Self-assessment in the Christian Life

The saints often remarked how people manage with great enthusiasm, creativity, and intelligence to get ahead in worldly affairs, but often fail to make a comparable effort when it comes to the spiritual life. Saint Seraphim of Sarov in his conversation with Nicholas Motovilov used the analogy of acquiring money to help his spiritual child understand how one should strive to acquire the Holy Spirit. With respect to a detailed examination of how one has spent one’s day in terms of actions pleasing or displeasing to God, “Saint Theophan the Recluse even suggests that it be done with ‘the … [Read more...]

The Quality of Our Thoughts and the One Thought That Really Matters: The Fathers and the Baylor Report on Mental Health and Religious Beliefs

A recurring theme in Ancient Christian Wisdom as well as throughout this blog concerns the fact that our private thoughts about our selves color our emotions, shape our behavior, and set an indelible mark on our character and ultimately our lives.  In developing this thesis, I explored Aaron Beck’s cognitive therapy in the light of the teachings of the ancient fathers. According to Dr. Beck, “cognitive therapy is a system of therapy that attempts to reduce excessive emotional reactions and self-defeating behavior by modifying the faulty or erroneous thinking and maladaptive beliefs that … [Read more...]

The Sacredness of Childhood, the Weeping of Rachel, and the Tragedy in Connecticut

Of all the suffering around us in this world of ours, the suffering and death of innocent children especially make us shudder with horror, because there is something so sacred and pure about childhood. And what is sacred and pure must never be trampled upon or defiled. Our compassionate Savior said to his disciples, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.” What makes children especially worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven? Saint John Chrysostom teaches that children have an angelic simplicity about them. They cry one moment and laugh cheerfully the next. … [Read more...]