Wisdom…


The one thing needful
(From the spiritual diary of St. John of Kronstadt, “My Life in Christ”)

What do I need? There is nothing on earth that I need, except that which is most essential. What do I need, what is most essential? I need the Lord, I need His grace, His kingdom within me. On earth, which is the place of my wanderings, my temporary being, there is nothing that is truly mine, everything belongs to God and is temporal, everything serves my needs temporarily. What do I need? I need true and active Christian love; I need a loving heart which takes compassion on its neighbors; I need joy over their prosperity and well-being, and sorrow over their sorrows and illnesses, their sins, failings, disorders, woes, poverty; I need warm and sincere compassion for all the circumstances of their lives, joy for those who are joyous and tears for those who are in tears. Enough of selfishness, egoism, living only for oneself and acquiring everything only for oneself: riches, pleasures, the glory of this world; enough of spiritual dying instead of living, grieving instead of rejoicing, and carrying within oneself the poison of selfishness, for selfishness is a poison that is continuously poured into our hearts by Satan. O, let me cry out with King David: Whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides Thee. My flesh and my heart fail, but God is the strength of my heart. Grant me, O Lord, true life, dispel the darkness of my passions, disperse their power with Thy strength, for with Thee all things are possible!

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We Live in a Culture…


of anecdote, a life lived away from a larger narrative. Yet a larger narrative is a kind of stability that keeps us from faddishness, from having our lives jerked from one compelling but temporary story to another. It’s very hard to live a life of all exceptions and no rules, a life of individual moments without a larger explanation.

We live in a world of human drift because a story that feels good at a particular place in time might not have the wisdom, the strength, and the insight to last, leaving the one who lives it constantly on the move from one unsatisfying narrative to another. Left unchecked it can give birth to a world weary cynicism, a life where one believes nothing because everything else has failed to be enduring.

In this sad place there is, however, an invitation. Restless hearts can find a rest in God if they listen to their cynicism and emptiness and hear within it the call to a larger and more enduring story. Anecdotes come and go, truth remains, and Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

Psalm 16…


Psalm 16

Keep me safe, O God,
for in you I take refuge.
I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
apart from you I have no good thing.”
As for the saints who are in the land,
they are the glorious ones in whom is all my delight.
The sorrows of those will increase
who run after other gods.
I will not pour out their libations of blood
or take up their names on my lips.
Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup;
you have made my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
I have set the Lord always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
because you will not abandon me to the grave,
nor will you let your Holy One see decay.
You have made known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Words of Comfort…


Psalm 27

Of David.

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?

When the wicked advance against me
to devour[a] me,
it is my enemies and my foes
who will stumble and fall.
Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then I will be confident.

One thing I ask from the Lord,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
and set me high upon a rock.

Then my head will be exalted
above the enemies who surround me;
at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the Lord.

Hear my voice when I call, Lord;
be merciful to me and answer me.
My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
Your face, Lord, I will seek.
Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn your servant away in anger;
you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
God my Savior.
10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
the Lord will receive me.
11 Teach me your way, Lord;
lead me in a straight path
because of my oppressors.
12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
spouting malicious accusations.

13 I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.

Wise Words…


On Despair by St. John of Kronstadt

Never despair in God’s mercy by whatever sins you may have been bound by the temptation of the Devil, but pray with your whole heart, with the hope of forgiveness; knock at the door of God’s mercy and it shall be opened unto you. I, a simple priest, am an example for you: however I may sometimes sin by the action of the Devil, for instance, by enmity towards a brother, whatever the cause may be, even though it may be a right cause, and I myself become thoroughly disturbed and set my brother against me, and unworthily celebrate the Holy Sacrament, not from willful neglect, but by being myself unprepared, and by the action of the Devil; yet, after repentance, the Lord forgives all, and everything, especially after the worthy communion of the Holy Sacrament: I become white as snow, or as a wave of the sea, by the blood of Christ; the most heavenly peace dwells in my heart; it becomes light, so light, and I feel beatified. Then, indeed, I forget all troubles, anxieties, and the oppression of the enemy, I become entirely renewed, and as though risen from the dead. Do not then despair, brethren, whatever sins you may have committed, only repent find confess them with a contrite heart and humble spirit. Glory, O Lord, to Thy mercy! Glory, O Lord, to Thy long-suffering and forbearance!

You’re not invited to the party…


not the Republican, the Democrat, Libertarian, Communist, or any of them. None of them will completely capture the fullness of Christianity.

You see, if you choose to be an observant Christian, you are, in fact, a kind of monarchist. Now it’s not the monarchy of say the British royals with all the uniforms, fancy cars, and shopping mall openings. That, like all the other pomp and circumstances that come with the kingdoms of this world, is just that, a spectacle for the sake of power, a pseudo liturgy for the kingdoms of this world.

No, you’ve chosen to ally yourself with Jesus, to make him a king not like the world makes kings but rather for the sake of love. He invites you to belong to a Kingdom, to be citizens, not simply of a nation that may or may not be here with the tides of history, but of eternity where the things we humans seek are found not with endless bureaucracies but simply in His presence.

This Kingdom, for the observant Christian, becomes, out of love, the first loyalty, the true nation, and the ultimate destination of the world. It’s precepts live within us in this world but come from beyond it and stand in critique of every other human attempt to organize ourselves, even those which are seen as just.

That doesn’t mean we don’t “taint” ourselves with the affairs of this world or absent ourselves from its workings. What we have to offer as followers of Christ is valuable for the common good and often is the only sanity in the crazy swirl of things. We give allegiances, honor human authority, and seek the best for the places in which we find ourselves along our journey.

Yet it’s not ultimate loyalty, not ultimate involvement. No country, no politician, no political party, owns our soul. None deserves our ultimate allegiance. We can and should be good citizens but we know that we belong to something more, a Kingdom where the humble and often maligned Christ already rules, a Kingdom that is destined to be the ultimate reality of the universe as we know it.

It’s that Kingdom which comes first, last and always, and everything less, no matter how good it can be, is still just that, less.