Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Thoughts from the Great Father Schmemann

While flying down to South Carolina last week, I had the opportunity to spend some quality time with the diary of Father Alexander Schmemann--who I think is probably the greatest spiritual writer in the last century. One of his entries gave me a lot to think about. Let me paraphrase his thought and add to it a bit.

God created everything that is as good. The devil introduced a problem and posed this to Adam and Eve. "Did God really say..?" Evil is seeing the goodness of God as a "problem." Jesus redeems creation by reintroducing the intention of God over and against the "problems" posed by evil. Therefore when Jesus encounters the disciples on the road to Emmaus, he terms them as foolish when they interpret the events of Good Friday as unnecessary and not what they had "hoped" for. He tells them that these events were necessary and part of God's plan for good--the salvation of many!

How do you and I see the events and the people of our daily life? Do we perceive the goodness of God or is everyone around a "problem"?

Soon to be "Blessed" Mother Teresa was known to encounter the poor as "Christ" and not as a bum or "problem". Social Workers often had a problem with her because of her disinterest in doing anything to aleviate "problems". Once when she was to speak at a world conference to end hunger, she found a man begging for food at the entrance of the auditorium and took him and fed him--never speaking that day. The people attending the conference weren't really interested in ending the hunger of the man they had all passed, she was.

Tied into this perceiving the good in all, through the eyes of Christ, is Christian joy. True followers of Christ our joyful, they are not downcast bemoaning what could have been--they believe that victory is ultimately there and they pray that God's will be done in all things and they believe that it will be done on earth as it is in heaven. They see the events of their lives as not accidential occurences but meaningful events that are moving them often inspite of themselves and their sins to where God wants them to be.

I told a friend of mine, a bishop, that the sign of the healthiness of a religious community, movement, or individual priest in his diocese was the level of "joy" that they exhibit in their lives.