A New Declaration of Independence

When in the course of a human life one becomes aware of the bondage and servitude to which his or her inner nature has become ensnared, and it becomes necessary to dissolve these bonds and to reorient them from what is bad towards what is good, and to assume the natural use of the powers granted them by the God of nature, to which His image and likeness entitle them, then for the benefit of this person, and for that of all mankind, it shall be declared, the causes for which this reorientation is required, and for which this new independence is sought.

These truths remain self-evident—that all people are created free; endowed by God with powers of mind, desire and strength, for the purpose of growing in love, peace and joy.—That by using these powers in the way intended by nature and by God, every person can achieve these ends.—That by the misuse of these powers mankind falls into every kind of difficulty, suffering, pain, deception and entrapment. —That the ruler of this world has used deception, trickery, seduction and malice to corrupt these natural powers to turn humanity from what is good towards what is evil. —That because mankind has fallen into enslavement to this evil, by improper use of our freedom, so that we desire what we shouldn’t, and hate others whom we should love, it is clear that we have become self-destructive and it is our necessity, and our duty to abolish this rule of evil within us, and to lay a new foundation upon Christ, Who’s power will reorganize the powers within us, so as to attain liberty once again.

By a long train of abuses and temptations, the current ruler of this world has reduced mankind under an absolute Despotism, so that it is now our duty, by the right of our Creator, for each to throw off this tyranny, and shelter under God’ grace for his or her future security. The history of the present ruler is a history of diabolical malefactions and malicious deceptions, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over mankind. To prove this, let facts be submitted to an honest and straightforward world:

…he has rejected, and causes mankind to reject, the law and commandments given us for the public and private good.

…he has confused and confounded mankind into becoming lovers of ourselves, instead of lovers of one another; seeking self-gain first, and then what is good for others only to the degree it benefits us.

…he has manipulated our natural desires, causing us to turn them towards superficial, transient or forbidden things which don’t satisfy our needs and which, after fleeting pleasure, yield greater sorrow.

…he has caused murders, wars and every kind of violence, by turning our natural anger away from evil as its only proper object, and towards our brothers and sisters, and has deluded us into justifying our misdirected anger and our atrocities.

…he has caused us to lose our self-control, so that we are no longer masters of our appetites or our emotions; but have become slaves to the caprice and whim of our emotions, and easily manipulated by our desires.

…for entrapping us in despondency and hopelessness.

…for enticing us with money and fame, which never satisfy our inner longings.

…for mesmerizing us with possessions which we expect should give us joy, but only create a deepening emptiness within us.

…for isolating and dividing us from one another, under every pretext and justification, but yielding only more anger and misery.

…for causing us to see one another as objects, tools, or means for satisfying our own desires, rather than each as unique and precious images of God, with vast inherent worth.

…for using every kind of material deception to draw us out of ourselves, and away from God, so that we become lost and unable to perceive God any longer, so that we lose our relationship with the only One that can heal us and save us.

…he has bewildered us with entertainments, dulled our minds and hearts, and caused us to grow lazy and indifferent towards our spiritual realities.

…he has plundered us, ravaged us, burnt us, murdered us, raped us, and in every way destroyed the lives of mankind, all while hiding in the shadows so that mankind even doubts his very existence.

…he has made himself, thus, our perfect enemy, and turned each of us into unwitting accomplices to our own destruction.

We, therefore, each of us who desire to be truly free, appealing to the Lord of all, do, in His name, solemnly publish and declare, that we are by nature and by right afforded through His mercy and grace, independent and free from all allegiance to the ruler of this world, and that all spiritual connection between us and Satan, is and ought to be totally dissolved, and that as free and independent beings, we have full power, by God’s grace, to live virtuously and in accord with the commandments given for our peace, in control of ourselves, making proper use of all the faculties of our soul which have been given us for our fulfillment and blessing, and to do all things right and proper to those living in spiritual freedom.—And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm and total reliance on the protection of the Triune God, we pledge to God our complete and enduring love, issuing forth from our mind, our heart, our soul and our strength, and we pledge to one another, a love that equals the love we have for our very selves.

 

~FS

July 3

When Jesus says, “My yoke is easy and My burden is light,” I take this to refer to it being and exact fit for each of us–that He is making it possible for us to become our real and true selves. When I evade the mark toward which I am aimed, my ‘vocation’–and this includes my cross in life which is Passion-bearing with Christ–I am inevitably, as Jonah discovered, swallowed by the unconscious manifestation of that which I have avoided. Passion-evading leads to being overcome by what I have rejected, now in the form of a passion that has assumed the proportion of the great Leviathan which takes possession of me fueled by the power of the very untransformed energies that would otherwise have become part of my authentic aliveness in Christ.

By virtue of avoiding my cross, I forfeit the freedom to become myself. I miss the mark. My yoke does not ‘fit’.

As the Lord said to Saul when he was avoiding his own passion-bearing through presumptuous self-righteousness and the idolatry of religious ideology, “It hurts to kick against the goads.” I remain captive in the belly of the whale, as it were, until I am spit out, and hit bottom like the Prodigal in the pig sty where I am offered a chance to ‘come to my senses’, turn again, and set off in the direction of my Father’s house, carrying my cross and beginning to recover from the wounds inflicted by my avoidance.

~Rev. Dn. Stephen Muse (When Hearts Become Flame  pp. 66-67)

Prayer of the Lonely

Please Lord, don’t hide yourself from me. For the beauty of this world, which I take pleasure in, loses all meaning apart from You.

Some appear to find contentment in this world, looking no further than their senses; they find thoughts of You unnecessary.

But I cannot live that way. There is no beauty apart from You; and that which I find beautiful becomes distraction, and painful, without You.

I am amazed that others appear to not need You; so I have forced myself into their shoes. I’ve searched out the secrets of their autonomy, but have found nothing.

Still, I doubt myself; is it rather pathology, and not sympathy, that leads me to You, dear Lord? Yes, I am ill and I am weak without You.

Come, Lord please, fill my heart and dwell within me. Let me not look upon any pleasant thing in this life, if You will not reveal Yourself therein.

When others stand afar off, doubting and bemused, I’ve both attempted to convince them to believe, and have hidden my belief; because sometimes it is lonely searching for You in this world.

When I’ve found You, hidden in my heart, so that the world unfolds miraculously before me, then I have prayed that others also would believe and find You; because it is lonely in this world without You.

Lord, what is this life without You? It seems to me a sad travesty and a pale parody. Please reveal Yourself to us, let us see and know Your love and beauty. Enliven these dead bones with Your Spirit; breathe Life into this life, that we all may Live.

~FS

July 1

Spiritual knowledge can be acquired by the illiterate, who are often more adept at attaining it than those who, seduced by their intellectual capabilities, become mired in the realm of pseudo-knowledge; spiritual knowledge reveals itself to all who, with the fear of God and by the practicing of the commandments in a life of asceticism, have attained purity, simplicity, and humility of heart. Moreover, there is a very close link between true knowledge/contemplation and humility, whereas on the contrary, pseudo-knowledge seems to be linked to pride, whence it proceeds and which it increases.

~Dr Jean-Claude Larchet (Therapy of Spiritual Illnesses vol.3, p.205)

June 30

St John Cassian explains: “All other vices dwindle as we overcome them, and day by day become weaker in defeat…But [vainglory] rises again from defeat more eager for the fight, and when you think it is extinct, it recovers from its death all the more lively. Other types of vice normally only attack those whom they might defeat, whereas this one presses hardest on its conquerors. The more successfully we elude it, the harder it assaults us through our very joy in victory.”

Thus, vainglory “is far more dangerously deceptive to the unwary warrior.” Whoever undertakes the therapy of vainglory, then, will have to employ great spiritual discernment and constant watchfulness from start to finish.

~Dr Jean-Claude Larchet (Therapy of Spiritual Illnesses vol.3, p.117)

June 29

One of the characteristic effects of godly sadness is its consoling gentleness, which paradoxically removes from mourning and affliction their painful character and appears as a clear sign of divine assistance and the presence of grace within the soul.

Thus St John Chrysostom observes: “The fruit [of] groans is great, and great is their persuasive and consoling gentleness…Indeed, constant groaning produces consolation.” And St John Climacus writes: “The abyss of mourning has seen comfort…Divine succour is the renewal of a soul depressed by grief which, in a wonderful way, transforms painful tears into painless ones.”

This naturally accords with the teaching of Christ: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted”…

~Dr. Jean-Claude Larchet (Therapy of Spiritual Illnesses vol.3, p.66)

June 28

“Nothing awakens us to the spiritual and causes us to live on that level as does mourning.” [St. Isaac the Syrian]  In other words, this virtue delivers the soul from the insensitivity, dryness, and hardness that sin had caused it to contract. It helps man to be constantly vigilant, and while always needing to be accompanied by prayer, it promotes prayer and contributes to making such intercession fertile.

~Dr Jean-Claude Larchet (Therapy of Spiritual Illnesses vol.3, p.65)