Tuesday, March 3, 2009

2. Pray, fast and do acts of mercy.

From Calise in Los Angeles:

Hello Ladies! I am so glad we’re doing this again!

I have loved listening to some of Father Thomas Hopko’s Podcasts. Jonathan & I were even able to see him speak this year. Anyway, he has a podcast about his 55 maxims (he splits them up a little differently), and I love what he has to say about all of them. Some are more self-explanatory than others, but here is the link to the podcast if anyone is interested.

His wisdom is my jumping-off point.

Prayer:


I am still very much working on my discipline in this area! But Father Hopko has some wonderful things to say on the subject. His thoughts have helped me to focus my energy on the simple things in prayer. My priest encourages me to have attainable goals with my rule of prayer, so I don’t get too easily discouraged.

•Pray as God inspires you to pray.

•Have a keepable rule of prayer that you do by discipline.

•Say the Lord’s Prayer several times a day.

•Have a short prayer that you say whenever your mind is not occupied with other things, in order to have remembrance of God in one’s life & heart throughout the day . . . ”Lord have mercy”, the Jesus prayer etc.

•Prostrate, kneel down, use your body during one’s prayers. Saint Ephraim said, “if your body is not praying, you’re not really praying.” Prayer is not just an activity of the mind and heart; it’s an activity of the whole person.

•Practice Silence, inner & outer silence. Turn everything off, spend a few minutes a day to open one’s self up to God, watch the thoughts that come, and turn them over to God.

Fasting:

Father Hopko simply says Eat foods that are good for you and eat them in moderation. Take care of your body and don’t over-eat. He also says to fast as the Church prescribes and to fast in private!

Food in general has always been a struggle for me, and fasting is no exception. I mean, who likes to deprive themselves of things? But I have found that when I am deprived of the foods I love for a while, I enjoy them even more when I have them again. It does build our spiritual character to take part in the weekly & the great fasts! So even if we don’t fully understand it or appreciate it (we may even loathe it sometimes), I think it’s encouraging to know that God uses all the disciplines of the Church to strengthen us!

Do acts of Mercy:

This one is pretty self-explanatory, but one thing that Fr. Hopko said is to “do acts of mercy in secret! Just do some good things that no one knows about!”

I think sometimes we do good things for others to feel good about ourselves, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can turn out to be more about us than them. And he stresses the importance of doing them in secret just for the sake of the good thing.

We as C,hristians are all called to take care of the homeless, hungry, naked, sick, elderly etc. But how many of us are actually doing this on a daily basis in our lives?

Lent is a good time to begin to reach out in a more effective way to the needy people around us.

I pray blessings & send our love to all of you and your families in this season of great Lent!

2 comments:

Mimi said...

Wow. I love the point about our whole body praying, thank you.

Emily said...

Tonight's Gospel reading fit this message so well!

"Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.

But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you."

Matthew 6:2-4

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.