The Essence of Religion PART II: In The Service of Our Lord
by Fr. E.S.Q.S.
What follows is the second part of "The Essence of Religion". This part was written almost immediately after I finished writing "The Essence of Religion"; however, I did not post it. That being said, I had promised to do so a short while back - and, so, here it is. Unlike what I had done previously, I will post the whole of the paper in this thread alone as opposed to cluttering up the forum with many bits and pieces. I will start this thread and, once it is approved, I will start adding the rest of the paper.
That said, please bear in mind that the paper, "In The Service of Our Lord" is an exoteric paper addressing religious peoples - and especially Christian peoples. As such, it was written for them in language that I had considered might be more acceptable and accessible to them. The paper was not meant to elucidate the knowledge of reality, was not meant to show them how the world works; rather, it was meant to impress upon them the importance of love as active service. Hopefully, that will forestall any unnecessary confusion. That being said, let's begin:
What follows is a short meditation on Service. It makes considerable use of world scripture – and especially Christian scripture - to support its claims. This is not because the author is a Christian or prefers Christianity over other religions; rather, it is because the author is more familiar with Christian scripture than those of other religions. That said, this relatively short meditation is generally applicable to all religions.
What follows is a short meditation on Service. This meditation is being written shortly after the release of The Essence of Religion as a supplementary paper specifically addressing the matter of Service. Though the matter of Service was touched upon in The Essence of Religion, I suspect that it needs to be further emphasized. After all, no one is truly averse to hearing the message of love – but the message of Service, of hard work and toil, is never so welcome. This short meditation, then, will serve to expand upon the matter of Service, discussed in The Essence of Religion under the heading of Goodwill.
In the Service of Our Lord
The essence of religion is love – a love of God and a love of Man. The essence of religion is unity. The essence of religion is brotherhood. This is the message of Christos which has been so hopelessly bungled in our day. However, as much as we may know that the essence of religion is love, our knowledge means nothing if it is not put into practice. As it has been said:
“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:26).
It is easy to say that “love is, indeed, the way”, but it is a whole other thing to put it into practice. Speech is easy, but hard work and toil, Service, is not so easy. It is by our hard work and toil for the betterment of our brethren that we prove our love to be true. It is by hard work and toil for the betterment of our brethren that we show our faith. As it is said:
“Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works” (James 2:18).
It is by hard work and toil for our brethren that love is realized. It is by hard work and toil for our brethren that unity and brotherhood may come to fruition. Knowing the path and walking the path are two very different things. If you would know love, then you must practice love: if you would know God, then you must love God – and the method is Service.
Love must be put into practice. It is not enough merely to know of love. Faithfulness is measured in love – and especially love in action, Service. As I had mentioned above, it is easy to speak of love but a whole other thing to put it into practice. We must, in effect, sow the seeds of love by acts if we wish to harvest the Kingdom of God on Earth.
First and foremost, I will address the most common form of “Service” our religious brethren tend to engage in: conversion or, rather, the attempt to convert others to their faith. If we have understood anything of the essence of religion, then we must realize that conversion is, in truth, no true Service. Conversion is a matter concerning the forms of religion, and especially the beliefs; however, what a man believes – or not – is, altogether, insignificant. Convincing a man of this or that theological doctrine is no true Service – it may be a Service to the church and her theologians, perhaps, but not to God nor our fellow Man.
Our religious brethren will cry out, of course – they will say, “But we were saving them! Is that not a Service?” However, beliefs – recall – do not save men. We can believe whatever we want and it will not matter in the least. We are not saved merely because we have believed. This is a lie. It is love, and especially love in action, Service, that saves men. If you will convert them to anything, convert them to love. No belief, practice, sacred writing, messenger, or place of worship is worth anything without a heart enflamed with love. Let a man to his beliefs. Respect his right to believe – or not – as he will. The beliefs are not important, in so far as the man loves. Conversion is no true Service – at best, it is an attempt to convince our fellow man of some particular theological doctrine, some belief; at worst, it exhibits a fanatical intolerance and blatant disregard for the rights and freedoms of our brethren under God. In either case, it is decidedly unimportant when the essence of religion is love. In fact, conversion may very well be a disservice if it keeps a man from a faith which enflames his heart with love. Love is
In the Service of Our Lord
the important element, not the belief. It is love that changes man, not belief. If you would convert men, then convert men to love – under any faith and under any God - for the essence of religion is one. What matters the name of God? What matters his house? It is all the same to him who is the father of all creation.
“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier” – Mother Teresa
All of a sudden my religious brethren will be silent. They will ask, “Well, if we are not to convert men, then how can we serve?” as if the only method of Service was conversion. It is not so; however, conversion is an attractive alternative to real, honest hard work and toil. Always and ever, people are looking for the easy way. When will they learn that nothing truly worthwhile was ever easy? Despite their bafflement, there are innumerable ways to put love into practice. Every kind thought, feeling, word, and deed is as a seed sown in the great field of living. These seeds must come to fruition sometime. What follows, then, is a short list of ways in which my religious brethren may practice love – ways they may not have considered as being viable:
Being positive is one such way that we can serve our fellow man. By being positive, we make it easier for everyone, ourselves included, to endure hardship. We all face hardship at some time or another; however, our attitude – whether positive or negative - can make it easier or harder to endure for ourselves and others.
Being happy is one such way that we can serve our fellow man. By being happy, we make life easier for everyone, ourselves included. Happiness is ultimately rooted in an appreciation of the moment, exactly as it is given. Happiness is gratitude. It is full of the joy of life, full of cheer, and this energizes us – and those around us – immensely.
Being calm is one such way that we can serve our fellow man. By being calm, we make life easier for everyone, ourselves included. By making efforts to control ourselves and live amongst our brethren without friction, we contribute to the well-being of our brethren and ourselves. It is certainly not easy to be calm most of the time; however, it is well worth the efforts to try. The benefits are manifold.
Being kind is one such way that we can serve our fellow man. By being kind, we make life easier for everyone, ourselves included. Kindness makes men smile and eases the burden of living. It is something we hardly expect, but when it happens makes us think, “What a wonderful world we live in that kindness exists”. It can be as little as a kind thought, feeling, word, or deed – no matter what, it goes a long way. Who can say just what the kindness will lead to? It is such a simple thing, such a simple Service, and opportunities abound. My religious brethren, keep your eyes open and give freely of kindness – the bounty of your heart - whenever the opportunities come. These are as many seeds of love sown in the great field of living.
Being peaceful is one such way that we can serve our fellow man. By being peaceful, we make life easier for everyone, ourselves included. To be peaceful means to practice harmlessness. To be peaceful means to practice self-control. To be peaceful means to regulate our thoughts, feelings, words, and deeds and ensure that all of our conscious expressions are loving and kind.
END OF PART I - TBC