Orthodox Byzantine Chants
Holy Mount Athos
There is no perfect wife/husband, no perfect child, no perfect house, no perfect homeland, no perfect society! On earth there is no such thing! You lose your mind trying to find the perfect man, the perfect love, the perfect job et. Nobody’s perfect and we should accept this idea and humble ourselves. If we understand that now on earth we long for perfection but we aren’t perfect, if we have this awareness we don’t argue with anyone anymore, we don’t press anyone anymore, we don’t judge anyone anymore, because we understand that on this earth nothing is perfect: not the politicians, nor the priests not the law nor the medical system, nothing. This doesn’t mean that you don’t fight even for a liitle bit…But if we accept that there is nothing perfect here, our heart will find its peace, it won’t live a hell and won’t spread hell around itself…
On the walls of the monasteries from Moldavia there is a wonderful painting Doomsday:
Jesus sits on a throne, surrounded by angels and from the throne is flowing a fire river, first like a thin thread the nit becomes huge, it is the Tartarus. Then around the fire river are demons and the men are drawn into the fire river, some go up, others go down.
There is a conception about hell that it is a place somewhere where the demons prepare cauldrons with hot tar for men where they will be tortured. This means to take a metaphor ad-literam and not try to understand it spiritually. It means you don’t want to understand spiritually what the Church says. Of course you need an interpreter, it is not available to anyone to understand and the man is bored by these explanations, especially the young men and they are right! The hell in this form with cauldrons with tar doesn’t exist! Why? Because first of all tar is expensive and the gas even more. I don’t think it is very affordable to make such a hell.
I beg you take out of your mind this childish representation of hell because it is far from what the Church says…
The Church says what it is painted on the walls.
Saint John the Damascene says that the flames of heel are made not of tar but of God’s love. These flames burn some people and cool the others, comfort some of them, rebuke others, it depends on the way we receive His love.
We can see this thing in our life, we all know how it is a love that burns and how it is one that comforts. Do you know that there are people who when they see the person who is in love with them cross on the other side of the street? Don’t you know these words: `I don’t know what to do. I can’t bear, I can’t get rid of this man, when I see that he calls me I want to throw away the phone. The other one, poor man, loves sincerely and his love is received as if it were a burning hell!
Well Go dis eternally in love with us. He is madly in love with us: He calls us, He shows up before us in the street, He appears in our encounters, in our life. Why? Because of the boundless love He has for us. Out of this love He let Himself be crucified by us and out of His great love He forgives us every time we ask for His forgiveness.
The Holy Fathers say that when the man knows God’s love is completely drawn by this love and nothing is shaken anymore inside him.
How sorry God feels for us, how much grief God has for us when we don’t understand His love, when we don’t understand what a Kingdom He wants to offer us and we choose to limit our demands at: I want a house, a car, a husband, a child and if You give me these I am going to love you God! How much pain feels the man who is madly in love with his lover and she tells him: To show me how much you love me give me your bank card! Or is more glad when she receives from him a bracelet than when she receives a hug?
God promises perfection to us: It shall come a time when I come on earth and all bodies will be resurrected. Sickness and death are accidents of humanity. Look in the mirror to see what wonderful being God has created. How can this creature die, how can this disappear, how to throw in the grave and be left only a heap of bones?
Man’s call is different…here on earth we are in exile and in exile you won’t ever feel well but it shall come a time when we return Home. All our existence on earth is comprised in this aim: we live our life on earth in the perspective of the eternal life and of the encounter with God…and how can we do that?
* `Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind;
* and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.`
Priest Visarion Alexa