Sobriety and Sorrow: Distinct Yet Interconnected

When I first entered the Church as a child, filled with zeal and longing, I imagined that the people there would be smiling, that the Resurrection of Christ would shine in their eyes, and that their faces, most of all their hearts, would radiate joy.

Yes, the cross and pain would be present—I had no illusions about that. Having experienced a great deal of pain from a young age, I was firmly convinced that this life offers no place free from tearful eyes. Yet, for Christianity, perpetual existential joy is an eschatological reality.

However, there’s a vast difference between eyes that suffer and eyes that are sad. And this isn’t the worst of it. One might rightly say that sorrow is also a part of life. Indeed, it is one thing to experience one’s own sufferings as a result of trials and tribulations in life, and quite another to manifest the Christian life with a sorrowful and gloomy face. It is one thing to accept suffering as a stage in one’s spiritual maturity, and entirely another to believe that Christians must never smile but be neurotically introverted and, even more so, feel guilty for experiencing joy.

The root of false religiosity is precisely the inability to rejoice, or rather, the renunciation of joy. But joy is crucial because it is undeniably the fruit of God’s presence. One cannot know that God exists and not rejoice. Only when tied to joy do the fear of God and humility become truly healthy, authentic, and fruitful. Outside of joy, all this becomes demonic and transforms into the deepest perversion of any religious experience. It becomes a religion of fear. A religion of false humility. A religion of guilt: where everything is a temptation and a scandal, and they are strongly present not only in the world but also in the Church. “Religious” people regard joy with suspicion.

Imagine a flower breaking through a rock or asphalt, as a metaphor for the joy and hope that can bloom even in the harshest conditions, symbolizing the strength and perseverance of faith

We must understand that there is a huge qualitative difference between the sobriety preached by the Church Fathers and psychological sorrow. They do not coincide. On the contrary, these are different spiritual states. Therefore, it is essential to break that stone and immovable mask of guilt, which feeds our narcissism and, under the guise of “spirituality,” keeps us away from human emotions and from what is deeply within us and frightens us.

Let’s find the path to the child within us that we have suppressed and weakened. We asked it to grow up, to be quiet, to not speak, and most importantly—to not laugh or joke. Because life is supposedly a “serious matter.” It is for the grown-ups, not for children. We even hastened to emphatically remind it that there is no laughter or jest in the “spiritual” life.

We took our “self” very seriously and finally worshiped it, turning it into a “deity.” We were so preoccupied with our own “salvation” that we ultimately lost it. Because we forgot that it is not an achievement but a gift.

We were not afraid of death, but of life. We did not desire Christ and His Church but the refuge called “religion.”

Let’s shatter sorrow, for it is not sobriety but fear and guilt. The child is still there. It still awaits us. It hasn’t stopped laughing and joking. It rejoices in its existence. Because life has no meaning other than being a meaning in itself. It is a gift from God, a revelation of fullness in the person of Christ.