“I am building a temple!”

The following is taken from the excellent BLOG by Fr Milovan. He sometimes gleans things from other sources, and I often glean things from him!

I am building a temple!

January 29, 2009

H/T: ????????, Archbishop Ignaty’s blog

Three builders were carrying the same exact work.

-What do you do? -each of them was asked.

-I carry stones, said the first one.

-I’m earning a living, responded the second one.

But the third one replied: “I am building a temple”.

http://frmilovan.wordpress.com/2009/01/29/i-am-building-a-temple/

 

My comments.

A Christian should live his life with this sentiment. This “parable” is an excellent mnemonic device which will help us to remember how we should consider EVERYTHING we do (unless it is a sin of course, in that case, we are breaking down a temple!)

When my children were small, in a simpler time, as we sat downstairs on our rug made of bear hair, we would read aloud things from the scriptures, or the Prologue, and talk about what we read. These were very sweet times. There are many days when I ache to go back to them. I believe we were building a temple, or as we sometimes put it, adding gems to our crown, or bricks to our wall.

We told our children that every time they did something good, they were putting another precious stone in their “crown”, or, another brick in the wall of their “mansion” that they would have in heaven. Do you know the scriptures we referred to many times? They are true, and are about the only thing that matters and lasts in this life.

In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. (John 14:2)

 

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:  (20)  But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:  (21)  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Mat 6:19-21)

This is no children’s tale calculated to make them behave. It is the pure, unvarnished truth!  How many times, our children would do something good, and we would tell them that they have another diamond in their crown, and they would beam with joy!

What my children did not know when we were sitting on that bear rug was that I was describing for them a summary of my philosophy of life.

Nothing is mundane! Everything we do must be for Christ! Only the things we do for Christ will last.

I confess that much in my life feels mundane; Much of life feels like vast amounts of "space" between short significant moments. This is an illusion, and a very powerful one, because I find myself feeling mundane at various moments through the day. Why is this? It is all because of my attitude. It is because I do not have the wisdom to see things as they really are, because of blindness and stupidity caused by my sinfulness.

Why do I write this self indictment? Because one of the great graces given to a priest in his ordination is to understand human nature and feel his own weakness deeply, and recognize the tragedy of the human condition in himself and those he loves, his flock. We are mundane because we live in a mundane way. So many things we do could be supernatural, if we would think in the right way!

What is mundane in your life?  Perhaps it is doing the dishes that you cannot remember dirtying, taking care of the kids, working at the office, prayers that are said with little feeling and much distraction.

This is an illusion. This parable reminds us about the illusion. In time, with God’s help, we will not need such mnemonic devices to be good – we will be changed and see the truth in every moment, bit in the meantime, as we get better, perhaps you will use this parable to remind yourself that nothing in  your life is mundane – in EVERYTHING, you are building a temple.

Priest Seraphim

 

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One Response to ““I am building a temple!””

  1. Natalia Arzhantseva says:

    Father, Bless!

    This is an excellent parable, a lot of thoughts & recollections arise & revive in my head when I read it.

    Some time ago there was a film shown in Russia, “Repentance”, – by Otar Ouseliani, if I am not mistaken. In this film an old lady says: “What’s the sense in the road if it doesn’t lead to a temple?” And I think
    what’s the sense in a person’s life if it is spent far from a temple, the Church, our Lord? and see no sense in such a life. In this case a person builds a house, carrying stones all his life, spending his health & time on it, and he manages to build a house, to create a building…without soul, which will serve for nothing, and which will be ruined in the course of time, and the builder will be forgotten, without having left anything eternal to anyone. A house on sand. When I was in Cyrus, I went for an excursion, and on the route we saw Tombs of the Kings (in Paphos) – big & solid stony burial-vaults, half destroyed by the time & people. But even in this condition they looked quite preserved & imposing. But – with no soul, no life. It was a strange impression – “faceless” masses of stones, with no sense but just “watching at something ancient” for tourists (and even for many of them presenting no interest), and of course – with no sense for those who were buried there much time ago, though they pit so much of themselves in constructing these “picturesque” graves. Thus our souls resemble them, if we live “face down”, carrying things & not glancing up at sky, if we do not look for any mundane meaning in our everyday life, every action, if we do not realize that absolutely everything we do will echo in Eternity.

    After that boring visit to the Tombs, we (my mother & I) departed from the excursion & proceeded to the burial-vault of St Solomonia – a modest but tiny place, and I felt…Life there. Everything there breathed Heaven & Eternal Life. It was not she, who built this place & takes care of it regularly through centuries, she did not arrange for a burial place for herself, as she was busy…building a temple. A temple of her own soul & body, a temple of God Alive. And this temple still alive & will remain for ever.

    Everyone of us is building a temple, and we should pray to God so that it can really be a temple, not a mass of stones – in our soul. God doesn’t need a monument, and if we think well – we don’t need it either…

    So often I want to say to myself that I m building a temple, realizing high aspirations of my soul. But when I think a little, I say – no, I am carrying stones.

    There can be two outcomes often: a person may think with humility that he earns for a living, carrying stones, but unnoticeably he in reality is building a temple. And it may be vice versa: a person may be 100% sure he is building a temple, and may remain all his life in this illusion, but he may just carry stones…

    Another thought came to me today: we cannot build a temple without having carried many stones, without hard work, without carrying our individual, often unnoticeable by others, crosses…Because a temple can be built not in our imagination, it can be built only by our own hands, with support, encouraging of our Lord. On this will depend – whether our temple is real or artificial. Let God give us enough wisdom to differentiate one from another!

    In Christ,

    Natalia
    This comment is posted with permission from The St Nicholas email list: http://groups.google.com/group/saint-nicholas-orthodox-church

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