Archive for the ‘sayings’ Category

“I am building a temple!”

Saturday, January 31st, 2009

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”.


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


I hope this sums it up for you.

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008


“Lord, we ain’t what we want to be;
we ain’t what we ought to be;
we ain’t what we gonna be,
but, thank God,
we ain’t what we was.”

An American preacher and former slave quoted by Martin Luther King Jr.

(gleaned from


I stress several things over in over in my homilies, and often in private sessions in confession. I hope you know what they are! This quote sums up one of those themes.


Since the Christian life is about change, we should be able to recognize changes to the good and bad in our way of life, always knowing that we have not yet reached perfection. Humility does NOT mean that we should not recognize when we have changes to the better! This quote captures the right spirit we should maintain – a sense of not doing enough, with a profound thankfulness that we have done something good, with God helping us.

Today’s readings are really good. I want to write something about them, but cannot seem to get anything down. Please read them on your own.



“Just do it”, from a church father

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

I have a bit of a hobby that I have indulged in all of my Orthodox life. I love to find things in secular culture that are actually true and sensible. I have lists of these things squirreled away in some GoogleDocs document, for later publishing on this BLOG. There are song lyrics, advertising slogans, and more than a few of my own sayings. Those who know me would expect to see a Neil Young lyric or two, and they would not be disappointed.

Here is one of those things – a secular saying that has an Orthodox application.

“JUST DO IT” is a slogan for Nike shoes. It is good advice, if one reads it in the right way.

I have modified it somewhat in my own life, when I am confused and/or lazy and/or overwhelmed and/or suffering from a day which is not very spiritual, and I cannot quite figure out how to get it that way. Has anybody had this sort of day?

My modification is: “Do something!” This idea has served me well, and I advise my flock to also “Do something!” because it is sound spiritual advice. We may not pray as well as we should, but at we should at least pray! We may not had a productive fast day, but we can at least fast! The key is to do something, and not do nothing. Something, in the spiritual life, is always better than nothing.

Here is this same idea, expressed by a church father:

…”A thought comes to me which troubles me and does not leave me free, but not being able to lead me to act, it simply stops me progressing in virtue; but a vigilant man would cut it off and get up to pray.” Abba Theodore of Scetis

Perhaps the perfection of the phrases “Just do it!” Or “Do something!” would be: “GET UP AND PRAY!” Good related advice would be “Even if you have already been up for a long time and have not prayed, GET U P AND PRAY!

I read the quote from an excellent resource: “A Word from the desert” I receive it in email, but prefer it in my RSS Reader (I use Google) I highly recommend that you get into the habit of reading these daily quotes. Subscribe to the RSS feed from this page:

To know someone you must become like them – said another way

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

Here is something I read today that hits smack dab on a theme I talk to my parish about as often as possible:

“To try to discover the meaning of the commandments through study and reading without actually living in accordance with them is like mistaking the shadow of something for its reality. It is only by participating in the truth that you can share in the meaning of truth.”

St. Gregory of Sinai.

To feel good, you must do good.

Friday, January 11th, 2008

I know so many of you have heard this from me a million times: “To feel good you must do good” I will never tire of saying it, because it is true, and to understand this is a key to happiness and a fruitful life. Just maybe, some of you tire of hearing the same thing so many times, so I present to you today, the SAME THING said DIFFERENTLY:

“What means, ‘that they be careful to maintain good works?’ That they wait not for those who are in want to come to them, but that they seek out those who need their assistance. Thus the considerate man shows his concern, and with great zeal will he perform this duty. For in doing good actions, it is not those who receive the kindness that are benefited, so much as those who do it that make gain and profit, for it gives them confidence towards God.”

St. John Chrysostom.