don’t write ’em like they used to…

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You just don’t read things like this in today’s writings on spirituality:

If you aspire to the spuriousness of human praise as though it were something authentic, wallow in self-indulgence because of your soul’s insatiability, and through your greed entwine yourself with avarice, you will either make yourself demonic through self-conceit and arrogance, or degenerate into bestiality through the gratification of belly and genitals, or become savage to others because of your gross inhuman avarice. In this way your faith in God will lapse, as Christ said it would when you accept human praise (cf. John 5:44); you will abandon self-restraint and purity because your lower organs are unsatedly kindled and succumb to unbridled appetence; and you will be shut out from love because you minister solely to yourself and do not succour your fellow beings when they are in need.

Like some polymorphic monster compounded thus out of multifarious self-antagonistic parts, you will be the implacable enemy of God, man and the animals.

When our desire and intelligence, in a way that accords with nature, aspire to what is divine, then our incensiveness is for both of them a weapon of righteousness wielded solely against the hissing serpent that would persuade them to indulge in fleshly pleasures and to relish men’s praise.

But when we fail to act according to nature and direct our desire and intelligence to what is contrary to nature, transferring attention from what is divine to purely human matters, then our incensive power becomes a weapon of iniquity in the service of sin, and we use it to attack and fight against those who would restrain the passions and appetites of the other powers of our soul.

Thus, whether we are engaged in ascetic practice or are contemplatives and theologians, when we act according to nature we prove ourselves to be among the faithful members of the Church, and when we act contrary to nature we become bestial, savage, and demonic.

–Nikitas Stithatos, 11th century Constantinople monk

The Monastery

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Maybe there’s something to the ancient paths after all.

Thought for Life

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How should we believe? In what way should we struggle and give all our energy to living a good life? We should do it with great hope and perseverance, that we may be found worthy to receive the power given from heaven and so receive the glory of the Holy Spirit in the innermost depths of the soul.

—Makarios the Great

Amen and amen.

Alumni news

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If you are of that curious sort who wishes they could take a break from normal life and spend an hour three times a week listening to some of the more influential folks in Christendom without having to pay the big dollars to attend some Christian school I have good news for you.

Wheaton College is posting audio of its chapel messages. You can listen to the archives at least, the netradio doesn’t play them live.

I’m sure this has something to do with needing a tape delay in case of obscenity.

It’s generally an ecletic and often surprising blend of speakers and messages, so well worth the discovery. One of the things I still miss most is getting my morning coffee and bagel, then sitting in chapel letting my heart be rightly refocused before continuing my day of classes.

I’m not sure why they noted this, but the alumi email specifically noted Dr. Stan Jones’ recent message, “My neighbor, the homosexual”.

What is also interesting is that Wheaton College is one of the definitions of Evangelicalism, along with Billy Graham, Christianity Today and Fuller Seminary. Those who speak at Wheaton are themselves defining the movement, and I realized that what I was hearing at Wheaton was about 4-5 years ahead of the broader movement of the Church. So, listen to be edified, or listen to hear the direction of Evangelicalism in general.

rising above

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Rising above

cell phones and such…

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This supposed era of new moral values sure makes for curious times. We hyperventilate over who’s kissing whom and what constitutes a viable human being even as we ignore the human being standing right in front of us.

I’ve long noticed how people are very eager to help “those people” as opposed to the people right next to them. It was a trademark honor in Christian ministry for many decades to ignore one’s family for the sake of “the poor” or “the unsaved”.

Cell phones are much the same, albeit in a more irritating less crucial way. They encourage people to ignore who they are with for the sake of someone else… even if the only person they are with is themselves. I’m a fan, to be honest, and appreciate the convenience, but like with all things cell phones can encourage already present bad traits.

I really respect those people who respect others enough to really be there in a moment or a conversation. We all know those people who are otherwise. They spend lunch text messaging another friend or any conversation is always broken up by the three others they must have at the same time.

Connie Schultz has more to say on cell phone sin.

a wee bit of politics…

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In occasional series, “Why I am not a Democrat” I try to express my political choices despite the fact I’m a raving environmentalist, heartily support programs that help the poor, and am plainly aghast at the thought that adobe could be allowed to buy macromedia. I am generally left of center on most issues not relating to some specific morality, yet I am not a Democrat.

David Gelernter writes about some of the reasons I am not a Democrat.

I also have some thoughts on the recent wrestling over whose Party Christianity rightly belongs but methinks one political note a day is enough.

prophesy of the Irishman

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Well, this is a new one for me… the prophesy of Malachy, if interpreted right, says this is the second to the last Pope.

Something about olives I guess.

Though, my suspicion is that if Malachy was around today he’d say something like, “What are ya’ doing worrying about my prophesy. Why don’t you go off an’ pray and fast some more.”

Thought for the day

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The man who endures accusations against himself with humility has arrived at perfection. He is marvelled at by the holy angels, for there is no other virtue so great and so hard to achieve.

—Isaac of Syria

Thought for the day

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Perform the various duties assigned to you as well as you can; in your cell persevere in prayer with compunction, attentiveness and constant tears. You should not think that because you have worked exceptionally hard today you should reduce your prayer on account of bodily exhaustion. For however greatly you exert yourself in performing your duties, you should be aware that you have lost something of great value if you deprive yourself of prayer. For this is in fact the case.

–Symeon the New Theologian