That Which is Bread

Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? – Isaiah

Month: November, 2012

The Terrible Silence

Shared from Matushka Constantina’s Lessons from a Monastery blog:

Documentary on Polish Archimandrite.


Something else that had a big impact on me was at the end when the Archimandrite is asked, “Father, is it easy being a hermit in our times?” And Archimandrite Gabriel answers with an example. Three young men came to stay with him to see if they might be called to live the monastic life. The first lasted only 6 hours. The second stayed one day, but by 2:30AM his bags were packed and he was ready to leave. The third managed to stay 2 days, but was also ready to leave by 5:30AM. When the hermit asked them the reason they did not want to stay they all gave the same answer. Can you guess? I did. It was the silence. “The terrible silence.” They couldn’t handle it.

And this leads me to ask myself, and you can ask yourself, could you handle the silence? If not, what are we doing wrong and how can we change our dependency on noise?

Spiritual Sunbathing

A few months ago I visited Nativity of the Theotokos Monastery in Saxonburg, PA, to venerate a myrrh-streaming icon of the Mother of God that was visiting there. When the crowds of clergy, monastics and pilgrims had thinned a bit, I was able to spend some time sitting in the back of the small monastery church, not consciously praying, just taking in the presence of this holy icon in this holy place. Afterward I described this to our priest, a bit whimsically, as “spiritual sunbathing.” The metaphor reminded me of this well-known passage from St Basil the Great’s On the Holy Spirit (ch. 9, 22–23):

Like the sunshine, which permeates all the atmosphere, spreading over land and sea, and yet is enjoyed by each person as though it were for him alone, so the Spirit pours forth his grace in full measure, sufficient for all, and yet is present as though exclusively to everyone who can receive him. To all creatures that share in him he gives a delight limited only by their own nature, not by his ability to give. As clear, transparent substances become very bright when sunlight falls on them and shine with a new radiance, so also souls in whom the Spirit shines become spiritual themselves and a source of grace for others.

Read the rest of this entry »

Seek First

If there is one overarching debasement of the Christian vision in our days, it is the loss of a constant gaze upon the future life of man in the Kingdom… While the Christian may often acknowledge the Kingdom, may even speak of its attainment and its nature, how rarely today does an orientation of all life and living around and toward the Kingdom actually manifest itself, even among the baptized. Rather, the Kingdom of God is often taken as a kind of “backdrop” by which one can give a Christian flavor to the present. “I shall do such-and-such now, because such an act is loving, and the Kingdom of God is a kingdom of love.” Or, “I shall seek this good now, rather than that, because God’s Kingdom focuses on such aims.” It is not that there is no nobility in such reflections (certainly, they are better than a view which takes no account at all of the Kingdom); but the Christian life demands more than this. Christ does not say, “When you consider this life, remember the Kingdom and so let it inform what you seek.” Rather, He commands: Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. Only after He has given this sole and primary focus to Christian endeavor, does He add: and all these things will be added unto you.

— Archimandrite Irenei, The Beginning of a Life of Prayer pp.23-24

Archimandrite Irenei’s book is short but intense. Available from St. Herman Press. Emphasis added.