Wednesday, December 31, 2008

another time around the block

Somewhere I read (I think it was on Fr. Stephen's blog) that you should take things slowly when reading about Orthodox spirituality. I find it almost impossible to read slowly, so I try to make up for it by reading repeatedly. I'm heading back through St. Theophan's The Spiritual Life for a second pass, and I was brought up short again by the same letter as before.

Almost two and a half years ago, I was a recovering progressive, and St. Theophan's 19th-c. remarks on such persons were just what I needed. Today, my politics are in a rather different place, but there's more wisdom for me to deal with in letter #16:
Just exactly what is to be done? Nothing in particular, just that which presents itself to each one according to the circumstances of his life, and which is demanded by the individual events with which each of us meets. That is all. God arranges the lot of each person, and the entire course of life of each one is also His all-good industry, as is each moment and each meeting. . . . Is someone seeking help? Help him. Has someone offended you? Forgive him. Have you offended somebody? Rush to ask forgiveness and make peace. Did somebody praise you? Don't be proud. Did somebody scold you? Do not be angry. Is it time to pray? Pray. Is it time to work? Work. Etc., etc., etc. If, after all of this has been explained, you set about to act in this way in every instance, so that your works will be pleasing to God, having carried them out according to the commandments without any deviation, then all the problems of your life will be solved completely and satisfactorily.

So simple to say, so hard to do with a stubborn, self-willed heart. Lord, have mercy!


  1. I followed the link to your 'recovering progressive' post--thanks for calling my attention to that passage in St Theophan!

  2. Good quote.