spiritual growth

The essence of faith

Thoughts about the center of our lives

Dear Reader,

This post is currently the last in this series. Due to the extremely large amount of duties, which reached me in my life in parallel, I had to suspend the blog. Many thanks for reading my essays so far! If you are a new visitor, please have a look to the 58 essays published here between 2017 and 2020. Wishing you safe times and a New Normality after the 2020 corona virus pandemic,

Peter Csermely

 


1. What we mistakenly believe about faith. Faith is not a task. Faith does not have any advantage or objective. We do not believe to be rewarded. Faith is not a barter trade. „I believe in You, my Lord, and You take care of my salvation in return.” Faith is not a refuge that is used by people only when getting into a big trouble. We do not pray because we want to reach something that otherwise cannot be reached but… We do not go to a congregation because it helps us spiritually or because that’s how we can live an honest life but… (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

2. How to put the essence of faith in words? „Faith is the substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of things that appear not.” (Hebrews 11:1) As Calvin pointed out, this sentence, which almost alone „defines” faith in the Bible, naturally cannot give a complete description about the nature of faith. At the same time it provides us with three very important clues: that of hope, trust and confidence. The one who believes, trusts in things hoped for and is convinced of the meaning of life, his own place in the world, his love relation with Jesus, his future, the good order of his life and death despite of that he cannot see all this with his own eyes. (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 


3. Faith as a subjective confession. For me faith is accepting mercy. Faith and its deepening are continuous events in our lives. Faith is a state of being. In the 18th-19th century’s France St. John Vianney was famous for that the line of those whose complaints and grievances he heard snaked in front of his church from morning to evening. He owed a lot to an old peasant who did nothing but only sitting in his church for days. Then he went to the old man: "May I ask you what you are doing here?” "I am not doing anything, I am just sitting here and looking at Christ. And He is looking at me.” For me this story (about contemplation which leads us to action) is somehow the essence of faith. (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

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What to do after the epidemic? What not to do after the epidemic?

Season concluding thoughts about the mercy of renewal

1. What not to do after the epidemic? What should be avoided in this summer? First we should avoid being very optimistic. As the ancient wise men taught, we have to avoid the other extreme, i.e. fear, too. We managed to build up such a complex system (network) with the help of our worldwide connections that we cannot comprehend any more. Our computers cannot comprehend it either. Moreover, they will not comprehend it either. It is because the complexity of the system grows more quickly than the complexity of the parts able to comprehend the system. We need to come to terms with this emerging permanent uncertainty. There is no padded, safe life any more. In fact, there has never been a safe life – but we managed to create the illusion for a few decades that there was. It’s over. (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

2. What to do after the epidemic? What are the most important take home messages of the pandemic? All extremes should be avoided. We should not rush – but we should not isolate ourselves either. What could be the advantage of South-East-European countries in the pandemic? The local experience (considered “fresh” on a historical scale) that we have to be able to change our lives – could be an important contributory cause. The regime change from socialism to capitalism (and the recession in 2008) made South-East-European countries (and the Greeks) accustomed to the necessity and possibility of society-wise changes. What did this pandemic teach us? We learned behavioral flexibility. It taught us that we have to train ourselves for changes, for that we “switch on” or “switch off” (or rather switch over) our lives according the situation. This knowledge will be much needed in the expected, big cataclysms of the coming decades of the 21st century. Those communities which practice the capacity of behavioral change better now, at the time of this mild “main rehearsal”, will be better survivors later if the real problems (climate change, water scarcity, food shortage, etc.) will strike. (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

3. What is the real solution? The mercy of revival. When the interconnectedness of networks exceeds a certain density, the period of instability together with a series of unexpected situations begins. This is what the world reached in the past decades. We applied the simplest answer to system stabilization during the past months. We disconnected the world network and by this we started to return to the stable regime. But the world is about to “switch on” again and facing to a new uncertainty – just differently. We do not have to look for the real answer OUTSIDE but INSIDE. How do I have to change? The real answer is the mercy of our inner revival and purification – and this we may only ask for from above. A man looking for the real answer opens, reveals and leaves space for God’s presence in him. THIS carries him to the life that will be the real answer in ITS OWN totality – in the midst of any external change. Only this inner revival brings real resilience and survival – anywhere and anyhow. Let’s be converted! There is no other way. I wish all my dear Readers this revival during the summer. (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

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About our own self-balance

Thoughts about getting back to “normal” after the epidemic

1. Our usual interpretations of balance. Finding and keeping balance, in our minds, is somehow like reaching steadiness. We think about balance as if somebody being in balance does not move anywhere but floats. But we often forget that levitation is only seemingly steadiness. Levitation actually is a balance of gentle movements made in all directions. All balances are dynamic. Even the balance of the peace of mind is dynamic – but in a different way (I will write about this at the end of the essay). (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

2. Balance as an important element of wisdom: especially today when life is slowly getting back to “normal” after the epidemic. It is especially important to find a new balance when the circumstances are fundamentally changing. It was “easy” to find a new path at the beginning of the corona virus epidemic when the compulsory behavior was ordered by the previous fate of unlucky countries and the central regulations resulting from that. It is so much harder now for us to “get back to normal”. Back to there exactly where we were, really? Well, this would be a big problem… It would mean that we have not learnt anything… Are we sure that everybody has to open up her life with the same speed? The elderly and the sick, too? Shouldn’t we generally hold ourselves back even if “everything is allowed” again? Balance used to be one of the basic categories of ancient wisdom. Balance of the golden mean is refraining from extremes. Extremes do not have to be interpreted only in an absolute sense. An extreme can also be where the crowd is going right now. The wise does not drift with the herd. He keeps his head above the herd, looks around and starts to go in another way – if it is necessary. (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

3. The real balance. How does the soul reach its balance? Balance of the soul does not come from that it learns and follows the rules of the game. Balance of the soul is in another dimension. If we let Jesus touch us and if we feel the Totality of God, our soul will fly to such a dimension in which there is the peace of eternal life. And as a beautiful bonus, the soul becomes refreshed, purified and recharged near to God. (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

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On the incorruption

Thoughts in the middle of our corruption

1. Interpretation of incorruption in our time. Incorruption reminds a lot of people of preservatives. Our time’s new preservative is: disposal. Our objects are incorruptible – because we throw them away before they go wrong. „Repair” as a category has slowly disappeared from our lives because there is nothing to be repaired any more. The world has become perfect… The avalanche of artificial incorruption has reached the people, too. Today an aged man cannot be old: he must stay artificially young. Grey hair has become extinct. A wife may not appear without a make-up – even before her own husband. Time does not touch us: we are incorruptible. (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

2. The vanity of our fight for reaching incorruption. We preserve our food and we preserve ourselves, too. We want to stop time. At the same time we do not recognize the moment. We rush: and when life forces us to stop (like now, at the time of corona virus…), we do not know how to deal with it. Why our fight for reaching incorruption is in vain? Quoting the thought of the Hungarian Lutheran pastor, Szabolcs Füke it is because "we do not want to conserve what is uncorrupted but what is corruptible". We do not realize that most of those things we would hang on to eternity are only the surface, the transience. We can see only the means not the objectives: we try to preserve the garnish and we do not notice the Meal besides it. (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

3. The real interpretation of incorruption. We try to accomplish incorruption in our lives. This is a hopeless pursuit. We are unable to reach incorruption by ourselves just like Baron Münchausen was also unable to pull himself out from the pothole. What is corruptible in us will be taken away from us. And it is very good that our corruptibility is taken away from us: because it is the only way how the uncorrupted part of us can be preserved. God does not use preservatives to conserve the essence of us but He originally created it with this intention. God separates the uncorrupted part in us and preserves it. Our intimate relationship with God and Jesus what is uncorrupted in us. All that is linked to God in us is given a chance to be uncorrupted, which preserves the inner essence of our lives linked to God in Eternal Life. (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

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About the benefits of overwhelmedness

Thoughts about the most beautiful manifestations of spiritual depths

 

1. Our very good reasons why we have banished the term of overwhelmedness from the dictionaries of our time. Nowadays we don’t like being overwhelmed. According to the dictionary, overwhelmedness is „being shocked/shaken caused by a distressing circumstance or a disaster”. The synonyms of overwhelmedness are shock, trauma, grief, consternation, indignation, amazement. Well… It is not a comforting list… If we do not want to be shaken, would it mean that we would like to be unshakable? I wouldn’t believe that this is the public opinion. Warriors of the Middle Ages, the epic heroes should be unshakable. We don’t want to deal with this ‘overwhelmedness thing’. We would like to be happy again together. We have been deprived enough from joy – years in advance. (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

2. About the benefits of overwhelmedness. "Shock, trauma, grief, consternation, indignation, amazement" – what do they have in common? The root cause of overwhelmedness is a radically new situation. A situation, what we cannot react to as we used to. Something, what cannot be avoided, proudly refused, or swept under the carpet. Overwhelmedness happens when something radically evicts us from our comfort zones. What happens to us when we are overwhelmed? We’ve just been given a chance to learn something very new. We’ve been given a chance to improve our survivability. We’ve been given a chance to be really creative. We’ve been given a chance to have a new life… Is it such a big problem? (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

3. About the real purpose and meaning of overwhelmedness. There is an interpretation of overwhelmedness that we do not realize nowadays. The soul’s overwhelmedness is not a conversation topic today. When does our soul become shaken? The soul’s overwhelmedness is provoked by our experience of the ultimate questions of life. Life, death, love: commitment to someone forever. What happens to our soul when it meets the ultimate questions of life? The most important experience of the shaken soul is that it is not alone. That there is Someone who wants to get connected with our soul. We feel that the overwhelmed soul meets love, don’t we? The love, what wants to give something important to our souls. Love, what wants to grow and improve our souls. The overwhelmed soul meets the inexhaustible love of Jesus and the Father. Even if it feels – lacking the necessary experience – that something so terrible has happened to it that it cannot cope with it. Now, between Easter and Pentecost, let’ think about all these – and let’s wait for, let’s ask for the possibility of overwhelmedness – because we can be enriched by it in a previously unimaginable way. (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

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How can we reach peace?

Thoughts about the power of faith when we feel that the light has run out…

 

1. Our age: the age of unrest. It is not the uncontrolled temper but the extravagance of the soul that represents unrest in today’s ‘developed’ countries. We are unable to calm down. We are unable to appreciate what we have. We are unable to get satisfied. We are unable to get on well together. The spaciousness of a love community’s inner space is endless. Let’s make an attempt to let our isolation and unrest free in these immeasurably spacious inner dimensions! (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

2. Why is uncertainty good and how can it be tolerated? There is worse than isolation in the weeks of corona virus epidemic.” Many would say. “And this is uncertainty.” Let me remind ourselves that we haven’t known anything until now either but we convinced ourselves to forget about this in the ecstasy of rush. Tolerating uncertainty is a key virtue. Only tolerating uncertainty leads us to real, creative and new solutions. All changes of existing situations generate uncertainty. Uncertainty is a necessary corollary of the reorganization of complexity by a creative change. We imprison ourselves if we do not tolerate uncertainty. If we can establish uncertainty-tolerance in ourselves now, we can prepare for future changes successfully. For we can tolerate uncertainty, we have to believe in something. (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

3. How can we reach peace? The power of faith – when we feel that the light has run out… For we can find peace after unrest, we have to believe in something. For me the essence of faith is the certainty of belonging: to not less than Totality. The certainty that Totality, God accepts and embraces me, not because of my own virtues but due to the sacrifice of Jesus. Years ago I was sure that light and love show the way on the path of faith. Recently, I understood that nothing has been lost even if we cannot see the light and cannot feel the love-avalanche covering us either. Because faith, the certainty of belonging, does remain. Faith gives birth to hope again. Hope creates love. And love creates light. Not from us, not for us, but as the gift of God, of mercy. There is stability in the middle of uncertainty. This stability does not hide from us but offers a helping hand to us. Let us accept it! (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

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About the benefits of suffering

Good Friday thoughts about the unavoidable antecedents of a new life

 

1. Corona virus: a chance to change. Our welfare society lives in an irreconcilable conflict with suffering. In our time there is no room for suffering. Some years ago the "snowflake behavior" appeared that implies increased vulnerability and a lack of tolerating opposing opinions. As I wrote in my previous essay, we would like to get everything at once: we are unable to bear the ‘suffering’ of even waiting. All these have been "directly hit" by the corona virus epidemic and (I hope with all my heart that) have been sunk by it. It would be very unfortunate to return to where we were after such a global learning process. We could become more trained to tolerate changes than we have been earlier. We may become more cohesive than we have been. We may become more understanding than earlier. Are we doing so? That is The question of this year. (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

2. About the benefits of suffering. Reading this title the Reader may think that I have gone crazy. Isn’t there enough suffering here? Yes, there is. Even so. It is important to see suffering from another point of view than before. Suffering is not a leftover of ancient history surviving today that modern man can exterminate completely. The proper answer is not shaping our environment to meet our demands. The proper answer is reforming ourselves. The corona virus epidemic forces us to recognize this. Change always causes suffering. Suffering is such a state of being, in which complex systems are not in a resource-rich but in a resource-poor status. Resource-poorness educates to select. It teaches to distinguish between valuable and valueless. Only suffering educates to appreciate the good. We become defenseless without suffering. We have to practice how to stay alive – if we want to survive in the future... That is exactly what we are doing now. We are conducting global survival exercises right now. Suffering is a prayer. A prayer that manifests Jesus Christ’s redeeming mercy in the world and with this it contributes to the world’s purification. A suffering man awakens this mercy in the souls around him which are open to good. This is how a sufferer helps these souls get closer to Jesus with his silent service. All of us, let’s feel this call. (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

   

3. The necessity of resurrection. When I was kneeling at the Golgotha in November, 2019, and after that when I was embracing the resurrected Jesus’ tomb, I clearly understood that there is no resurrection without crucifixion. Jesus’ resurrection’s world explosion that took place in a split of a second was the consequence of the slow crucifixion full of suffering. It is necessary to get through the narrow gate to see the entire Universe opening up. Our birth, life and death are all these very same analogies. We cannot omit suffering from our lives if we want to receive peace. Our Lord asks us to take up His cross every day (Lucas 9:22-25). So we should not protest – if it is here now. And let’s wait for the Easter Dawn, first with increasing hope, then with certainty emerging from this. Because the dawn of resurrection WILL COME after suffering. Because it has been consummated. Amen. (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

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What can we learn from our current miseries?

Lenten thoughts about the benefits of slowing down and longsuffering

 

1. Why do not we want to (why cannot we) tolerate longsuffering in this century? Not so long ago, there was a large rush all around the world... We have forgotten even that how to prepare for something. The problem with this was that we never arrived where we were. Because we never know where we are. Because we never let ourselves have enough time to realize where we will be... The moment became unimportant. There will be a new, another moment instead. Only the lack of tolerating unchanging things was bigger than the hunger for changes. "It is unbearable if we have to bear anything!"– we thought. Mankind lived in the illusion of omnipotence. This was a blindfolded road to the abyss. Then the crisis came. Corona virus appeared... I think that mankind learns now a very painful, very awful, but for our long-term survival very important lesson today. We should learn from this. We need to find the path to inner growth in these weeks of coerced silence. Please do not return back to rush even when these weeks will be over. This is the way how we can save the Earth, our home. (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

2. Longsuffering as a part of wisdom. Inner peace and wisdom can only be reached with the ability of distancing ourselves from our desires. For that we have to become trained at longsuffering. Now we are gaining the very important skill of longsuffering... Lent of the church calendar became a coerced-Lent... Please do observe that we may only prevent individual tragedies with a community longsuffering. Those local communities which were not ready to follow the new rules of life, had many more infections than those which were able to slow themselves down. This slow-down will be (hopefully) over in a few months. Let us build up during this time ourselves in a different, in a better way! (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

3. Longsuffering: God’s exceptional mercy. The driving force of longsuffering is love that "beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things" (1Corinthians 13:7). Let me repeat my previous sentence here: we may only prevent individual tragedies with a community longsuffering. We do see now why love is the driving force of longsuffering, do not we? We may only save those who are the fragile members of our community with the longsuffering of the whole community. We did not receive corona virus as a punishment. However, it is our education which proceeds right now. Let us observe that despite the sad tragedies this education comes with much love. Let’s feel the love flowing on us even amidst our current misery and we will be given the grace of inner peace with it, too. With this love and inner peace let us start re-building our communities. (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 


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Two ways of existence of human life: Martha and Mary

Thoughts about the right way of serving and the relationship with Jesus

1. The truth of Martha. A lot of Marthas have always served others. The typical "Martha-behavior" is the idea of the perfectly working family. But this "dream-Martha" sometimes freaks out. "I have done so much right for the people around her but they do not help me at all... Moreover, they do not even notice or appreciate my hard work either. They never say a kind word to me! They let me work myself to death, lying silent, unsympathetically and sluggishly. I wish someone would ever move!" In such a case Martha shouts or maybe cries. There is nothing more legitimate than her anger and sorrow. Isn’t there? (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

2. The truth of Mary. Why does not Jesus set Martha as a good example for us? What would we do without Marthas? Why is Mary the role model who does not do anything? "This Martha is a self-sacrificing saint!" Is she really a saint? What do we think, does it happen so frequently that our Lord’s only-begotten Son knocks on our door and starts to teach us there? How do we think about Jesus? Like a piece of furniture in our room? No way!!! We do not dictate to Jesus when, how much, what and how He should share with us. The relationship with Jesus is not symmetrical. It is not a relationship on an equal footing. We have only one thing to do in our whole lives: to adapt to Jesus. Completely. This is what Mary did. That is why Mary IS the role model and NOT Martha — who rebuked the Lord. The creature may not rebuke the Creator. A part may not act as it was bigger than the Whole. (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

3. The truth of Jesus. Mary’s truth is the example, who recognizes Jesus as the Son of God, recognizes the peculiarity of the moment, sits down to Jesus’ feet and fully immerses in the strength and miracle of God’s presence. But the story does not end here. Jesus does not invite us to sit down at his feet and stay there for the rest of our lives. Jesus initiates an Action in us. But one thing makes a big difference. The order. If we act first and do not listen to Jesus before, we will do things our own way. If we listen to Jesus first and we start acting afterwards, we will do it exactly when and how He has shown us. With this our lives fall into their proper place. (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

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When does the right time come?

Thoughts about when there is a gap in time, and when time falls into place

 

 

1. What problems do we have with our own times? We are struggling with time intensely. We would do anything to make it pass more quickly – and we would do anything to stop it going so fast. Time has speeded up by our century. There is not enough of it for anything really. From the masters, we have turned to slaves of running minutes. Some of us are living in the past, while others are running after their desired future. There is one thing in our lives missing: "now". We can live even a whole life without experiencing one single moment really. (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

2. How can time be controlled? Time is not an enemy but a friend. Of course, we have to change to gain the friendship of time. We have to accept what happens to us. Patiently and attentively. It is how a moment can become eternity, it is how rush can become timelessness, and it is how little can be – enough. When this essay is published, Lent has just begun. What if we vow a time-Lent this year? What if we see what it is like to do less – but to do it more deeply? (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

3. When does time fall into place? Time becomes complete when we can feel what God’s time like. We can be real masters of time if we do not experience it from our own viewpoint but if we ask God for His. What does this mean in our everyday lives? It is not the right time for something when we think we have to do it. It is time for something when the time comes when it has to be done. (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

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