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O Caritas

March 9, 2013

The first time I saw the word caritas, I thought it was Greek. It has a Greek sound to it. Truth is, it may very well have derived from the Greeks. Agape is its companion. Chesed or Hesed is its equivalent, which is lovingkindness (Book of Ruth).

Though I speak with tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

What St Paul is speaking about in 1 Corinthians 13.1-3 is agape love –  Christ love, which is different from the “Latin” understanding on caritas.

The love illustrated in the Corinthians text can best be summed up by saying:

By faith and spiritual experience one is confirmed by God the Father. For, it is through faith in union with spiritual experience that one can enter into this agape style love. And why should this matter? It matters a great deal, for …

Wherefore a man shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be two in one flesh. Genesis 2.24


To better understand this relationship, let’s look at the discourse attributed to a man named Neilos the Ascetic. This is from The Philokalia, Volume One.

Many Greeks and not a few Jews attempted to philosophize; but only the disciples of Christ [the Way] have pursued true wisdom, because they alone have Wisdom as their teacher, showing them by His example the way of life they should follow …

Neilos continues …  they pursue the goal of philosophy while avoiding the things that conflict with their calling. But what do they gain from their arduous ascetic contest, since they deny Christ [the Way], who acts as judge and gives reward? [They] fail to gain from their labours, falling short of the true goal of philosophy (Philosophia; love of Wisdom).


Ikon Jesus ben Sirach – L. Thiel Hewlings

Here is an excerpt from the essay Irenaeus Who?

Irenaeus was an instrument of use. An instrument of use to demonstrate that men are filled with the knowledge of understanding, but less able to comprehend the understanding as knowledge. That would be self-knowledge. Why? Because they are of the mindset to organize union when union is organized as a self apart from man.”

Men are filled with the knowledge of understanding, but less able to comprehend the understanding as knowledge. 

Allow me to provide a few examples. Man rules in his house based on law from his knowledge.  Man judges in his country based on decrees from his understanding. Man organizes union based on self apart from these. In other words, he does not practice the unity on which he preaches, because he has not understood the nature of this union. He fell away from the reality of God. He left his first love.

This is hardly gnostic new age, if one of set Religion should choose to give it this label. It’s older than the Religious duties within his order, a manmade order, which make him devout. As a believer, devotion to anything apart from God Reality, or God Relationship, is of a secular nature, born out of new age, or a new generation. If we are to understand God Reality as a man leaving familial relations of this world and cleaving to the Lord, then, of course, this would be within the teachings of Christ.

Wisdom voices that before man can begin a marriage in this earthly life (spouse, business, artistic endeavors, athletics …) he should understand this as knowledge. Self-knowledge. For if you are in synergy with God, your life in the Way ( I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father, but by Me alone. John 14.6) will have its merit (reward).


Now, man can be of agape in his Religions, providing law and decree in these do not fall short of love. If he engages in practices, or is of set tradition, then he will be judged by God according to these. God says, if you love Me, keep My commands. If these commands are incompatible with Love of Wisdom, not only does man profit nothing, he despairs his very soul. The heavily used, You reap what you sow, is too often missed where it is most needed. If you deny Christ, you will be denied.  If what you claim to be, and what you practice in setting yourself up as an authority on God establishes you as having denied Christ, and most especially if it leads others (the poor) into a life apart from union agape, you WILL be held accountable. I look at this as … whatever garment you have sown for yourself, and others, and wear in declaration of tradition, you will wear in adversity. If the cloth is sown with new patches to the old, the garment will tear. If the wineskin is weak, it will break upon the test of the true Ruler and Judge, and your self-importance will be revealed.

He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him instructs him with care. Proverbs 13.26 (Orthodox Study Bible)

As God instructs those He loves, so too must we love our Instructor, for it is within this that we are confirmed for His Purpose. The rod in Proverbs is a method of measurement on our spiritual growth. It is part of that Relationship as active, like yeast is active in the making of bread, like water is active in the sculpting of clay, like Wisdom is active in the rendering of self to Godliness. And if you say to one, ‘you cannot have my seat at the table; it is mine,’ believing that you have the right to receive and another does not, you have denied Christ. Do you see the relevance? For, it may very well be God testing your worthiness. God is forever calling, showing us signs, using others to get our attention. He is often saying, You have missed the message. You are stagnant. There is no growth. The sad part in this is that so many are misled by the missed message in others.


Photini – L. Thiel Hewlings

I had been listening to Van Cliburn’s The World’s Favorite Piano Music, having grown up with my mum playing these pieces. When I heard the news on the radio that Van had passed, and heard Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No 1 and Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No 3, I was immediately reminded of her choice of family over career, and how my life would have been radically different. When she played, she played with absolute abandon; she was that good.

While in this vein, I watched The Pianist last night, a film I had viewed many years ago. One thing that struck me as profound was where the pianist, while in the Jewish ghetto, is confronted by an older woman who asks him, repeatedly, ‘Can you help me find my husband? I am looking for my husband.’ She gives him his name several times. What is interesting in this is that this same incident occurs again later in the film, with the same woman. It’s almost a repeat of the first. The pianist brushes her off both times. He, of course, loses his mother, father, sisters and brother, as they were sent off to the camps. I could not help asking,”what if he had not ignored her pleas?’

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