Good article for Christian Counselors and those seeking a more spiritual Advent in preparation of Christmas.
The article, “Advent is an invitation to grow deeper in trust”, by Fr. Jeffrey Kirby states,
“Today Christian believers throughout the world observe the second Sunday of the season of Advent. It’s a powerful time of anticipation that’s filled with multiple spiritual opportunities. In particular, as Christians reassess and reorient their lives to the Lord, they are invited to grow deeper in their life of prayer.”
Good article about avoiding certain things that can weaken our relationship and spiritual energy for God. If you would like to learn more then please review the article and also review our blog.
The article, “5 Spiritual Mistakes That Are Sure To Extinguish Your Passion For God” by Patrick Mabilog, states
“Passion is highly decisive in our pursuit of something or someone. When we lose passion, we quickly lose interest and focus; ultimately we forget why we do what we do. Passion for work, relationships, family and ministry is something we should always keep burning, but the most valuable passion we have is our passion for God.”
Our fall from grace through the sin of Adam and its ramifications upon human nature is a difficult subject between East and West; One that should not be today but one that remains due to semantics and past ideologies and presumptions.
One can trace the divide to St Augustine and his teaching on Original Sin. This Western term to explain our fall, teaches that we inherit the sin of Adam and the personal guilt associated with it. It also teaches, as East and West both agree, the inherited consequences of sin via death, suffering and concupiscence.
The issue of inherited guilt would remain a sticking point for the East. The East and the Eastern Fathers had never elaborated into detail how the sin of Adam affected human nature beyond its consequences but only saw these questions arise when Augustine debated Pelagius over the condition of human nature after Adam’s fall.
Pelagius contended that human nature was unaffected and that since being unaffected could make good moral choices without the aid of grace. This was obviously something both East and West condemned as heretical for grace is essential for any good action. However, the idea of man being born without an inherited guilt pushed the issue between Augustine and Pelagius. Augustine would contend that man is born with an inherited sin of Adam and that man’s nature is totally corrupted.
The ideal that man was born with this sin and infused with the guilt of the first parents stemmed from Augustine’s improper translation of Scripture. Using texts that improperly translated in Adam instead of because of Adam, Augustine more fiercely pushed the ideal of a stain of sin on the soul that proposed personal guilt for all generations.
The Eastern idea of Ancestral sin never presupposed an idea of guilt, but only consequence; Namely death. Through the sin of Adam, the consequences of his sin affected all of humanity, bringing death, suffering and an inclination to sin into the world.
The West would continue in its teaching on personal guilt of Adam which would lead it down a disastrous path of theological extremes trying to balance God’s justice and love with unbaptized infants who die prematurely. The East was spared this theological nonsense.
The Western schools of thought would balance and counterbalance between ideas of condemnation of unbaptized infants to lesser punishments of Limbo. Baptism of Desire, a legitimate doctrine, would also be used as a tool to help counter this idea of original guilt and stain, but ultimately, as seen in the Western Church’s catechism, the idea of original guilt was disregarded in present days.
This imbalance of doctrine did not just affect the West, but also negatively affected the East. The East with its suspicion of the legalistic West, would deny the legitimacy of the Immaculate Conception, basing its objections that Mary did not need conceived without of sin because no personal guilt exists. The East saw the Immaculate Conception as a natural development from Augustine’s erroneous extremes.
The East mused that if Mary died, then she too felt the full effects of Ancestral sin as any person ever born. Of course, the East held to the traditional belief that Mary never personally sinned, as the West but the error of denying her this special grace is equally erroneous on the part of the East.
Whether one calls it Ancestral or Original, whether this sin of Adam stains or merely affects our nature like a disease, the ideal of Mary, as well as Christ, spared from its effects is critical to redemption theology.
This is where Eastern theology fails to make proper distinction between pre-fall and post-fall natures of Adam. Adam was neither mortal or immortal in the Garden, but his nature was spared the effects of concupiscence. After the fall, his nature was not destroyed as Augustine and many in the West contended, but only damaged with all the traits of historical man after the fall. Yet Mary, as a perfect analogous partner to Eve, as well as Christ to Adam, must possess a pre-fall nature.
Furthermore, Mary , as the source of the Incarnation, must be a perfect tabernacle, spared the corruption and consequences of the sin of Adam. Whether consequential or stained, she must be through a special grace of the Holy Spirit, spared the consequences of Adam.
The East may contend, then why did Mary die? The Dormition of our Lady is the gentle sleep. Immediately following, her body and soul assumed into Heaven. Is this the death we all face? Definitely not! Furthermore private revelation speaks of Mary’s choice to fall into gentle sleep because she felt if her Son was to face death, how could she not also face it herself?
I think this clearly points out the pitfalls of both the East and West in it there past definitions of Original and Ancestral Sin.
As it stands, is it now only a matter of semantics? Both traditions believe Adam fell from grace and sin and death entered into the world. Both traditions believe that human nature was somehow affected by this fall. Both traditions believe in the necessity of Christ’s redemptive sacrifice on the cross on remedy the fall of Adam and finally both traditions believe in the necessity of Baptism to remove sin, become sanctified and to enter into the Church.
As it also stands, the West accepts the fact that the sin of Adam is not a personal sin and ideas of Limbo have gone out the door.
So what prevents agreement? Is it past teachings of the West and East and the prideful argument of who is right or who was wrong? These things are now irrelevant as we look at what each tradition believes today. Simply put, the sin of Adam affected all of humanity, crippling human nature and inclining it to sin.
What else is there to be said? Is it pride between East and West?
I contend there is pride but it is also semantics and the long separation between them.
How the idea is expressed and understood over the centuries has created the myth that a difference exists still to this day, but if we read what others are saying in their own theological systems, we discover there is no difference. Yet separation prevents the two schools of thought from interacting and sharing and dialoging the confused language. This division and separation keep parties away and allows parties to preach outdated concepts about each other that leads to misconceptions about one another.
This is also true of Lutheran and Western Catholics who for ages felt the ideas of good works and justification by faith alone were at odds with each other because of how Martin Luther taught it for centuries. Yet, what we discover through dialogue is that the extreme views proposed are no longer felt between each party. The same is true in the case of Original Sin and Ancestral Sin.
Both carry an image of the other party that is not felt by the actual party themselves.
It is time to remove past pride and prejudices that lead to modern day confusion over what the East or West believe regarding Adam’s sin. Instead, dialogue needs to develop that looks past semantics or a certain tradition’s inherited language of thought. Instead, we must probe into what the tradition believes.
If this is done correctly, I believe we will realize that the East and West today believe the same thing, or so close, that it is no longer an issue of heresy but a permissible difference within the range of orthodoxy and truth. For in the end, these are mysteries that we cannot comprehend.
Satan’s schism between the true Church of Christ has caused this division. Both East and West share in the true faith yet are separated by pride. It is time to end that.
Relationships are key to our survival. As a communal creature, we need relationships of all types. Our most important relationship is our spiritual relationship with Christ. Yet, like children, we find ourselves many times on the taking end of our relationship with Christ. Our love while present, many times fails to meet the standards of a healthy relationship. We possess a “me, me, me first” type attitude, putting Christ second.
Love is patient. This is a key ingredient we hear many times about love. It does not seek to force itself upon the beloved, but patiently waits. It also continues to give while waiting. This is the love Christ has in his relationship with us. It is the type of love he showers upon us every passing minute of our lives.
What type of relationship do we have with Christ? In all reality, we probably have an imperfect one because our human nature is broken. Yet again, Christ’s love is patient. I think many of us have a Petrine relationship with Christ. In a past blog, the idea of a Petrine relationship was explored.
The idea of a Petrine relationship was described as in the following: “We have a fire for Christ. We love him and say we will do anything–and probably mean it at the time of saying it! But it is so difficult to carry through. Our broken human nature, our fears and the temptations of the world sometimes push us away and we lose focus–much like Peter did when he stood before our Lord on the water. However, unlike others who despaired, like Judas, Peter never gave up. Even after denial, he wept bitterly and became a better man and Christian. How many times do we see this same pattern in our own life? While many of us would like to see ourselves like John, steadfast and devout, most of us are more like Peter. We have a strong love for the Lord but sometimes fail.”
This adequately sums up many Christians lives, especially during our younger years as our broken human nature strives for Christian excellence, but always seems to fall short in fulfilling our end of the relationship with Christ. We will talk with great confidence like Peter, declaring our steadfast fidelity, but as Peter did, seem to fail when tested. Did not Peter declare he would never fail Christ, but in the end, ultimately deny him three times? Did not Peter strike the temple guard with the sword, only to minutes later flee the garden?
Peter is the ultimate example of our broken human nature. Wishing to please our Lord but falling many times. Peter is first and only to jump into the sea to welcome Christ, but after doing so, quickly loses focus and begins to sink without the Lord. We can see why Christ loved him so much. He is clearly in his younger years a child that expresses so much love but like a child does not understand what a true relationship entails.
After our Lord’s resurrection, Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved him. In the old Greek, Jesus is asking for “agape”, an all giving love, but Peter each time offers “philia” or deep friendship. Jesus finally after three times accepts what Peter can give at that moment. This is what I meant when I said Christ’s love is patient. He takes what we can give at a certain moment, knowing that as the sword is tested by the fire and one day our love will become stronger.
We need to strengthen our love. Our relationship with Christ cannot continue to be an infantile Petrine relationship, but must mature into an adult Petrine relationship. Peter grew. So must us. He transformed from a simple fisherman with a childlike love for Christ into a fearless apostle. An apostle who did not only express love for Christ with his words, but expressed his love in a giving relationship with his actions. Actions that would eventually lead to his own crucifixion.
Like Peter, we need to take the next step where we give Christ a more meaningful relationship that does not express itself only in words but also actions. Whether by overcoming a sinful habit, or spiritually growing closer in union through sacrifice or denial, we must eventually transform our faith from a simple fisherman to that of an apostle.
In the meantime, love is patient. Christ takes what we can give, but he wants so much more! And he deserves it!
The Pope’s new writing referred to as THE JOY OF LOVE points to more understanding and mercy regarding pastoral care of those in the family. This includes those who face familiy situations that are outside the norm and a product of the 21st century and its liberalism.
Keeping your resolutions from a spiritual and christian perspective this new year. This article lists a few points to help keep your mind straight and help from above to keep with what is most important for a more healthy physical and SPIRITUAL new year.
Good article about reclaiming Halloween for Christians. Some Christians find the day to be pagan and never celebrate it, while other Christians enjoy the secular version of it. Ultimately, we can turn everything to God as long as we do not partake in the evil and realize Nov 1st is All Saints Day
This is a serious issue and a spiritual crisis. It is not uncommon or unnatural at times to feel this though. Religious coping can sometimes lead to false conclusions about God and a good Christian Counselor or grief counselor needs to address these existential issues
ISIS represents a demonic element of hate and antiChrist. It is a movement that has its misguided religious zeal used by Satan. This is a good read for any Christian Please also review our Christian Counseling Program
While many would contend any doctrine contrary to Christ and the gospel is demonic in origin, can we with certainty say radical Islam is a threat to the world and directly demonically influenced?