The source of false religion is the inability to rejoice, or, rather, the refusal of joy, whereas joy is absolutely essential because it is without any doubt the fruit of God's presence. One cannot know that God exists and not rejoice. Only in relation to joy are the fear of God and humility correct, genuine, fruitful. Outside of joy, they become demonic, the deepest distortion of any religious experience. A religion of fear. Religion of pseudo-humility. Religion of guilt: They are all temptations, traps--very strong indeed, not only in the world, but inside the Church . . .
The first, the main source of everything is "my soul rejoices in the Lord ..." The fear of sin does not save from sin. Joy in the Lord saves. A feeling of guilt or moralism does not liberate from the world and its temptations. Joy is the foundation of freedom, where we are called to stand. Where, how, when has this tonality of Christianity become distorted, dull---or rather, where, how, why have Christians become deaf to joy? . . .
People continuously come and ask for advice . . ..And some weakness or false shame keeps me from telling each of them, "I don't have any advice to give you. I have only weak, shaky, but, for me, unremitting joy. Do you want it?"
Friday, March 10, 2006
As I noted below, my personal theme for this Lent is "Stagger onward rejoicing." To expand on this theme, I include below the following excerpt from The Journals of Father Alexander Schmemann, which has now joined First Fruits as part of my Lenten reading.