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Lenten Journey Day 13: Foundation
The Saturdays of Lent give us a chance to contemplate faith in action by celebrating the lives of the saints. As we learned last week, Orthodox tradition, and therefore the Armenian Church, looks to the saints as examples of living life with purpose and in the path of Christ. Saints are never worship. Each of them are people just like us. In their humanity, they were able to rise to the occasion, usually through selfless sacrifice, and they express their love in unique ways.
A group of saints are remembered as the Armenian Church remembers the Church Fathers of the Council of Constantinople. Modern day Istanbul was once named after the great Emperor Constantine who had convened the original council of Nicea, known for the formulation of the Creed which formalized and gave a foundation to the Christian Faith. During the early centuries, the exact definition of Christianity was under dispute. Groups were raising questions about the Nature of Christ and Person of Jesus. The Council of Constantinople was called in the year 381 to address these issues. At this Council the definition of the Holy Spirit as preceding from the Father and being equal to the Father was articulated.
The early Church Councils gave structure to the Church and the Christian Faith. We are mindful that today we are in this Lenten Journey. While the history and the teachings of these Councils fill volumes and speak to generations, today we will look at the Councils by way of reflection. How do they talk to us today? What do they tell us that fills another footstep in our Lenten Journey? Remembering the Councils reminds us that there needs to be a solid foundation on which to build life and that life itself has structure. Our life is made up of our actions and those actions are triggered and motivated by our faith. The stronger the foundation, the more structure we find in our life.
The Apostle James writes that faith without works is useless. So many times we are challenged to really put our faith into action. At those moments we realize that only by virtue of our actions does our faith have meaning. That is, our faith has value and structure by because of our actions. Conversely, works without faith lead to a nebulous understanding of our purpose within the entire framework of life.
This balancing act between faith and works is usually defined in logical terms. Now, let us understand the same by grasping it with our heart. St. Neress Shnorhali in the 9th hour of his prayer, “In Confess with Faith” places the center of our thought in the heart and nowhere else. When we think and act according to the principles set forth in our brain, we are acting by reason, based on the wisdom that we have acquired through life. While this is very important in practical life, the Christian needs to excel in the area of dreaming – to dream of the impossible dreams.
When you think and act according to your heart, then and there you understand that your movements and actions are based on the passions you have inside of you. This is the faith that can move mountains. Think with your heart and not with your brain when it comes to doing the impossible.
On Calvary Jesus did the impossible. He forgave of people who had betrayed and handed Him over to death. He forgave the people who were nailing Him to the tree. He forgave the generations of people that had ignored the pleas for peace, disregarded the expressions of love and were paying back love with hatred. Jesus did the impossible. He forgave with His Heart. Likewise, when we think of all the actions that are demanded of us as Christians, rise to the higher occasion. Push yourself, particularly during this Lenten Season, to look for those opportunities to find the truth that is beyond reason. Pay back everyone with love. To offer kindness to those who are kind to you, is only human. To pay back evil and hatred with kindness and love is surely divine. In this state, we come to find that our actions are built on a solid and strong foundation.
Our Faith is built on the same Foundation on which the Early Church structured itself. The Foundation is Jesus Christ, that is Love incarnate. When faith is based on love, we have the ability to open our heart to impossible possibilities. They are all around us.
God is calling you during this Lenten Season to do the impossible and build your actions on Christ. Pay back hatred with kindness and evil with love. If you think about it, whatever your goals may be you can reach those goals – you can make impossible goals possible – when you put love as the center piece of your heart, your life and all of the actions that you take.
Let us now offer a prayer from St. Nerses Shnorhali:(Dedicated to the Holy Spirit)
Spirit of God, true God, who descended into the Jordan and into the upper chamber and who enlightened me by baptism in the Holy font, I have sinned before Heaven and before You. Cleanse me with Your Divine Fire as You purified the Holy Apostle with fiery tongues. Have mercy upon me and a great sinner. Amen.
Today’s post is sponsored by Madame Kubah