Inviting the world into the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church
Being in the world, but not of it. Honestly. I quite often feel like I'm torn: I can't really dive into prayer and what asceticism I can muster because I have a family to provide for, etc.; at the same time, I have trouble just enjoying things because I feel like I should be doing something worthwhile with my time.For example, I would prefer to be held up in a cell somewhere, eating just enough to survive and keeping the daily cycles of prayers and services; yet the reality is that if I'm going to be saved it's going to be with the little girl who wants pink toe-nail polish, the boy who wants a new video game and the wife who wants a vacation somewhere in the midwest. So, there's this constant tension, and that tension is difficult to deal with and generally guilt producing at some level on most days.
As one who once wanted to live in a cave, I certainly understand jim n's feelings. Perhaps along the same lines, I would have to say the hardest thing is "service". Being a servant is not an easy thing. Slavery to Christ is, in fact quite liberating. I no longer have to think about whether I will lie to get out of trouble or cheat my neighbor or keep the extra change inadvertantly handed to me in the checkout line. I know that I will not. Slavery to Christ relieves a lot of the stress of being in the world. In that way serving Christ is not at all difficult. On the other hand that is serving Christ in only the most rudimentary and legalistic way. It is in serving our neighbor that we truly serve Christ and that is much more difficult if we take it seriously, it never ends. It is difficult to be a servant to wife, children, parents, friends and acquaintances. These are the people we know the best and who potentially have harmed us the most. It is much easier to serve strangers. Sometimes after a long day of running the "complaint department" at work and coming home to learn what has been broken, needs repaired and who needs attention, one wonders, "When is my turn. When do I get a life." The answer is, "My friend, this is it". At other times we think, "I'm so tired of everyone taking advantage of me." The answer is, "That's what we're here for."I wonder, what must it have been like for our Lord to come into this world. He couldn't walk down the street without people pressing in on him wanting something; to be healed, to answer a question, advice, a good word. These weren't strangers. He knew every one of them better than we can know anyone, including ourselves. Then I think about the incessant whining that God has put up with througout all of history; not to mention our terrible cruelty and mourning. What boundless love! What unbelievable condescension!What extreme humility! This is our God. This is the only conceivable God worthy of His own marvelous creation. God bless all who serve. God grant us the strength to lose our lives that we may find them in him.Lord have mercy.
The most difficult aspect of the Orthodox Christian Life: preparing to receive the Body and Blood of Christ on a regular basis. Overwhelmingly awesome, and only by his grace. And the constant dying to self. The learning to pray all the time, and the learning to keep my thoughts captive...those are hard, too. Half the time I can't even keep my thoughts focused on the prayers my lips so glibly say. I'm an embryo.
Knowing what a sacrificial life looks like. Stopping the selfish comments that rattle in my brain, which obviously stem from a selfish heart. Praying regularly and not being distracted in prayer.Not having a spiritual father to talk to on a regular basis; one who offers specific and clear spiritual guidance.
Focusing on my own sins, instead of those of everyone around me. How do you turn off the non-stop critique? I'm working on it, one confession at a time. Sometimes, I find myself confessing almost non-stop.
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