Feb 2020

Beloved in Christ,

We can use our talents to bring order from seeming chaos, abundance from scarcity, and even beauty from disjointed elements! But, we tend to misuse these incredible talents. In the worst cases, we create a world without any reference to God at all, giving no thought to the Creator in whose image we create. Mankind then becomes the reference for what is “good” and these vary from nation to nation, party to party, even within families. It is imperative for the Christian to set the example for the whole world: to align ourselves with our maker, so that whatever we do and make might be ordered toward Him.

St. Symeon of Daibabe (in Montenegro) lived through the last half of the 19th Century, and the first half of the 20th. He had incredible front-row seats to the changing nature of the world we live in, brought about through industrialization. Mankind had always, since its birth in the Garden of Paradise, sought to co-create with God; to use our inborn talents to reorder the world. The world that St. Symeon watched mankind remake, with its new-found industrial prowess, was one of massive production and destruction never seen before. He lived through the First World War, and died in the midst of the Second. He had seen humanity’s disordering of the world, and of itself, losing touch with the likeness of God within us, and ironically only creating isolation and destruction. He also identified an antidote:

“When you throw a nail into a fire, it gets hot and starts to glow like fire. In the same way you, when you listen to divine teachings and live accordingly, will become like God.”

This month is our last before the Great Fast, when both our personal and community prayer life jumps in frequency and intensity. We must carefully listen to the voice of God, so that our prayers are part of a dialogue with Him. Here are four tactics to improve our listening skills:

  1. Take the time: Resolve to take five minutes to be available to listen to God every day. If it doesn’t get scheduled, it won’t get done. So, take a chance and find a place in the day to give 300 seconds to God.
  2. Be silent: Our world is full of distractions. Turn them off. Watch how reluctant the mind is to settle. Be vigilant and don’t give up. Use the energy we normally spend on multi-tasking to turn attention to His voice.
  3. Ask for help: Minds will wander. Use this. When the worries of the upcoming day arrive, turn them into prayers: “I am so nervous about this budget meeting, what if my project gets slashed?!” easily can turn into “Lord, how can I serve you in this budget meeting?”
  4. Read the scriptures: However we can, in whatever order, in any length, reading the words of God’s revelation will help train us on the patterns of how He speaks to us, so that we will be ready to respond when we notice it in our own lives.

St. Symeon only saw the beginnings of the world we live in. We are witnesses to its fullness, and victims of its disorder. By making part of our daily life the practice of listening to God and His teachings, we cast our nail into the fire. Try to give it 30 days of continued practice, and it will become a lifestyle, preparing us not only for Great Lent, but the life of eternity in the Resurrection.

May He continue to bless us, and support us even when we aren’t listening to Him.

In the Love of Christ,

+Fr. Patrick