The last post, from my mother Colleen. She said she was "a little sad" to see it end, and I agree! I wish you all a blessed Holy Week and a most joyous Pascha.
My spiritual father once described the Church as a hospital where we come for the healing of our souls, and I have also discovered a similar theme as I’ve read words from the Church fathers and mothers. At any given time, any one of the members of Christ’s body may find himself in the role of either doctor or patient in this hospital, and therefore could be either a giver of help, or a recipient. So what’s the big deal with simply asking for help when you need it?
Giving help seems to be much easier for me than receiving it. It may be the Mom in me, who is used to making everything better. (That reason is more or less acceptable in my self-evaluation.) But a more likely motive is the one that has been weaving in and out of the previous forty maxims, preventing them from becoming established in my life, and glaring at me as I learn more about myself through my Lenten journey. When I decide not to seek help because it might alter my reputation as a competent individual, I know that pride is still actively at work in my decision-making process.
God has given us the Church because He knows our needs, and in ministering to one another we become vessels of His grace and mercy. During these forty days I have been humbled to find myself in need of the help and wisdom of others, and have been the recipient of the healing power of their prayers. And this very discussion of Forty Maxims has blessed me through your observations and words: I have felt convicted of sin, comforted in my pain, and blessed by the joy of your faith. You all have given me more help during this season of Great Lent than you will ever know.
God has given us the gift of fellow believers to advise, encourage, inspire, challenge, and bear witness to the Truth. May we in humility seek the help of our spiritual family as an extension of seeking help from our Lord Himself.
Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)
Friday, April 18, 2008
The Forty Maxims
- 1. Be always with Christ and trust God in everything.
- 2. Pray, fast and do acts of mercy.
- 3. Read the Scriptures regularly.
- 4. Read good books, a little at a time.
- 5. Practice silence, inner and outer.
- 6. Cultivate communion with the saints.
- 7. Be an ordinary person, one of the human race.
- 8. Live a day, even a part of a day, at a time.
- 9. Be honest, first of all with yourself.
- 10. Be faithful in little things.
- 11. Do your work, then forget it.
- 12. Do the most difficult and painful things first.
- 13. Face reality.
- 14. Be grateful.
- 15. Be cheerful.
- 16. Be simple, hidden, quiet and small.
- 17. Never bring unnecessary attention to yourself.
- 18. Listen when people talk to you.
- 19. Be awake and attentive, fully present where you are.
- 20. Think and talk about things no more than necessary.
- 21. Speak simply, clearly, firmly, directly.
- 22. Flee imagination, fantasy, analysis.
- 23. Flee carnal things at their first appearance.
- 24. Don’t complain, grumble, murmur or whine.
- 25. Don’t seek or expect pity or praise.
- 26. Don’t compare yourself with anyone.
- 27. Don’t judge anyone for anything.
- 28. Don’t try to convince anyone of anything.
- 29. Don’t defend or justify yourself.
- 30. Be defined and bound by God, not people.
- 31. Accept criticism gracefully and test it carefully.
- 32. Give advice only when asked or when it is your duty.
- 33. Be strict with yourself.
- 34. Be merciful with yourself and others.
- 35. Do nothing for people that they can do for themselves.
- 36. Have a healthy, wholesome hobby.
- 37. Have no expectations except to be fiercely tempted to your last breath.
- 38. Endure the trial of yourself and your faults serenely, under God’s mercy.
- 39. When you fall, get up immediately and start over.
- 40. Get help when you need it, without fear or shame.