Introducing a New Series on Impulsivity

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There is something to be said about impulsivity being a particularly contemporary problem. The more control we appear to gain over so many technical aspects of modern life, the less control we seem to have over ourselves. An “I-want-what-I-want-when-I-want-it” disposition towards life governs not only the actions and reactions of infants, but also the behavior of the developmentally more mature. Today’s marketing campaigns certainly encourage … [Read more...]

Grief and Scripture: “The entrance of Thy words giveth light” (Psalm 118:130 LXX)

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In grief, we are sometimes at a complete loss for words to describe the pain we feel and the emptiness we experience. And yet, putting words on our experience enables us get a handle on it, so that we are not subject to it, but it becomes subject to us. Unfortunately, we sometimes do not have the energy or the clarity to find the words we need to bring some order to our disorder and some peace to our unrest. This is where “remedies derived from … [Read more...]

Too Late to Say What Needed to Be Said ?

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There are times when a loved one dies unexpectedly or suddenly and important things are left unsaid or undone. Even worse, relationships may be injured by disagreements and conflicts that were not resolved before the untimely departure of our friend or next-of-kin. Either of these scenarios can exacerbate the grief we experienced and leave us feeling not only guilty and full of regrets, but also helpless in terms of anything that can now be done … [Read more...]

“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”

  If the initial petitions of the Lord’s Prayer turn our gaze from earth to heaven, the final petition returns us to the world with a full realization of the dangers we face, the weaknesses that beset us, and the ultimate source of strength and redemption in which we can place our hope. In fact, Saint John Chrysostom teaches that this petition encourages us to be prepared for anything and everything, “suffering of the body, illnesses of … [Read more...]

Grief and a Smile?

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When we are grieved by a loss, we often assume that the only emotions to be felt and expressed are negative ones such as sadness, despondency, and helplessness. We may even tell ourselves that such an emotional state is commensurate with the depth of our loss. In some cultures, the expression of negative emotions, through weeping and wearing black, are seen as ways of revealing the love and respect held for the deceased. And while the fathers … [Read more...]

Friends and Grief

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The desert father, Abba Isaiah, once wrote, “Nature did not fashion human beings to be like solitary beasts, but rather like a flock of gregarious animals who share the same pastures, so that each person would live not only for himself, but also for his father and mother, for his siblings, for his spouse, for his children, for his other relatives, for his friends, for his fellow townsmen, for his fellow countrymen, for those living in his part of … [Read more...]

Attachment, Grief, and God

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Is there anything more beautiful than the image of a little child in his mother’s arms? There is something so sacred about that closeness, so fundamentally good about that intimacy, and so absolutely necessary about that connection. Psychologists have a theory about this closeness that they speak about in terms of attachments that infants must form from the first moments of life in order to thrive. Close to their mother, children feel loved, … [Read more...]

Acceptance and Grief

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After a loved one dies, those who grieve often ruminate about what they or others could have done differently to prevent the death or at least postpone the loss. “If only I had seen the signs and brought my wife to a doctor sooner…”, “If only I had kept him from driving there yesterday…”, and countless other variations of the basic idea “If only the past were different, I would not be suffering in this present.” Such responses are a normal part … [Read more...]

Making Death into a Means to Spiritual Transformation

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In a 1789 letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy, Benjamin Franklin wrote, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Yet, most of us spend our lives doing everything possible to avoid them both. Even when a loved one dies some try to escape this grim reality by holding “celebration of life” events rather than a more traditional wake or funeral service. We are surrounded and inundated by cheery, but inane, messages … [Read more...]

“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses”

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Although we have already completed an entire series on forgiveness, it still worth revisiting the topic as we encounter it in the Sermon on the Mount directly following the Lord’s Prayer. Forgiveness is so important that after telling us to pray that our debts be forgiven as we forgive our debtors, our Savior makes a similar statement with respect to our trespasses. When people do not give us what is our due, we are to forgive. When people walk … [Read more...]