Orthodox River

A Mature Response

My friend Fr. Matthew Harrington gives me credit for saying, “Your spiritual maturity can only be measured by how you respond to the cross.”

He quoted this to me on a day when I needed to hear it, and do not remember saying it to him, so it was a bonus.

Now days I usually say it this way. Your Response for the Cross Defines you.

One of the permanent themes of being a Priest, is having to remind people that they will experience both the Cross and the Resurrection in their spiritual lives.

Here are some more quotes that I say frequently to people and find helpful to explaining our life in Christ and the mystery of God. We must be willing to both: put our foot on the neck of our egos (the Cross) and place our hope in the God’s mercy so that we become new creations (the Resurrection).

Isiah the prophet

Because we can say ‘No’ to God. Our ‘Yes’ to God is profound.

Another constant of being a priest and dealing with people, is to remind them that the stance we take before God, matters. When our stance before God is wrong, this leads to many problems, this much of the time becomes the very source of our idolatry. When we place or fixate on something to such a degree that we leave no room for God to do what He wants in us. In His love for us, he allows our choice and freedom to stand. I find myself getting people to think about this mystery of God and their own stance before Him.

Less thinking, more tears.

This one came during seminary when I got very tired of reading books, writing papers and not being able to do my prayers out of exhaustion. I thought I doubt any of the Church fathers would recognize any thing of value in my papers. This quote is not to say, do not read anything. In fact I would say that if you want to grow spiritually it is a necessity to read something spiritual. But this saying is meant to get at the American Disease. This disease is the tendency to think about spiritual things in the manner we solve modern information problems. We want to know something, so we read about it, we google it, we consume information and after a couple of weeks we think we know enough about it to accomplish it. This may work for fixing our cars or figuring our how to become a speed reader, but it does not work well in the spiritual life.

For example a person will read several books on prayer and think they are an expert on prayer, however the spiritual life does not work merely through our knowledge of things, it works on a much different economy. I find though that when people have a large knowledge of something, but do not have the practice of something, that many problems can arise.

  1. You can do all things through Christ, even fail.
  2. It’s impossible for a humble man to fail.
  3. Let us be quick to take our fall to Christ. I tell people few things to remind them of our dependence on Christ and our continual bumbling. As time goes by, I become more and more assured that we can really do nothing without Christ and that any good we do is dependent on God. At the same time, we are all very human and constantly sin, which according to

Elder Sophrony: Sin is always a crime against God’s love and occurs when we distance ourselves from God and incline ourselves to the passions.