The difference between religion and the Christian faith19 December 2022
Our religion is love, desire, ardor, fervor, and longing for the divine. All of those are within us. Our soul demands of us that we acquire them.
For many people, though, religion is a struggle, a worry, an anxiety. This is why people consider many of the ‘pious’ as being unhappy, because they see the wretched state they’re in.
That’s the way things really are. Because if you don’t realize the depth of religion and don’t experience it, religion becomes a sickness, and a terrible one at that. So bad that people lose control over their actions, they lose their will-power and determination. They’re worried and anxious and are easily swayed by the spirit of evil.
They make prostrations, weep, cry aloud, and pretend to be humble, though all this humility is the work of the devil. Some of these people live their religion as a form of hell. In church they bow to the ground, make the sign of the cross, and say: ‘We’re sinners; we’re unworthy’. Yet as soon as they’re outside, they starting blaspheming against holy things if anybody so much as riles them.
In reality, the Christian religion transforms and heals us. If we’re to recognize and discern the truth, the main requirement is humility. Egotism darkens the mind, confuses it, leads it astray into heresy. It’s important that we should know the truth. The essential thing is that you should move away from formality and delve into the actual substance. Whatever you do should be done with love. Love always involves making sacrifices.
Christ won’t love us if we don’t deserve to be loved. For him to love us, he has to find something special within us. You want, you ask, you try, you beg and you get nothing. You prepare to receive what Christ wants- for God’s grace to enter you- but it can’t do so if what’s required isn’t there.
And what is that? It’s humility. Unless there’s humility, we can’t love Christ. Humility and selflessness in the worship of God. ‘Do no let your left hand know what you right hand is doing’. Let nobody see you; let nobody realize what you’re doing in your worship of God. Everything concealed, everything in secret, like the ascetics. Remember what I’ve told you about the nightingale? It trills in the wood. In the silence. Do you suppose anybody hears it or praises it? Nobody does. What beautiful singing in the wilderness. Have you seen how it puffs out its chest and pours itself into its song? It finds a cave, a ravine and experiences God in secret, ‘in ineffable sighing’.
… Love, ardor for Christ, is the whole secret. Surrender to the spiritual world. You don’t feel lonely, or anything else. You live in another world. Where the soul rejoices, exults, and never has its fill…