Time Urgency and the Virtue of Patience

We’ve all heard the expression “times a wastin.” Songs have been written with that very same title. For those who don’t demonstrate Type A behavior, the saying is just that, a saying. For the Type A person such a phrase is a mantra by which life is lived. Wasting time is the cardinal sin for which there is no forgiveness and can be no tolerance. Time is the enemy in the sense that time imposes a limit upon what can be accomplished. Essentially, for the Type A person, time is that constraint which cheats you out of more success and more accomplishments. This sense of time urgency may lead to … [Read more...]

How to Approach the Lord with the Faith of the Centurion

In dealing with others, we often wonder how to approach them when we wish for them to hear our request and act upon it. We, likewise, may wonder how to approach the Lord Christ with the various problems that beset us. In the Gospel concerning the centurion’s servant (Matthew 8:5-13), we are given some very clear instructions. In reflecting upon this Gospel passage, many often point to the great faith of the centurion, a faith so great that Christ Himself marveled at it. So, clearly approaching Christ with such confident faith was instrumental in the healing of his servant. But the question … [Read more...]

“…The Hand of God is held out in blessing for all who seek Him…”: On Seeking and Receiving the Blessing of Priests

It doesn’t require much proof-texting to show that in the Christian life, we should seek to walk humbly before God and our neighbor, strive to be as innocent children, try to acquire the fear of God, attempt to have a sense of gratitude for God’s blessings, and endeavor to have a sense of His holy presence in our lives. But for this to take place in day-to-day living, we need to be especially attentive to details in the life of piety, details that may seem not so significant when taken separately, but when taken as a whole can fill the very air we breath with a sweet spiritual fragrance that … [Read more...]

Acceptance That Heals

In the last blog post I mentioned a tenet from Acceptance and Commitment therapy: “We can choose to react to negative thoughts or simply accept the fact that we have had a negative thought.” This is also a fundamental principle in the spiritual life. Our choice has more than temporal, psychological repercussions. It has eternal significance, for repetitive choices set up patterns of behavior that can either draw us closer to God and neighbor or drive us further away from the two poles of our existence. Let us assume for the sake of this post that the choice made involves acceptance of the fact … [Read more...]

The Samaritan Woman, Christian Kenosis, and Luminous Thoughts

We cannot control the automatic thoughts and associations that arise in our heart through the course of the interactions of the day. We have conversations with others that can take many twists and turns, which are often unfortunate. But we can choose to focus on what is good; we can choose to focus on the teachings of Christ, so that those teachings come more readily to the surface as we interact with others. When we do such, conversations can at times have a prophetic force and we can sometimes even discern the voice of God leading us to Himself, just as He led the Samaritan woman to the … [Read more...]

To be as the Colt of a Donkey Upon Which Christ Sat

In Ancient Christian Wisdom, I mention the fact that “Saint Anastasius of Sinai once observed that man differs from beast by virtue of his ability to consider, to decide, and to will, thereby overruling the instinctual reactions that he shares with other living creatures.” And yet when our life revolves around feeding our passions, when our head never looks beyond the food in our trough, we don’t seem to be so very different from cattle. For in such a state, we no longer really consider the big picture, we are unable to make the right decisions, we find that our will is unstable, and … [Read more...]

Two Kinds of Stillness: Be Still and Know That I am God

The sublime task of the spiritual life is expressed concretely in the words of the Psalmist. Interestingly enough, the Septuagint word for stillness employed in this verse, σχολάσατε, is not the familiar root for hesychasm with images of stillness, quiet, and solitude of a hermit monk, but the Greek root for the English word school with the connotations of setting aside day-to-day tasks in order to listen and garner knowledge by sitting like Mary at the Master’s feet. In other words, there are two kinds of stillness in the Christian life, both of which are important: a preparatory stillness … [Read more...]

The Self-concept and Our Identity as Christians

Mine, me, and no are important words in a child’s vocabulary and in the later life of most people in this post-fallen world. They coalesce into what psychologists call a self-concept, our own personal, but often semi-conscious definition of ourselves based on how others, especially our parents, describe us. Thus, we we tend to define ourselves by our appearance, our intelligence, our abilities, and our possessions as well as by our relationships with others and the way they look at us. A positive self-concept helps us feel good about ourselves; a negative self-concept makes us feel bad about … [Read more...]

Some Thoughts on The Serenity Prayer

Most of us will recognize the popular version of this prayer adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Perhaps, fewer people are aware of the following, longer version attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr in 1941 or 1942: God, give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, Courage to change the things which should be changed, And the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other. Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a … [Read more...]

Saint Anthony the Great’s Three Keys to the Spiritual Life

"I saw the snares that the enemy spreads out over the world and I said groaning, "What can get through from such snares?" Then I heard a voice saying to me, 'Humility.'" A brother said to Abba Anthony, "Pray for me." The old man said to him, " I will have no mercy upon you, nor will God have any, if you yourself do not make an effort and if you do not pray to God. The brothers praised a monk before Abba Anthony. When the monk came to see him, Anthony wanted to know how he would bear insults; and seeing that he could not bear them at all, he said to him, "You are like a village magnificently … [Read more...]