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a passionate repentance

From His Eminence, the Metropolitan (reposted with permission)

From His Eminence, the Metropolitan (reposted with permission)

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may God stand
Dear Nicole,

The blessing of the Lord be upon you.

I apologize for being so tardy in replying to you but it gets quite busy and I sometimes don’t get a chance to get to my email. I try to get to it once a day, but these past few days have been extremely busy and I am way behind on answering all the email I have. Please see my responses to you email below.

-----Original Message-----
From: Chrisiant@aol.com [mailto:Chrisiant@aol.com]
Sent: Wednesday, November 30, 2005 7:35 PM
To: metropolitan@igoarch.org
Subject: Question about John 9:1-5

Dear Metropolitan Stephen

I have read and reread your very kind reply to my question and I wanted to say thank you for replying to something that must have seemed very ordinary and every day. I think being raised Protestant and Methodist, I tend to look at everything and worry. There is nothing wrong with that. Your question was not out of the ordinary and quite frankly, I welcome the opportunity to answer questions about our Faith and Church. You are at a very exciting point in your life as Christ is calling you to Himself through the Orthodox Church. You must take your time in learning about the Faith. Don’t rush toward baptism or Chrismation. Ask a lot of questions and pray fervently and often, seeking guidance and direction from the Holy Spirit. I hope you have a priest in your life who is guiding you in your journey and other Orthodox Christians who are helping you along the way. It’s very important that you have both because they will be there to help you when things seem not to be going right.

Sir (Please forgive me, I don't know the proper address to a Metropolitan, sir. Is "Father" appropriate?). In writing to a Metropolitan or speaking with him face to face, it is always proper to address him as “Your Eminence”, but “Father” is ok if that makes you feel more comfortable communicating with me right now. There will be a lot of time for you to learn the nuances of protocol and etiquette and we can discuss those at another time.

Can you help me with another question, when you have time please? I will answer now. J

This verse has stayed with me from my earliest Bible studies:

1And as he passed by, he saw a man blind from his birth. 2And his disciples asked him, saying, Rabbi, who sinned, this man, or his parents, that he should be born blind? 3Jesus answered, Neither did this man sin, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. 4We must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. 5When I am in the world, I am the light of the world."

It has a lot of meaning for me, since I was born with cerebral palsy, and the desire to understand why I was born with a handicap has always been with me. I believed for a time that it meant that God would heal my handicap but now I don't know. Now I wonder if there is a deeper purpose. And I wonder if you could give me some thoughts on this verse from an Orthodox perspective? First, you must understand that your illness is not a punishment from God. It is simply the result of our fallen human nature. Before our ancestor Adam fell from God’s grace, everything was perfect. There was no illness, no death an intimate communion between the Creator and His created. But when Adam disobeyed God’s command to not eat of the tree, he fell from God’s grace. As a result, sickness, death, temptation, etc. became a part of our human existence. So, God doesn’t will us to be sick or ridden with some debilitating disease. Nor does God will for someone to fly a plane into skyscrapers to kill thousands of people nor does He send floods to cause misery and sorrow to hundreds of thousands of people. These are all things that happen because of human failings and nature. Can God prevent them from happening? Of course He can, He is God.! There have been times throughout history when God does intervene directly and visibly, that’s what we call a “miracle”. But in reality it is God just giving us a little more of a glimpse of Himself to us in our journey back to Him. Sometimes we need that extra push in the right direction because we really stray a lot of the right path.

As far as your illness goes, as I said, it’s not a punishment from God and to be honest, God may have a plan for you to use your illness to His greater glory. You can use that illness to show God’s great goodness toward us by leading the way for others who may have an affliction to find Him and to show others how important it is to be thankful for the most precious gift we have been given by Him, the gift of life. Life is so very precious and fragile but we frequently take it for granted. You have been doubly blessed in that you have life and a special calling from God. To some your life may not be perfect and may seem burdensome and they may feel sorry for you. But they should feel sorry for themselves, because they truly don’t understand the reality and burdens of their own life. You have a special blessing in your life in that you have been given the opportunity to be an instrument of God’s power and love in this world and to work actively with Him in bringing people to Him.

What does it mean when Jesus says "4We must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. 5When I am in the world, I am the light of the world." I know that he was speaking of his being crucified, but is there more to this? What does "the night when no man can work" mean? This means that once we are dead, we can no longer do anything. We cannot enjoy our “things” like a snowmobile, or Nintendo, our motorcycle, our stereo, etc. What our Lord is trying to tell us is that the “work” we must be doing is the work of caring for each other and serving each other. If our life is filled with our own selfish pursuits, what good will come of it all once we are dead? We must do the works of God the Father because when we die, it will be too late to change all the wrong we did in our life and do all the things we were supposed to do. As I said, life is a very precious gift from God. But it is fleeting. Death doesn’t always come in old age. Any of us can be called home at any time. Therefore, it is important for all of us to use every minute and hour we have to do good for each other, and make this world a better place to live. This is what we are called to do as Orthodox Christians.

Christ is the Light of the world and it is that light that will lead us to eternal happiness. If we make the right choices and do the right things in this world, we will pass through the darkness of death into a life of eternal joy and happiness with God the Father, His Son, the Holy Spirit and all the saints forever.

Thank you once more. I have taken your advice on fasting, and I am preparing for Advent. I hope to attend Holy Trinity as soon as possible--it's just a matter of finding a ride there. I hope you have a blessed and holy Advent and may your celebration of the birth of the Prince of Peace be joyous, happy and a truly blessed one.

May God bless you always. (ok… just a note of protocol… A member of the faithful should never “bless” a bishop but rather ask his blessing. So, instead of writing “May God bless you always”, it is more appropriate to write “Asking for your prayers, I remain…” It is also acceptable to write “Kissing your right hand, I remain…”

With great respect

Nicole Newton
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