Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Living a Peaceful Life with Purpose

I found the following statistics from the Center of Disease Control to be quite thought provoking: only 15% felt calm and peaceful during the last 30 days; only 19% say they are satisfied with their life; 21% say their life has a clear purpose;13% felt full of life during the last 30 days.
My guess is that this may not be startling news to most of you who read this blog. So, what is needed to improve our appreciation of this short life we have been granted on this earth? Do we need better health care? Do we need better working environments? Do we need a change in government? Or, is there a spiritual need that is not being met?

Is our fundamental problem such that that we are so involved with the activities of this world, that we have lost much of our sense of our true needs which are spiritual? Has our practice of our Christian faith become this worldly and we have forgotten the teachings of Jesus and our Church Fathers about how we must struggle to overcome our passions and connections to the demands and desires of things of this world? So, what is our aim? Saint Seraphim of Sarov says that it is to acquire the Holy Spirit. This is what the Church calls Theosis or a union with God.

What kind of effort do we make to nurture our spiritual needs? Are they getting equal priority to our efforts to meet our earthly needs? If not, why not? Do we know what to do to acquire the Holy Spirit? If so, why don't we do them? When we do, we know we will be able to meet all the challenges and difficulties of this world without despair because we will always find comfort and direction in the grace that comes from the Holy Spirit. A full life is one lived in the hope of our own resurrection, joyfully preparing now in great anticipation for a life in union with God in His kingdom.

As we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ during this Bright Week, let's reflect on our life and how we are living it. Let us ask ourselves if we are truly giving a priority to our spiritual needs. As an reminder of what is essential for a life in Christ, below are the elements of an Orthodox Way of Life that can nurture our spiritual growth, leading us to a more full and satisfying life, where our purpose is clear, where we will be able to find peace in all situations, and we will always be giving thanks to our Lord for all he sends in our way. If with faith we follow them, we will feel full of life knowing that we are preparing for an eternal life with our God in Paradise.

Here are the elements of the Orthodox Way of Life:

1. Praying Daily
Have a regular prayer rule that includes morning and evening prayer.

2. Worshiping and Participating in Sacraments
Attend and participate in the Divine Liturgy receiving Holy Communion regularly as well as regular participation in Confession.

3. Honoring the Liturgical Cycle of the Church
Follow the seasons of the church and participate in the fasts and feasts of the Church.

4. Using the Jesus Prayer
Repeat the Holy name whenever possible throughout the day or night.

5. Slowing Down and Ordering Your Life
Set priorities and reduce the stress and friction caused by a hurried life.

6. Being Watchful
Give full attention to what you are doing at the moment.

7. Taming the Passions
Overcome your habits, attachment to your likes and dislikes, and learn to practice the virtues.

8. Putting Others First
Free yourself from your selfishness and find joy in helping others.

9. Spiritual Fellowship
Spend time regularly with other Orthodox Christians for support and inspiration.

10. Reading the Scriptures and Holy Fathers
Be inspired by the lessons of the Holy Scriptures, the wisdom of the Holy Fathers and the lives of the Saints of the Church.

Here is a link where you can find more information on these critical ten points.

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