prayer

The essence of faith

Thoughts about the center of our lives

Dear Reader,

This post (please read it here) 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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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 is the essence of following Jesus and being a disciple of Him?

A comparison of three books on discipleship written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Rowan Williams and Pope Francis

 

1. A description of being a disciple by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. 1) Following Jesus provides and demands a changed life that undertakes the despised suffering in Christ for Christ. There is no cheap mercy. "Only the believer is obedient – only the obedient believes." 2) A half-Jesus cannot be accepted. Following Jesus is not following or interpreting rules but it is a total reliance with absolute confidence on that Christ, our Lord depicts Himself in us. We can find the Father in praying through Jesus. The Holy Trinity itself has harbored in Christians. At this point we do not interpret and live our lives from our viewpoints any more but in Christ for Christ. Discipleship (nevertheless) is the totality of freedom and joy. 3) Although it is the decision of each individual to follow Jesus but it cannot be kept away from the community of the disciples and the church. 4) Following Jesus separates us from the world ("There is not an own road leading from man to man. ... Christ stands between us as an obstacle. The only road to neighbors leads through Him"), but at the same time it links us to all people in the universality of love. 5) Following Jesus is not that broad way in which the crowd go. That is why, with the spreading strength of our whole lives spent in Jesus, we have to witness about our Lord at all times until He comes again. The intensity of the lines of "The Cost of Discipleship" makes it obvious that the writer does not present an intellectual or literary feat but his own, innermost self transformed in Christ – together with all its consequences. (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

2. A description of being disciples by Rowan Williams. What were the most important statements of the book "Being disciples" to me? 1.) Discipleship is such a state of being in which you are silent and listening all the time; you just let Jesus’ act (and indirectly the Father’s act) happen by you. For we can hear God, silence is needed. It is in God’s hands who I am. We are the objects of eternal enjoyment. 2) The essence of discipleship is a fusion with the Holy Trinity’s life. Believing is faith that the truth is able to possess me and it keeps me even if I myself cannot hold on any longer. Discipleship is growth and joy. 3) The disciple is together with those (the poor and the excluded of the world), whom Jesus would like to accompany. We have to be such places where people are given time and space to meet the eternal love. Saints create joy around themselves and show the world in a new light. Others recognize in their presence that God is working in the world. You can see God in them instead of themselves.(If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

3. A description of being disciples by Pope Francis. What were the most significant statements of Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation "Rejoice and Be Glad" to me? 1) Holiness means that we are dying and resurrecting together with Christ continuously; its measure is determined by how large Christ’s counterpart is in us. Let the Holy Spirit transform you allowing this to happen. It is not life that has a mission, but life is the mission itself. In holiness you arrive to the point where you become the one whom the Father meant you to be when He created you. Dependence on Him is liberation from slavery. Being Christian is a joy in the Holy Spirit. 2) A trustful prayer is the answer of the heart opening to God calling Him „thou”, in which all words end allowing the Lord’s sweet voice to become audible in the silence. In this silence, in the Spirit’s light you can recognize the paths of holiness that are shown by the Lord. Otherwise our decisions are just "decorations" that, instead of implementing the Gospel in our lives, hide and strangle it. 3) Holiness does not mean that our eyes sparkle in an anticipated ecstasy. If we really start with observing Christ, we have to recognize Him on those people’s (the poor’s and the sufferers’) faces whom He wanted to identify with. Mercy is the vault that supports the church’s life. Humility can take roots in the heart only through experiencing indignity. 4) Nobody is redeemed alone, isolated, one by one. Keeping an eye on the net of human relationships, God attracts us to Himself. The community of believers is for creating the divine space in which the resurrected Lord’s mysterious presence can be experienced. (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

4. A comparison of the three descriptions of discipleship. The three descriptions of discipleship contain a numerous significant similarities. There is a twofold reason for the high level of matches. On the one hand the three books contain the description of discipleship’s realization and do not deal with the dogmatically founded reasons of discipleship. On the other hand all three authors are theologists of the cross and not the glory regarding their personalities and attitudes. Jesus depicted in us (though He is depicted differently in everyone) is the same Jesus according to the essence of these three witnesses’ wordings. Though we are all blind and touch the very different parts of the elephant, still the very same elephant has to appear from the fragmented pictures as our life experiences are put together. Beside my own inner certainty of this, it has been a pleasure to experience a "common certainty" during reading and comparing these three excellent books. (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

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What is Christian identity?

Season opening thoughts about the first commandment

 

1. Our fake Gods, our fake Christianity. A lot of people think that it is quite easy to obey the first commandment. We have been baptized and affirmed our baptism by confirmation. What else is Christian identity, if not this? I have to disagree with the sisters and brothers thinking these. Christian identity is not a set of features. It is not community membership. It cannot be gained. It cannot be possessed. The Lord will only be our sole God if we do not place anything even close to Him that may reach His importance. (For further details, please read my season opening essay here.)

 

2. The roots of Christian identity. The most important source of Christian identity is living in a communion with the Holy Trinity. Looking at the Ten Commandments from the light of the New Testament it is obvious that God’s intention is not to restrict us but to fulfill us. Knowing God’s Totality and experiencing His endless love, we can see that obeying the Ten Commandments becomes a consequence – and not a requirement. The dual communion experienced with God and fellow human beings is not else than the love command of Jesus (Matthew 22:37-39). The specific manifestation of Christian identity’s roots is the prayer, the Sacraments (the baptism and especially the Eucharist) and the Word of God. (For further details, please read my season opening essay here.)

 

3. The trunk and shoots of Christian identity. The first important element of Christian identity’s trunk is the recognition of sin and the fear of God. The most important element of Christian identity’s trunk is the gradual formation of Jesus’ face and His whole self in us. There are a lot of shoots of Christian identity that are individual characteristics of Christian believers. (For further details, please read my season opening essay here.)

 

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Lenten thoughts about the FORCE-field of Jesus

The power of the Eucharist

 

1. Lives accompanied by Jesus without noticing His presence. Many of us have Jesus sitting in the middle of our lives while He remains invisible and incomprehensible for us for years or even for decades. Why is it a problem if we do not recognize that Jesus living in ourselves is Jesus? Since our hearts may harden to openness, attention and accepting the love coming from Jesus. From that moment on we only "use" Jesus and do not pass on what He has given us. In such case we close ourselves into our own egos that isolate us from Jesus’ FORCE-field. (If you would like to read more about this, please, read my essay here.)

 

2. What is the FORCE-field of Jesus? Jesus’s FORCE-field is a compass: it shows us the Path, moreover: the right Path leading to the Truth. Jesus’s FORCE-field is an inexhaustible source of love filling us with such a "flow" feeling that can be shared with everyone without limitation. This "Jesus-flow" is nothing else but Life itself. Jesus’s FORCE-field is an inextricably strong love community making us capable of doing everything that fulfils the Father’s will and serves His Glory. (If you would like to read more about this, please, read my essay here.)

 

3. How can we feel the FORCE-field of Jesus? We may become sensitive to feeling (and accepting) Jesus’ FORCE-field through thanksgiving: in our joy; through crying out appealing: in our great trouble; through purification: right now, in the Lenten period; through a prayer, practicing love, mercy and humility: anytime. There are a thousand ways to get opened for the FORCE field of Jesus’ love. Even a faith community of only "two or three members" has a huge power to call the Holy Spirit who can make us capable to find the Path to the heart of Jesus. Finally and as a fulfilment: when we take the Body and the Blood of Christ in the Holy Communion or Lord’s Supper we get into such a physical and spiritual unity with Jesus, with the Trinity and with all the believers who have ever lived since the foundation of the Christianity, live now and will live in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, that eliminates the darkness in us and puts us into the love community of Jesus’s FORCE-field. (If you would like to read more about this, please, read my essay here.)

 

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The power of prayer

Thoughts about the forms of our connection with God

 

 

 

1. Lives in which prayer does not “fit in”. Here I describe the monologue of two people. One of them is extremely poor, the other is extremely rich. The end of the two monologues are the same: I have my own problems. Leave me alone with worlds I do not even know anything about. This world has already overwhelmed me. (If you would like to read more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

 

2. Prayers to ourselves. A prayer for a lot of people is a... a.) monologue; b.) relief; c.) complaint; d.) solution; e.) obligation, role; f.) salvation. „Even a badly told prayer is much better than a prayer not told.” (Saint Teresa of Ávila) (If you would like to read more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

3. The thousand faces of the genuine prayer: The blissful paths leading us to God. A real prayer searches for the Giver, not the gift. The genuine prayer is Silence listening to the totality of God living within us. A real prayer is not about us. It asks for and awaits the love, truth and will of God to the center of our hearts. In a real prayer we make ourselves silent in order to let God fill us. A real prayer does not decrease but increases our freedom explosively. Only in full knowledge of our pitifulness and indignity we can accept the mercy that delivers us from our pitifulness and indignity. A real prayer has a thousand faces. A real prayer – is our lives themselves as a whole. A real prayer does not live in time. A real prayer opens the gate of Paradise again and places the re-creating hands of God into our lives. (If you would like to read more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

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