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Thursday, September 20, 2018

     “And Mary said: ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For he has regarded the humility of his maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For he who is mighty has done great things for me, And holy is his name…’” (Lk 1: 46-49)

     As those of us on the Older Calendar prepare to celebrate the great feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos tomorrow, I am thinking about the “Song of Mary.” It’s an outpouring of gratitude from the depths of a young woman’s soul, even though her life had just become extra-“complicated.” Having received unexpected news of the most problematic kind, – specifically, of an unexpected pregnancy…, – the Holy Virgin “ducks under the wave” of humility, and praises the “great things” of God....

Saturday, August 18, 2018

     “And behold, one came up to him, saying, ‘Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?’ And he said to him, ‘Why do you ask me about what is good? One there is who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.’ He said to him, ‘Which?’ And Jesus said, ‘You shall not kill, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ The young man said to him, ‘All these I have observed; what do I still lack?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.’ When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions. And Jesus said...

Sunday, August 12, 2018

     “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.” (Mt 6: 31-34)

     If you’re feeling extra-anxious about your material “success,” whether it’s with regard to your finances, or your outer appearance, – I once heard a wise person say, – then intensify your spiritual “program,” and re-connect with God, because He grants us the grace to put these things in the proper, healthy perspective. His stable,...

Friday, July 27, 2018

    “I believed, therefore I spoke; I was greatly humbled.” (Ps 115: 1, LXX / cf. Ps 116: 10, KJV)

     What a beautiful, Spirit-filled moment the Psalmist shares with us here: he’s been compelled to speak, by and from the conviction of his faith, and “greatly humbled” by that experience. When we make the “living water” of God’s word our “own,” imbibing it in faith, it flows out of us in our own words, somehow also filling us with the gentle grace of humility; with the gentle realism that is humility, and clearing up the burdensome confusion of merely-human words. Just as the Lord promises us, “whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (Jn 4: 14, a pas...

Thursday, February 22, 2018

The loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be brought low; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day, but the idols He shall utterly abolish.” (Is 2: 17-18)

This refreshing passage is part of today’s reading from the Prophet Isaiah, whose prophecies are read on Lenten weekdays at the service of the Sixth Hour. Isaiah is talking about “that day,” of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His Spirit, according to the loving will of the Father, into our lives. – And into my life, again and again, on any given day when I allow Him to do that, allowing myself to be “bowed down” in the liberating grace of humility.

I let “that day” be today, on this fourth day of Lent, on which we continue our cathartic, unpretentious lament before the Lord, liberated from the “l...

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven...“ (Mt 6: 9-10)

Today, as those of us on the Older Calendar begin the “Forefeast“ (Предпразднство) of Christmas, of the feast of our Lord’s birth in Bethlehem, I’m thinking about this whole business of perceiving my world “on earth as it is in heaven.“ Is that even possible, or is it some Walt-Disney-style version of reality?

The answer to that is yes, and no. It is, yes, possible, that earth and heaven are united in their “ways,“ because of the coming into our world of the God-Man, Jesus Christ. He unites, in His divine-human presence among us, the invisible and visible realities of Man and God, of earth and heaven. And He lets me participate in both those realities, if I le...

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your great mercy; and according to the multitude of your compassions blot out my transgression. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my iniquity, and my sin is ever before me. Against you only have I sinned and done this evil before you, that you might be justified in your words, and prevail when you judge.” (Ps 50: 1-4, Septuagint-translation)

This Psalm opens me up to seeing my “transgressions” and “sins” and “iniquities” as God sees them, according to His “great mercy.” In God’s light, in the grace of His humility, that is to say, honesty, my “sin” can be both “ever before me,” and “cleansed” from me thoroughly, so it no longer binds me nor drags me down, in crippling self-doubt. 

So today let me hand my sins an...

Saturday, November 25, 2017

“I therefore, a prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called (τῆς κλήσεως ἧς ἐκλήθητε), with all humility and meekness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager (σπουδάζοντες) to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in the one hope of your calling, – one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all.” (Eph 4: 1-6)

The “calling to which you have been called”! What is that, exactly? It is “to maintain the unity of the Spirit (ἐνότητα τοῦ Πνεύματος) in the bond (συνδέσμῳ) of peace,“ as one Body, in one Lord. That’s what the church or “ekklesia“ (from the verb “ekkaleo,“ to call forth), made up of...

Monday, August 28, 2017

“…for he has regarded the humility of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.” (Lk 1: 48, The “Song” of the Theotokos, Песнь Богородицы)

Is this a “humble” statement, I mean, the part about “henceforth all generations will call me blessed”? Of course it is, because the Mother of God said it. But I think, mainly because of our misconceptions of “humility,” were anyone else to make mention of their fame, let alone anticipate their future fame, “henceforth,” in “all generations,” we would probably find such words “not humble,” at the very least.

“Humility,” however, does not mean being blind to our gifts or blessings, but rather seeing them in the proper light, and that is, as given by God, and with heartfelt gratitude to Him. In fact, taking an honest look...

Thursday, July 20, 2017

It is good for me (Ἀγαθόν μοι, Благо мне), that you have humbled me (ὅτι ἐταπείνωσάς με, яко смирил мя еси), that I may learn your statutes.” (Ps 118: 71, Septuagint-translation)

It does me “good,” when God “humbles” me. But what does that mean? What does it mean to be “humbled,” and what kind of “good” does it bring? “Humility,” first of all, is one of the many gifts of the Holy Spirit. As such, it doesn’t come from “me,” nor can I muster it up or fake it. God, often unexpectedly, showers it upon us, both through our unexpected ups and our unexpected downs. Humility stops us in our tracks, making us take pause and slow down, reminding us of Someone Greater, and ever more powerful, than ourselves. It can be equally “humbling” to receive some unexpected good news, for example, that a loved...

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