Monday, 21 July 2008

An atheist reborn in the Orthodox Church (6) [Un ateu renăscut în Biserica Ortodoxă]

Something many unbelievers will hardly ever understand from outside the only One Church of our Lord Jesus Christ is how matter is sanctified by His Resurrection… how any little particular grain of dirt can have a a spiritual meaning, as it can remind us of the Lord Himself, the Theotokos or His Saints. Because “being created by God, the Logos, matter is, in its innermost core, God-longing and Christ-longing” (more about the Orthodox view upon matter: here and here).

There’s a great mystery in this, unapproachable by our contemporaries enslaved by consumerism, where everything can be bought for ‘the right price,’ then ‘consumed,’ and, ultimately, thrown away. Those poor people who are senselessly fighting their own nature, replacing ‘being themselves’ with ‘having for themselves’ (as many vain things as possible that we will all lose the day we die!) cannot understand the pricelessness of sanctified matter in Orthodoxy.

They, who buy and sell all the possible crap, would deem fetishism, foolishness, and definitely as something irrational my friend Dionysios’ love for bits of nothing.

But these nothings (in the eyes of these seculars that have blinded themselves with their pride!) are bits of matter that has been sanctified by a touch of grace, by the Holy Ghost Himself, and the Saints that the Lord keeps chosing to work miracles through.

In his ordinary house in Peacehaven (East Sussex), Dionysios gathered little drops of this great mystery of Orthodoxy, of how sanctified matter can work upon one’s soul. And I might have not witnessed visible ‘miracles’ (why should we believe that all miracles should be visible, whilst our soul is invisible?!) after sharing to people little Filaktas of St. Dionysios of Zakynthos that my friend gave me, but I saw what he told me I would see.

I saw people joyfully receiving these tokens of St. Dionysios. Some knew of this saint, some didn’t, but no one told me I was crazy – exactly as my friend had said to me that no one would do so.

My friend has got cloth that covered St. Dionysios’ relics or St. Edward’s bones; he cherishes nuts from the very nut tree where his beloved Saint stopped to eat a few; he has wax used to seal the Holy Grave in Jerusalem before the Holy Light (Holy Fire) miraculously appears every year; he grows olive trees from Nazareth and Zakynthos, while a sweet smell of incense can be felt all over his house…

At times, and according to no logical rule (but the Lord knows each of our souls, to whom to reveal His greatness through His Saints!), some people can inspire the divine smell of St. Dionysios…

In a room like a little church, the timelessness and sanctity of Orthodoxy is at home in a generally secular East Sussex (a county with an interesting approach to religion, albeit purely secular).

Almost every object has a spiritual meaning or it reminds my friend of a beautiful Holy Place where he has once been to. Dionysios surely hasn’t had what today’s world would consider a ‘happy life,’ and all the treasures he gathered in his house are surely nothing that today’s robbers should seek after – however, he has found all the richness of Orthodoxy, that can give meaning to any grain of dirt.

Dionysios from Peacehaven was dead, and he’s now alive, he surely had a pointless existence for many years, but now he’s holding on to the only meaning of our existence – being with Jesus Christ, and hoping to earn a place near Him forevermore.

He may not have much to live for now as well (some would judge!), but the way he lives for the little treasures he gathered, and for sharing them with the world gives him a most meaningful life. My friend Dionysios may be a ‘nobody’ to this world’s standards (no wealth, no career, no ambition, no grand goal or achievement – all of which this shallow world requires of a man), yet he is a meaningful man whom I feel blessed to call my friend.

Since I am so unable to keep up the rhythm of my vivid correspondence with my English friend (along with many others), I am thanking him here for having shared with me some of his treasures. Glory to the Lord for the day he approached me (January 20th, 2008) with his amazing story.

It’s always refreshing to know that the Lord does change the lives of people, their view of the world and everything within their inner selves exactly like He did almost 2,000 years ago! I myself am an example, Dionysios is another, this blog has kept mentioning at least a few others, and I thank the Lord that, throughout 2008, He has made me live me among this different (but so real!) kind of people who have discovered Him, the Truth.

It’s none of our merit, there’s nothing to boast ourselves with, it’s all God’s work and priceless gift to us, but I am saying it over and over again (to my secular friends, and to anyone who might come across this blog): unless we weren't giving that 0.00001% of free will from our part, the Lord couldn’t give His 99.99999% share in order to change our lives.

There’s no predestination, it’s just a ‘take it or leave it’ kind offer that our Lord makes to us until our very last breath: he who wants to know Him, can surely do so…

[For all the episodes of this series, and all the posts on this blog go to/ Pentru toate episoadele din această serie şi toate postările de pe acest blog mergi la: Contents/Cuprins]

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