“There are three people I take care of first: Me, Myself, and I!” With that, the man clearly showed his priority in his life – himself.
Let’s face it, while most of us aren’t as forthright as the gentleman above, we have to confess our behavior betrays our priorities. Whether we admit it or not, our own comfort, our own desires, our own priorities, beliefs, and wants, hold a strong position in our lives, perhaps even the most important position. To be sure, we want to avoid coming off as some self-centered, arrogant, bully. We don’t want others to think of us as selfish oafs. But subtly we work very hard to get our own way.
But this isn’t a “new” reality. It’s been part of humanity since the beginning, and it isn’t always a bad thing, but it is always a dangerous thing.
“Now let us have a little talk with Jesus, let us tell Him all about our troubles. He will hear us when we cry and He will answer by and by…” This old spiritual written by Clevant Derricks strikes a chord in my heart with it simple emphasis on prayer – “a little talk with Jesus.”
And that’s just what prayer is, a conversation between you and God. But it is so much more than that!
You see, the goal of the Christian life is to become like Christ. Orthodoxy calls this process of spiritual growth and maturity “theosis.” This recalls the words of St. Athanasius when he taught that God had become flesh so that we might become like God. This wisdom, this insight, is what enlivens all of Orthodox theology.
In the culture I was raised, your mother is the most important person in your life. Oh, don’t get me wrong, dad was just as important, but he was working, and it was mom that had the after-school snack ready for you when you got off the bus in the afternoon!
Of course that calls to mind the old saying “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.”
This brings me to a bit of confusion as to why there are so many who love and desire to follow Jesus that dismiss centuries of wisdom in the history of Christianity concerning the most important mother who has ever lived – Mary.
Some may argue that “well, this group went overboard” but even so, to ignore those that didn’t go overboard is going overboard in the other direction.
St. Germanos of Constantinople said: “The Church is the Earthly Heaven, in which the Heavenly God dwells and moves.” Find out why the Church is truly “heaven on earth” in this lecture by Metropolitan Kallistos Ware. Embedded below is Part II of a series on the “Inner Meaning of the Divine Liturgy,” originally presented in 2011 to the clergy of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Atlanta at the Diakonia Center in South…
I remember thinking “We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.” It was one of those moments in our journey to Orthodoxy that caused my soul to say “Aha.” A point of enlightenment about just how profound our newfound, and ancient faith was going to be for how I thought about faith. Our catechist had just said “we get what we need many times in life by going through the door of its opposite.”
It’s true, men don’t like following direction. This came home to me the other day as I was assembling a small table for our living room. There weren’t that many pieces and the assembly “seemed” straight forward so I dove right in. That is until I had to connect the last piece. It wouldn’t work. No matter how hard I tried to figure out how to make it work, it wasn’t going to happen until I disassembled most of what I’d already done to correct my failure to read the directions! It took me twice as long as it should have, not to mention my frustration (and embarrassment) on top of all this.
Most of life is this way. Our egos get ahead of wisdom and we find ourselves either having to backtrack and correct our error OR having to live with “poorly assembled” lives.
You see it in every restaurant bathroom you go to: “Employees must wash their hands before returning to work.” I’ve even seen detailed instructions in bathrooms as to how to wash one’s hands properly!
In 1546 Italian physician and scholar Girolamo Fracastoro first suggested that unseen “germs”were the cause of infectious diseases, and the idea that germs caused sickness. But they couldn’t “see” the germs, so it would be years later that this theory was proven accurate.
Over and over again, we’ve seen a spiritual correlation between our physical world and our spiritual lives. So, if physical disease is caused by unseen “germs” then there are spiritual diseases, illnesses of the soul that are also caused by small things that grow into big problems. AND, if we can be aware of these “small things” and get ahead of their “infection” in our soul, we can keep our spiritual lives healthy! But, of course, you have to regularly “wash your hands!”