The Simple Life

Bishop Tikhon (OCA)

Bishop Tikhon (OCA)

by Bishop Tikhon –
When we look around the world we live in, we are often overwhelmed by its complexity and its activity. The world seems never to take a break: businesses, stores and restaurants are open seven days a week, school activities take place at all times, entertainment can be accessed at any hour via the internet and wireless streaming devices and we are often slavishly controlled by all manner of communications: cell phones, emails, text messages and social networking.

All of this worldly activity is supposed to allow us more free time and make our life “easier” and “simpler.” But in reality, it only seems to complicate it by forcing us to devote more money and energy to acquiring those “time-saving” and “lifeenhancing” devices and products. Beyond this, all that worldly activity cuts down on the time we spend together as a family, restricts our ability to go to church services and events and chips away at the time that we devote to the care of our soul through prayer, spiritual reading and repentance.

And then we check our email one more time…

The experience of the saints throughout the ages knows of this difficult cycle and offers a solution. The solution, however, is not one involving the elimination of the distractions of the world or the artificial construction of a community separate from those distractions. The solution is an ascetical one which finds its path through the effort of overcoming the passions that darken our heart. This ascetical solution is available to us, not through any external force, but through our heart.

One of the great ascetics of the Church, our holy Godbearing Father Anthony the Great, speaks of this through his writings and manifests it through his life. It is often easy to dismiss the great ascetics by saying: “Oh, they could do that because they were saints,” or “I am not as holy as him” or even “those things were possible in those days, but no one does them today.” Certainly the saints exhibited great ascetical efforts and many of them we should not even attempt. But at the same time, it is good to remember not what the saints accomplished, but how they did it and even more, why they did it.

Saint Anthony writes:

“Let us endeavor to possess nothing except what we shall take with us to the grave, namely, charity, meekness, righteousness and so on. Virtue, that is, the Kingdom of Heaven, needs only our good will, for it is within us. Actually, it consists simply in keeping the spiritual part of our soul in the purity and beauty in which it has been created.”

Saint Anthony may not have known about cell phones and plasma televisions, but he knew what temptation was and he knew how strong the attraction of the world is. His words are simple words from a pure heart that give us courage to devote ourselves to that most sacred task of keeping our heart and soul pure through the practice of the virtues. Through the virtues, we receive the grace of God which does not eliminate the turmoil of the world, but gives us the strength and the desire to seek after Christ and His peace.

Bishop Tikhon of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania (OCA)

HT: Pravmir.com

Comments

  1. Robert Gusnowski says:

    Hi
    My name is Robert Gusnowski and I am writing you this note to ask for your help and prayers to bring people to a forum I have just setup to build a sense of community among all Christians. In particular, I am reaching out to the Catholic and Orthodox community, but I believe that faith is a journey not a destination. With open minds and open ears, we can all learn and grow in faith (apostolictradition.org)

    The Guiding Principles I have set out are below:
    This forum has been created expressly for Christians of all faiths to meet, discuss, teach, and learn. Other than sections of the forum provided for specific internet communities, the intent is to be as open and uncensored as possible. Truthfully, can anyone in good conscience say they truly understand the mind of God? Please treat each other with the respect due to all of mankind. This isn’t about agreeing on everything, but it also is not about being disrespectful, unkind, or condescending. Ad hominem attacks are NOT acceptable. You may disagree with what someone says or believes, but criticize the idea or belief, NOT the individual. Keep this in mind: “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.” Luke 6:37

    The reality of starting a forum is that finding enough people to participate is a challenge. No one will visit a discussion forum that is dead without people posting and being part of an active community. It is like the chicken and the egg. Who wants to join an empty discussion forum? How can a forum come to life without building a community?

    So I reach out and ask you to visit, register, and participate. Please share your faith. Please help me build a community by passing this message on to others.

    In Christ’s name…..

    Thank you

    Robert

    MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

    – Thomas Merton, “Thoughts in Solitude”