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Archive for October 4th, 2008

Thoughts Of An Ethiopian Monk

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on October 4, 2008

 

It has been said that at the end of your life the only things that really matter are the people you loved, the people who loved you, and what you did for God. The importance of our other accomplishments, however great, does not have the same significance. They even tend to fade into oblivion and be forgotten. How then do we discern what is truly important in our lives? How do we make our major decisions (what career to pursue, whom to marry, etc.)? Obviously, the way to a meaningful life is to follow Almighty God’s will for our lives. But to know God’s will for ourselves implies that we are attuned to Him, that we have a spirituality that allows us to listen to Him. Here are several principles to help young adults develop and maintain such spirituality.

 

(1) Pray the prayer “Thy will be done.”


Almighty God’s will is always for our benefit and always out of love for us, even though we may not understand it at first and it may be difficult to accept. We see that things turned out best only later. The Holy Trinity sees what we do not see in our own hearts and in the hearts of others. As we grow, we will see that God is watching us very closely and is always in control. We thereby learn to trust God and always be at peace.

 

St. Chrysostom said, “I always pray, ‘Lord, not what I will, nor what any other creature wills, but may Thy will be done.’” Christ Jesus Himself prayed the same prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, in His most difficult hour. We also should always finish our personal requests to God with the same prayer, “not my will, but Thy will be done.” This prayer will give us clarity of vision, free us from disappointment, protect us from trying to bring the wrong people into our lives, and deliver us from man-pleasing and flattery. It does not mean that we won’t make mistakes, but even in our mistakes God will not abandon us, and we ourselves will seek to re-align ourselves with Him.

 

(2) Develop a world of interiority


Everyday we should strive to do something for God which is known only to Him and not to any other human being. In this way, no one on earth can take it away from us. This is what Christ Jesus meant when He said, “Let not your right hand know what your left hand is doing” (
St. Matthew 6:3). This was a source of strength to Christians of the past in times of persecution. It will also protect us when the conditions of our life change and we do not find ourselves near an Orthodox Tewahedo Church that is providing for our needs, or near an Orthodox Church period.

 

(3) Stay inspired, or you’ll expire


The daily, patient reading of the Holy Scripture is the best means to keep our heart warm to Almighty God. At first it may seem difficult, but as we read more we realize how deeply it speaks to our lives. St. Chrysostom even speculated, “Without the daily sweetening of the soul with the words of Holy Scripture, it is impossible to be saved.”

 

Also important is to choose inspiring Christian friends, and to associate ourselves with inspiring people. Our habits, speech, interests, etc., are influenced by those with whom we spend time. Choose your friends carefully. Spend time with those who lift you up, help you achieve your goals, and make you want to be a better person.

 

Finally, absorb and pursue the truly beautiful things in life. St. Paul said, “Whatsoever things are noble, whatsoever things are holy, whatsoever things are lovely, think on these things” (Phil 4:8). The modern media seeks to choke us with materialism and the baser things in life. Rebel against this by seeking a higher culture. Listen to Tewahedo spiritual songs, which can be found by the dozens on YouTube.Com or if you are like me, listen to works by W.A. Mozart, to Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, etc. You will not be disappointed.

 

(4) Be persistent and consistent


The spiritual life is not always easy. We will still make mistakes in life. But when we fall, we must get up. We must always move forward and never quit. Christ Jesus said, “He who endures to the end shall be saved” (
St. Matthew 10:22). If we have down days or times of loneliness, we must fill them with stronger prayer to God. An Orthodox Tewahedo Christian is not a person who never fails – he/she is a person who has the courage to return to God, to get back up and strive to improve.

 

 

(5) Give your heart to God


“My son, give me thine heart” (Proverbs
23:26). This is what Almighty God requires of us, He wants our love freely given. He will not settle for second place. If there is a person or thing or ambition in our life that we may value above our relationship with God, it must be abandoned. This is what Christ Jesus meant when He said that whoever would come after Him must abandon all and follow Him. Yet He also added that whoever did this would receive a hundredfold in return. When we receive this hundredfold back, however, it no longer means as much to us. Christ Jesus is the main focus of our lives. Any other main focus can become a form of idolatry.

 

(6) Avoid negativity


“It’ll never work.” “Oh, what’s the use?” “Everyone else is doing it.” This sort of negativity can drag us down, and even become addictive. It will ruin our desire to be creative, courageous and energetic. It will encourage us to live by lower ideals and lower standards. Stamp out negativity from the start, don’t give it a chance, and don’t feed it.

 

(7) Keep a journal


It is a good practice and one followed by many Saints to keep a notebook in which we write down things that inspire us, things people say, things that happen in our lives that reveal Almighty God’s providence and care for us. In the future we can then look back and be edified again.

 

(8) Last and MOST IMPORTANT…Do not neglect the Sacraments


Last, but certainly not least, do not be absent from the Holy Eucharist – Qiddasie – Divine Liturgy, make every effort to attend Bible Studies, special prayers Services and Feast Days, and receive the Sacraments of Confession and Holy Communion – Qurban as often as you can. These Sacraments are a “forgotten medicine” today. They have a power not only to unshackle us, but to fill us with joy and strength. Holy Communion – Qurban especially, when taken with due preparation, can center and strengthen our whole life in Christ. It is where we are united with Christ, who said, “Without Me ye can do nothing” (
St. John 15:5).

 

Life is a great potential, a vast horizon of endless possibilities. Each one of us has a path, a calling, a purpose in Almighty God’s plan, and this purpose will bring us fulfillment and joy. But to follow this path takes struggle, work, and even sacrifice. It is a “narrow way” in the words of Christ Jesus. Follow Christ, and follow your path, the path Almighty God sets for you. Do not follow the path that the world sets for you, nor others who may not have your best interest in mind. As contemporary saying states, “Life is short, pray hard.” To be truly happy, to meet our goals, to spend our time on earth with those who would bring us the most joy and love, means that we are seeking to follow Christ Jesus with our whole heart and being. It is only Almighty God who gives every gift, and He does so without measure to those who love and follow Him.

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Spiritual Reflection

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on October 4, 2008

From The Epistle of Barnabas

The way of light, then, is as follows. If any one desires to travel to the appointed place, he must be zealous in his works. The knowledge, therefore, which is given to us for the purpose of walking in this way, is the following:

  • Thou shalt love Him that created thee: thou shalt glorify Him that redeemed thee from death.
  • Thou shalt be simple in heart, and rich in spirit.
  • Thou shalt not join thyself to those who walk in the way of death.
  • Thou shalt hate doing what is unpleasing to God: thou shalt hate all hypocrisy.
  • Thou shalt not forsake the commandments of the Lord.
  • Thou shalt not exalt thyself, but shalt be of a lowly mind.
  • Thou shalt not take glory to thyself.
  • Thou shalt not take evil counsel against thy neighbor.
  • Thou shalt not allow over-boldness to enter into thy soul.
  • Thou shalt not commit fornication: thou shalt not commit adultery: thou shalt not be a corrupter of youth.
  • Thou shalt not let the word of God issue from thy lips with any kind of impurity.
  • Thou shalt not accept persons when thou reprovest any one for transgression.
  • Thou shalt be meek: thou shalt be peaceable.
  • Thou shalt tremble at the words which thou hearest.
  • Thou shalt not be mindful of evil against thy brother.
  • Thou shalt not be of doubtful mind as to whether a thing shall be or not.
  • Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain.
  • Thou shalt love thy neighbor more than thine own soul.
  • Thou shalt not slay the child by procuring abortion; nor, again, shalt thou destroy it after it is born. Thou shalt not withdraw thy hand from thy son, or from thy daughter, but from their infancy thou shalt teach them the fear of the Lord.
  • Thou shalt not covet what is thy neighbor’s, nor shalt thou be avaricious.Thou shalt not be joined in soul with the haughty, but thou shalt be reckoned with the righteous and lowly.
  • Receive thou as good things the trials which come upon thee.
  • Thou shalt not be of double mind or of double tongue, for a double tongue is a snare of death.
  • Thou shalt be subject to the Lord, and to [other] masters as the image of God, with modesty and fear. Thou shalt not issue orders with bitterness to thy maidservant or thy man-servant, who trust in the same [God], lest thou shouldst not reverence that God who is above both; for He came to call men not according to their outward appearance, but according as the Spirit had prepared them.
  • Thou shalt communicate in all things with thy neighbor; thou shalt not call things thine own; for if ye are partakers in common of things which are incorruptible, how much more [should you be] of those things which are corruptible!
  • Thou shalt not be hasty with thy tongue, for the mouth is a snare of death.
  • As far as possible, thou shalt be pure in thy soul. Do not be ready to stretch forth thy hands to take, whilst thou contractest them to give.
  • Thou shalt love, as the apple of thine eye, every one that speaketh to thee the word of the Lord.
  • Thou shalt remember the day of judgment, night and day.
  • Thou shalt seek out every day the faces of the saints, either by word examining them, and going to exhort them, and meditating how to save a soul by the word, or by thy hands thou shalt labor for the redemption of thy sins.
  • Thou shalt not hesitate to give, nor murmur when thou givest. ‘Give to every one that asketh thee’, and thou shalt know who is the good Recompenser of the reward.
  • Thou shalt preserve what thou hast received, neither adding to it nor taking from it.
  • To the last thou shalt hate the wicked [one].
  • Thou shalt judge righteously.
  • Thou shalt not make a schism, but thou shalt pacify those that contend by bringing them together.
  • Thou shalt confess thy sins.
  • Thou shalt not go to prayer with an evil conscience.

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Monogamy In Your DNA

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on October 4, 2008

 

If you are wondering why some people find it so hard to keep monogamy in their relationship, well, they probably don’t have it encoded in their genes.
There has been speculation about the role of the hormone vasopressin in humans ever since we discovered that variations in where receptors for the hormone are expressed makes prairie voles strictly monogamous but meadow voles promiscuous; vasopressin is related to the “cuddle chemical” oxytocin. Now it seems variations in a section of the gene coding for a vasopressin receptor in people help to determine whether men are serial commitment-phobes or devoted husbands.
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