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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

     “And to keep me from being too elated by the abundance of revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to harass me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I besought the Lord about this, that it should leave me; but he said to me, ’My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor 12: 7-10)

     We don’t know, exactly, what St. Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was. We do know that it was a “weakness,” and “harassed” him so much that he “besought the Lord” that it should leave hi...

Thursday, June 29, 2017

And to keep me from being too elated (ἵνα μὴ ὑπεραίρωμαι, so that I do not exalt myself) by the abundance of revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me, to keep me from being too elated (ἵνα μὴ ὑπεραίρωμαι, so that I do not exalt myself). Three times I besought the Lord about this, that it should leave me; but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Cor 12: 7-9)

We are not told what, exactly, St. Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was. A chronic physical malady, perhaps migraines or inflammation of the eyes? A sensual temptation of some sort? Certain people who opposed St. Paul’s preaching? There have been man...

Monday, August 8, 2016

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to your great mercy: and according to the multitude of your compassions blot out my transgression. Wash me throughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgression: and my sin is ever before me.” (Ps 50/51: 1-3)

Is this a “negative” and damaging attitude toward life, to have “my sin” always “before me”? It can be, if I or some other created being is the focus of my universe. In that case, my sins and shortcomings can only be tossed to and fro inside my head, in the distorted and limited light of human opinion. But if God is my focus, – the true God of “great mercy,” – then my own failings, seen and indeed “known” in His light, become assets. I open up to His grace and His strength by seeing my weakness; I become more capable o...

Thursday, June 30, 2016

And to keep me from being too elated by the abundance of revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to harass me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I besought the Lord about this, that it should leave me; but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor 12: 7-10)

St. Paul, St. Paul! Great giant of the Spirit; great, ground-breaking pioneer of Christian theology, mission, liturgy, homiletics, asceticism… And yet there was this thing about himself, “a thorn in th...

Sunday, January 31, 2016

 

O Lord, You sent down Your All-Holy Spirit at the third hour to Your Apostles. Do not take Him away from us, O Good One, but renew us, who pray to You.” (Byzantine Troparion of the Third Hour)

 

It is almost nine o’clock (i.e. “the third hour”), and I am running late. I received some disturbing news earlier this morning from a dear friend, who has been diagnosed with a huge tumor, and must soon undergo very serious and unexpected surgery. She is my age, and stronger than I am in faith, I must say, because in this case, quite amazingly, I found her words to me, full of humble practicality, very strengthening and consoling, while I had nothing to offer but dumbfounded grief and pain for my beloved friend.

 

Today, at this Third Hour, let me be strengthened and renewed by the grace of the Holy...

Monday, June 29, 2015

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.” (2 Cor 12:9)

 

Here St. Paul honestly witnesses to God’s power in his life, despite his own weaknesses. The Apostle’s witness is very powerful precisely because he shares it genuinely, admitting to his weakness, his struggle.Today I remember this honesty of the great Apostle Paul, when I try to witness to Christ in the context of my own world. My struggle is fortifying to others only when I share it honestly, without pretending or posing; being myself. Because God’s grace shows forth in our weaknesses, when we witness to Him honestly, being ourselves and sharing ourselves with fellow-strugglers.

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