Insomnia and Talking to Oneself

Whenever we encounter difficulties in life or whenever some unexpected suffering comes our way, our natural instinct is to find an immediate escape from that difficulty or suffering. When such an escape is not readily available or manifest to us, we may become despondent or begin to think the worst, which in psychological terms is known as catastrophizing. We can tell we’re doing this by the nature of our interior dialogue that we have with ourselves. That private conversation can aggravate an existent problem and generate new ones. In his dissertation, “Treating Insomnia-A Cognitive … [Read more...]

Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house

When it comes to the most basic activities of daily life, no one needs to give us instructions about what tools are for or how to use them. Without thinking, we use utensils for eating. Without a moment's thought, we turn on a light switch in a dark room. Without the least bit of reflection, we make sure the light shines on what we may be reading.  And yet, when it comes to the life of the Spirit, we seem to need additional instructions, we seem to need to be told to do the obvious. As foolish as it may seem, we really need to be reminded that no one lights a candle and puts it under a bushel, … [Read more...]

“Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Emotions are of great importance in our lives as human beings and as Christians. Carl Jung once observed, “Emotion is the moment when steel meets flint and a spark is struck forth, for emotion is the chief source of consciousness. There is no change from darkness to light or from inertia to movement without emotion.” In general, emotions motivate us, organize our world, and help us to adapt to changing situations. And it is significant that the Beatitudes conclude with the brightest and most blessed of human emotions, a rejoicing and gladness that are strikingly and peculiarly Christian, for … [Read more...]

Blessed Are You When Men Shall Revile You and Persecute You and Say All Manner of Evil Against You Falsely, For My Sake. Rejoice and Be Exceeding Glad, For Great is Your Reward in Heaven

Our Lord’s words are “powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow,” for the Word and Son of God is “a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). He knows that listeners to His voice desire more than to marvel at the blessed poor in spirit, meek, merciful, and peacemakers. They want to become what they admire and the Lord already begins to accomplish that transformation by shifting from speaking about them in the third person to speaking to you in the second and to the blessedness … [Read more...]

Blessed Are Those Who Are Persecuted Because of Righteousness, For Theirs Is the Kingdom of Heaven

The previous seven beatitudes have linked human virtue as a state of being and way of life in the tempestuous present with a promise of divine fulfillment in the glorious future. In this Sunday’s beatitude, however, the possession of the Heavenly Kingdom by the righteous is not then and there, but here and now, with the Lord Christ invisibly present in the midst. Promise and fulfillment meet at precisely the most difficult moments in a Christian’s life, at their personal Cross. Every Christian is called to be radiantly faithful to Christ like the first Martyr Stephen, “a man full of faith and … [Read more...]

Blessed Are the Pure of Heart, for They Shall See God

If the goal of our lives as Christians is union with God (theosis), then the means by which we can attain this union is through the acquisition of a pure heart.  It seems     providential that we have reached this beatitude just as we arrive at the first Sunday of Great Lent.  During this season of the holy forty days, which is a microcosm of our entire lives, we are given an opportunity to struggle, arduously, yet joyfully, for the purity of heart of which the Lord Christ speaks in His Sermon on the Mount.  Saint John Cassian has written, “The goal of our vows, as we have said, is the kingdom … [Read more...]

Insomnia, Learned Helplessness, and the Helper of our Souls

When insomnia persists relentlessly over time and insomniacs are convinced that their sleep difficulties are “uncontrollable, unpredictable, and solely attributable to external causes” (Morin, 1993), a sinking feeling of helplessness may set in.  This, unfortunately, serves only to exacerbate the problem.  In his dissertation on the subject, Alfonso Morin describes this condition in terms of “learned helplessness,” which is a demoralized state of giving up and just suffering one’s fate, because one has “learned” that nothing has worked in the past.  This response to insomnia leads to viewing … [Read more...]

I Look for the Resurrection of the Dead

Human death is one of those experiences that we prefer to avoid if at all possible.  We have been conditioned to avoid the discussion of death even with the dying! We shun looking at the dead in their natural state before the mortician’s art has done all that is possible to make the dead resemble the living.  Even in death, we prefer to hold celebrations of life rather than confront the harsh reality of our earthly existence coming to a halting end. While this is a common approach in modern society, it doesn’t reflect the beliefs we profess in the Creed. Death is painful. It hurts and it … [Read more...]

A Christmas Poem

When Caesar Augustus ruled the mighty Empire of Rome, When peace purchased with bloodshed enshrouded each home, When mortal man had reached the deep night of despair, When prophets were silent and holiness rare,Lo, in the humble town of the shepherd-boy king, In the arms of a maiden all pure, yea purer than spring, Was beheld a sight strange to angels, unapproachable to men, God as a child, the Almighty, a friend.O Wisdom unfathomable, Condescension Divine Heavenly Bread in the straw where cattle did dine. Heaven’s gates now flung open and that sword flaming of old No longer guards … [Read more...]

And I Believe in the Holy Spirit

Breathing in and breathing out—inspiration and expiration—are basic physiological processes that often go unnoticed, but without which no life is possible. The Holy Spirit constitutes the very breath of the Christian spiritual life, without which no pure virtue can be attained, no holy mystery can open the heavens, and no deep transformation can touch the human soul. This article in the Creed is about belief in life, in spiritual life, and in God providing us with the spiritual oxygen our souls require by shedding the love of God “abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given to us” … [Read more...]