Exile from one’s homeland can cause overwhelming grief to flood over him, a condition illustrated poignantly in the familiar Psalm 137, which begins with the words, ‘By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.’
However, internal exile gives rise perhaps to even sharper pains, as these exiles must stand by and watch as piece after piece of their tradition is destroyed before their eyes.
Internal exile is the situation of traditional Southerners today. And though there are differences between internal and external exile, they are sufficiently similar that Dixie can draw wisdom from the experiences of those who have suffered external exile.
Two especially superb examples of Christians suffering patiently and joyfully despite their exile come to us from the early 5th century: St. John Chrysostom and St. Olympias. St. John is one of the finest pastors the Church has ever known. His surname, Chrysostom, means ‘golden tongue’, a name given to him for the excellence of his many sermons. He was exiled from Constantinople by the God-hating rulers of his day who falsely accused him of various infractions. St. Olympias was born into a well-to-do family, but devoted her life to God after her betrothed died. She became a deaconess in the great cathedral of Hagia Sophia under St. John and was sent into exile because of her loyalty to her godly pastor.
Many letters of these two to one another have survived to our day, and they offer a wealth of helpful advice on how Southerners can deal with our current woes.
In one letter St. John helps us put suffering in its proper perspective. It is in fact something that makes up the very nature of the Church:
Within the church, they had celebrated the Eucharist, prayed and fasted, heard the Scripture preached and applied, and given alms. This disciplined and celebrative life prepared them for the present testing, for they were part of something larger than themselves:
“Amid alternate trials, and respites from trial, the fabric of the Church was wrought… If then even now you will reckon up the good things with the painful, you will see that many events have occurred which … are unspeakable proofs of the great providence and succor of God.”
Suffering joyfully, without complaint, because of our trust in God is, furthermore, a great virtue. He writes to St. Olympias many moving words about this:
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The rest is at https://www.reckonin.com/walt-garlington/advice-for-the-exiles.
Holy Ælfred the Great, King of England, South Patron, pray for us sinners at the Souð, unworthy though we are!
Anathema to the Union!