Sunday, July 19, 2009


An obvious, although often overlooked, aspect of our calling to live out God’s Will is that we must do so in a community. The large selection of “self-help” books available in book shops and libraries offer great assurances of help and cures for the various problems confronting the despondent reader. Yet the reason these all fail – and they always fail – is that their focus is on helping “me” – the individual, on my differences, my uniqueness, my particularity. It is truly a ‘self-ish’ endeavor.

One of the major errors of the modern world, and western Society in particular, is this emphasis on “self”, the individual. Help for the sufferer is thought to be found in isolation from others, from family and friends, from society and humanity itself. I would argue that this tendency is as old as humanity itself. This is humanity in its fallen state seeking solutions to our problems in isolation from interaction with others

However, our own experience and our Lord’s testimony teaches us that we have an inherent need for others. Recall the observation, “How can you remove the mote in your brother’s eye when there is a plank in your own.” This points to the reality that our humanity can only be revealed, the fullness of our personhood can only be discovered and flourish, in community. The extent to which we insist on differentiating ourselves from our shared humanity is the degree to which our lives are diminished and our very personhood impoverished.

The Holy Trinity Himself provides the greatest example of this truth. The Essence of God, that basic Nature that uniquely characterizes Him, is Love. The hypostases (concrete realities that instantiate, or give what we would loosely call “reality” to that Essence) are the Three Divine Persons – Father. Son and Holy Spirit .These three Persons equally possess that Divine Essence by which we affirm that each of the Divine Persons is fully God. At the same time, this hypostatic reality fully embodies (as it were) the Essence of each Divine Person.

Our Faith teaches us that we are created in the Image and Likeness of God. As there is a common Divinity shared by each Person of the Holy Trinity, so also each man or woman shares in a common humanity. While the Divine Essence is at once all love, all knowing, all powerful and eternal, the human essence is limited, capable of love but also subject to experience the absence of love (originating either in ‘me’ or experienced by ‘me’ due to another). Similarly, the immortality of human existence is purely dependent on our willful acceptance of the gift of love and life from God.

Therefore, true “self-help’ comes not through focus on ‘me’ but on God, through Whom we find true peace and harmony with all others. In this encounter with God we find healing in Him. And what’s more, this healing necessarily takes place in the context of a the community, the Church. Here alone we discover the realities of our dignity, our poverty, our need and our sin.

In experiencing these truths selfishness gives way to a selflessness that if filled with the grandeur His Life. The limitations of our broken existence finds healing through sharing our humanity with others in the shared reality of Christ’s self sacrifice for us. Our life becomes one with the Trinity and thus one with everyone of His children. No matter what our earthly circumstances, we are freed and no longer need live as victims. Forgiveness of those who hurt us is easily achieved in the superseding action of Divine Love that allows to see beyond the petty myopia of this broken world to the heavenly perspective where we are all God’s children and worthy of love, forgiveness and life.

In conclusion, let the words of the Prayer Book and Divine Serves bring healing. Spend time before your Icon corner and be open to experience the true Victory that comes from complete submission to the Holy Trinity. Discover the fullness of your personhood in the God who gives us His Divine Body and Precious Blood.

Thanks be to God.


mikehurcum said...

father the majority of the Church has received their formation from priests who were formed by the sixties the me too genaration which has now become only me. The sixties were a time when self denial, and discipline flew out to window. It is unfortunately a way of life and the Church is unable to change attitudes.

The Byzantine Rambler said...

Dear Mike:

You are correct that the nineteensixties saw a perverse cultural shift, the effects of which still unfold in the decline of Western civilization.

You are also correct that "the Church is unable to change attitudes", if you mean individual efforts. However, the Holy Spirit working within and through the worshipping community can and does change attitudes.

Beware of cynicism for it is but a more intellectual form of despair. And we need not despair for Christ has overcome death - the ultimate point of despair.

earlcapps said...

Glad you're back :)