Orthodox America

 "Bear Ye One Another's Burdens" 

p2.jpg (33546 bytes) Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for lam meek and lowly in heart; and you shall find rest unto your souls, For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. (Mt. 11:29-30)
The following text, taken from the spiritual journal of a monk of Optina Monastery in 19th century Russia, reveals the spirit of true Christianity that made Russia holy and is so needed by us all today. (Translated from S. Nilus, A Sacred Treasure Under a laskel, St. Elias Publications, Forestville, Ca., 1977.)

Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy

We have been given an Apostolic command: "Bear ye one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ." Christian love does not require that we entirely overlook the weak- nesses of our brother; this would demand closing our eyes.  But it does require that without good reason we should not pay much attention to the sins and weaknesses of our neighbor; that having such a strong inclination to notice the mistakes of our brother, we should rather have regard to his good qualities  We should remember that from the very last, from the most wretched-to all appearances-of creatures, God can make for himself a vessel unto his glory. We must often bring to mind our own shortcomings. Finally, we should remember that true love covers everything, endures everything-even the worst offense.  Love knows that disdain towards others expresses itself in harshness and pride which are opposed to the Spirit of God. The grace of God does not despise what often appears to be wretched in the eyes of men.  It is longsuffering because according to His unfathomable designs, God often brings good out of evil. Neither prideful aversion, nor excessive severity and impatience shown to a man who has made some mistakes, are consistent with the activities of God's grace. No kind of human depravity, if it can thus be expressed, is surprising for grace, because everywhere outside of God it sees only utter wretchedness and sin. Should we cut off or lessen our good disposition towards a man simply because he has become subject to certain weaknesses? We complain that we are forced to endure offenses from others, but do we ourselves not offend others? Seeing another's deficiencies we show our dissatisfaction; but are we ourselves really so perfect in everything? Would we not be terrified of all those whom we have offended at some time should come to us and demand satisfaction for these offenses? Although it might seem that we are honest and just enough in everything, still God, Who knows our least and most hidden deeds, cannot but accuse our guilt before Him and perhaps before those same people whom we consider guilty before ourselves? And so, let us be careful lest God, on the day of the Universal Judgement, should ask of us why we were not merciful to our brethren when He has poured out upon us His mercy so abundantly.  

The path of condescension to the weak- nesses of one's neighbor has been indicated by our Lord Jesus Christ when He said: "Learn of Me, for I am meek and humble of heart." The instructs us by His own example: He came down from heaven to earth, took up the weak and fragile body of man, died on the Cross in order to accuse our pride. He Who is everything for us humbled Himself to the most shameful and cruel death; but we, who have no significance at all, wish to be every- thing, or at least We wish that people would ascribe to us what we do not have  The Lord Jesus Christ tells us that He is meek and humble; it is enough for us to imitate This example. And who will refuse to follow Him? Could a sinner do this who by his ingratitude to the Lord, has already many times deserved to be struck by the lightning of Divine righteousness?  Humility is the fount of true meekness. Conversely, pride is always arrogant, impatient, irritated.  A man who is inwardly conscious of his own weaknesses, willingly endures offenses from others.  A man who thinks he has nothing good in himself is not offended if he must bear insults from others. True Evangelical meekness is not simply the outcome of some natural meek qualities of the soul; it is the fruit of self-denial. The Lord Jesus Christ was meek and humble of heart. This means that humility is not determined only by a rational realization of one's sinfulness and unworthiness before God. Humility is a feeling of the heart. It is the kind of self-debasement in which the will participates. This does not shame a man, but even pleases him because he sees in it a means to glorify God. Humility is the heartfelt aware- ness of one's utter poverty before God.  It consists in casting aside any reliance upon one's own natural strengths.  It sees God as the only Physician able to heal the wounds of the soul  But to see the true state of one's soul and to fail into despair-this is not what it means to be humble.  Despair is the fruit of pride.  It is worse than pride itself.  Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth