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Emptiness

“Most believers go through times of spiritual emptiness. They feel that they are in a spiritual “black hole.” Their heart feels hollow. They keep going, but they are running on an empty tank…When we lose our purpose and meaning, we ask ourselves, what is the use? We no longer hope that anything good will come from our efforts. Therefore, above all, Paul prays that hearts of the Holy Spirit would “overflow in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13). We earnestly desire joy, peace, and faith. But note that in this verse, Paul suggests that the blessings that we earnestly desire are not ends in themselves. They are the gifts of grace so that we might be renewed in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. And hope fills us with the encouragement to continue to love the Lord and serve others with zeal and purposefulness. If you find your life’s mission in accord with the will of God, your life will not be easy nor always enjoyable, but your heart will not be empty.” (Fr. Basil)


“When people do not indulge in regular prayer, they are like unto those who are bereft of music, love and poetry. Such live their lives and do not experience the uplift of imagination or the stimulation and harmonization which the poetic soul experiences. Life as a result becomes an emptiness of heart and a mere animal existence.” (Rev. Fr. Theodore E. Ziton)


“Consider two kinds of prayer: in the first, we have a sense of the prayers that we plan to pray (say a morning service) and the psalms and readings for the day and we struggle through. It is quite possible to do this without reference to God. We are present to our prayers, but our prayers are not present to God. The heart can be completely untouched. We speak but we don’t weep. In the second, we struggle for words. We are aware of just how unaware we are of God. We do not flee our emptiness or our brokenness, but we embrace them. And there in that place where we can do nothing of ourselves, we call on God who can do all things. And this is the restoration of our true relationship with God and our proper existence as human beings.” (Father Stephen Freeman)


“And then there is time in which to be, simply to be, that time in which God quietly tells us who we are and who He wants us to be. It is then that God can take our emptiness and fill it up with what He wants and drain away the business with which we inevitably get involved in the dailiness of human living.” (Madeleine L'Engle)


“We constantly struggle to keep from sinking into the waves of emptiness surging through the world around us. When sickness, pain, financial loss, betrayal of friendship, isolation, or death come – or when the benign and dull routine of everyday existence empties life of its meaning – we need only reach out and touch the hem of Christ’s garment. He absolutely will not permit His sheep to perish. His hand catches us even when we “walk in the midst of the shadow of death” (Ps 22:4).” (Dynamis 5/23/2020)


“Most believers go through times of spiritual emptiness. They feel that they are in a spiritual “black hole.”  Their heart feels hollow. They keep going but they are running on an empty tank…Emptiness of spirit has many causes, such as disappointment, grief, lack of spiritual nourishment, burnout, and depression. Then too, the feeling of being spiritually worn out and exhausted is a sign that we have taken on too much and that we have tried to carry heavy burdens by our own power. The remedy for an empty heart is not more activity to fill it up. When the spirit is thirsty, it emptiness needs to drink. When the soul is hungry, it needs to eat. On the hiking trail, if you don’t stop to “hydrate,” you are going to collapse.” (Fr. Basil)


“Modernity is a project to refashion and build a better world… It is a mindset, a drive to refashion, create, build in the name of an ideal. Its problem is not in its faulty ideals. Rather, it is the nature of the very project itself. Building a better world…yields little more than a darkened version of the faith. The only means of Christian life is the Cross in the fullness of its self-emptying and brokenness.” (Father Stephen Freeman)


The risen and glorified Christ remains “the Crucified One” in the life and experience of everyone who seeks him, perhaps first of all those who cry out to him from under the rubble. If God is the vindictive overlord who punishes sinners with such tragedies…then frankly, I’m not interested. If, on the other hand, He is the Suffering Servant, who journeys with us and for us, to bear our sin and its consequence of mortality as well as our pain and anguish, then He is indeed what Scripture declares him to be: the self-emptying God of love, who gives himself, wholly and unreservedly, for the life of his world.” (Fr. John Breck)


“The Divine Persons are not added to another, they exist in one another: the Father is in the Son and the Son is in the Father, the Spirit is united to the Father together with the Son and 'completes the blessed Trinity' as if He were ensuring the circulation of love within it. This circulation of love was called by the Fathers [Sts. Basil and Maximus the Confessor] perichoresis, another key word of their spirituality . . . along with kenosis [emptying]. Perichoresis, the exchange of being by which each Person exists only in virtue of His relationship with the Others, might be defined as a 'joyful kenosis'. The kenosis of the Son in history is the extension of the kenosis of the Trinity and allows us to share in it.” (Olivier Clément)


“Feeling spiritually empty feels terrible but it is also an opportunity to be filled. We understand in the reality of God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – the fullness of love of other. We understand in the Son’s incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection, the selfless sacrificial love of other human beings. When we turn to Jesus in our emptiness, unite ourselves to Christ by bearing whatever cross God has permitted us to bear; and extend love to others through prayer and actions, whoever God brings into our life (family, friends, colleagues) our emptiness will be transformed into fullness because we are in accord with Him.” (Sacramental Living Ministries)


“The poor are more likely to repent and renounce this world for the sake of the kingdom, for they more easily see the emptiness of earthly things. The rich (James 2:6), on the other hand, tend to prize earthly things, desire material things, and even hurt others to gain them (see Lk 6:21–25; 1Co 1:26–28).” (Orthodox Study Bible, James 2:5-7)


“To be poor in spirit is to recognize clearly that one has nothing which he has not received from God, that one is nothing except by the grace of God. This blessed poverty is called “spiritual” in Saint Matthew’s Gospel because, first of all, it is an attitude of mind and heart, a conviction of the soul. It is the condition of man in total emptiness and openness before God, primarily in relation to the things of the Spirit, that is, to understanding and insight, to will and desire.” (Father Thomas Hopko)


“It is a blessed day when we, with dread recognition, finally look inside our souls and confess that we are starving, thirsty, naked, shame-ridden, sick at heart, and imprisoned by our passions. The Lord teaches us in the Beatitudes to consider such destitution a blessed state (Mt 5:3-12)…When we become “poor in spirit,” there remains for us only to cry out, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me, a sinner.” Out of this emptiness, the blessed will discover the way to the Lover of mankind. As they inch toward Him, He directs them along the narrow trail of repentance. He steadies us with His gracious hand, gives us the Bread of Life, and slakes our parching thirst. He becomes clothing, healing, and freedom – the true Friend who saves.” (Dynamis 2/24/2020)


“In the silence of the heart God speaks. If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you. Then you will know that you are nothing. It is only when you realize your nothingness, your emptiness, that God can fill you with Himself.” (Mother Teresa) 


“ ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven’ (Matthew 5:3); ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God’ (Matthew 5:8)…. The poor in spirit are those who have the heart of the poor, the same attitude as the poor, and are totally dependent on God….When the soul’s only desire is God, and a person's will holds to this desire, then that person will indeed see God everywhere.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Matthew 5:3, Matthew 5:8)


“What does to seek distraction mean? It means to wish to somehow fill the sickly emptiness of the soul…The world’s mad rush to pleasure, self-realization, and addiction are frenetic efforts to stave off the loss of meaning that seeps in upon us from every side. Against such emptiness stands the holy faith.” (St. John of Krondstat, OCPM 5/26/2017)

“Pleasure without God, without the sacred boundaries, will actually leave you emptier than before. And this is biblical truth, this is experiential truth. The loneliest people in the world are amongst the wealthiest and most famous who found no boundaries within which to live. That is a fact I’ve seen again and again.” (Ravi Zacharias)

“Life will always be crazy, but we must master our time. We need God. Those who do not have Him may seem happy, but they live with a great emptiness. When people are not filled with God’s presence, then evil things fill them.” (Sayidna Joseph)

“Our fallen world often threatens to reduce and empty our lives of uniqueness and mystery. But God has another path for us, one that leads to spiritual maturity and joy.” (Father Barnabas Powell)

“The greatest good of this present and of the future life is God, eternally living, all-perfect, all-good. He who has acquired this good, who has it in his soul, is the happiest of men. Everything else earthly, worldly, and regarded as good is vanity and emptiness.” (St. John of Krondstadt)

“The gospel and the commandments of Christ are written from the perspective of those that “are not,” even while they imagine themselves to be among those that “are.” When the Rich Young Man came to Christ, he was among those who were “powerful.” He had the ability to do much “good.” Christ’s invitation to him was to join the dispossessed. That same invitation is given to all of us. Renouncing the “imagination of our hearts” we are invited to come to our senses.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“Giving is more than we think it is. It is the outward reflection of something internal and deeply spiritual. Each act of giving – giving of our money and possessions, giving of our time, giving of ourselves – is an act of self-emptying. Little by little, each act of giving helps empty ourselves of the things we tend to cling to such as our money and time and, most importantly, our concept and false sense of self. Giving helps us to chip away at this and empty ourselves so Christ can fill us with Him so we both become like Him and gain our true self at the same time.” (Sacramental Living Ministries)

“The word 'deny' might just be the most hated four letter word in our society… we are taught to deny ourselves of nothing…Our modern age encourages us to deny God and to focus solely on ourselves - for we are led to falsely believing that we are in charge - while Christ reverses this and tells us to deny ourselves and to focus solely on Him…We are to deny ourselves from our passions, temptations, and anything that will deter us from being close to God. To leave behind our selfish ways and to empty ourselves, so that God's will may abide in and work through us…it is God's will that truly fulfills our lives. To deny ourselves is not to lose our uniqueness as individuals, rather it is to reach our full potential as children of God.” (Father Andrew Georganas)

“Every situation in life comes down to emptying oneself (kenosis) and becoming alive to the greater force of grace.” (Jonathan Jackson)

“We are not to use even our true prerogatives and talents as “a thing to be exploited,” when these strengths of ours might lead us away from the self-giving path of the cross. Just as, for example, our Lord did not use His divine powers to “turn these stones into loaves of bread,” just to prove Himself before a cynical doubter, the devil (Mt 4: 3). Instead He makes Himself “empty.” (Sr. Dr. Vassa Larin)

“There are dark spiritual voids in our lives when we neither feel nor discern the presence of God. What does the Lord say of these times? “A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father” (John 16:16). Emptiness comes but then it goes away – and even these difficult times are used by God. The Lord’s clear implication is that we should expect periods of emptiness, when we are to wait for His presence.” (Dynamis 6/4/2014)

“...if you are willing to set aside personal safety, comfort, and satisfaction in order to obey and follow Jesus—then in the end you will find yourself. You will discover who you really are in Christ and finally come to be at peace. If instead you try to achieve personal comfort and satisfaction without centering your life on God in Christ, you will find that you are left with a fatal lack of self-knowledge and inner emptiness.” (Pastor Timothy Keller)

“We need beauty. We go to lengths to put ourselves in front of beautiful places, or surround ourselves with beautiful music, or hang out with beautiful people. But these will leave us empty if we don’t learn to see all of these things as mere tributaries and God himself as the fountain, the headwaters of it all.” (C.S. Lewis)

“God loves us so much and so greatly desires a deep and real relationship with us that He created us to feel the pain of emptiness until we give up and fall into His ocean of fullness. Without the gift of emptiness, we would never experience how real and fulfilling a relationship with our Creator can be. It’s the pain of emptiness that can wake us up and help us break out of religiosity and become desperate for a rich and rewarding relationship with God.” (Ryan Shook & Josh Shook)

“…a relationship with God is by nature transformative and healing: at once ameliorating internal emptiness and discontentment while also positively affecting our efforts to connect with others in a healthy, holy way…”(Rev. Fr. Charles Joanides)


#RyanJoshuaShook #CSLewis #PastorTimothyKeller #RevFrCharlesJoanides #FatherStephenFreeman #SacramentalLivingMinistries #FatherAndrewGeorganas #JonathanJackson #SrDrVassaLarin #StJohnofKrondstadt #OCPM #RaviZacharias #SayidnaJoseph #FatherBarnabasPowell #OrthodoxStudyBible #FatherThomasHopko #Dynamis #MotherTeresa #FrBasil #FrJohnBreck #OlivierClément #RevFrTheodoreEZiton #MadeleineLEngle

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