Feb 23, 2009


"To whom do I belong? To God or to the world?"
Many of my daily preoccupations suggest that I belong more to the world than to God.
A little criticism makes me angry, and a little rejection makes me depressed.
A little praise raises my spirits, and a little success excites me.
It takes very little to raise me up or thrust me down.
Often I am like a small boat on the ocean, completely at the mercy of its waves.
All the time and energy I spend in keeping some kind of balance and preventing myself from being tipped over and drowning shows that my life is mostly a struggle for survival: not a holy struggle, but an anxious struggle resulting from the mistaken idea that it is the world that defines me.

~ Henri Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son

Feb 11, 2009

Great Lent

I must admit that Great Lent is fast approaching, and I have been caught off guard. Ill health and other circumstances have prevented my being able to regularly attend services on Sundays, so I have, sadly, missed out on the wonderful preparation that is built into the Orthodox liturgy for this season of the year.  However, this week I am attempting to get back on track with the church calendar and allow God to begin plowing the soil of my heart, uprooting areas that are spiritually unhealthy and turning over tired ground. Fr. David Moser wrote a Lenten Meditation several years ago which I found very helpful. Here is an excerpt. The entire piece is posted at monachos.net.

The intrinsic merits of the Fast

Beyond simply the preparation for the feast of the Resurrection, Great Lent offers us many other benefits as well. Throughout the year, the focus of our lives tends to drift. While we are moved in our spiritual life by the love for God, there are many little variations that creep in and distract us, a little here and a little there, until the little variations finally add up to produce a drift from the true and central path to the Kingdom of God. When a spacecraft is sent towards a far off destination, even the smallest variation in its path can result in a huge error and missing the target by the end of the journey, unless that drift is corrected and the craft is brought back on course. This 'drift' in our spiritual life may seem small at the present, but over the whole course of life – and indeed the whole course of eternity - it may well lead us astray if it is not corrected.

Great Lent gives us the opportunity and tools to correct that 'drift' and set our soul again firmly in the centre of the path of salvation. All of the little passions for pleasure that have somehow found their ways into our lives are revealed by the discipline of Great Lent and their hold on us broken. Perhaps there is a new delicacy or food which we have learned to love or some new drink that we crave or a television program that we 'can’t miss' or some other little distraction that pulls at our heart, tugging it away from its pure and true drive toward Christ. During Great Lent, when we set all these things aside, the inordinate hold that such things begin to develop on the soul is broken by our ascetic labour and they can be returned to a place in our lives that is balanced and proper. We are reoriented and recentered on the path of salvation.