Friday, July 30, 2010

Sacred Reading

One of the most challenging tasks assigned to a parish Priest is found in an oath made during the “Liturgy for the ordering of Priests.” The oath to which I refer says the following:

Will you then give your faithful diligence always so to minister the Doctrine and Sacraments, and the Discipline of Christ, as the Lord hath commanded, and as this Church hath received the same, according to the Commandments of God; so that you may teach the people committed to your Cure and Charge with all diligence to keep and observe the same?

The answer given by the priest to be is: I will so do, by the help of the Lord. Doing this however seems to consume much of a diligent priest’s time, thanks be to God that we are not left to our own devices. There are a great many tools and helps in the accomplishment of this task. In my search for helps that pass on the teaching of the church “As this Church hath received the same,” I have found few as valuable as "Touchstone Magazine". When asked for reading material, I usually commend this magazine to all in my parish. The following link will take you to previous issues that may be read in part or in their entirety.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

On The Incarnation

One of the most important books ever written in the history of Christianity is a work by Athanasius the Great titled “On the Incarnation”. This work, along with several other must read books, is available as a free download in audio format at the Maria Lectrix website. The following link will direct you to the download page:

Happy Listening!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Living With God pt 2

The last 30 maxims are as follows:

  1. Do your work, then forget it

  2. Do the most difficult and painful things first

  3. Face reality

  4. Be grateful

  5. Be cheerful

  6. Be simple, hidden, quiet and small

  7. Never bring attention to yourself

  8. Listen when people talk to you

  9. Be awake and attentive, fully present where you are

  10. Think and talk about things no more than necessary

  11. Speak simply, clearly, firmly, directly

  12. Flee imagination, fantasy, analysis, figuring things out

  13. Flee carnal, sexual things at their first appearance

  14. Don’t complain, grumble, murmur or whine

  15. Don’t seek or expect pity or praise

  16. Don’t compare yourself with anyone

  17. Don’t judge anyone for anything

  18. Don’t try to convince anyone of anything

  19. Don’t defend or justify yourself

  20. Be defined and bound by God, not people

  21. Accept criticism gracefully and test it carefully

  22. Give advice only when asked or when it is your duty

  23. Do nothing for people that they can and should do for themselves

  24. Have a daily schedule of activities, avoiding whim and caprice

  25. Be merciful with yourself and others

  26. Have no expectations except to be fiercely tempted to your last breath

  27. Focus exclusively on God and light, and never on darkness, temptation and sin

  28. Endure the trial of yourself and your faults serenely, under God’s mercy

  29. When you fall, get up immediately and start over

  30. Get help when you need it, without fear or shame
  • Maxim 26-30 address the pride of our attitudes about reality, they help us to deal with whole of creation as it really is; life is usually not easy and takes work, but we are warned not to allow our work to shape our whole life; we are encouraged to take on the tough things first because the easy will take care of themselves; we are then helped to see these things as good gifts from God.
  • Maxims 31-39 teach us to face our pride and to put ourselves in our place: not to aggrandize ourselves inappropriately, & to give others equal time, we are instructed to live in reality & not in the fantasies that clutter our moment by moment thoughts.
  • Maxims 40-55 point us to the Christ-like life of self-emptying; a life of trial and testing focused on the good of others at our expense.

Each of these maxims is worthy of deep study, & the reason is because they sum up within each one of them a large amount of Christian truth & piety. How wise it would be to take this way of lie, make it our own, & then pass it on to those who come after us. This is the wisdom of the church placed into daily life!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Living with God pt-1

This is part 1 of 2 posts that will consider Christian spirituality practiced by way of maxims. A “maxim” is a general rule that applies in almost every case in life. Thus, a Christian maxim is not something one is able to formulate unless one has invested a great amount of time to observe life, and an equal amount of time having practiced living with God. I have selected these maxims from Fr. Thomas Hopko’s “55 maxims for Christian living”. As you consider each maxim you will note that Fr. Hopko must have dedicated much of his life to living with God.


  1. Be always with Christ and trust God in everything

  2. Pray as you can, not as you think you must

  3. Have a keepable rule of prayer done by discipline

  4. Say the Lord’s Prayer several times each day

  5. Repeat a short prayer when your mind is not occupied

  6. Make some prostrations (or kneel) when you pray

  7. Eat good foods in moderation and fast on fasting days

  8. Practice silence, inner and outer

  9. Sit in silence 20 to 30 minutes each day

  10. Do acts of mercy in secret

  11. Go to liturgical services regularly

  12. Go to confession and holy communion regularly

  13. Do not engage intrusive thoughts and feelings

  14. Reveal all your thoughts and feelings to a trusted person regularly

  15. Read the scriptures regularly

  16. Read good books, a little at a time

  17. Cultivate communion with the saints

  18. Be an ordinary person, one of the human race

  19. Be polite with everyone, first of all family members

  20. Maintain cleanliness and order in your home

  21. Have a healthy, wholesome hobby

  22. Exercise regularly

  23. Live a day, even a part of a day, at a time

  24. Be totally honest, first of all with yourself

  25. Be faithful in little things


  • Fr. Hopko’s 1st maxim is a summation of all of his maxims; it serves as an all around rule for life at all times and in all situations. It is that thought to which we turn moment by moment.

  • Maxims 2-6 address our prayer practices, they are simple yet powerful: pray as you can, have a rule for praying, pray instead of daydreaming, introduce your body into your prayers.

  • Maxims 7-11 take us into the ascetic life that every Christian needs, not to earn points with God, but to force our bodies into submission to love rather than selfishness. (8-9 are particularly hard for us westerners)

  • Maxims 12 -19 connects the God who dwells in us to the God in the world outside of us (seen and unseen): attend liturgy, confess to another, read the words of others thru whom God has spoken, cultivate a relationship with those in whom God dwells- living and deceased, just be a normal person without making yourself out to be so special.

  • Then maxims 20-25 address a healthy and honest mind: cleanliness, order, and exercise, live in the here and now, practice full honesty, do as you said and as those who trust you expect.

Christian spirituality does not take a PHD to understand, it is very simple, however, just one attempt at living with these maxims that make God's presence in us visible will quickly reveal just how much we need to be rescued from ourelves. Try it!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Are You Spiritual?


My critique then of the three prominent forms of evangelical spirituality, is simply this: they all situate spirituality the self. “I keep the rules”; “I know God in a system of thought”; “I had a born again experience”. In contrast, historic Spirituality situates spirituality in the story of the Triune God, who creates, became incarnate, took my humanity up into his, entered suffering by the cross, and rose from the grave. God drew me up into himself, and did for me what I could not do. He Himself restored my union with Himself. Now having been baptized into that great mystery, I contemplate God’s work for me and the whole world, and I participate in God’s purposes for the world revealed in Jesus Christ. Spirituality is a gift, and the spiritual life is a surrendered life. (The Divine Embrace, Robert Webber)


The spirituality that came into existence as the consequences of post-Augustinian thought are as follows: a spirituality of legalism (keeping rules), a spirituality of the intellect (building a theological mind), and a spirituality of personal experience (my relationship with Jesus). Dr. Webber’s observations get to the core problem produced by dualistic Post-Augustinian thought. He points out that the consequence of dualism is to separate God and man. Even in our spirituality, the west turns all its focus on the one doing, or practicing the spirituality, rather than towards God who is Spirit. Note his summary of these systems: “I keep the rules”; “I know God in a system of thought”; “I had a born again experience”. This falls hard on our western psyche, because it exposes our incredible overdevelopment of self-centeredness.

In pre-Augustinian spirituality we find an outward-focused spirituality (extra nos), namely a God-focused spirituality. Consider the way that Dr. Webber identifies the earlier forms of spirituality: God drew me up into himself, God did for me what I could not do, God Himself restored my union with Himself. The focus then is this: because God drew, God did, and God restored, this causes me to respond by contemplating Him and His love for us, and yes even me. As a result of this contemplation, my heart and mind are raised up to Him. As a consequence of this, a desire grows within me to live in His present work, and therefore I surrender myself, I take the gift which is Himself, and deliver Him to the world. This spirituality faces outward; yet, it does not leave me out of the mix, instead, it wraps me up in Him, & as it does so I am launched out into the world. That is Apostolic spirituality!