Thy Kingdom Come

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The late Orthodox theologian, Father John Romanides, used to speak at length about what he considered to be the basic mistranslation of the word basileia (βασιλεία) as kingdom, which among other problems, can render the second petition in the Lord’s prayer as opaque as the first. He contended that the word βασιλεία does not refer to kingdom in the sense of a geographical territory ruled by God, be it on heaven or on earth, but rather refers to … [Read more...]

Grief and the Quality of the Thoughts

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While most people come to know us through our actions, our lives are actually determined by our thoughts. It is precisely in the inner realm of the thoughts that outward action first germinates and later comes to fruition, always supported by the moist or dry, rich or barren, smooth or rocky soil of our thoughts. This is also true for those who are experiencing grief. It is the quality and direction of our thoughts about the departed, about … [Read more...]

Hallowed be Thy Name

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Small children learn early on about the difference between “thank you” and “please,” a difference about as basic as the distinction between past and future. Parents teach them to be genuinely grateful to those who in the recent past have been good to them and to humbly request help from those who in the near future may do them a favor. And yet that childlike clarity is sometimes absent when we pray that simple, yet most perfect prayer, which our … [Read more...]

Active and Passive Responses to Grief-the Christian Response

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In my last post, I explored the realm of possibilities open to each of us as we encounter those who grieve. Each possibility involves choice, often between active engagement and passive withdrawal. And choices matter irrespective of the amount of thought we put into them, for our decisions determine the course of our lives, influence the lives of those we love, and ultimately determine the quality of our character. The same may be said for … [Read more...]

How to Respond to Those Who Grieve?

It’s not easy to know what to say or what to do for someone who has just lost a loved one. What that loved one really meant to the bereaved, how that loved one’s presence completed their world, and what the world looks like now that the loved one is gone, the bereaved and only the bereaved fully know. That is why grief is so exquisitely personal, so undeniably unique, and often frustratingly inscrutable not only for others, but even for the … [Read more...]

Our Father which Art in the Heavens

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Having warned His disciples about the pitfalls of praying for the wrong things with vain repetitions , having cautioned them about the dangers of praying for the wrong reasons such as being seen by others, our Lord then directs His disciples about the way they should pray giving as an example the most widely known prayer in Christendom, the Lord’s Prayer or the Our Father. Many times, we may say it without fully appreciating the significance of … [Read more...]

The Stages of Grief

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Before the dawn of the internet, AAA (American Automobile Association) used to offer its “Trip Tiks” or helpful booklets that would detail one’s journey. In addition to providing the best route to a given destination, it would also suggest places to stay or visit along the way. At the time, they were very popular and I suspect their popularity was related to the human need to know beforehand about a journey’s particular details such as what to … [Read more...]

The Task of Rebuilding Oneself and One’s World in Grief

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Our relationships are our world. They define us. They place us in roles that become part and parcel to our identity. Those special connections with others form the fabric of our reality and the possibilities for our future. And when one of those fundamental relationships is abruptly removed by death, it feels like the rug is pulled out from underneath our feet and unraveled at the seams. Precious assumptions about life are no longer valid. A … [Read more...]

“But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.”

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There is something pleasantly refreshing about direct speech that cuts straight to the point and something undeniably draining about long-winded chatter that blathers on and on, so much so that the real issue is lost to both the speaker and the listener. This is the case not only in our interactions with others, but also in our communication and communion with God. For this very reason, Saint John Chrysostom notes that the Lord’s counsel to not … [Read more...]

The Disruption of Grief

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We can all be grateful for the fact that bonds between the living and those who have departed from this life can continue, but that does not change the fact that with the loss of a loved one, established routines collapse, reliable sources for comfort vanish, and valuable input about our opinions and perceptions disappear. We all need order and balance in our lives, for a sense of peace in which we can find and love both God and neighbor. … [Read more...]