The sure sign you are doing things right

The sure sign of closeness to glory is the closeness of humility. Rejoice in your humility – its presence in your heart testifies that Christ has found His home in there, too.

We’re clearly during Lent… The more days go by, the more sadness and a feeling of hopelessness seem to take over most of the people I meet. It makes good sense, if you think about it. Lent is a time when we try to stand on our own two feet and actually DO something for our salvation. There’s this common feeling that I may have wasted an entire year, but I’m going to fast & pray until I levitate during Lent! And when it doesn’t happen, depression takes over, with the temptation to simply let go and forget about this whole Lenten business.

The paradox is that these feelings are fighting precisely the people who are in fact getting dangerously close to actually fasting – fasting in the right meaning of the word. If the ‘end products’ of your Lent are self-sufficiency and awareness of one’s virtues and worthiness, those are clear signs that something went terribly wrong. On the other hand, if Easter feels like Judgement Day, a sort of Divine Beauty which you cannot bring yourself to even contemplate, for fear of getting it dirty; if your eyes are looking down (as a father once told me), you may actually be on the right path.

There is nothing ‘wrong’¬†with feeling increasingly low and ashamed with oneself as we draw close to Christ’s Resurrection; these feelings are nothing short of true revelations about our fallen nature. As we get closer to Christ, we actually draw closer to our own Prototype, and that only makes us realise how far away we are from who we are called to be, how foreign we are to our own true being. The more painful this realisation is for you, the more your heart must be in love with this Prototype of ours; otherwise, you wouldn’t care.

And being in love with Christ is always self-sacrificial: you have to die for the caricature you’ve built yourself into, in order to be resurrected as the person you are in Christ’s love. Death is always painful – if you feel the pain, you must be dying; if you are dying, Resurrection is close by. A bit more faith, a bit more love, a bit more patience: Life is within reach!

2 responses

  • Dear Fr. Serafim,
    There is a popular song from some years ago “Whenever you figure your down and out, the only way is up”. Lent seems to go so well until about now, when I am not so observant – I take my eye off the ball, my sight off the Lord Jesus, things get lost along the way. Then Fr. you are right, depression just settles like a cloud, and everything in my life seems wrong and out of sync. I need to get back to basics. I am humbled and confess my need of God’s grace and healing. Then again in another popular song from years ago, You have to “Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again”. It is Our Lord Jesus Christ who gives us the grace and the courage to do just that. The older I get, and I am 73 this year, and was priested in 1963, the more I need God’s free grace, it is just there for the asking. We need two things in this life – Love and Forgiveness.
    Keep the faith! Fr. Philip

    • Thank you so much for your kind words, dear Father. ‘Back to basics’ seems to be the mantra of our whole Christian life – at times, we feel as if we’ve spread our wings and are taking off, then suddenly it’s back to basics all over again. I’m slowly (and painfully) learning the lesson, and ‘the basics’ seem increasingly deeper and more difficult to grasp.

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