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...]

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...]

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...]

Thanks for everything

Praying Old Man

Get this scene: A monk sits on a train. A fellow passenger approaches and offers him a cigarette. Monks aren’t much known to smoke, but this monk was once a soldier and gratefully accepts the gift.Holding the slender item, the monk suggests to his benefactor that they should make the sign of the cross before they smoke. The man is torn. Isn’t it, he asks, improper to make the sign of the cross before smoking?The monk answers that if an activity doesn’t square with the sign of the cross … [Read more...]

One trait every Christian leader needs

St. John the Baptist

Line up Moses, King David, the Apostle Paul, and John the Baptist, and you will see leaders who had countless differing characteristics and personality traits. You’ll also find that they shared several in common, one being humility.Moses stood up to Pharaoh and led the Israelites out of slavery, yet the scriptures speak of Moses as being “very meek, more than all the people who were on the face of the earth.”David reigned over the unified kingdom and led his people to one victory after a … [Read more...]

Remember why we work

Remember why we work

They call it a “livelihood” or “making a living” for a reason. Mostly because of the money we earn, but also because of the energies we expend, the sacrifices we make, and the lessons we learn, we depend upon on our work for life. We also resent it sometimes, maybe a lot. (Just typing those words brings to mind the lyrics of David Allan Coe’s most popular song.)Resenting our work is the result of our forgetfulness, according to the Serbian priest and monk Thaddeus of Vitovnica. While speaking … [Read more...]


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