Archive for November 5th, 2006

Our Capacity for Love

November 5, 2006

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Our first child was born over 26 years ago. I remember feeling completely overwhelmed by the event – staggered at the seriousness of what had happened in my life. Evey aspect of her coming into our life was new – and I felt completely unprepared. On her first night home from the hospital, I slept on the floor next to the crib fearing that I would not hear her if she woke (I got over that real fast).

 Two years later our second child was born. Again, it was overwhelming, but in a new way. Like many young parents I wondered secretly, “Will we be able to love two children like we have loved one? It was a silly question.

By the time our third was born I was beginning to understand. There is something about the human heart that allows it to expand. Love is not something you run out of. The more you love the more you love.

Fr. Sophrony Sakharov, in his writings about St. Silouan of Mt. Athos and the spiritual life, notes that “man as persona becomes infinite, despite his ‘creaturehood’.” (In I Love Therefore I Am, page 80)

Fr. Sophrony understands that, created in the image of God, the human person has a capacity for infinity, an ability to love, to be in relationship that is without limit. In such a sense, it truly becomes possible to pray for the whole world.

None of this is possible, of course, except for the healing grace of God at work in us, completing us and bringing us to the fullness of life for which we were created.

It seems to me important somehow that my vision for what is possible be stretched by such an understanding, just as my reality was stretched with the adding of children. We are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Some Ground Rules for Blogging Here

November 5, 2006

Glory to God for All Things, has been up for a little over a week. We’ve been blessed with very good readership (around 8,000 views). I am moved and grateful.

I took the liberty of removing a couple of comments today, including one of mine, and am taking this opportunity to state what I will maintain as some groundrules for this site.

First, this is my site, not the public’s, so that freedom of speech is not the rule. Comments are welcome but only if they are kind to others and show mercy. God, Scripture tells us, is kind “to the unthankful and the evil” (Luke 6:35). And we are commanded to be like Him in these very things. The internet is full of judgment and unkindness (so is the world around us). If people have a need for that sort of thing, they do not lack opportunities – but they will not have the opportunity for it on this site.

I believe that we are able to say, with St. John Chrysostom, “Glory to God for All Things,” because God is good and His will for us is good. If something troubles you, there are kind ways to address it and merciful ways to treat any subject. Such comments, even if they are disagreements with postings, are welcome.

I hope in my postings to be edifiying and thought-provoking, in the best sense, and at least worth reading. If that is so, then this blog will be worth taking time to create and to read.

If these groundrules are observed (kindness and mercy), we will all have avoided some sin and temptation and that itself is a good thing.

May God bless you as you visit, and forgive me if I give offense at any point.

Fr. Stephen Freeman

The Gift of Hospitality

November 5, 2006

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This delightful gem from the Desert Fathers comes from Benedicta Ward’s The Wisdom of the Desert Fathers (157)

There was a saint in Egypt who dwelt in a desert place. Far away from him there was a Manichean who was a priest (at least what they call a priest). Once, when this man was going to visit one of his confederates, night overtook him in the place where the orthodox saint was living. He was in great distress, fearing to go to him to sleep there, for he knew that he was known as a Manichean, and he was afraid he would not be received. However, finding himself compelled to do so, he knocked; and the old man opened the door to him, recognized him, received him joyfully, constrained him to pray, and after having given him refreshment, he made him sleep. Thinking this over during the night, the Manichean said, “How is it that he is without any suspicions about me? Truly, this man is of God.” And he threw himself at his feet, saying, “Henceforth, I am orthodox,” and he stayed with him.