St. Gregory Palamas, has a sermon during the time of widespread plague. He delivered it, it seems, during a public procession. In it, he first and foremost calls the people to heal themselves spiritually. For if we mend the body without first mending the soul then we are just putting a band-aid on a mortal wound.

Humanity is chastised and called to correction by the means of tribulations and pestilences. Most of the time this is because we have become more fleshly than spiritual. Thus, the material is afflicted so that the spirit might be awakened. We have become so dulled spiritually that the Lord must strike at bodily comforts to hopefully stir the spirit once again. God seeks to use these things for our salvation and purification if we turn in a heartfelt manner to Him.

St. Gregory says, “From the nature of this just punishment, it is possible to comprehend how much we have sinned against God.” This reflects clearly the message of the Apocalypse.

Further, he says, “Let us perceive the huge number of our sins … let us repent of our fleshly ways of thinking and turn to the Lord. Let us repent from our hearts …”

He calls on us to imitate those in the Scriptures who repented upon hearing the Word of the Lord spoken through His messengers and were saved and not those who rejected it and perished.

He reminds his listeners, “Death, both when it transpires and when it’s awaited, is a calamitous thing, but not turning from our sins is far worse, because it multiplies our punishment here in this life, and afterward sends us to unending punishments …” Thus, for St. Gregory the plague of his time was most of all a spiritual wake up call. Many people died a bodily death. Yes, this is, as he says, a great tragedy; yet the greatest tragedy of all is the loss of the soul.

Of course, this view is not accepted by enlightened modern man. We will save ourselves and build a “safe” world without God. Science and medicine will save us. We no longer need the Heavenly Father. In fact, many even blame God for the very bitter fruit of sin which we have brought on ourselves.

If we repent than good may come. If we do not then the bitter fruit of rebellion will only become all the more ripe and the harvest all the more terrible.

St. Gregory prescribes this antidote, to flee away from our sins and wicked deeds, firmly resolving not to return to them. He also says that we must “propitiate God by confession and deeds of repentance equal to our iniquities, reconciling Him to ourselves through active humility.”

I’m pretty sure this is not the message I’m getting from the worldly powers that be.

One thought on “Pestilence, Perfidious Persistence, and Penitence

  1. John

    Father bless-
    Sharing counsel from Bl. Fr Seraphim Rose:
    “to keep alive the fragrance of the desert in our hearts: to dwell in mind and heart with these angelic men and women and have them as our truest friends, conversing with them in prayer; to be always aloof from the attachments and passions of this life, even when they center about some institution or leader of the church organization; to be first of all a citizen of the Heavenly Jerusalem, the City on high towards which all our Christian labors are directed, and only secondarily a member of this world below which perishes. He who has once sensed this fragrance of the desert, with its exhilarating freedom in Christ and its sober constancy in struggle, will never be satisfied with anything in this world, but can only cry out with the Apostle and Theologian: Come, Lord Jesus. Even so, Surely I come quickly (Apocalypse 22:20).” 4…
    “The community, though small and weak, is struggling to live in the true spirit of Orthodox piety, and perhaps now is the best time for it — before it has grown too large to lose the essential oneness of mind and soul or to take Orthodoxy for granted.”….”In the meantime the community was building a solid spiritual foundation of daily common prayer: a foundation which can serve today as a model for others who are seeking a quiet island of otherworldly Christianity amid the tumultuous sea of our materialistic, post-Christian society.”
    Ch 61 The Desert in the Backyard; Father Seraphim Rose, His life and Works.
    Doxa to Theo, John
    Father bless.

    Liked by 1 person

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