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Christians! Embrace suffering!

The teaching of the Gospel is very clear, and even without Sacred Scripture ancient philosophers perceived this truth: To live is to suffer! Our only choices are to flee from it, which is futile, or to embrace it. At least, that was the reality in my youth. In one short lifetime, science has made such changes that suffering is no longer quite so inevitable, since a cornucopia of drugs has almost made suffering escapable in America, with pain relief and mind altering drugs. Almost, but as long as there is human consciousness there is loneliness, frustration, abandonment, grief, and dispair, until one snuffs out consciousness and human life.

The change wrought in one lifetime is so great that mankind has come to the de facto abandonment of the Worship of Christ, for the Worship of Science, This is so pervasive in America and that the Christian Way has been practically abandoned by everybody including us Orthodox, God’s Elect.

In the choice between suffering and comfort, all of us daily reach out for whatever gives us comfort. Yet nothing is worse for the soul than comfort! The Holy Spirit through the Divine Scriptures calls out the message of the Cross:"Those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh, with its lust and affections".Gal 5:24) and again: "Mortify your members which are upon the earth." (Col.3:5) To crucify the flesh and mortify our members means all five senses: taste, smell, touch, sight and hearing, which we do to save our souls and lay up treasure in the Heavens. "For the preaching of the Cross, which is foolishness to them that are perishing , to them that are saved it is the Power of God!" (I Cor.1:18) Or as St.Isaac of Nineveh writes, "Persecute yourself, and the demons will flee from you!"

The Lord says, "Whoever will come after me, let him take up his cross daily, deny himself and follow me"(Matt. 10:38 , Mk.824, Lk.9;23) In our fallen nature all five senses are corrupted and cry out for ever more pleasure. Each leads us to vanity and lust.

Each time we deny ourselves some sensual or mental pleasure, we lay up treasure in the Heavens. For this reason Christians must seek the negation of nature. Silence instead of sound, foul odors instead of sweet, downcast eyes, plain or bad tasting food rather than delicious, humiliation rather than admiration, and pain rather than comfort. Eusebius tells us that after his election to the Twelve, the Apostle Matthias never voluntarily allowed himself any pleasure or comfort that he could avoid, preferring to constantly be united with his crucified Master, laying up treasure in the Heavens.

In case we have forgotten, or been led astray by hireling shepherds, this is the Christian Way! That we take up our Cross daily, unite ourselves to Christ, suffering daily in this world, as much as we can bear, for treasure in Heaven. As much as we can bear, fleeing comfort and every non essential thing. This is the only Way to Salvation. We know where comfort and ease lead.