Family Life and Spiritual Warfare

Someone recently wrote me the following: Can you please give us a word regarding the topic of “how to overcome thoughts of pride in our hearts that inevitably come after labouring on good works for our families and people around us.” I have been struggling with that lately. How is it that we can reach a point where we don’t count and remember the good we have done for others? I would…

The Face of Disfigured Piety

I have been reflecting on some conversations I’ve had over the past little while in the light of my meditation on what Flannery O’Connor said about the face of good being grotesque because in human beings good is always something under construction.  (Please read my blog, “Good’s Disfigured Face,” before proceeding.) My meditation could be read to be suggesting that the only form of brokenness that we have to see past to…

Good’s Disfigured Face

Some of you know that I am a fan of 19th century English literature.  My favourites are Dickens, Hardy and Twain.  I haven’t much enjoyed 20th century fiction largely because I have found it too harsh, hopeless and often gratuitously salacious for my tastes.  However, a few years ago I became interested in a twentieth century Catholic novelist, Evelyn Waugh, particularly his novel Brideshead Revisited.  I was uncomfortable with the marital immorality…

Arguing

My bedtime reading these days has been the letters of Sts. Barsanuphius and John.  I enjoy reading these letters because they almost always send me to sleep with an edifying thought of practical spiritual wisdom.  In letters 540 and 541 the Saints are asked how one should deal with a conflict with a superior.  The specific situation is as follows: One of the Fathers of the community is accompanying a Brother on…

Two Rich Men

In the Gospel of Luke, we see Jesus interact with two rich men, but we are told that only one of them is saved as a result of their interaction.  The first, in chapter 18, is a ruler who asks Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life.  The second, in chapter 19, is a tax collector who seeks merely to see Jesus as he passes through the city.  Both men…

The Muskox Response To COVID-19

Last night I watched an episode of Dr. Oakley, Yukon Vet on Disney Plus.   It was about Dr. Oakley treating an muskox.  The episode is called, “One Angry Muskox.”  In order to treat this animal, they had to tranquilize it, but before they could tranquilize it, they had to separate it from the herd.  And the reason they had to separate it is what I want to talk about.  They had…

Self-Importance

St. Basil the Great, in letter 156, responds to a priest asking for advice and help to resolve a conflict between two parties—we don’t know whom or what the parties are.  St. Basil is asked to intervene in person, or at least by a letter.  St. Basil’s response to this priest instructs us on the spiritual disease of self-importance (which is what some Fathers refer to as self-esteem).   Self-importance is a tricky…

Love and Self Righteousness

Dear Holy Nativity Faithful, Last summer (2021) there were some pretty strict rules in place in the province of British Columbia, Canada, regarding masking and the number of people that could be in a church at the same time.  These rules loosened in the fall, but now the province is about to return to stricter rules, but now with a new twist. The new twist is this: if everyone in the church…

On Discernment

In the letters of Sts. Barsanuphius and John, there is an interesting exchange between a young zealous monk and St. John (letters 503 – 570).  In the first letter we find out that the young monk is upset with his spiritual father, who was also his cellmate,  because he eats and sleeps too much.  Apparently the spiritual father was eating three times a day, instead of once a day as was usual…

Assurance About The Vaccine?

I received the following email from someone, and I thought maybe others have the same questions.  So I thought I would share some of this email with you and my response to it.  This person wrote: (My edits are in square brackets.) I have been very confused and worried because of the controversy regarding the covid vaccine […. the bishop] has said we can choose to be vaccinated [or not], yet there…