Dear Friends and Family,
A good friend, John M, came and visited Greece in January. In our efforts to “seize the day” while he was here, we briefly recorded (both audio and text) some thoughts and “gems” that we picked up throughout the course of our time together. These gems come from conversations that took place between us, with others (priests, monks, lay people), in “dialogue” with some books that we were reading, and just from life itself. We had intended to send them out bit by bit in the form of a mass e-mail, and still hope to do so, but life has a way of delaying these worthy efforts and making it difficult to complete. Thus, I have decided to start posting them slowly but surely on my blog, so that at least you all will be able to benefit from these moments as we did as well.
The following text is made up of some notes taken during an informal conversation with a local priest and confessor here in town, Fr. Spiridon. We were discussing various topics relating to ministry and work in the Church and this is mostly from the mouth of Fr. S:
We as humans, when we undertake any kind of work, we need to focus on two things: our effort and God’s blessing (hope, prayer, effort) and in trusting that He will complete the work in His time. We need to leave the results (and worrying about them) for God and be happy at all times even when things don’t go our way, knowing that our success lies in our effort and in God’s seeing our effort and blessing it (maybe not in such a way that matches with our understanding of human “results” but still a blessing nonetheless).
We don’t need too much experience or expertise when we begin a particular work in service to Christ and His Church, we just need to strive from our hearts to do God’s will out of love and not worry (i.e. if we are teacher) about how much someone understands something, but instead to focus on our effort and knowing that He will bless.
We never want to be slaves to a program. We make schedules and have a course of action. When you live like that, you are easily disappointed, and you switch things around by saying that, instead of God being in control and giving the blessing, we are in control and wait for God to be obedient to us. We have a list of things to do, and one step at a time, it leads us to become more and more anxious at every step. Anxiety comes when we trust ourselves and take things into our own hands. If you are confident and want to be in control then God says: ok, you can do it on your own? Fine, go ahead, and he “leaves you” to try.
A word of caution: hoping does not mean carelessness and saying that God will take care of everything and so I can sit back and watch, but rather means that we begin with respect and acknowledge that our human attempt is weak and poor and that God will complete and perfect our weakness.
A priest or layperson doesn’t start his labors thinking that he is capable, but rather because he loves the children of God and by his ministry in performing the sacraments (in the case of the priest), he puts his hope in God’s blessing.
The priest in the parish has to first have a fatherly relationship with his parishioners, and then be a teacher, otherwise they won’t listen (this is a mentality that seeks to avoid the trap of guruism).
Teachers have to have the sense of being life-long students, and must have the inspiration and desire to learn from their students. Only in this way will their students respect them. They have to be human first.
More to come!