Friday, November 18, 2011

55 Maxims

by Fr Thomas Hopko

  1. Be always with Christ, and trust God in everything.
  2. Pray as you can, not as you think you must.
  3. Have a keepable rule of prayer, done by discipline.
  4. Say the Lord’s Prayer several times each day.
  5. Repeat a short prayer when your mind is not occupied.
  6. Make some prostrations when you pray.
  7. Eat good foods in moderation, and fast on fasting days.
  8. Practice silence: inner, and outer.
  9. Sit in silence 20 to 30 minutes each day.
  10. Do acts of mercy in secret.
  11. Go to liturgical services regularly.
  12. Go to confession, and holy communion regularly.
  13. Do not engage intrusive thoughts, and feelings.
  14. Reveal your thoughts, and feelings to someone regularly.
  15. Read the scriptures regularly.
  16. Read good books, a little at a time.
  17. Cultivate communion with the saints.
  18. Be an ordinary person, one of the human race.
  19. Be polite with everyone, first of all with family members.
  20. Maintain cleanliness, and order in your home.
  21. Have a healthy, wholesome hobby.
  22. Exercise regularly.
  23. Live a day, even a part of a day, at a time.
  24. Be totally honest, first of all with yourself.
  25. Be faithful in little things.
  26. Do your work, then forget it.
  27. Do the most difficult, and painful things first.
  28. Face reality.
  29. Be grateful.
  30. Be cheerful.
  31. Be simple, hidden, quiet, and small.
  32. Never bring attention to yourself.
  33. Listen when people talk to you.
  34. Be awake, and attentive, fully present where you are.
  35. Think, and talk about things no more than necessary.
  36. Speak simply, clearly, firmly, directly.
  37. Flee imagination, fantasy, analysis, figuring things out.
  38. Flee carnal, sexual things at their first appearance.
  39. Don’t complain, grumble, murmur, or whine.
  40. Don’t seek, or expect pity, or praise.
  41. Don’t compare yourself with anyone.
  42. Don’t judge anyone for anything.
  43. Don’t try to convince anyone of anything.
  44. Don’t defend, or justify yourself.
  45. Be defined, and bound by God, not by people.
  46. Accept criticism gracefully, and test it carefully.
  47. Give advice only when asked, or when it is your duty.
  48. Do nothing for people that they can, and should, do for themselves.
  49. Have a daily schedule of activities, avoiding whim, and caprice.
  50. Be merciful with yourself, and with others.
  51. Have no expectations, except to be fiercely tempted until your last breath.
  52. Focus exclusively on God, and light, and never on darkness, temptation, and sin.
  53. Patiently endure your faults, and sins peacefully, under God’s mercy.
  54. When you fall, get up immediately, and start over.
  55. Get help when you need it, without fear, or shame.

Two readings

From Daily Readings in Orthodox Spirituality (ed. P. Bouteneff, Templegate, 1996, 94 pp)

p 42 The Struggle and the Kingdom

Amma Theodora said, “Let us strive to enter through the narrow gate. Just as the trees, if they have not stood before the winter’s storms cannot bear fruit, so it is with us; the present age is a storm and it is only through many trials and temptations that we can obtain an inheritance in the kingdom of heaven.”

Amma Synclectica said, “Great endeavors and hard struggles await those who are converted, but afterwards inexpressible joy. If you want to light a fire, you are troubled at first by smoke, and your eyes water. But in the end you achieve your aim. Now it is written : ‘Our God is a consuming fire.’ So we must light the divine fire in us with tears and struggle.”

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p 43 Temptation and Humility

Abba Anthony said to Abba Poemen, “This is the great work of a man : always to take the blame for his own sins before God and to expect temptation to his last breath.”

He also said, “Whoever has not experienced temptation cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.” He even added, “Without temptations, no one can be saved.”

He also said, “I saw all the snares that the enemy spreads out over the world and I said groaning, ‘What can get one through such snares?’ Then I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Humility.’”

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

St John of Kronstadt

We must not return anger for anger, pride for pride; those who are angry or proud towards us we must pity as overcome by the flames of hell, and by spiritual death; we must pray for them from the depths of our hearts, that the Lord may take away the darkness from them, enlighten them by the light of his grace.