“With the filing of Schmemann, I realized how little faith was”

“The beginning of the “false religions” — the inability to rejoice, or rather — the rejection of joy. Meanwhile, joy is so absolutely important that it is the undoubted fruit of feeling God’s presence”… We asked the priests to talk about books that changed their lives. About their favorite works, says the priest Gleb Kozlov.

Priest Gleb Kozlov. Photo: Sergey Shedrin

  • The book lingers in me so that I have a doctor’s smock to cassock
  • “One true gave me a complete denial of war and violence”
  • “You’re a great man, sire! Forgive me for my licentiousness — you are a giant!”
  • “To be baptized, we must believe in capital” – poems of the Mezen Pomors and the mystery of death
  • Evangelical comics and the Bible “for one night”

There is a book that I reread many times. It is controversial, subjective, not even by some – Diaries of father Alexander Schmemann. If something other than the gospel, and transformed my views about life, faith, and itself, that is it.

Don’t remember how I got “Diaries”. The book was published in 2005. I then studied at the Orthodox St. John Theological Institute. Students with teachers often discussed what they read and then, with many ends, many of the mouth I heard about “Diaries”.

Someone book openly condemned, someone was taken, someone was thinking, but all she caught by far. The Schmemann was an important functionary in the Church life of America 70-80 years. In the book there are a lot of epistolary-memoir: on Church life, personal journey. It was interesting to me, of course, but the basic idea is that fuse, which, incidentally, I immediately saw and realized – Oh joy.

The beginning of the “false religions” — the inability to rejoice, or rather — the rejection of joy. Meanwhile, joy is so absolutely important that it is doubtless the fruit of the feeling of God’s presence. You cannot know that God exists and not rejoice. The first and main source of everything: “let my soul rejoice in the Lord…”.

Fear of sin does not save from sin. The joy of the Lord saves. Guilt, moralism is not “free” from the world and its temptations. Joy is the Foundation of freedom in which we are called to “stand”.

These words, seemed to General, was made on the flyleaf of the book. Thinking about himself, about the relation to the world, God, gospel, looking at the reality of the Church, family and friends, I both then and now often see a gap between the religion of “against something” and religion positive “for something”.

Often people come to the Church all their energies and aspirations begin to put to something to fight. For example, they are fighting against injustice in the world, deviations from rules, principles, statutes, against the primitive phenomena of the type of INN and bar codes. Even if you keep in mind the high aspirations when a person believes life trying to overcome a sin, always looks sad, like high plank.

I’m not saying that it is NOT necessary to deal with sin and vices. But when the struggle becomes an end in itself, when it is Central to our lives, when put in an inappropriate place, it is painful for the person. That’s when he loses faith.

There is a commandment “do Not make yourself an idol.” It seems to me that religious practices are aimed against, including against sin is the practice of creation of an idol. Instead of God and meeting with Him, instead of thanking Him, we put on top the other, though important, good, but different. And this becomes another source of frustration.

Anyone who seriously tries to deal with sin quickly realizes that he is unable. He loses in this game. But twice the player who has no positive content.

All these thoughts I was struck by the “Diaries”. Although Schmemann many others, seriously conceived works, such as “Historical path of Orthodoxy”, “the Eucharist”, but they are all directed outside. They formed literary and so to develop a certain idea. The diaries of father Alexander wrote for himself. When he says that moralizing is not exempt from sin, but only joy in the Lord saves, this discovery, made in real time. And that’s what discovery is for me the most important idea.

Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann

Indeed, if we met God, it is not enjoy it is impossible. If the center of our aspirations meeting with Him, then everything else, including the notorious struggle against sin, the goal turns into a means. Interestingly, this is the practical aspect.

We often live for the future, for the future, like we now have a draft, you struggle with sin and grievous sorrow. And when we will overcome them, and then it will be the joy and the Kingdom of God! But the Lord says, “the Kingdom of God is within you.” This means that it will be sometime later, it is possible right now. Any meeting with God, God’s creation, Yes, even when the branches against the sky you see, this is a moment that belongs to Eternity. He’s not going to happen, it’s happening right now. About the importance to appreciate that and reminds Schmemann.

Recently I was on the phone with a parishioner, had left her husband. The couple have a large family. For a long time the pair fought, but was unable to cope with the situation. The family broke up. A tragedy, a blow that a woman can not move. I tried to convey to her the idea of moments of joy that the Lord does not take away from us, and sending love. She was half-listening, and said, “yeah. Well, Yes. Well, Yes…” And then in the background the child was crying: “Oh, sorry, sir, I call kids”. And I said to her, “Wait. That’s exactly this you now have! Exactly that sends you the consolation of the Lord.”

You turn around at what you have right now – a great gift. And no wonder the Central phrase of the Liturgy, Thank God. No wonder the ability with gratitude all make, teaches us to Eternity. We of little faith. This us bad and it’s rubbish, not good. If we fight against something all the time to all with such distrust to be, one day, when the end of our earthly life, we are in the Kingdom of God will come to fight. Will be there a man of common clothes. But there’s no need to fight.

The ability to receive God’s gifts is a skill which we should try to acquire for life. I first read it Schmemann and for many years I catch myself on the fact that this skill is so lacking, so little in our current reality. Few in our ability to rejoice.

I remember when I first was ordained and I began to soborovanie, quite a long time I jarred a place in one of the letters of the Apostle Paul, which is read during the Sacrament. I’m a young, strong, healthy, standing on their feet at the bedside of a terminally ill person.

People have suffered greatly, for instance, in the fourth stage was the cancer. As I stood before him and was ashamed to speak the words of the Apostle: “rejoice Always, pray without ceasing, give thanks about everything!”

I thought, well, how I can read the person who is dying, which doctors have not helped, whose life on earth is about to end in suffering and terrible agony? How? Only much later, perhaps even with the filing of Schmemann, I realized how little faith was. “Always rejoice” – is the Central words of the Sacrament. They whole point. The sacrament of Holy unction – it is not of a medical nature, we may ask God for healing. It is to try in any situation, the most terrible tribulations and hardships to find God’s ability to thank, to accept what He sent us. Believe Him that He is not evil, and there is Love. To trust Him and to trust to sent to us.

“Diaries” Schmemann – the book is diverse, memoir, but the more I read, the more memuarnoi be for me a minor thing. To the fore more clearly supports the idea of the joy of life as the gift of positive belief, coupled with thanksgiving.

It is impossible to talk to the suffering person, “be quiet; there are those who abruptly you suffer.” Can not say neither this nor other “insane verb”. Yes, man is so constituted (as the vulgar saying), and lives by the principle “own shirt closer to the body”.

Remember, in my childhood, when the machine is in the sandbox, took the bully, the child is sure there it in the whole world unhappy, the path next to mom’s loving consolation, the sun overhead is shining and life ahead of you. No unhappy and all. But it happens, most of us remain this child in the sandbox with “the worst yet” for life.

Reset, to see that at the same time, we have sent gifts, which we waved that we refuse to notice, because “I’m suffering” to do is incredibly difficult. But it is possible. I am convinced of this. But to see in moments of affliction, something else joyful are only half way through. All the way is to trust God to take, not even knowing yet why he was sent, and sorrow.

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