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Have You Seen Incense?

No one knows about it while it’s lying in the drawer. No one cares. But if you purposely place it on a red hot glowing coal, it fills the house with its sweet fragrance. Yes, sweet fragrance. But first it must be sacrificed. It must burn, to release it's beauty. And so it is with our sufferings.

Archimandrite Ioanichie (Balan)

And where is Christ? Christ is lying in the poor manger; Christ is persecuted by Herod; Christ is humbling Himself before Joseph of Nazareth; Christ has nowhere to lay His head; Christ is among the leprous; He is on the way to the sick; Christ is threatened with stoning; the Pharisees hate Him; He is reproved by the scribes; He is considered a servant of Satan; He is betrayed by His disciple; He is abandoned by the apostles; He is beaten and spat upon; He is led to Golgotha; He is crucified on the Cross in the midst of two thieves.

Thus, wherever our Savior is, there will we His followers be!

But suffering has another meaning: It is our best teacher and instructor. Deprivation, sorrow, pain, every kind of suffering—it all speaks to us of Christ, reminds us of church, of death, and the coming Judgment. Above all, suffering humbles a Christian, teaches him to pray, forgives his brother, leads him to church more often, evokes tears of repentance, gives the strength to fast, and encourages him to confession. Suffering is the most daring apostle of all time. It silently preaches Christ, for wherever the word of the Gospel does not enter, there is the cry of suffering. Wherever the apostolic voice is not heard, the groan of suffering is heard. Wherever a priest cannot enter, there is sorrow, and whatever a priest cannot do, suffering does.

He who was a stranger to the Church before this now asks about it.

He who laughed at a priest now humbles himself and looks for him.

He who had no time to pray now calls upon God day and night.

He who did not open the door to Christ now opens it to the poor.

He who did not hear the church bells now, chased by the sorrows of life permitted for him by God in moderation, now always hurries to church, opens its door, and crosses its threshold with wholehearted faith…

How great the benefit of suffering is in Christianity!

Moreover, suffering is often sent to a man as an atoning penance for his sins. He who does not turn to repentance through suffering, abiding in happiness and satisfaction, can never be saved. Additionally, suffering cleanses a person, makes him firmer in his faith, more courageous in temptations, more patient in troubles. As the wind makes an oak strong, as the sea’s waves make a shipmaster experienced, as a storm makes an eagle nimble, and fire makes silver pure, so sorrow makes a Christian skillful. Let me give you a small example.

Have you seen incense?

No one knows about it while it’s lying in the drawer. But if you put it on a glowing coal, it fills the house with its sweet fragrance. And while basil is just lying on the shelf, it barely smells, but if you crush it, its scent spreads everywhere. It’s the same with a Christian. Inexperienced, he has no great value, but tried in the fire of temptations, he becomes an image of patience for everyone, and is accounted worthy of great crowns in Heaven; because from sorrows comes patience, from patience experience, from experience hope, and hope does not disappoint (cf. Rm. 5:3-5). St. Isaac the Syrian says that the grace of the Holy Spirit descends upon us according to the measure of the sorrows we endure.

+ Glory to God for All Things +


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