Monday, March 27, 2006

From Unseen Warfare

"Each affliction has its own peculiarities and each requires its own
remedies; but I speak now about them in general, having in view their
common quality-to trouble and agitate the soul, and having in mind a
general remedy against them. This remedy is faith in the good
Providence, which arranges the course of our life with all its
accidental happenings, for the good of each of us, and a serene
compliance with God's will, expressed in our attitude, in accordance
with which we call from the bottom of our heart: Let God's will be
done! As the Lord wills, so let it be, and be for our good."

St. Theophan the Recluse and St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain, ch
27, Unseen Warfare (SVS Press, 1987/2000), p 155

Thursday, March 23, 2006

This Came From Me

You know, I get so worked up about the some people I know ... its because their arrows (and there are many arrows sent my way) hit a tender spot. I was reading today and found this essay which has really made me feel tranquil and not wanting to strike back in some way.


The Following Testament circulated widely in the Russian emigration during WWII, and came to us in America with the ever-memorable Archbishop John (Shahovskoy) who received it when he was Rector of the Russian Church on Nachodstrasse in Berlin. Not until the recent publication of the life of our Venerable Father Seraphim of Vyritsa was it attributed to one individual. Those who knew Staretz Seraphim believe it was written by him and addressed to an imprisoned hierarch.

This Came from Me

Did you ever realize that whatever concerns you concerns Me too? For what concerns you concerns the apple of My eye. You are dear in My sight, of great value, and you are My beloved; therefore, bringing you up is a task close to My heart. When trials confront you, if the enemy is approaching like a river, I want you to know that THIS CAME FROM ME, so that your frailty would be in need of My strength and that your security would be confined to your giving Me the possibility to fight for you.

Do you find yourself in difficult circumstances among people who don’t understand you, who have no consideration for what you like and don’t like, who push you aside? THIS CAME FROM ME. I am God, and I have arranged your circumstances. You didn’t find yourself by chance in your present situation: this is the situation I predetermined for you.

Didn’t you ask Me to teach you humility? I’ve immediately put you in that school where such a course is taught. Your surroundings and those living with you are fulfilling My will.

Do you find yourself in financial difficulties? Is it hard to make ends meet? THIS CAME FROM ME. I outfitted your purse. I want you to run to Me and be dependent on Me. My riches are inexhaustible; I want you to be certain of My faithfulness and My promises—so that you would not be able to say to yourself when in need, “You didn’t trust the Lord your God.”

Are you undergoing a night of sorrowing? THIS CAME FROM ME. I am the Man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. I allowed this so that you would turn to Me and could find everlasting comfort.

Were you let down by a friend to whom you had opened your heart about something? THIS CAME FROM ME. I arranged this disappointment for you so you would get to know that your best friend is the Lord. I want you to bring everything to Me and to trust Me.

Did someone slander you? Leave this matter to Me and cling more tightly to Me, your refuge. I will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday.

Were your plans wrecked? Are you wilted and tired in your soul? THIS CAME FROM ME. You put together your plans and brought them to Me to be blessed by Me. But I want you to leave it to Me to arrange your circumstances, and then the responsibility for everything will lie with me...for this is a little too much for you: you can’t fix everything yourself; you are an
instrument, not the main character.

Have you dreamt of doing something special for Me and, instead of that, found yourself lying in bed sick and weak? THIS CAME FROM ME. When you were buried in your work I couldn’t attract your thought to me, and I want you to be taught My deepest thoughts and your work to be about Me. I want you to learn to acknowledge that you are nothing. Some of My best coworkers are those who were cut off from outer activity in order for them to learn to be masters of unceasing prayer.

Have you been called upon to occupy a difficult and responsible position? Come, relying on Me. I entrust this difficulty to you. For this the Lord God blesses you in all your doings, in everything done by the labor of your hands. On that day I will give into your hands that vessel of holy Oil—My blessings:

use it freely, My child. Let every difficulty that comes up, every insulting word, every obstacle in your work that might give rise to feelings of disappointment in you, every revelation of your own impotence and incapability be anointed with that Oil. Remember that every obstacle is a Divine exhortation. Every sting becomes weak if you have been taught to see Me in everything that concerns you. Therefore, store up in your heart every word that I have made known to you today. I am not
giving you something empty, this is your life.”

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

My Love Language

The Five Love Languages
My primary love language is probably
Physical Touch
with a secondary love language being
Quality Time.

Complete set of results
Physical Touch: 12
Quality Time: 9
Words of Affirmation: 5
Acts of Service: 4
Receiving Gifts: 0

Unhappiness in relationships, according to Dr. Gary Chapman, is often due to the fact that we speak different love languages. Sometimes we don't understand our partner's requirements, or even our own. We all have a "love tank" that needs to be filled in order for us to express love to others, but there are different means by which our tank can be filled, and there are different ways that we can express love to others.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Today is Mom's Birthday

Today, my mother would have been 87 years old. I miss her. There is a sudden sharp pain I feel every morning when I wake up and remember she is dead. The pain is never ending, but at least I don't cry as much.

(Unknown poet)

Keep my memory with you,
For memories never die
I will be there with you,
When you look across the sky.

I will be there in the clouds,
In the birds that fill the air;
In the beauty of a fragrant rose,
You will find my memory there.

You will feel me in the tenderness,
Of a tiny baby's touch;
You will hear me if you listen,
In the twilight's gentle hush.

When your hearts are heavy,
And you feel that you are alone;
Just reach down deep inside of you,
For your heart is now my home.

I will always be with you,
I will never go away;
For I will live on in your hearts,
Forever and a day.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

What I'm Reading Now

Make me whole, O Lord, and I will become whole! O only wise and merciful Physician, I beseech Thy benevolence: heal the wounds of my soul and enlighten the eyes of my mind that I may understand my place in Thine eternal design! And inasmuch as my heart and mind have been disfigured, may Thy grace repair them, for it is as true salt.
What shall I say to Thee, O Knower of the heart who searchest the heart and the inner workings of men? Indeed, Thou knowest that, like a waterless land, my soul thirsts after Thee and my heart longs for Thee. And Thy grace has always sated those that love Thee. Thus, as Thou hast always heard me, so now do not scorn my prayer. For Thou seest that my mind, like a prisoner, seeks Thee, the Only true Savior.
Send Thy grace, that it may satisfy my hunger and quench my thirst. For insatiably do I desire Thee, O my Master! And who can have enough of Thee if he truly loves Thee and thirsts for Thy truth?
O Giver of light! Fulfill my supplications and grant me Thy gifts according to my prayer; impart to my heart just one drop of Thy grace, that the flame of Thy love may begin to burn in my heart; and, like a fire, may it consume evil thoughts like thorns and thistles!
Give me all this in abundance; grant it to me as God unto man, as the King to His subjects, and increase it as a kind Father.

St. Ephrem the Syrian

Who will not lament for me, who have renounced the eternal kingdom for the sake of meagre pleasures, ignoring the eternal fire? Having surrendered myself to the passions, I have destroyed the integrity of my soul and become like the unreasoning beasts.
At one time I found myself rich with gifts, but now I have come to love the poverty of the passions. I have become a stranger to the virtues and departed for the distant land of corruption. I am half dead; I have only a tiny remnant of life in me.
Because I am this way by mine own free choice, I cannot even raise mine eyes to the kindhearted Lord.
Lament, O blessed and righteous ones, for me who am caught in the embrace of passions and sin.
Lament, O ascetics, for me who am a glutton and voluptuary.
Lament, O merciful and condescending ones, for me who am hardhearted and cause much grief.
Lament, O God-pleasers, for me who strive to please men.
Lament, O ye who have attained meekness, for me who am irritable and wrathful.
Lament, O humble ones, for me who am pompous and arrogant.
Lament, O ye who have attained the non acquisitiveness of the apostles, for me who, burdened by my love for possessions, cling to material things.
Lament, O ye who have loved lamentation and hated laughter, for me who have loved laughter and hated lamentation.
Lament, ye who contemplate the judgement that will come after death, for me who affirm that I remember the judgement but act to the contrary.
Pray, O saints of God, for my soul which is convulsed by all manner of passions.
Inasmuch as you are able, help me, O saints of God. For I know that if you beseech God, the Lover of mankind, all will be granted you from the sea of His kindness. And, like our man-befriending God, so also when I, a sinner, beseech you, do not despise my supplication; for I have not the boldness to pray to Him myself because of the multitude of my sins.
Your role it is, O saints, to intercede for sinners; God's role it is to have mercy on those who despair.
O saints of God, pray to the King on behalf of the prisoner. Pray to the Pastor on behalf of the sheep. Pray to Life on behalf of the corpse, that He might lend His hand to aid me and strengthen my humble soul in its feebleness.

-By St. Ephrem the Syrian

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

I'm a One?

I'm a One? I wonder why I got a different result this time.

the Perfectionist
Test finished!
you chose CZ - your Enneagram type is ONE.

"I do everything the right way"

Perfectionists are realistic, conscientious, and principled. They strive to live up to their high ideals.

How to Get Along with Me

Take your share of the responsibility so I don't end up with all the work.

Acknowledge my achievements.

I'm hard on myself. Reassure me that I'm fine the way I am.

Tell me that you value my advice.

Be fair and considerate, as I am.

Apologize if you have been unthoughtful. It will help me to forgive.

Gently encourage me to lighten up and to laugh at myself when I get uptight, but hear my worries first.

What I Like About Being a One

being self-disciplined and able to accomplish a great deal

working hard to make the world a better place

having high standards and ethics; not compromising myself

being reasonable, responsible, and dedicated in everything I do

being able to put facts together, coming to good understandings, and figuring out wise solutions

being the best I can be and bringing out the best in other people

What's Hard About Being a One

being disappointed with myself or others when my expectations are not met

feeling burdened by too much responsibility

thinking that what I do is never good enough

not being appreciated for what I do for people

being upset because others aren't trying as hard as I am

obsessing about what I did or what I should do

being tense, anxious, and taking things too seriously

Ones as Children Often

criticize themselves in anticipation of criticism from others

refrain from doing things that they think might not come out perfect

focus on living up to the expectations of their parents and teachers

are very responsible; may assume the role of parent

hold back negative emotions ("good children aren't angry")

Ones as Parents

teach their children responsibility and strong moral values

are consistent and fair

discipline firmly

Renee Baron & Elizabeth Wagele

The Enneagram Made Easy
Discover the 9 Types of People
HarperSanFrancisco, 1994, 161 pages

You liked the test? so please RATE it...
but remember! it had only two questions!!! ;-)


You are not completely happy with the result?!
You chose CZ

Would you rather have chosen:





My test tracked 2 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:

You scored higher than 0% on ABC

You scored higher than 0% on XYZ

Link: The Quick and Painless ENNEAGRAM Test written by felk on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

Friday, March 03, 2006


Yesterday, I couldn't find the shoes I wanted to wear. In this nice new house, I've got a huge walk-in closet, and a huge box of shoes, and I took every shoe out of that box but didn't find the ones I wanted to wear. Oh no! They must be in the dreaded garage! Who had time to sort through a hundred boxes to find them, so I wore my usual black suede slip on tennies.

I got to thinking about this last night while I was surfing the web. I need to declutter. I have too much of everything. Too many shoes. Too many clothes, too many books. Too much food. Too much ME. Too many distractions. Too much arrogance.

I think that in some ways, decluttering is a spiritual exercise. Its cutting away the unessential, which by definition, leaves the good, the necessary, the valued, the truth. Decluttering is something that I've put off for far too long - why is that? One of my worst traits is procrastination, but I don't think that pure laziness is the reason. When I look at all the things I accomplish in a week, say, and how busy I am, I realize that I am far from lazy. There must be a fear that makes me put off doing certain tasks - sometimes even tasks that I love.

I've been thinking about decluttering and how it relates to fear... What came to mind was, what if I strip everything away that needs to be stripped away, and there is nothing left? What if there is no ME underneath all the roles I play and stuff I do and stuff I have? But that would provide an opportunity to invent the me I'd like to be, so that's not SO very fearsome. What if I don't like what is left? What if its ugly? What if I don't want to be that person and never even knew that I was? Just typing that out makes me uncomfortable. So, that's the fear.

But, Great Lent begins with the Rite of Forgiveness in just a couple of days. During that service, we will all forgive each other for what we have done and what we have failed to do all year long. Its not rote - far from it - I am deeply, deeply moved each year, particularly when I come face to face with the people I love most who I have also wronged most, especially my daughter. We neglect and rail at and misuse those we love most, don't we? What strange beasts humans are!

This year, in addition to asking forgiveness of my daughter and of my brothers and sisters in Christ, I am also going to ask forgiveness of myself in my heart, and then get to the work of decluttering -- me. I hope I find something of value while I'm at it.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Sayings of Elder Ioann

On February 5, the day of commemoration of the Synaxis of New-martyrs and Confessors of Russia, Elder Ioann Krestiankin, at age 95 the oldest monastic of the Pskov Caves Monastery, and its spiritual director, an Elder fervently loved by all, reposed. He died several minutes after communing of the Holy Gifts of Christ. We present here to the readers of Parish Life instructions excerpted from three of Fr. Ioann’s letters to spiritual children:

Did you know that you do not get down from the Cross? You are taken down from it. And your Cross, if you courageously carry it to the end, will yield great spiritual fruit, transforming your soul, and nourishing your loved ones as well. The great difficulty is that the enemy of all mankind, who is irritated by your charitable acts of compassion, the beginnings of love, intensely opposes everything [you do]. And recognizing the machinations of the enemy, we do not have the strength or the skill to oppose him. Yet that is what we must do.

No one has ever found it painless to carry and ascend his Cross. Yet without the Cross, we cannot see Christ. We choose the Cross but once, and the rest of life is lived with what opportunity that Cross offers us.

No matter where we might go, our Cross will get no lighter. External sorrows may abate for a time, but it is then that inner ones, even more heavy and profound sorrows pile up on us.