Fear and the stories we tell ourselves

'Quiet the thoughts'

We live in a bramble of innumerable fears. We have anxiety about our families, worry about our jobs, concern about our futures. More the fruit of imagination than actuality, these fears can bud and grow in our minds until we are entangled and entrapped.Our creatureliness explains why we find ourselves enmeshed in this thicket. As creatures, we are self-protective. Vulnerable to life’s vicissitudes, we face a future with a million possibilities, some of them dangerous and threatening. Natural r … [Read more...]

Where we turn to model our lives

Luke the Evangelist 'writing' Mary

According to tradition, the first icon-painter in the Church was the evangelist Luke, and the first icon he painted was of Mary. This is a big deal, so, naturally, there’s an icon of it. In that icon of an icon Mary stands with the baby Jesus to the side, while Luke sits, studies, and paints. I was reminded of this image when reading something in a letter from Basil about models for Christian living.Basil’s point is that we should look to the Scriptures for examples of Christian virtues, to … [Read more...]

Marriage and the sacrament of joint checking

Money

Marriage has the power to make you better or worse as a person, and nothing proves the point as quickly as money.You can become the very worst version of yourself while looking over bank statements with your spouse. (Been there.) Disagreements and rifts build over issues like overspending, hidden habits, unequal responsibilities, and overwhelming debt. No surprise that financial discord is at the root of many divorces. But what if a bank statement could make you the best version of yourself, … [Read more...]

Making our castle part of God’s kingdom

Even the laundry room is God's

G.K. Chesterton said that a person’s house is the one place in the world where they can still be unruly and do whatever they please.A homeowner “can put the carpet on the ceiling and the slates on the floor if he wants to,” said Chesterton, and barring modern contrivances like neighborhood covenants and restrictions, that’s still about right.In the streets, there are the police. At work, there is the boss. But at home, there is just you. Don’t forget the connection between the words domesti … [Read more...]

The slow-drip destruction of sin

One drop at a time

The Christian walk is strewn with snares and pitfalls, many of which are placed in our way by the enemy. “No one who has experienced the conflicts of the inner man,” says Abbot Serenus, a fourth century desert father, “can doubt that our foes are continually lying in wait for us.” The devil wants us to fail and fall.But the devil has little power that we do not cede to him. As Serenus says, the devil can only encourage us to do evil, not force us. “[N]o one can be deceived by the devil but one … [Read more...]

Trusting God’s messy providence

Into the tangle

If your week hasn’t gone according to plan, this post is for you. Come to think of it, if your life hasn’t gone according to plan, this post is for you.St. Paul offers the Romans (and us) an extremely comforting thought when he tells them that God works all things for our good. Probably most of us believe that, cling to it in fact. We’re just mystified about how he goes about doing it.Look at Joseph’s story. God used him to save Egypt from famine and, by extension, the fledging nation of Is … [Read more...]

Into the hands of a loving God

The Heart of the Good Shepherd

On July 8, 1741, Jonathan Edwards preached his most famous sermon and probably the most famous American sermon ever, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” The sermon portrays God suspending sinners over the fires of hell with only his arbitrary good pleasure preventing their drop to eternal torment.Edwards paints a frighteningly vivid picture to provoke his listeners to self-reflection, fear, and repentance. “The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some … [Read more...]

Steve Jobs and the false hope of our time

Steve Jobs

Two events happened last Monday that stand juxtaposed for me: Steve Jobs announced that he was taking a medical leave absence from Apple, and a priest at our parish, Fr. Seraphim, died.While journalists and pundits frantically asked and answered questions about the health of Jobs and the future of his company, writer Andy Crouch reframed the entire story around the unlikely subject of hope. “As remarkable as Steve Jobs is in countless ways,” he said, “his most singular quality has been his a … [Read more...]

3 approaches to dealing with grief

Dark Day of the Soul

What do you do when you lose someone, when tragedy and misfortune befall your family? Pat answers will not serve a suffering heart, but there are helpful patterns for response after one’s private world collapses.When Nectarius, the future bishop of Constantinople, and his wife lost their son, their friend St. Basil wrote to consol them. He penned individual letters to father and mother both, tuned to their particular pain. These tender notes remain touching and edifying almost sixteen and a h … [Read more...]

Go ahead and live badly

Coming up short

Perhaps the most tiresome complaint about Christians is that they are hypocrites.Just typing the word makes me yawn. Yes, some professed believers are sanctimonious. Yes, some are false. Yes, some are even manipulative. But most are like me; they are garden-variety moral losers. And how boring is that?The majority of complaints about supposed hypocrisy are really complaints about moral weakness and failure, something that plagues everyone. Can it be any other way? Jesus tells us in … [Read more...]

Don’t change boats, change yourself

Don't change boats

Ever feel like a change in circumstances would make life easier? You’re not alone.Basil wanted to find a place where it was quiet, where he could leave behind the craziness and commotion of life and focus on his relationship with God. (Sound familiar?) So he moved from the city to the country, hoping to still the waters and lower the noise. But it didn’t work. Quieter circumstances failed to quiet his mind.“[W]e have derived no great benefit from our present solitude,” Basil wrote to a … [Read more...]

Bonhoeffer’s blessed sign

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I’ve been dipping in an out of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison and was surprised to discover that he used the sign of the cross in his daily prayers.In a letter from November 21, 1943, he says this: “I’ve found that following [Martin] Luther’s instruction to ‘make the sign of the cross’ at our morning and evening prayers is in itself most useful. There is something objective about it. . . .”Growing up, I always understood the sign of the cross to be empty superstitio … [Read more...]


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X