Fr. Nikon of New Skete talks about two different perspectives on suffering, passion and crucifixion of Christ.
Wisdom from Mount Athos (WMA) Series – S01E09
Transcript (adapted after the Romanian version provided by Elena Dinu):
“Western Christianity saw in suffering a good thing. Christ endured [the Cross], Christ suffered for us to get saved. Therefore, suffering was helpful for us.
Therefore, for Western Christianity, suffering, passion, crucifixion of Christ, all have a primary role in doctrine and salvation.
We emphasize the Resurrection. And our greatest holiday is Easter and not Crucifixion.
Even in the Holy Week, we, the Orthodox, sing:
‘We worship Thy passion, O Christ.
Show us also Thy glorious resurrection.’
We think of joy and resurrection even when in pain and sorrow.
These are two totally different approaches to the problem of suffering.
This is why in the West some movements are so successful: Buddhism, New Age, who say: “We came to free you from this ‘christianity’ that tells you that it is beautiful to suffer, it is good to suffer…”
[free you] from a Christianity which praises and justifies the suffering and as in the mentioned cases, it causes suffering.
That is why the world follows such movements: to get rid of a religion that accepts suffering as a good thing.
All the great fighters against Christianity, from Nietzsche, Camus, to those of today, they can not imagine that we also reject this Christianity centered on the cult of suffering…
Our faith doesn’t say that suffering is a good thing or that a disease is a good thing.
“Sorrow, suffering are but the kiss of Jesus”, says a Western saint. Not like that! If it were a good thing, then when Christ came, He would not have healed any sick person… And yet, He healed how many people He could.
Suffering is not good. This is why, everything that the Western atheists reject, we also reject.
Their tragedy is that they do not know that what they reject it is not the faith of our Orthodox Church.
They do not know the Orthodox Church. Neither the Orthodox Church nor the Orthodox theology or the Orthodox way of life.
Our faith is the faith of joy. This is our faith! This is why the Christian rejoices in his suffering and sorrow, not because he suffers and is saddened, but because he knows what the end of all of these will be.
That all will be left behind and he will rejoice. That all of these will be left here and he will rest where the righteous repose.
Remember the apostle Paul’s hymn of joy, hymn of love, and you will understand. Why? Who loves in this way, also rejoices.
The one who hates the others has no joy, the one who has wickedness inside him…
This one separates himself from the One who brought us the Joy and the Life.”
Catholic Christians don’t glorify suffering. They recognize suffering for what it is in this human condition of ours. Then they strive to emulate Christ who suffered and died, but ultimately triumphed over suffering and death, by his Resurrection.
We are an Easter people!
What a tragedy that the youth of today are learning that pain is not to be endured, but instead overcome by any means, and thus the epidemic of opiods that leads to death, without hope of resurrection.