Better is an entertainment of herbs with friendliness and kindness, than a feast of calves, with enmity. (Proverbs 15:17, from the selection Prov 15:7-19, Vespers, 5th Tuesday of Great Lent)
The Scriptures should be very personal to us and evoke deep emotions when we read them. Everything in the scriptures is about us, whether directly or indirectly. The human condition, good and bad, how to live morally in almost any conceivable situation – it’s all in there.
One of the most personal aspects of Scripture is how it gently (and otherwise!) reminds us of things we should be mindful of, whether by example of direct instruction.
This proverb from today is particularly timely for me, as I participate in or Diocesan Assembly in Des Plaines. IL. It reminds me of the one thing needful and gently rebukes me concerning the things I grumble about.
We are a very small and poor diocese. Likewise our parish is small and poor, and yet both are rich, and I am constantly enriched by them. There is a profound peace in our Assembly. There is complete freedom to express our opinions, but all has been done with “friendliness and kindness”.
Perhaps many do not know this, but there is serious unrest, malfeasance, distrust and fear in many quarters in the Orthodox world at this time, and especially in our own “backyard” in North America, but in our small diocese, and likewise, our small parish, there is calm.
We have man good and kind (and energetic and creative) priests, and a bishop who listens and does not rule us with a stick. This does not mean that we are “democratic” – but we are conciliar, and it is joy “for brothers to dwell together in unity”.
It is good to “count our blessings”. I have a wonderful parish, at peace, and am part of a wonderful diocese that is ruled in peace. There are many things to be done, and with God’s help we are doing them at the parish and diocesan level. I will try, despite the fact that I have always been a poor historian, to report on these things when I get back, however, the most important thing is that in our church, our dioceses, with our bishop and my fellow clergy, there is “friendliness and kindness”.
Priest Seraphim Holland 2009. St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas
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Even I, at a far distant corner, feel it! And it once occured to me that your diocese may be of this kind, not only your church & parish. As i got to know some of your parishioners, I thought they can reinforce my supposition.
Tha main thing is for us is to realise it, to the extent possible, as it is possible to realise all the blessings NOW, not when time passes & we turn back to the past with regret, shaking our heads – “how wonderful everything was, how happy we were – and never imagined that! How many opportunities we had & did not use!” It often becomes axiomatic – everything in the past is good, and everything in the present is bad. Thus making it all bad And instead of cherishing our present & trying to make advantages of what is given to us by God, we linger on in the past (which seems us like a fairy tale, though it may not be so – and it seems us good only because it is already the past). Or we look into the future, which has not arrived & we don’t know whether it will…I think this is also a tricky thing the enemy plays with us – distract us from today’s blessings, and concrquently, from our actual salvation, from our todays sins & God’s gifts. Church, parish, diocese – these are the blessings & gifts. Church is not a beautiful building with rich decoration. Of course, it’s a temple. But it’s God’s House. church in a broader sense is people. A family is also called “a small church”. We are. Are we?