Truly Intelligent

The truly intelligent man pursues one sole objective: to obey and to conform to the God of all. With this single aim in view, he disciplines his soul, and whatever he may encounter in the course of his life, he gives thanks to God for the compass and depth of His providential ordering of all things. For it is absurd to be grateful to doctors who give us bitter and unpleasant medicines to cure our bodies, and yet to be ungrateful to God for what appears to us to be harsh, not grasping that all we encounter is for our benefit and in accordance with His providence. For knowledge of God and faith in Him is the salvation and perfection of the soul.

-#2 – “On the Character of Men and on the Virtuous Life: One Hundred and Seventy Texts” attributed to St. Anthony the Great in The Philokalia, vol. 1

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Reminiscing: Old photographs

Mom wouldnt let me read it, so I made a graven image.

Mom wouldn't let me read it, so I made a graven image.

I used this picture in hopes of warding off unwanted male pursuers.

I used this picture in hopes of warding off unwanted male pursuers.

Reformed smore fire

Reformed s'more fire

Oh my Calvinist zeal... *shakes head*

Oh my Calvinist zeal... *shakes head*

Oh, the literature that you are sent when your grandparents feel like you are sliding into wrong belief.

Oh, the literature that you are sent when your grandparents feel like you are sliding into wrong belief.

I posted this picture on my once-a-long-time-ago blog and met a wonderful Orthodox convert who showed me the way to the true Faith.

I posted this picture on my once-a-long-time-ago blog and met a wonderful Orthodox convert who showed me the way to the true Faith.

Tumbleweeds on the way to Colorado

Tumbleweeds on the way to Colorado

My desk has not moved off the floor yet.

My desk has not moved off the floor yet.

Im so nerdy I wore this civil war era dress that my mom and I made at home to the prom.

I'm so nerdy I wore this civil war era dress that my mom and I made at home to the prom.

My view in the opera pit for The Marriage of Figaro.

My view in the opera pit for "The Marriage of Figaro."

Oh, my obsession with tulips, for a season.

Oh, my obsession with tulips, for a season.

Hangin with my brother, Brett.

Hangin' with my brother, Brett.

Band.

Band.

Honors Recital

Honor's Recital

The first things I ever knit.

The first things I ever knit.

practice

practice

Practice... alternative.

Practice... alternative.

Oh, what reed to use?

Oh, what reed to use?

Shawnee Lake

Shawnee Lake

Family.

Family.

President Bush

President Bush

Bigger Family.

Bigger Family.

I got saved out of this book in kindergarten.

I "got saved" out of this book in kindergarten.

Grey Hairs in Vespers

The following was read tonight in vespers.

It is better to be childless, provided one is virtuous; for virtue held in remembrance is a kind of immortality, because it wins recognition from 2 God, and from men too. They follow the good man’s example while it is with them, and when it is gone they mourn its loss; and through all time virtue makes its triumphal progress, crowned with victory in the contest 3 for prizes that nothing can tarnish. But the swarming progeny of the wicked will come to no good; none of their bastard offshoots will strike deep root 4 or take firm hold. For a time their branches may flourish, but as they have no sure footing they will be shaken by the wind, and by the violence of the 5 winds uprooted. Their boughs will be snapped off half-grown, and their 6 fruit will be worthless, unripe, uneatable, and good for nothing. Children engendered in unlawful union are living evidence of their parents’ sin when God brings them to account. 7 8 But the good man, even if he dies an timely death, will be at rest. For it is not length of life and number of years which bring the honour due to 9 age; if men have understanding, they have grey hairs enough, and an unspotted 10 life is the true ripeness of age. There was once such a man who pleased God, and God accepted him and took him while still living from 11 among sinful men. He was snatched a way before his mind could be perverted 12 by wickedness or his soul deceived by falsehood (because evil is like witchcraft: it dims the radiance of good, and the waywardness of 13 desire unsettles an innocent mind); in a short time he came to the perfection 14 of a full span of years. His soul was pleasing to the Lord, who 15 removed him early from a wicked world. The mass of men see this and give it no thought; they do not lay to heart this truth, that those whom God has chosen enjoy his grace and mercy, and that he comes to the help of his 16 holy people. Even after his death the just man will shame the godless who are still alive; youth come quickly to perfection will shame the man 17 grown old in sin. Men will see the wise man’s end, without understanding what the Lord had purposed for him and why he took him into safe keeping; 18 they will see it and make light of him, but it is they whom the Lord will laugh to scorn. In death their bodies will be dishonoured, and among 19 the dead they will be an object of contempt for ever; for he shall strike them speechless, fling them headlong, shake them from their foundations and make an utter desert of them; they shall be full of anguish, and all 20 memory of them shall perish. So in the day of reckoning for their sins, they will come cringing, convicted to their face by their lawless doings.

– from The Wisdom of Solomon, ch. 4

Quotes from Evdokimov

Woman could accumulate intellectual values, but such values provide no joy. The excessively intellectualized woman, man’s equal and constructress of the world, will find herself despoiled of her essence, for what woman is meant to contribute to culture is femininity as an irreplaceable mode of being and way of living. Man creates science, art, philosophy, and even theology as systems, but all these lead to a frightening objectification of the truth. Woman, fortunately, is present; she is predestined to become the bearer of the values obscured by this objectification, the place where they become flesh and live. On the world’s summit, in the very heart of the spiritual, is found the handmaid of God, a manifestation of the human being re-established in its original truth. This is woman’s vocation: to protect the world of humans as mother, and to save it as a virgin, by giving to this world a soul, her soul.

-page 185

The fearsome antagonism of the sexes is not resolved by radical monasticism alone; it can be transcended only by a mutual spiritual conversion. Its metaphysically conjugal and consubstantial elements culminate in the One in whom there is neither male nor female, for in Christ, the vitiated fragmentation of humanity is overcome in the pleroma (fulness) of the “convergence of opposites.”

– page 250

The modern, profoundly masculine world, where the feminine charism plays no role whatsoever, is more and more a world without God, for it has no mother and God cannot be born in it. It is typical that in such an atmosphere, homosexuality asserts itself openly. This disease of psychic splitting – a failure in the integration of the soul’s male and female elements – reveals a male who resides either entirely in his subconscious, in the feminine part of his soul, which leads him to the masculine, or entirely on the surface, where he is polygamous  – the infinitely vitiated Don Juan mentality. Such are the most symptomatic signs of a psychic state that has lost all its sensitivity toward the archetypical feminine value: that of the Virgin-Mother. A too-masculine world disregards its eternal origins; the clear fountain of virginal purity, and the maternal womb that receives the Word, and brings it forth to make of men His servants.

– page 251-252

Woman has an intuitive, “visceral” understanding of the importance of the Holy Spirit. By nature, woman is endowed with a religious sense. Tertullian’s words about “the soul that is naturally Christian” (anima naturaliter christiana) apply above all to women. The Marxists sensed this. The emancipation of women and the equality of the sexes are their foremost concerns. the masculinization of women has as its goal to modify their anthropological type, to make them inwardly, in their soul, identical to men by nature. This levelling conceals the most virulent struggle against the law of God; it is an attempt to annihilate woman’s charismatic state. But the testimony today is unanimous. In Soviet Russia, the faith is safeguarded by the Russian woman. The religious renewal, as well as the continuity of the tradition, are in the domain of the wife and mother. Most of the time, in the very face of the Soviet “progressive movement,” women and young Russian girls desire in the most striking manner to live and interiorize the truth they read in the icons of the Theotokos.  The clearsightedness and the efforts of the startsy have not been in vain. It is the Russian woman who safeguards the internal values from within, through her carisms.

-page 267

Woman and the Salvation of the World, Paul Evdokimov

Conclusion: Willing One Thing

Father in Heaven! What is a man without Thee! What is all that he knows, vast accumulation though it be, but a chipped fragment if he does not know Thee! What is all his striving, could it even encompass the world, but a half-finished work if he does not know Thee: Thee the One, who art one thing and who art all! So may Thou give to the intellect, wisdom to comprehend that one thing; to the heart, sincerity to receive this understanding; to the will, purity that wills only one thing. In prosperity may Thou grant perseverance to will one thing; amid distractions, collectedness to will one thing; in suffering, patience to will one thing. Oh, Thou that giveth both the beginning and the completion, may Thou early, at the dawn of day, give to the young man the resolution to will one thing. As the day wanes, may Thou give to the old man a renewed remembrance of his first resolution, that the first may be like the last, the last like the first, in possession of a life that has willed only one thing. Alas, but this has indeed not come to pass. Something has come in between. The separation of sin lies in between. Each day, and day after day something is being placed in between: delay, blockage, interruption, delusion, corruption. So in this time of repentance may Thou give the courage once again to will one thing. True, it is an interruption of our daily tasks; we do lay down our work as though it were a day of rest, when the penitent (and it is only in a time of repentance that the heavy-laden worker may be quiet in the confession of sin) is alone before Thee in self-accusation. This is indeed an interruption. But it is an interruption that searches back into its very beginnings that it might bind up anew that which sin has separated, that in its grief it might atone for lost time, that in its anxiety it might bring to completion that which lies before it.. Oh, Thou that givest both the beginning and the completion, give Thou victory in the day of need so that what neither a man’s burning wish nor his determined resolution may attain to, may be granted unto him in the sorrowing of repentance: to will only one thing.

– The last little section in Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing, Kierkegaard

Life Goals: Begin with God

In your occupation, what is your attitude of mind? And how do you carry out your occupation? Have you made up your own mind that your occupation is your real calling so that you do not have to make explanation hinge on the result, maintaining that it was not your real calling if the results are not favorable, if your efforts do not succeed? Alas, such fickleness weakens a man immeasurably. Therefore persevere. By God’s help and by your own faithfulness something good will come from the unpromising beginning. For there are beginnings everywhere, and there are good beginnings, where you begin with God; and no day is the wrong one to begin upon – not even an unpromising one, if you begin with God.

– Kierkegaard, Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing

What then must I do?

quotes from chapter 12, Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing – Soren Kierkegaard

The one who is conscious of himself as an individual has his vision trained to look upon everything as inverted. His sense becomes familiar with eternity’s true thought: that everything in this life appears in inverted form. The purely momentary, in the next moment, to say nothing of eternity, becomes nonsense and vanity: the fiery moment of lust (and what is so strong for the moment as lust!) is loathsome in memory; the fiery moment of anger, revenge, and passion whose gratification seems an irresistible impulse is horrible to remember. For the angry one, the vengeful one, the passionate one, thinks in the moment of passion that he revenges himself. But in the moment of remembrance, when the act of revenge comes back to him, he loathes himself, for he sees that precisely in that moment of revenge he lost himself. The purely momentary seems to be profitable. Yet in the next moment its deception becomes apparent and, eternally understood, calls for repentance.

Yes, to be sure, God knows that man’s highest consolation is that God is love and that man is permitted to love Him.  But let us not become too forward, and foolishly, yes, blasphemously, dismiss the tradition of our fathers, established by God Himself: that really and truly a man should fear God. This fear is known to the man who is himself conscious of being an individual and thereby is conscious of his eternal responsibility before God. For he knows, that even if he could with the help of evasions and excuses, get on well in this life, and even if he could by this shady path have gained the whole world, yet there is still a place in the next world where there is no more evasion than there is shade in the scorching desert.

Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing

My listeners! If you are willing, let us recall the direction that our talk has taken. If a man should will one thing, then he must will the Good, for in this way alone was it possible for him to will a single thing. If, however, it is to be genuine, he must will the Good in truth. According to whether he is an active one or a sufferer he must be willing either to do all for the Good, or he must be willing to suffer all for the Good. He must be willing either to do all for the Good,k or to be and to remain committed to the Good. But cleverness may be misused internally, to seek evasions; and misused externally in deception. The good man, on the contrary, uses cleverness to cut off all evasions and thereby to launch out and to remain constant – in the commitment. He also uses cleverness to prevent such external deception. He must be willing to suffer all for the Good, or to be and to remain committed to the Good. And the talk went on to describe the true sufferer’s condition, because by looking at sufferings one may really learn what the highest is. Once again in regard to suffering, cleverness may be misused internally to seek ways of escape, but the Good man makes use of just this very cleverness against ways of escape, in order that he may be and remain committed to the Good, by being willing to suffer all, by accepting the enforced necessity of suffering.

But purity of heart is to will one thing. It is this thesis that has been the object of the talk which we have linked to the apostolic words: “Draw nigh to God and he will draw nigh to you, cleanse your hands, ye sinners, and purify your hearts, ye double-minded!” For commitment to the Good is a whole-souled decision, and a man cannot by the craft and the flattery of his tongue lay hold of God while his heart is far away. No, for since God is spirit and truth, a man can only draw near to Him by sincerity, by willing to be holy, as He is holy: by purity of heart. Purity of heart: it is a figure of speech that compares the heart to the sea, and why just to this? Simply for the reason that the depth of the sea determines its transparency. Since the sea is pure only when it is deep, and is transparent only when it is pure, as soon as it is impure it is no longer deep but only surface water, and as soon as it is only surface water it is not transparent. When, on the contrary, it is deeply and transparently pure, then it is all of one consistency, no matter how long one looks at it; then its purity is this constancy in depth and transparency. On this account we compare the heart with the sea, because the purity of the sea lies in its constancy of depth and transparency. No storm may perturb it; no sudden gust of wind may stir its surface, no drowsy fog may sprawl out over it; no doubtful movement may stir within it; no swift-moving cloud may darken it: rather it must lie calm, transparent to its depths. And today if you should see it so, you would be drawn upwards by contemplating the purity of the sea. If you saw it every day, then you would declare that it is forever pure – like the heart of that man who wills but one thing. As the sea, when it lies calm and deeply transparent, yearns for heaven, so may the pure heart, when it is calm and deeply transparent, yearn for the Good. As the sea is made pure by yearning for heaven alone; so may the heart become pure by yearning only for the Good. As the sea mirrors the elevation of heaven in its pure depths, so may the heart when it is calm and deeply transparent mirror the divine elevation of the Good in its pure depths. If the least thing comes in between, between the heavens and the sea, between the heart and the Good, then it would be sheer impatience to covet the reflection. For if the sea is impure it cannot give a pure reflection of the heavens.

-Soren Kierkegaard, in ch. 11

A Good Marriage

A good marriage is like a spiritual castle. When husband and wife truly love and respect each other, no one can overcome them. If a man is unmarried and is attacked with lies and slander, his confidence and self-esteem may crumble; he may even begin to believe the lies said against him. But if he had a loving wife, she would reassure him with the truth, and so uphold his spirit. If a woman is single and is the subject of vicious gossip, she may feel that her reputation is being cut to shreds. But if she had a loving husband, his faith in her goodness and honesty would both comfort her and also impress those who doubted her. Similarly, a good marriage is like a buttress when a person’s religious faith if shaken. Single people who are beset by religious doubts may feel that the house of God is collapsing around them, and that they are helpless to prevent it. But married people can turn to their spouse to express those doubts; and it is almost certain that the spouse’s faith is sufficiently solid to allay those doubts. In the providence of God, when a husband is spiritually weak, his wife is spiritually strong; when a wife is weak, the husband is strong.

On Living Simply – St. John Chrysostom

St. John Chrysostom = Calvin… heck no

Are we all sinners because of the sin of Adam?  Does the stain of sin pass from one generation to another? Does every man, woman, and child on this earth stand condemned by God unless they hear and believe in Jesus Christ?  To most people this sounds utterly unreasonable and unjust; and indeed it is.  To anyone who believes that God loves his creation, and especially loves humanity, it is inconceivable that he should condemn people through no fault of their own.  The very idea that an innocent child deserves eternal punishment is monstrous.  yet is utterly reasonable that we are made good through the goodness of Christ.  Although the sin of one person cannot condemn humanity, the radiant love of one man can transform humanity – and is doing so.  God waits for our hearts to open to his grace; he waits for an opportunity to reveal to each of us his truth.  Then, when we are ready, he ensures that we hear about Christ and about his Gospel; and we find ourselves faced with a choice, which will affect the entire course of life and death – whether to embrace the words of Jesus Christ or to reject them. If we deliberately reject the Gospel, even when we fully understand it, then we condemn ourselves; if we embrace it, we shall ourselves be embraced by God in heaven.

On Living Simply – St. John Chrysostom