A Cruciform Providence

The entire mystery of the economy of our salvation consists in the self-emptying and abasement of the Son of God – St. Cyril of Alexandria

Trust in the providence of God is much more than a general theory of how things are arranged in our lives and in the world. We tend to discuss the notion in the abstract, wondering whether this action or event is to be properly attributed to God. There is a much deeper matter, however, one that goes to the heart of the Christian life and the nature of salvation itself. Providence is not a theory about how things are – it is the very nature of salvation.

A proper place to begin in thinking about this is with Christ Himself.  Jesus says, “I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” (Joh 6:38) This is a clear declaration of His self-emptying and abasement, a kenotic action that is consummated on the Cross.

In a similar manner, trust in Divine providence is a form of self-emptying on the part of the believer. Such trust has a very traditional expression: the giving of thanks. To give thanks always, everywhere and for all things is the fullest form of self-emptying. The Elder Sophrony once said that if one were to practice thanksgiving always and everywhere, he would fulfill the saying to St. Silouan, “Keep your mind in hell and despair not.” Fr. Alexander Schmemann said, “Anyone capable of thanksgiving is capable of salvation.”

The common objection to trust in God’s providence is similar to the objections for thanksgiving. We fear that such trust and thanks will result in non-action, an acquiescence to the reign of evil. If the Christian life is rightly understood (and lived), this result is not an issue. This fear, understandably common, is intensified within the mindset and narrative of modernity.

The modern narrative tends to claim that human problems were largely left unattended and uncorrected until the advent of modern social science and political efforts. It fails to recognize that the very period of time that is marked by “modern,” has also contained many of the most egregious human rights violations known to history. Racial slavery, as practiced in America, for example, was maintained and justified almost exclusively on the grounds of very modern reasons.

The fear of inaction is a charge that can easily be brought against the Cross itself. The weakness of Christ Crucified appears (on the surface) to be the acquiescence of God to evil. This is certainly what the powers of evil thought:

…We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. (1Co 2:7-8)

To trust in providence is not the same as inaction. Rather, it is a description of the form and character of action. The death of Christ on the Cross is in no wise involuntary – it is not passive. A life lived in union with the providence of God is in no way passive – it is the action of the Cross within the world.

The Cross should not be relegated to an event that accomplishes our salvation as an isolated or unique transaction. The Crucified Christ reveals the very nature and character of God and the nature and character of the life of salvation. The Christian life is the process of increasing transformation into the image and likeness of Christ. That image and likeness is specifically that of the Crucified (Phil. 2:5-11).

We are told to keep the commandments. Those commandments include care for the poor, the homeless, those in prison, etc. Indeed, the Cross teaches us to radically identify with them, rather than simply to offer a helping hand. There is, within the modern paradigm, a profound substitution of state action for personal action. Voting to help the poor with other people’s money seems somehow amiss in terms of the gospel.

I was sick and you advocated for a single-payer health-care system. I was hungry and you gave me foodstamps. I was in prison and you advocated for more just sentencing and additional social workers. I was naked and you argued with people for judging my appearance.

These are more characteristic of popular “justice” in the modern setting. Our concern for justice rarely seems to engage anyone face-to-face, or to leave us with substantially less money. We fail to understand the true nature of violence, and refuse to acknowledge its necessary role in “making the world a better place.” Modernity is married to violence and pleads that it is all in a good cause.

The justice of the Cross is a way of life – one which makes no sense apart from the resurrection. I once heard it said that a Christian should live their life in such a way that, if Christ had not been raised from the dead, it would be absurd. That absurdity is nothing less than the foolishness of the Cross. In arguments with modernity, the way of the Cross will always lose, will always seem to fall short of solving problems and fixing things. Every human plan is better.

However, if the preaching of the Cross carries with it no foolishness, then something less than the Cross is being preached. Those who have reduced the Cross to a pagan sacrifice, appeasing an angry god, have made of it a wise investment and a safe bet. Such “faith” is beside the point.

Within our daily lives, if we confront the day with thanksgiving, the Cross will quickly reveal itself. The first moment that the giving of thanks becomes difficult, we have reached the wood of the Cross itself. We stand in the very gates of Hades. If in that moment of difficulty we persist in giving thanks, then Hades trembles and the dead are raised. This is our personal kenosis, our self-emptying in the presence of the good God. “Nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done.”

This same heart will indeed feed the poor and clothe the naked. It may very well give away everything that it owns. It will not make the world a better place, for it is the place where a better world has already become incarnate.

 

40 comments:

  1. Thank you Father. This post is a good exposition of the foolishness of the cross and its real power.

  2. Spot on!
    It’s a grand sound to say “in everything give thanks” or “Glory to God for all things” (it’s what you’re “supposed” to say, after all), but note how folks recoil when you unpack the generality and get specific.
    If you want to test this, walk up to a “Christian” mental health type professional and make a statement to the effect that you’re thankful to God that you’ve suffered abuse.

  3. My failure and utter shame has never been so great as when trying to emulate the piety of a “Fool for Christ” without the pain of actually being foolish. I have rarely re-ventured to such dismal failure on the abandoned ship of selfless-willed ambition: it is mostly, dare I say, blessed upon me lovingly and in Christ’s esteemed portions–daubing each broken fragment to my puzzled self bit by bit. And I am every bit still modern no matter how “byzantine” I try to be. (I confess writing this on a computer, but quite possibly, as a jested docetist, I am the point to a kenosist I have not fully seen)

  4. Fr. Stephen, I have been following your recent articles with great interest; they are liberating. But I need help understanding what I am giving thanks for in, say, sexual abuse as a child (as Justin has alluded to). When a woman is raped or when a child is murdered, for what is she to give thanks? I do not ask these questions in a combative way but in seeking to learn and live in Christ.

  5. I have been thinking about modernity’s concepts of progress and the Enlightenment. I remembered a fellow from Germany that lived in the 17th and 18th Century and was probably one of the most influential in shaping the concept of Human Progress. As a Philosopher Georg Hegel developed his theory of the Dialectic which spoke of the progress of humankind. Many bought into his thoughts and process even though his theory was totally disproved in the events following August 1914.
    All of the alleged “progress” of humanity in civility collapsed into the utter savagery of WW I. What amazes me that despite one of the most savage centuries in recorded history our friends, who are pushing the New World Order, with all of its claims to progression towards Utopia, so easily slides around the truth of the real savagery of mankind and all the evidence that “progress” is a myth. I wonder what cataclysmic event it will take to open our eyes and minds to the truths expounded in this line of articles in this blog, Father. Perhaps only at the Eschaton will the bulk of humanity see. I pray we will awaken before then.

  6. “However, if the preaching of the Cross carries with it no foolishness, then something less than the Cross is being preached.”

    and

    “Within our daily lives, if we confront the day with thanksgiving, the Cross will quickly reveal itself. The first moment that the giving of thanks becomes difficult, we have reached the wood of the Cross itself. We stand in the very gates of Hades. If in that moment of difficulty we persist in giving thanks, then Hades trembles and the dead are raised.”

    beautiful, Father Stephen.

    I think, maybe, your words express what Mathetes meant in his letter to Diognetus, when he wrote “what the soul is to the body, that are Christians in the world”

  7. “Those who have reduced the Cross to a pagan sacrifice, appeasing an angry god, have made of it a wise investment and a safe bet. Such “faith” is beside the point.”

    Thank you for this statement, it helps move me another step closer to being free of my former delusions – many more bonds yet to loose no doubt.

    The Blessing of Christ be upon you and all who read this blog!

  8. Thank you, Father Stephen. You brought my thoughts back to my earlier days when I read Pilgrims Progress and I thought of Christian when he stood at the foot of the cross.

    “He ran thus till he came at a place somewhat ascending, and upon that place stood a Cross, and a little below, in the bottom, a Sepulchre.

    So I saw in my dream, That just as Christian came up with the Cross, his Burden loosed from off his shoulders, and fell from off his back, and began to tumble, and so continued to do, till it came to the mouth of the Sepulchre, where it fell in, and I saw it no more.

    Then was Christian glad and lightsome, and said with a merry heart, He has given me rest by His sorrow, and life by His death. Then he stood still a while to look and wonder; for it was very surprising to him, that the sight of the Cross should thus ease him of his Burden. He looked therefore, and looked again, even till the springs that were in his head sent the waters down his cheeks. Now, as he stood looking and weeping, behold three Shining Ones came to him and saluted him, with peace be to you; so the first said to him, Your sins are forgiven; the second stripped him of his rags, and clothed him with change of raiment; the third also set a Mark on his forehead, and gave him a Roll, with a Seal upon it, which bid him look on as he ran, and that he should give it in at the Celestial Gate; so they went their way. Then Christian gave three leaps of Joy, and went on singing:

    Thus far did I come laden with my Sin;
    Nor could ought ease the grief that I was in,
    Till I came hither: What a place is this!
    Must here be the beginning of my bliss?
    Must here the Burden fall from off my back?
    Must here the strings that bound me crack?
    Blest Cross! blest Sepulchre! blest rather be
    The Man that there was put to Shame for me!”

    As you quoted, Father, “The entire mystery of the economy of our salvation consists in the self-emptying and abasement of the Son of God – St. Cyril of Alexandria”

    He was put to Shame on that Cross, He experienced abasement for me and for other’s of my ilk.

  9. Dear Father Stephen, I really love your words and your message. Today is probably the first time I find a disagreement with anything you say (sometimes I might have not fully understood, but that is different). In terms of these words of yours “Voting to help the poor with other people’s money seems somehow amiss in terms of the gospel.” and the following quote, which isn’t attributed, I cannot respond with eloquence, so I will just refer you to a speech by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew:
    http://www.aoiusa.org/ecumenical-patriarch-bartholomew-at-georgetown/

    Don’t get me wrong, I think your message about the Cruciform Providence is very inspiring as a guide to my personal life, especially in advance of Lent, but once you foray into political advocacy, things are different, and mixing those two things is dangerous and more typical of Protestantism, not Orthodoxy, in my personal experience.

  10. Dimitar, one can not be faithful in this day and age without standing forthrightly in the face of political ideology.

    Certainly Pat. Bartholomew is not free of such entanglements. He could not be.

    The Gospel norm seems to be devoid of any expectation that the state, any state, has anything to do with our alms giving.

    If my brother is hungry I am duty bound to do what I can, plus more, to feed him.

    Economically and socially, taxes create a certain sense of quid pro quo that does not fit well with Christian almsgiving.

    Even if the state were actually benevolent and did what was expected, it would not touch my own response to those in need.

    If the state does well, that is good but we must do better.

  11. Dimitar,

    I’d like to understand your point a bit better, if you don’t mind. You wrote: “but once you foray into political advocacy, things are different, and mixing those two things is dangerous and more typical of Protestantism, not Orthodoxy, in my personal experience.” Not that it matters, but I fully agree with this statement you made. But I’m confused because the statement (avoiding foray into politics) contradicts what the EP was doing in his address. His address was very political IMO, yet you seem to like his address. Again, I’m just trying to understand your position. Foray into politics, or don’t do that?

  12. sbdn andrew,
    Your comment “…it is mostly, dare I say, blessed upon me lovingly and in Christ’s esteemed portions–daubing each broken fragment to my puzzled self bit by bit” resonates with me. That’s what He does…He knows our frame, that broken vessel.
    Your other comment about how “byzantine” you try to be…I just read Fr. Farley’s newest post regarding this very subject…https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/nootherfoundation/the-doors-the-doors/. It’s interesting. (maybe you read it already)

  13. Alan, I do think that mixing deep truths and political messages is wrong.

    I quoted His All Holiness Bartholomew just as a counter example really. As in, one can very much argue the other way.

  14. Dimitar,
    I am writing and speaking to the heart. My caution is to Christians who mistake their political action (for example, voting what to do with other people’s money) as the same thing Christ is describing in our serving Him in the poor. No change of heart need occur to be generous with taxes. Personally, I’d be glad of much greater support of the poor – single-payer medical care, etc.. But I dare not substitute that for the commands of the gospel. The cost is too small.

    Please do not mistake my examples (voting for this or that) as examples of things I do not favor politically. I simply mean to say that they are not the same thing and are not substitutes.

  15. Father,

    Lately, I’ve been thinking about completely abandoning the political arena. Not voting, not watching any “news”, etc. I’m not suggesting others should do that, just thinking that I should. Yet I often hear Christians tell me that I must vote, I must advocate for this, that, or the other, I must get involved. I used to agree with those folks. But lately, in no small part based on your writings, I’ve come to see the fallacy of modernity. Do you think it’s wrong for a person to just totally bow out of the political arena?

  16. Alan,
    I do not. The statement that a Christian “must” is simply not true. For example (just to give one of many), if a “democratic” system does not offer a suitable candidate or solution, etc., we certainly have no duty to just “choose the best” or “lesser of two evils.” It’s like someone holding a gun on your children and telling you to choose, and at the same time telling you that if you don’t, it’s your fault one of them will die. Modernity offers false choices, and seeks to co-opt us into a false responsibility. We have a duty (before God) to obey just laws and honor leaders – we are not under a duty to be a dutiful part of a democracy or to agree with every claim put forward by the state. Those who make the laws are directly responsible for the laws they make (they cannot argue that they were just obeying the dictates of an opinion poll). Those who carry out the laws cannot argue that they were just following orders. No one can say, “They are doing evil because you failed to stop them.” They are part of a “devil’s bargain” in which you never win.

  17. Thank you Father. I appreciate your response. I, like others, am indebted to you and challenged (in a good way) by your writings.

  18. Dimitar, IMO, all modern states have very little claim to our allegenice. They are all nihilist idols.

    I advocate for no state, if a state does poorly, it does poorly. That is only to be expected.

    Ultimately, all states become enemies of Christ and His people as they seek to rule in place of God rather than being faithful stewards.

    There is only one King.

  19. Thank you, Father Stephen, for the clarification. I think I understand better now.

    Michael, trust me as an Eastern European I share some of you pessimism. But nihilism is also something resident in our regional psyche and it never brings good.

  20. Thank you Fr. Stephen. There are many things/experiences I am not grateful for. However, walking through them, working them out together with the teachings of Christ/prayer/communion has given me PLENTY to be enormously grateful for! Yes, more than I had before the “loss.” This to me is another aspect of the Cross. God bless.

  21. Paula,
    Thank you for linking me to Fr. Farley’s comments. I will leave a reply under your post there as it pertains to his article.

    However, in regards to this discussion, a worthless analogy is that of thinking myself a sailor without the sea legs to trust my craft’s sea-worthiness. Retching over the rail from the first wallowing swell before weathering a few gales is hardly a gold leaf on the ole cap. It is quite telling that to have lasting “serveignty” in this world, I must have a baseline in a “nootherfoundation” which I submit to. Its the shame of considering “abandoning my tossing vessel” to “what’s the point?” that I am crossed to possibly trying a bit more faith…a dash more beauty? From whence shall creativity come?

    What I want to see in myself or in “my christ” (as a foolish apparition) and what God sees in me is not the synthesis I am decieved to believe. The faith that I think Fr. Steven is getting at is a premise. The Cross is not antithetical to anything prior, but Is and ever Has Been. It is to this point as even beyond thesis that I, an antinomic creation is perfectly blended to be in this world from a base not of this world.

    I will always be a catechumen. I will always struggle to “depart and not remain” dead to this reality until my “modern” project is made living (Psalms 103:29-30; see Fr John Behr’s commentary on the appropriate sequence of events in this passage) while “living.”
    It only becomes an opposition, a dialectic, when the pill for my “sea-sickness” is assuming I am the Publican or even (not even) the Pharisee. The Cross for me, a modern in-betweener, is the s(i)nthesis of somehow being…off the charts. May the Lord forgive me for thinking I am worthless of being as “chief sinner: captain of My ship.”

  22. Thank you Fr Stephen and everyone,

    I have so many thoughts on this topic that I hardly know where to begin. I am working on a paper on Divine Providence in Maximos the Confessor and attempting to compare his ideas to the Syriac tradition. I am overwhelmed, but so grateful that Sr F is talking about this, and has been for the past few posts.

    In order to avoid looking confused and not having anything of relevance to say on the topic at hand, let me just quickly note that there is a term in Paul’s letters, oikonomία (οἰκονομία), a term often translated into English as “divine dispensation,” or “divine economy.” The Syriac translation for this is the term mdabranoutha (ܡܕܒܪܢܘܬܐ) , as seen in the Peshitta for the translation of Paul’s letters. The term has an extremely rich history, and trying to work back and forth across the Greek and Syriac usages of the term is even richer.

    It really all begins, as I say, in Paul. The term οικονομια occurs at 1 Timothy 1:4; Ephesians 1:10; 3:2; 3:9; 1 Corinthians 9:17;

    Cf. Ephesians 1:10 εις οικονομιαν του πληρωματος των καιρων, ανακεφαλαιωσασθαι τα παντα εν τω χριστω τα επι τοις ουρανοις και τα επι της γης: εν αυτω. NASB: “with a view to an administration (divine economy) suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him.”

    My gut feeling is that the next best place to go to delve into this is Paul’s referring to Christ’s resurrection as the “first fruits” of the raising of all the holy ones, appearing in 1 Cor. This takes the subject towards what Fr S is talking about.

    But in order to see just a tiny taste of how this works in Maximos, and in conjunction with the term pronoia (“providence” but more like “foreknowing”) and the word skopos (“cosmic movement”?) let me quote a passage from Maximos’ “One Hundred Maxims on Theology” (or Theological Centuries) (1.66):

    The mystery of the Word’s embodying (ensomatosis) has the power (dynamis) of all enigmas and types in the scriptures, and the understanding (episteme) of creatures, whether visible or invisible or perceived with the mind. And he that knows the mystery of the Cross and the grave also knows the defining reasons (logoi) of these things. But he that is initiated (myetheis) into the unspeakable power of the Resurrection knows the goal (skopos) God established even as He brought forth all things.

    So what might this have this to with our discussion of modernity and its interest in making us think we have the choice to change the world and “make the world a better place”? Well really I have not said anything by quoting this and talking about Paul and the terms economia and pronoia (and logoi) that has not already been said by Fr Stephen and by others. But Maximos seems to show us, and simply remind us, of what is in Paul, that we can step outside of modernity by looking to the scriptures and the logoi (principles) that reside there in the same way that they reside in the world around us, and which help us understand how to move outside of modern temporality and its messages. Maximos seems to say that, as we already know, Christ the “alpha and omega,” beginning and the end, but seems to have given us a practical program for living this out and moving back into the biblical language and being part of “the First Fruits.” And what an appropriate message here on the threshold of Lent that is.

    Note also how Maximos talks about how this is unspeakable, something I can certainly concur with, and that we can only be initiated into this. But I do feel that talking about it even in the face of the inability to talk about it, has value, just as long as we recognize that one has to be initiated into this–perhaps another weapon against modern temporality and its messages.

  23. sbdn andrew,
    Thank you for your response. Trying to sort out your words, are you saying:
    It is worthless to think of ones self as one of Christ’s without sincere trust in Him…
    the baseline is The Cross, not us, nor the synthesis we imagine…
    And the Cross, Father Stephen speaks of as a premise (a fact? a thing eternal)…
    that as God created us in human form, yet in His image, the answer to this seeming contradiction (of flesh and spirit) is and has always been in The Cross…
    and finally, our time here is, like you say, “to depart and not remain”… it is ongoing, beyond the thought of whether we are a publican or pharisee, the chiefest of sinners or not.
    (you have no idea how long it has taken me to sort this out! But I appreciate it! Please fill in the blanks if you will. I’m not clear on the premise thing.)
    Also, where can I find Fr. John Behr’s commentary you mentioned?

  24. Paula,
    I think you have done well to sort through my varied abstractions. Like (Todd) Isaac said above, it is a real struggle to put into words something that really is unspoken and often incomprehensible. But we should at least try at any rate–it is how we sort out our struggles artistically? The particulars often come to each person as Christ leads. I am often reminded that it is not My faith, but Christ’s faith where I find “sincere trust.” I definately do not have it. Perhaps you have wondered how those who cry “Lord, Lord!” could be told by their supposed Sovereign, “I don’t know you.” That is a terrible outcome which I greatly fear, but sung when I have invested in any framework that has as its’ content an illusory vanishing point.

    If a “fact” is continually revised, updated, added to and subtracted from, compromised, modernized and essentially under a constant flux of what we want it to be, then I would venture that it is a mere theory undergoing oppositional interventions to stay current and flowing. If the “starting point” from which that supposed “fact” is not changeless, then it is worthless as something to base one’s salvation on. And to identify one’s self by that “fact” without being able to have (or asking for) complete trust in its’ “changelessticity” then how can I say “Lord, Lord…its me!?” And maybe this is why we might try instead, “Jesus Christ, have mercy…remember me?”

    A modified and updated baseline is not the healing “economy” of the Cross. Maybe a good question to ask is: Who said the first statement as fact from which all subsequent statements are made? I think it was Fr. Steven who said he had trouble with those bumper stickers that claim Orthodoxy as 2000 years ancient while the Church is in fact before time–we are talking Christ as Son of God timeless and forever. For me, that is a fact as an unchanging Sameness that without I am nothing and my distinction utterly worthless.
    (Fr. Steven forgive me if I misunderstood or if this was not you)

    For Fr. John Behr, see any of his lectures on Youtube, start here:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jaZmvyzOj04

    Also, any and all his books:
    The Mystery of Christ: Life in Death
    Becoming Human: Meditations on Christian Anthropology in Word and Image

  25. subdn andrew,
    I so appreciate your input. Thank you.
    As I’m reading and rereading your response, I am hearing Fr. P.H. Reardon on a podcast asking, do you pray, “Lord Jesus Christ, I put my trust in you”?! So yes, it must be in Christ’s faith I put my trust. I often think about the “Lord, Lord…” verse. Now this might sound crazy, but I can not imagine Him answering me “I don’t know you”, when I know He knows I realize my nothingness and look to Him as my only hope. Why would He forsake me? Didn’t He say He wouldn’t? If I had even an inkling that He might just forsake me, well, then I would say, what’s the use? I’m sunk! So my hope is only in His mercy! Look, I don’t know much. And most of the time I miss the point, especially when talking in abstracts (as you mention). So I go by the “fact” the He is the same yesterday, today and forever…that is the “changlessness” I cling to. We change in our inconsistencies, He doesn’t. In regard to our healing through The Cross, you suggest a good question would be “Who said the first statement as fact from which all subsequent statements are made?” Is it not the same One Moses spoke about when he said “In the beginning, God…said Let there be…” the One who has no beginning?! His economy, or plan for the ages, featuring His Son Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world…this is what everything else hangs on!
    I’m rambling on here, and probably a little (a lot!) off base…but I thank you for taking the time to respond and also for the links and info on Fr. Behr. God bless, subdeacon.

  26. Paula,
    Selah!

    One more link:
    Met. Kolistos Ware’s lectures:
    “The Unchanging Gospel in an Ever-Changing Culture”

  27. Paula, these subjects are difficult to approach without seeming to ramble because of the interconnectedness all things.

    I am half convinced that our personal salvation is at once much simpler and far more complex than we usually consider.

    When Jesus says, “Fear not, I have overcome the world.” It is appended to be relied on. More than a promise actually. It is reality.

    That is the simple part. The complex part, for me, lies in realizing how much I fear, how often and to what devastating effect.

    God is merciful.

  28. Michael,
    Thanks…first for your concise statements. It does help to know a reason for the “rambling”. The “rabbit trail”, or better yet, the “maze” we so often create when speaking actually is all connected. Understanding this relieves some of my frustration when sometimes “I just don’t get it”.
    Second, that our salvation is “at once” simple and complex…at the same time, and both more than we realize. That must be why I say to myself quite often “I knowwww I’m missing something here”!
    As for your fear, I think I understand. It’s like, Christ tells us to come to Him as little children. I say to myself, now how does a 62 year old woman with a semi-truck load of baggage do that?! (sounds like Nicodemus, “can a man be born when he is old?”! Jesus, and only Jesus, can say Yes to a question like that!) I don’t know Michael…like you said, God is merciful. Such a journey! Amen, brother.

  29. “The Christian life is the process of increasing transformation into the image and likeness of Christ. That image and likeness is specifically that of the Crucified”

    and

    “The first moment that the giving of thanks becomes difficult, we have reached the wood of the Cross itself.”

    Thank you for these beautiful words, Fr. Stephen. They pierce to the heart in this first week of Lent.

  30. The reason I ask is because the more I am able to give thanks, the more I find I have to give thanks for and the more I see things I don’t yet give thanks for–usually justified in my mind and most not easy.

    Ah well…

    Having dinner out with my lovely wife tonight and that is always easy to give thanks.

    God is good.

  31. “The first moment that the giving of thanks becomes difficult, we have reached the wood of the Cross itself. We stand in the very gates of Hades. If in that moment of difficulty we persist in giving thanks, then Hades trembles and the dead are raised. This is our personal kenosis, our self-emptying in the presence of the good God. “Nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done.”

    I thought I should repost this in case someone else too feels today that it is all too relevant. Reaching the wood of the Cross when thanksgiving becomes difficult! Beautiful truth at the end of a long day. Thank you, Father Stephen.

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