A Day Off Versus The Day Of

In medieval England, just prior to the Reformation, there were between 40 and 50 days of the calendar (apart from Sundays) that were feasts of the Church on which little to no work was done. Historian, Eamon Duffy, describes this:

As important as fast days were feast days, in particular the festa ferianda, on which total or partial abstention from servile work was required and the laity were expected to observe the Sunday pattern of attendance at matins, Mass, and evensong, fasting on the preceding eve. There were between forty and fifty such days, with variations in the precise list from region to region. (The Stripping of the Altars, p. 130).

By the end of the Reformation period, such days had largely disappeared, with Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost (Whitsunday), alone remaining – with only Christmas being a possible weekday celebration. Under the Puritans, Christmas itself was abolished.

It is possible to think about this shift in Christian thought in economic terms. Fifty days in the year on which work is interrupted can have an enormous impact on productivity and efficiency. It has long been commonplace to compare the industrious example of early Protestantism to the more “lazy” example of Catholics. Max Weber coined the phrase, “Protestant Work Ethic,” together with theories to explain the difference. The shift itself can be seen in the very use of economics to measure what is good and salutary in a society. Weber is also among the first to describe what he called the “disenchantment” of the modern world. Strictly speaking, the modern world has not been disenchanted. Rather, it is now enchanted with money and the “invisible hand” of the market.

We are the inheritors of this cultural pattern. Though Orthodox and Catholic festal calendars continue the ancient pattern of feast days, priests often serve liturgies for nearly empty Churches. There are accomodations that seek to moderate the modern effect: Catholic practice and some Orthodox jurisdictions allow for a Liturgy on the evening before a feast so that working families can still attend. What is lost, however, is the larger meaning of the ancient feasts. Work defines the culture and we feast within the smallest of margins.

It is worth thinking about all of this as we approach our culture’s largest remaining feast: Christmas. Of course, the original and proper meaning of the feast is often swallowed by the pseudo-feast marketed by the culture itself. That pseudo-feast can be seen in our seasonal movies in which romance, children’s happiness, and a bit of playful magic are celebrated without reference to the birth of Christ. In some Christian Churches, Christmas itself is understood to be a “family festival” such that Church services are cancelled should December 25 fall on a Sunday.

What constitutes a feast?

Perhaps the most interesting work on this topic is the small book, In Tune with the World: A Theory of Festivity,  by the Catholic philosopher, Josef Pieper (1963). Pieper offers this observation:

…the Biblical sentence remains inviolate: that the festival is a day “the Lord has made” (Ps. 117: 24). It remains true because while man can make the celebration, he cannot make what is to be celebrated, cannot make the festive occasion and the cause for celebrating. The happiness of being created, the existential goodness of things, the participation in the life of God, the overcoming of death – all these occasions of the great traditional festivals are pure gift. But because no one can confer a gift on himself, something that is entirely a human institution cannot be a real festival.

The culture has borrowed the outward forms of the feast: a bit of leisure, the exchange of gifts, a bit of family time, as well as sentimental songs and traditional foods (which, strangely, in Japan, is dinner from KFC). There is, however, an emptiness in the trimmings when the true Gift of the feast is missing. It is a gift whose absence makes modern life largely immune to true feasting.

The reality of feasting rests on a paradox. Those who abolished the Medieval festivals argued that “all days are holy.” They exalted the mundane by declaring it to be holy (“work is holy”). The paradox, however, is that if “all days are holy” we somehow forget that any day is holy. The mundane swallows the significance of the “holy” until it becomes a word without meaning. The same paradox can be observed elsewhere. Protestants emphasized the “priesthood of all believers” to such an extent that they forgot what “priesthood” means. If everyone is a priest, then no one is a priest.

The meaning comes from the particularity of things – not from the general. If I say to an Orthodox believer that he has a “priestly function,” his mind goes first to the function made manifest through the priest in his parish. Indeed, if we speak of Christ as “our Great High Priest,” there remains a need to see a particular priest in action to rightly understand what is being said. By the same token, we cannot define a “feast” simply with the absence of work. A “day off” is not the “day of.” Not working is not the meaning of anything.

The “week” is the earliest story in Genesis. It is given to us as seven “days.” The last day of the week, the seventh (“Sabbath” in Hebrew), is marked as “holy,” in that it is set aside as a day given to God. We do no work to honor the reality that God “rested” on that day. In Christian interpretation, God “rested” in the Tomb on Holy Saturday – His “rest in death” trampling down death and setting all creation free. That same triumph is fulfilled in the “Eighth Day” (Sunday) as the resurrection of Christ reveals the meaning that had been “hidden from all the ages.” Sunday becomes the weekly Christian feast.

We are several centuries removed from the destruction of the Medieval world. In our modern culture, work (making money) has become the defining purpose of life. Leisure is thus a “day off,” a day of needed rest so that we can go back to work. The work defines even our rest.

The truth, however, is the reverse. It is the feasting that gives meaning to all things. It is God’s holy day that gives every day its meaning. It is our resting in God that gives any moment of work its truth and its value. Fr. Alexander Schmemann said that we are best defined as homo eucharisticus, “man, the giver of thanks.” We were created for communion with God. All that we have is a gift, and we live in the wonder of that gift as we return thanks to God and share His bounty with others.

Each day is Christmas. Each day is Pascha. Every moment is a gift given for communion with God. He has given us our feast days that we might return to our senses and transform the whole of our life in gifted remembrance.

Glory to His name!

 

About Fr. Stephen Freeman

Fr. Stephen is a retired Archpriest of the Orthodox Church in America, Pastor Emeritus of St. Anne Orthodox Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is also author of Everywhere Present: Christianity in a One-Storey Universe, and Face to Face: Knowing God Beyond Our Shame, as well as the Glory to God podcast series on Ancient Faith Radio.



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91 responses to “A Day Off Versus The Day Of”

  1. David Mansfield Avatar
    David Mansfield

    Father Stephen.
    Most people here in Britain have no clue how disastrous the forced conversion to protestantism was.
    All the Abbey’s and monastic houses had hospitals and gave out food for the destitute,that disappeared overnight.It was only a few years ago that the law changed and a Catholic could become prime minister.
    I would love to have 40 or 50 days of work ,after holidays where once Holy Days .
    Thank you for your work Father
    Yours respectfully
    Dave.

  2. David Mansfield Avatar
    David Mansfield

    Father Stephen.
    Sorry to bother you again .
    ” If everyone is a priest then no one is a priest”
    Brilliant!
    Thanks again .
    Yours respectfully
    Dave

  3. Nicholas Stephen Griswold Avatar
    Nicholas Stephen Griswold

    I should think that the Protestant Work Ethic was what drove Ebeneezer Scrooge.

  4. Drewster2000 Avatar
    Drewster2000

    I am reminded of this conversation from “The Incredibles” movie:

    Elastigirl: Right now, honey, the world just wants us to fit in, and to fit in, we gotta be like everyone else.

    Dash: But Dad always said our powers were nothing to be ashamed of, our powers made us special.

    Elastigirl: Everyone’s special, Dash.

    Dash: [muttering] Which is another way of saying no one is.

  5. Alan Avatar
    Alan

    Thank you for this great post Father. You quoted Eamon Duffy. For the benefit of your newer readers, in the past you have recommended his great book “The Voices of Morebath”, which deals with this topic.

  6. Alan Avatar
    Alan

    Drewster, I love that movie! As I recall, the villain envisions a world in which everyone is a superhero. To which one character correctly notes: “when everyone is a superhero…nobody is a superhero.”

    Before becoming Orthodox, I once had a pastor who purposely chose one year to make Easter Sunday, no big deal. His “reasoning” was that, well, we celebrate the Resurrection every Sunday. I so badly wanted to ask him if he also didn’t celebrate his wife’s birthday on the grounds that, he celebrates her every day of the year.

  7. Fr. Stephen Avatar

    David,
    When I first read some of Eamon Duffy’s work – I was astounded by how much how been “covered up” by the standard English historical take on the Reformation. Duffy should have been given a Nobel Prize. I highly recommend his writing – much has changed since he first started. But, when I first noticed the 50 day thing – I realized that only in modern times (in France) did people regain about seven weeks worth of vacation time. Amazing.

  8. Fr. Stephen Avatar

    Nicholas,
    At the very least. Dickens (who is deeply loved in Russia, btw) wrote masterfully, focusing much on the truth of Christmas. He noted that Scrooge was always later known to “keep Christmas.”

  9. Fr. Stephen Avatar

    Alan,
    Perhaps he should have been consistent and let everyone else in the congregation have their turn at preaching…afterall…

  10. Ook Avatar
    Ook

    Regarding the Protestant work ethic: before the Reformation the most successful trading and commercial societies were Italian city states (Venice, Genoa, Florence), the Hanseatic league, the Ottoman, Portuguese, Spanish Empires: all Catholic except for the predominantly Islamic Ottomans. Even with all those days off.

  11. David Mansfield Avatar
    David Mansfield

    Father Stephen
    William Cobbett wrote a few books one called A history of the protestant reformation of England and Ireland.
    I read that about 30 years ago and was astonished at the brutality of those times .
    I suppose the victors write the history,but it’s biased and some of it is lies.
    What the poor tenant farmers lost at that time in England and Ireland is unbelievable.
    It wasn’t a reformation it was Revolution,that cost thousands of lives.
    I don’t know the state of modern Christendom is the fruit of spirit of those times . I go on YouTube sometimes and all the old heresys that The Church fought against are coming back ,it’s so very sad.
    Still I go to Mass ,pray ,give alms and fast spend time with my children and grandchildren and try to live a small life and know “All will be well and all will be well ” St Julian of Norwich.
    Have a blessed Advent Father .
    Yours respectfully
    Dave .

  12. Owen Kelly Avatar
    Owen Kelly

    Father, I love the writing of Josef Pieper. Thanks for the beautiful quote and an excellent article. I’ve benefited especially from Pieper’s Leisure the Basis of Culture, where he argues unless we have dedicated time away from work, culture cannot be cultivated, including the “work” of pursuing mystic meaning in communion with God. Life gets flat when Mammon rules. I find it difficult to swim against this current.

    God has blessed me recently with a new job. It’s going to require some overtime, perhaps weekly. Some even say it’s a Christian company. I will admit, it feels good to go to work after 3 months of unemployment.
    So, work is good (I know would you agree). But I also know I start to wither without time to contemplate – to think on higher things, and to *stop* thinking altogether. May God meet us in our modern mess.

  13. David Mansfield Avatar
    David Mansfield

    Ook
    I hadn’t fought about that ,thanks for sharing that info .
    When you see the feast day celebrations in those countries even now I think of what we in Britain have lost.
    Those “reformers” of the 1500’s have alot to answer for. Lord have mercy.
    Yours Dave .

  14. Matthew Avatar
    Matthew

    I don´t like the idea of the relegation of special days to “all days”. In my past evangelical times, I remember people saying things like “Why do we need a special Easter/Resurrection Sunday? — I celebrate the Resurrection everyday!”

    Yes … we can celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus everyday, but is there something wrong with wanting to have an even extra special day to celebrate it? It does me good, though, to see some Protestant groups warming up to the Church calendar.

  15. Matthew Avatar
    Matthew

    Should have said:

    Some evangelical Protestant groups. 🙂

  16. Fr. Stephen Avatar

    Ook,
    Nevertheless, the “Protestant Work Ethic” lingers on quite strongly in the mythology of economic theory. FWIW, I think there was a real shake-up in many peoples’ heads during the pandemic. The work ethic was definitely challenged and lots of questioning happened. I have no idea about the ultimate outcome of all that.

  17. Matthew Avatar
    Matthew

    What is the alternative to free markets? I am the first to say that there are glaring problems with capitalism and the “Protestant Work Ethic”. That said, it seems that other economic systems (like pure socialism and communism) always tend to get mired down in political authoritarianism, persecution, and violence though on paper they seem to be more equitable and fair in terms of economic resource distribution.

  18. David Mansfield Avatar
    David Mansfield

    Matthew.
    I don’t know the answer either but I think getting rid of usery would be a good start .As I see it as slavery . Maybe it could stay for companys so they could invest but individuals become slaves to the financial services.
    Yours Dave.

  19. Fr. Stephen Avatar

    Matthew,
    I’ve offered no criticism to free markets or suggested an alternative economic model. There are economic evils no matter which way you turn (meaning that there’s no easy fix). Mind you, I’m not advocating for “make the world a better place.”

    Much more important is the simple question of how we, as Orthodox Christians, should live in whatever context we find ourselves. FWIW, a number of Catholic thinkers look towards Distributism when they examine economic theory.

  20. Arsenios Avatar
    Arsenios

    Was just going to mention Distributism. The name sounds socialist-ish, but the idea, as far as I understand it, is that production/industry/etc should be small and local. Reminds me of the books “Small is Beautiful” and “Small is Still Beautiful.”

  21. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    Matthew, there is no systems approach that will make a difference as long as there are sinners like me. Fr. Stephen is too polite to mention that fact. Greed, envy and pursuit of power make any “economic system” fail. If I want change, I have to repent. That began to be clear to me during the protests of the 60’s.

    The fact is that each of us project our sins on others as a distraction rather than looking at them in our hearts and repenting. That is basic Christian anthropology. Repent and look what you are able to do close to hand guide by the Holy Spirit. That more than keeps me busy and often leads to the need for more repentance.

    May God’s Joy be with you in all things

  22. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    Dave, I am remind of the ending of Romeo & Juliet by your imprecation against the “reformers”. Because of the discord in Verona Romeo and Juliet have committed joint suicide. The Prince of Verona, at the scene says, “Montague, Capulet see what a scourge is laid upon your hate that heaven doth kill thy joys with love, and I for winking at your discords have lost a brace of kinsmen. All are punished.”

    May the good God forgive us all that we may be one with Him in the Kingdom!

    A point of joy: I was in a Wendy’s yesterday and the manager came to wait on me (a middle aged black lady, assuredly an Evangelical) She took one look at the Cross with Jesus being Crucified on the chain I am wearing and said: “Its on me. I like your chain What it says”

    One of the many reasons I prefer experience, guided and formed by theology rather than theology alone.

  23. Matthew Avatar
    Matthew

    Thanks so much David. I think much can be said positively of the Year of Jubilee discussed (I believe) in Leviticus 25.

    Thanks Fr. Stephen.

    Thanks once again for the reminder Michael. I agree that repentance (rightly understood) is an extremely important part of one´s salvation.

  24. Matthew Avatar
    Matthew

    Speaking of the Year of Jubiliee, Fr. Stephen, I´m wondering how you understand what appears to be a rather strong call to social justice in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament?

  25. Alan Avatar
    Alan

    Touche Father….I should have asked him when my turn to preach was. 🙂

    Matthew, Father Stephen has written much on this topic, for decades. Obviously Father doesn’t need me to answer a question you posed to him. Nonetheless, the real alternative to rampant consumerism and materialism is something that sadly may not even be possible today: people living in small villages who support each other. A young couple in my parish goes to a farmers market literally every Sat. They refuse to buy certain items (namely food) from a corporation, that they can buy from…actual people. So if they miss the market on a Sat, they don’t have any fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy to eat that week.
    I often think about how much my grandparents bought from corporations, compared to how much I buy from corporations and it makes me cringe. And we did this to ourselves. We started buying from corps to save what, a few bucks a month? Sad. I get that you can’t buy a car or an appliance at a farmer’s market. But there are a lot of things we can do. And as Father Stephen always says, we’re not going to fix anything, so just do the next good thing.

  26. Fr. Stephen Avatar

    Matthew,
    I would greatly prefer some term other than “social justice,” in that it carries so much baggage as well as terrible distortions. I have written on the topic of debt and the Scriptures. The Jubilee, indeed, a cosmic version of the Jubilee, underlies Christ’s proclamation of the Kingdom of God as well as His commandments.

    I suppose the difference viz. “social justice” seems to be that those advocating for social justice seem to want to use the violence of the state to make other people behave in a particular way, without, as far as I can see, bothering to actually change and repent themselves. I have little regard for political movements in the modern world. They have a very long, sad, history.

    But the teaching of Christ is perfectly consistent with the Jubilee proclamations of the OT. But, lets call it something other than social justice.

  27. Shawn Avatar
    Shawn

    Father Stephen,
    In many protestant circles, I have encountered a popular notion along the lines of “my work is my ministry, or God owns my company”. In many of these encounters, the person saying that does seem to work with a higher degree of honor and ethics. However, in most cases these are very wealthy people who take full advantage of how the market works with high profits and large disparity in their standard of living verses those whom they employ or contract with. I think to combat some of these conflicts, they often claim any business success and financial gain as a blessing from God, going back to “God owns my company…He’s the CEO…He brings the growth.” I admit I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, in my experience at least, I can see at least some difference on the surface in how these people operate, but I can’t help but suspect that taking this approach of merging God with our work is somehow a self-deception that allows their consciences to be appeased while fully participating in our corrupt economic system. Care to offer your thoughts?

  28. Fr. Stephen Avatar

    Alan,
    I’ve been thinking lately about the phenomenon of very large corporations (like Amazon, etc.), who, in the efficiencies of the internet world and global trade, are able to grow into trillion dollar mega-businesses. It is, I think, both dangerous and unhealthy for things to scale up to such a size. Nonetheless, our task is to conform to the gospels – regardless of the landscape around us.

    We have several families in our parish who have bought a farm and are growing stuff, raising animals, and carving out an “alternative” lifestyle. I can see their impact on other families around them. I’m going to a “pig roast” on January 1st at the farm – and absolutely looking forward to it! I think the Moldovans/Romanians are managing the pig – and, I am told – there will be dancing (Orthodox style). Good start to a new year.

  29. David Mansfield Avatar
    David Mansfield

    Alan.
    Yes live small ,and do the the most good you can .Plus remember the Golden rule.
    Yours Dave.

  30. Fr. Stephen Avatar

    Shawn,
    It’s pretty much an old American story. It’s most often a far cry from paying attention to Christ’s actual commandments. In my experience, God might very well want you to go broke from time to time – for your salvation. It’s strange the marriage of “prosperity and success” with the gospel.

    There was (is?) a Protestant community in South Georgia, the Koinonia Community, that practiced a Jubilee ethic of sorts. It is the context from which Habitat for Humanity sprang. Those houses, to which the owners-to-be can contribute “sweat equity,” do not come with interest payments, for example. I knew one of the founders of that back in my college days.

  31. Mark Spurlock Avatar
    Mark Spurlock

    Matthew,

    It’s worth remembering that in the Old Testament you are speaking of a “people”–all of those folks were related to one another, so in a way their interactions were to be like those within a family (not a society). My sense is that they did not feel the same kind of obligations to those not of the Children of Israel.

    If, as Christians, we view others as likewise our brothers and sisters in Christ, then it should become easier to treat one another with love and compassion.

    I agree with Michael’s comments and also the preference for small and distributed–whatever the inherent inefficiencies–versus top-down and one size fits all. However, as Father Stephen wrote:

    “The shift itself can be seen in the very use of economics to measure what is good and salutary in a society.”

    Once we buy into the materialist game, we’ve already lost because we’re playing under the other team’s house rules. Rather:

    “Much more important is the simple question of how we, as Orthodox Christians, should live in whatever context we find ourselves.”

  32. Matthew Avatar
    Matthew

    Shawn … absolutely excellent obervations and questions. Thank you.

  33. Matthew Avatar
    Matthew

    Thanks for your thoughts Mark. If I may, might I gently push back just a bit?:

    Leviticus 19:33,34 — When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.

    It appears the law to help, do justice, whatever you want to call it to the non-children of Israel was also present in Torah.

  34. Matthew Avatar
    Matthew

    Thanks Fr. Stephen.

    This hit home:

    “I suppose the difference viz. “social justice” seems to be that those advocating for social justice seem to want to use the violence of the state to make other people behave in a particular way, without, as far as I can see, bothering to actually change and repent themselves. I have little regard for political movements in the modern world. They have a very long, sad, history.”

    My environmental, non-believing brother-in-law thinks Germany needs a green dictatorship! I am beginning to see your points about the modern project.

  35. Nathan Fischer Avatar
    Nathan Fischer

    Father,

    I work in IT, which means I work a very demanding job that requires “high availability.” It can be quite exhausting, and I have missed my share of holidays due to being called into to some major computer system issue that couldn’t wait. Some weeks are 50 hour work weeks, others are 80, normally it falls somewhere in between.

    I have often tried to the Feast Days of the church. One year, I used as much of my vacation time as I could for the Feast Days. I am ashamed to say: it was *exhausting*. It felt as though I never had rest. Instead, I was either working, in church, or sick. Projects around the house already stack up – and they stacked up crazily that year. I am now often one of those who leave the church empty on a Feast Day.

    I also realized that year how often our time off from work isn’t even used for rest. It’s used to take care of things around the house that we otherwise can’t get to during work days. Especially those of us with families. Feast Days have a tendency to sneak up on us. Entire seasons of the Church largely pass by unnoticed, except that we eat a bit differently and the sermons are a bit different in Church.

    I don’t want “work” to define my life. I feel particularly horrible that Church feels like so much extra effort on top of the effort of daily work. I thought it might be possible to make the Church’s liturgical calendar that which my life revolves around, and to make work (and even rest) subservient to that calendar. Instead, I crashed and burned.

    How do we get out of this cycle? I feel so guilty for not being in Church. And I often feel so overwhelmed when I am (especially outside of Sunday liturgy). This has long bothered me, but I’m not sure how to actually change the situation.

  36. Mark Spurlock Avatar
    Mark Spurlock

    Matthew,

    Yes, but I think that’s the exception that proves the rule 🙂

    For example, in the year of Jubilee (as I understand it), the land went back to the original tribal owners–meaning it operated to protect the Children of Israel versus the interests of foreigners.

  37. Dee of St Herman Avatar
    Dee of St Herman

    Nathan Fischer,
    I hear you! Yes, I have been having the same problem. Outside of Sunday services, the best I can truly be with Christ is early prayer and the Jesus prayer as often as I can remember. And these are a struggle. Like you, a true day of rest is a luxury that I’m not sure when it will happen in the future.

  38. Dee of St Herman Avatar
    Dee of St Herman

    Nathan,
    I’m eager to hear what words Father Stephen might offer us.

  39. David Mansfield Avatar
    David Mansfield

    Dee and Nathan .
    Hi ,up to 10 years ago I was in a similar situation as yourselves. I don’t want to sound harsh as I don’t know your situations ,but promotions,pay rise and what the world wants of us can never bring peace.
    I had to let go we’ve tightened our belts so to speak .Work knows I’ll never Sundays,if we’ve got grandchildren for a few hours of a day and I’m asked to do O.T. I say I’m not swapping time with them for money. I’m not always popular with manager but we are made for communion with God not the rules of the world.
    I apologise if your not in a position to take my advice but to go to Mass during the week is truly a blessing for my spiritual life and sanity.
    Again apologies if it sounds harsh.
    Yours Dave .

  40. Dee of St Herman Avatar
    Dee of St Herman

    David,
    It isn’t chasing after money for promotion and such. I’ve spent a good chunk of my life in the lower income bracket and near 70 years now. As for my current circumstances, I’m grateful for my work and the income that allows us not to be in debt, albeit without any savings. I will need to work as far as I know until I die.

    The “world” is my family, church, community, and students. They all have needs that go well beyond what I’m ‘required’ or ‘paid’ to provide them. To the best of my ability, without a lot of my own money to share, I share my time. Therefore, the pressure is on. And is there more going on in my life than I am willing to share publically. I apologize for not being more explicit.

  41. David Mansfield Avatar
    David Mansfield

    Dee
    Please accept my apologies,I meant no ill will .
    Blessed Advent and Christmas to you and yours .
    Yours Dave

  42. Nathan Fischer Avatar
    Nathan Fischer

    David,

    I am grateful that you work in a field and for a manager that allows you to put your foot down on extra hours. I have heard of places where such things exist. In my field of work, that is simply not the case. “I’m sorry, it’s Christmas,” doesn’t cut it when critical business infrastructure fails. Though I generally disdain the analogy, because we aren’t saving lives here, from the company’s perspective, it would be akin to a fireman saying, “It’s a holiday, I’m not fighting fires today.”

    Like Dee, my world is predominantly my family, my church, and my work. I am a sole income earner for our household (which houses six children). I do not chase promotions or extra pay. I am quite genuinely just trying to survive day-to-day. I will be working until the day I die. Most people I know are in my situation, as well.

    I do hope someday to find a position where I can simply say no. But even if I do, there are millions who won’t. It is a sad reality of our American Corporate culture.

  43. David Mansfield Avatar
    David Mansfield

    Nathan
    Do you not get any old age pension in USA ? All European countries give pensions obviously some are more generous than others.
    In Britain you could just about keep body and soul together on the pension.
    Yours Dave .

  44. Fr. Stephen Avatar

    Nathan, Dee,
    First, I would say to let go of the guilt about work/services. The Church’s calendar grew in a context similar to the Middle Ages where feast days were deeply part of the cultural calendar as well. Sunday liturgies are, to a great extent, generally possible these days, depending on the nature of your work. Of course, in the US, Sunday as a day of rest (the old “Blue Laws”) are a thing of the past and workers have little say-so about hours, etc.

    So, on the one hand, we do what we can do viz. feast day attendance.

    More to the point, I think, is working within ourselves to rethink our relationship to the work we do, such that we are not mere wage-slaves. It is possible to view our work as a gift from God (in some manner or other) and to engage in it with thanksgiving and with joy. I once saw a medieval prayer that began with ABC’s (A,B,C, etc.) and concluded by giving God thanks for the alphabet and writing and enumerated the good things it made possible! I think it was a prayer created by one of the medieval scribes.

    St. Paul says, “Whatsoever you do, in thought, word, or deed, do it as unto the Lord.” We can see what the feast days intend – and we live our lives as we must. We might well lament the loss of an all-pervasive Christian culture. At the same time, when our culture presses against us, we should give thanks for what God continues to do, and remember those who are under even greater pressures than ourselves.

    But don’t feel guilty.

  45. Fr. Stephen Avatar

    David,
    The US has a public pension (the Social Security program). It is fairly meager. There are also private pensions in some companies (indeed, the Orthodox Church has a private pension plan for its priests). I am retired (meaning I no longer have a salary and I help out around the Church for free). I live on my social security pension and my church pension. Together, they are sufficient. Many people do not have even that much – our social net here in the US has some serious holes in it – and much debate around it.

  46. Nathan Fischer Avatar
    Nathan Fischer

    David, I struggle not to chuckle. 🙂 Social Security, I think, is supposed to be something like what you’ve described. It is rarely, if ever, enough to truly live on. Perhaps enough to supplement, though.

    Father, thank you. I needed to hear that. As someone who works daily with computers, I often feel that I’m staring the devil in the face (so to speak). I’ve probably internalized just a little too much Paul Kingsnorth and Jonathan Pageau on the topic of technology (I love them both, but I realized I needed to hold on to their advice a little looser than I was). I told myself recently that whatever the status of our current technology, I needed to find some way to find joy in my work, including in modern technology itself, even as I’m not blind to its dangers and the damage it can do. I’ve found the burden of my job lessen greatly since trying to do that.

    I had not applied that thinking (joy) to my work in general, though. Which, I realize now is a rather large oversight on my part. It’s much easier to fixate on what I don’t have (the Medieval culture you mentioned) than on what God has given me.

  47. Nathan Fischer Avatar
    Nathan Fischer

    I phrased that confusingly. I should say: I realized that I needed to find joy in the specifics of my work (working with technology), rather than simply lamenting what we’ve done and are doing with modern technology. But I hadn’t applied that to my job in general. Especially not in the context of the liturgical calendar, and how often it takes me away from it.

  48. Mark Spurlock Avatar
    Mark Spurlock

    Not everyone can make the lifestyle changes necessary to do with less. In my own case, for example, I have always had some confidence that, if I truly made a mess of things, there were family members who would keep my children from poverty. That said, it’s preferable that your job be such that money is not the only reason you do it. In other words, you don’t have golden handcuffs forcing you to endure almost anything so as not to lose your job. Simply knowing you work at a particular job by choice makes it more tolerable. (I think this effect of choice is in fact true of almost every situation, including relationships.)

    Moreover, finding joy in one’s work can come about indirectly. Shawn described the “speech” that some Christians give, but truly putting faith into practice and living it in our work is rewarding in my experience (not every day, but some days). The Wendy’s manager Michael encountered is what I mean more than proselytizing.

    Like George Bailey, some days you will deal with the Potters of the world, someone you love will make a costly mistake that gets you in trouble, or an angry drunk will punch you when you’re praying. If you continue to be Christ-like in your heart and express Him in your actions, however, you will also on other days know a joy that Potter–for all his wealth–never does.

  49. Byron Avatar
    Byron

    Nathan,
    I am not in a intense “on call” situation but a somewhat smaller one is coming my way in 2024. The company has instituted a policy that requires its employees to “be available” 24/7 on a rotating basis and make sure we can be at our computers to work within an hour of any call. I’ve told my manager that my phone won’t be on when I’m at Church and I don’t care what upper management thinks about it.

    He recommended something interesting: there is an HR provision in the employee handbook for “religious accommodation”. He recommended I put in for that once things start. You might look to see if there is something like that in your company. It may allow you to attend services, in a somewhat strictly defined manner, without interruption. I don’t know though; it’s just a suggestion.

  50. Dee of St Herman Avatar
    Dee of St Herman

    More to the point, I think, is working within ourselves to rethink our relationship to the work we do, such that we are not mere wage-slaves. It is possible to view our work as a gift from God (in some manner or other) and to engage in it with thanksgiving and with joy.

    Father thank you for this and the rest of your comment to Nathan and I. Yes, how important it is to be grateful for what we have. With real gratitude comes both endurance and joy from the Holy Spirit.

    Regarding my personal condition, we are not in debt. But high debt is a stress condition that I understand most Americans have. Plus, I’ve heard we (US-Americans) have the longest work hours per week per year relative to other nations. Therefore, the workload I have is not something that places me as an outlier in this culture. Furthermore, even needful working into ‘old age’ is now common in the US among many who might be considered the ‘middle class’.

    Rather than accept this situation with resignation, with the help of the Holy Spirit, (my priest confessor, and you, Father Stephen) I have embraced it. To that end, I generally do not say no to students or faculty who say they need my help with their work or research. I’ve been scolded by family who think that others might take advantage. However, when I see a struggling student who works with me blossom, such is a reward that doesn’t have a salary unit attached. Nevertheless, a significant amount of my time might be involved. One such student just presented their research at an international forum. They sent me pictures which made me smile from ear to ear.

  51. Fr. Stephen Avatar

    Dee,
    What a joy!

    There are many in the US (and, doubtless, elsewhere) whose income leaves them in a marginal situation. Also, the American health insurance situation is such that many people have few options open to them for change.

    Though that is true – and there are plenty of even greater issues of economic injustice – we do well to remember that Christians have endured and even flourished spiritually under the darkest circumstances. I am amazed, time and again, by the joyful statements of believers who have suffered terrible things. I see in them the Kingdom of God.

  52. Justin Avatar
    Justin

    Having grown up in the Protestant work ethic, priesthood of all believers, all days are holy milieu, in which “Christmas and Easter Christians” were considered worse sinners than all others, and many, if not most, Easter sermons failed to mention the Resurrection at all, discovering the Church calendar was a (pun intended) Godsend.
    Like many here have admitted, I too struggle to balance work demands with home and parish life. All too often I plan to attend a mid-week feast and Liturgy only to be absconded by something else. I so much appreciate, Fr Stephen, your admonition to not feel guilty about it.
    Even so I try to do what I can to at least acknowledge the Holy Days that come my way, even if it’s just an email to a friend wishing him a Happy Feast of St Nicholas. I’m even wear the epithet of “Christmas and Easter Christian,” now, as a badge of honor. Okay, maybe only “Pascha Christian.” So it goes…

  53. Dee of St Herman Avatar
    Dee of St Herman

    Indeed, Father,
    I, too, have heard recordings from such Christians. Their story is a blessing to us all.

  54. Alan Avatar
    Alan

    Father, the pig roast sounds great! What the families in your parish are doing, sounds glorious!

    David M, thank you my friend. Such simple, yet profound advice.

  55. Shawn Avatar
    Shawn

    In my experience, and taking some of the discussion as a whole, it seems we would do well to avoid extremes surrounding work. On one hand is the protestant work ethic / American ethos that “I am my work” or “my work defines me”. From before college graduation to nearly the age of 40 I have adopted some form of that mantra. Along with it comes the idea that we all, if we try hard enough, can find full satisfaction in work. If we succeed at work, then that success transfers to our identity and we are satisfied everywhere else. Throw in the protestant idea that God wants us to be great and content at work and you have quite the motivation an high expectation. Of course, if we do try hard enough and it doesn’t bring contentment, then simply find a different job and start again. I’ve certainly been on that path to varying degrees.

    When this failed to deliver enough, I’ve encountered the other end of the spectrum which is something along the line of “work is terrible and meaningless”. This can be the natural result of the first mantra not delivering.
    For me, as I have come to see more clearly, due in part to this blog, I realize that work isn’t supposed to define me or be my ultimate source of satisfaction. Moreover, when work is tied money and success, all of which are cultural idols, I shouldn’t be surprised that it doesn’t satisfy my sould that ultimately seeks communion with God. Slowly I’m learning to let go of striving to make work define and satisfy me. This allows me to open my eyes to those around me. To see fellow image bearers who struggle with work and identity and satisfaction just like I do. While my work may be no more satisfying that it was before, I can now do it with an awareness of those around me whom I can seek to love throughout the day.

    I’m just now beginning to tolerate this station in life. I often want to jump ship or try harder to do more thinking maybe the old paradigm might still end up true. However, as I humble myself and quiet my soul, I am experiencing an abiding peace and beauty that comes simply from being and loving those around me. After work I can go home, love my family, attend church, seek God, rest and be satisfied.

  56. Nathan Fischer Avatar
    Nathan Fischer

    Shawn, I never really bought into “I am my work.” I got out of school in 2008 with a wife and child. I had no conception of what a Recession was. I went into “survival mode” – working whatever I could find, whatever it took to put food on the table. Jobs that took a toll on my health, even to this day. It became pretty apparent to me early on that things were rigged against us, and that the notion of “economic progress” was something of a lie. I have never had any illusion that I would have wealth or that my work would somehow fulfill me. Quite the opposite.

    So my struggle has been much more on the side of “work is meaningless.” I look at care professions (medical, teaching, ministry, motherhood, etc) and see something more akin to what work is supposed to be. Even the trades. I have always deeply wanted a more community-driven life. Work is a poor substitute for community. It’s hard not to feel “robbed” sometimes of such a life.

    So like you, I’m simply trying to make peace somehow with what I do and where I am. It isn’t easy. But I have to accept that it’s what I’ve been given.

  57. David Mansfield Avatar
    David Mansfield

    Alan
    Thank you ,I regretted writing that post but I’m glad you found it useful.
    I don’t know if I’m crazy ,brave or lucky
    but less work more family and Mass 2 or 3 times as week is so good for us.
    Im shocked that people in the USA work almost till death ,to me as a Brit I find that absolutely disgusting.
    Yours Dave.

  58. Eliza Avatar
    Eliza

    Fr. Stephen, thank you for this.

    I have found myself often thinking how I wish that I had a strong religious tradition, such as the Jewish or Orthodox. Oddly, the cult church that I was raised in kept the Saturday sabbath and, even more odd still, some of the OT Jewish holy days, not calling them by their real Jewish names though.

    To have tradition built on truth would be a precious thing.

    Regarding the work realities of living liturgically:

    40 hour work weeks appear to be a thing of the past for many.

    A family member works for a large corporation in a job that was supposed to be 40 hr/wk. In the past year, the company ended work on Saturday and Sunday, and went to 10 hour days, 4 days per week. Or, so they claimed.

    But after a month or two into the new schedule, “seasonal” 60 hour work weeks were instituted- adding Saturday back. And this seasonal schedule has now lasted about 6 months. Some few lucky people fought for their Saturday sabbath off and were granted it but only because there was just a Supreme Court case involving a postal worker who won the case.

    My husband says that this is the way big businesses are now operating, many of them, because it is cheaper to pay the overtime than to have enough workers and pay benefits . So this is the business model.

    So, on one hand it seemed that some workers conditions improved during Covid , but since then conditions for many have worsened.

    I’m no economist and business bores me but I am intrigued by what switched. Was this always in the cards? Is is an answer to a reduction in available workforce? But if that is a real thing, why are so many people afraid to quit their jobs?

    I know things were not fabulous preCovid and that a lot of businesses overworked employees. In the instance of this family member, there was always an end in sight. Now there is none. We are trying to figure out ways to help him find a new job, but at 60 it isn’t so easy. And everything we look at seems equally unappealing. Maybe he will take social security at 62 and be able to make it with that and family help.

  59. Matthew Avatar
    Matthew

    Before and while in college, all I wanted was to be successful in the business world and make money. During adolescence I was told, for a variety of reasons, that I would be successful in sales. I was taught from a young age that money was very important. I talked about wanting to be a teacher and I enjoyed writing, but was told that “those who can do, those that cannot teach” (a terrible saying BTW).

    In college, a struggle between the arts and the business I was studying ensued. I began desiring a simpler life, but those around me didn´t help me to bring this desire to fruition. They were absolutely addicted to the mechanisms of the free market and the god of mammon. After graduation, as I watched friends and fellow alumni move forward in their careers and begin to build families, I began to question the whole American dream thing. A nice house in a cul-de-sac, a good, well paying career with advancement possibilities, etc., etc., etc. I wanted to travel and see the world on my terms.

    I guess I always new, deep down, that there had to be more to life than the accumulation of things; that something more than a career needed to define me as a man. At 53 years old I am still holding onto this kind of thinking, though without children I realize that I don´t carry the same burden of financial responsibilty as so many of you. Sometimes the enemy of our souls will try to convince me in my mind that I have wasted so many years vocationally speaking. I try not to listen to these demonic thoughts.

    Thanks Shawn and others for helping me think about these things today. Very edifying conversation. This blog is amazing!

  60. Andrew Roberts Avatar
    Andrew Roberts

    Without a fast, what is a feast? Without a struggle where is the victory. On the worldly political stage capitalism has won out, the passions are encouraged, with slogans like ‘living the dream,’ or ‘your special, you deserve it.’ Everything is monetised. The few at the top feast all year round, while many in the world fast not by choice, all year round, struggling to make ends meet.
    I am reminded of the Hebrews in Egypt and the fear of them becoming too numerous. Work them harder and kill their new born.

  61. Fr. Stephen Avatar

    Matthew, et al
    There was a popular mythology hatched during the 50’s that described a typical career/success path. It continued to mark movies and the popular mind, even as the economy was rapidly evolving (computers, internet, globalization, etc.). It’s all quite disjointed now with no mythology to explain it. The result is, I think, that many people feel “lost.” There is no narrative that actually fits the world in its present configuration. The pandemic shook things up, but they are settling back down into yet another shape. With the growing presence of AI, yet another disruption will be settling in. Many aspects are becoming rather dystopian.

    All the more reason that we set our hearts on the Kingdom of God and structure our lives according to the pattern of the Commandments of Christ. The world will offer little guidance – and the little it offers is increasingly strange.

  62. John D Avatar
    John D

    I suppose, though, to be fair, that they did not get Saturdays off—so, 50 or so extra days a year with all Sundays off corresponds well to an American calendar. However, those days of rest were probably properly “days of rest” rather than “get the house clean and the kids to sports” days.

  63. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    God is with us nonetheless.

  64. Mark Spurlock Avatar
    Mark Spurlock

    Matthew,

    I’m a little older than you and understand well the “taking stock” that happens when we hit our fifties, particularly as the body begins letting us know that it’s not going to last forever, nor even in the meantime is it going to facilitate doing all the things it used to (at least not as easily as it once did). My son can work out for a couple of weeks and right away see improvement. I have to exercise just to slow down the decline.

    Regarding listening to those thoughts about “wasted years,” what I never feel is wasted is prayer. Not only does prayer help banish the voice of the critic–whether it is an internal, psychological phenomenon or something else–it helps guide us forward as how best to use the daily increments of our remaining life. I recommend the morning prayer of St. Philaret of Moscow, particularly before starting a workday.

  65. Eliza Avatar
    Eliza

    Matthew,

    I think it’s great that you could see the problem with the American dream so clearly, by the time you graduated college. By that point, I felt that something wasn’t right but I could not characterize it. It took another couple of decades for me to really begin to grasp what is wrong with our culture.

    You are in Germany, correct? Do you see a better dynamic there? It does seem that much of Europe has a better handle on this this the U.S. But I don’t know to what extent.

  66. Matthew Avatar
    Matthew

    Eliza,

    Germany has a more robust social safety net and better health insurance (IMO) than in the U.S., but at the end of the day Germany is still a capitalist driven society. People here are just as interested in material things, the newest technological gadgets and the “good life” that comes from being in an advanced western nation as those in the U.S. The average German is sitting in the lap of luxury compared to most others in our shared world, but has completely forgotten the God that has provided them with such a good life. 🙁

  67. Matthew Avatar
    Matthew

    Mark,

    On many days I am looking through the rearview mirror rather than through the windshield. Though I know this may not be the healthiest way to live, it is where I am at currently. At 53, I see life much differently than I did at 27.

    The voice of the critic … I know who that voice belongs to. Though he has been defeated by Christ, his evil vapor and bad breath still linger on this earth in some form sadly.

    That said, I really do hope my good choices in life have formed a good and faithful servant in me.

  68. Matthew Avatar
    Matthew

    Thanks so much Fr. Stephen.

  69. Matthew Avatar
    Matthew

    Mark,

    In terms of being guided as to how to effectively use the daily increments of our remaining life, does Orthodoxy have anything like Ignatian spiritual exercises or is the Jesus Prayer the gold standard in Orthodox spiritual development/transformation?

  70. Matthew Avatar
    Matthew

    I should add, Eliza, that I am not preaching some sort of prosperity Gospel. I simply think God is the provider of all good things … even the things that many of us think we have only because of hard work and a free market system.

  71. Matthew Avatar
    Matthew

    I´m also aware I have made these decisions about a simpler life from a position of privilege. Who am I to spite a brother from Africa (for example) who risks his life trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea in order to have a better life (if that is indeed his motivation)?

  72. Byron Avatar
    Byron

    On one hand is the protestant work ethic / American ethos that “I am my work” or “my work defines me”…. Along with it comes the idea that we all, if we try hard enough, can find full satisfaction in work. If we succeed at work, then that success transfers to our identity and we are satisfied everywhere else.

    This a bedrock foundation of much of feminism now. It has basically been used (and I hope to avoid being too political here) by “Society” not only bring women into the workforce but to convince everyone that you are what your work shows you are. The focus is, of course, on work subservient to Corporations. As has been noted, that corporate focus is becoming more and more inhuman.

  73. Fr. Stephen Avatar

    Matthew,
    There is no parallel to the Ignatian Method in Orthodoxy. A main reason for this is the strong use of the imagination in the Ignatian method – whereas Orthodoxy discourages the use of imagination as a spiritual exercise (but not, of course, in creative works). Also, the Ignatian method majors in making decisions – which, quite frankly, is not the point of the spiritual life. In short, the Ignatian Method is pretty much alien to Orthodoxy.

  74. Fr. Stephen Avatar

    Byron,
    Indeed. And some wonder why I am so strong in my critique of modernity. It’s because it’s a culture-wide heresy, marketed to us every minute of the day.

  75. Matthew Avatar
    Matthew

    Thanks Fr. Stephen.

  76. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    As an individual, there is no morality per se (actually part of the marketing).
    Morality is for intra relationships and community as a foundation for more.

  77. Mark Spurlock Avatar
    Mark Spurlock

    Hi Matthew,

    Father Stephen has already answered your question (I had not heard of the Ignatian Method before now). I will say, however, that I do pray the Jesus Prayer often–while commuting and often when I’m trying to get steps in at lunch time. I prayed it a lot more when I was a catachumen.

    St. Philaret’s is helpful to me in terms of what we’ve been discussing in this thread (how an Orthodox Christian should approach work). Everything in it is good 🙂

    This, though, is how–regardless of profession or station–to live one’s faith on the job: “Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others.”

  78. Matthew Avatar
    Matthew

    Thanks so much Mark.

  79. Matthew Avatar
    Matthew

    Doesn´t God want us to make good, God-lead decisions?

  80. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    Matthew, He certainly has in my life and in the lives of many people I know.

  81. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    When one is screaming down a mountain in competitive skiing it is essential to know the boundaries so that injury and death can be avoided.

  82. Drewster2000 Avatar
    Drewster2000

    Nathan,

    I’m late to the party but still hopeful my comments can help. I echo what Fr. Stephen has said…

    At the risk of sounding trite or Evangelical, you can bring Christ into your work. The idea Fr. Stephen has expounded on in the past is that we first see God’s world touch ours in the Eucharist, but then the understanding is meant to spread to all our lives, like a drop of water falling into a still pond and rippling outward.

    The result is to realize that all is holy. In your case, that would mean the life in your body, the people you meet, the emails you send, the programs you touch, and so on.

    This realization is not something we can force to happen but rather a gift we ask God for and remain open to. For me the key has been to work hard at taking Him everywhere with me, making real His presence in whatever I do – without exception.

    This practice has been magical – and it has not been. It’s non-magical in that on the one end there is just me, falling and getting back up again, having bad days, being tired or angry or apathetic or just plain busy. On the other hand I have had many unexpected good things from working on the habit of his presence: results I can’t take credit for, success where I shouldn’t have succeeded, alertness and peace of mind not warranted by my routines, understanding of situations even when my brain was not functioning at full capacity.

    Learning to innately understand that He is always with me has also led to see ways in which I could improve my situation, i.e. sleep, diet, movement, job opportunities, networking connections, and so on.

    I have found He is more than able to transform anything I’m experiencing. Some days obedience to His presence is just done on autopilot, but I’ve learned through bitter trials that it is the only thing I can ultimately rely on, and therefore I cling to it tenaciously.

    Hopefully this helps you as well.

  83. Dee of St Herman Avatar
    Dee of St Herman

    Matthew,
    Regarding the Ignatius method and making decisions:
    In prayer, we seek communion with Christ. Just as there is no “formula” to love your wife, there is no formula to love and commune with Christ. Trying to use formulas for love is a twisted way of saying that the head knows what love is, but the heart does not.

    How ironic that I use formulas a lot in my work life. I pray the Jesus prayer as I initiate using the formula, sometimes if I struggle with the solution, I wind up talking to Christ as I solve it. But love is the substance of the prayer, not the formula I’m working on.

    I know nothing about the Ignatius prayer, but it does not sound like a way to love. Love is the way to love.

  84. Dee of St Herman Avatar
    Dee of St Herman

    Matthew,
    I highly endorse the prayer that Mark mentions. I’ve read slightly different translations. Here is one:

    O Lord, grant me to greet the coming day in peace, help me in all things to rely upon your holy will.
    In every hour of the day reveal your will to me.
    Bless my dealings with all who surround me.
    Teach me to treat all that comes to throughout the day with peace of soul and with firm conviction that your will governs all.
    In all my deeds and words, guide my thoughts and feelings.
    In unforeseen events, let me not forget that all are sent by you.
    Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others.
    Give me strength to bear the fatigue of the coming day with all that it shall bring.
    Direct my will, teach me to pray.
    And you, yourself, pray in me.

    Amen.

  85. Matthew Avatar
    Matthew

    So great Dee. Thanks so much!

  86. Fr. Stephen Avatar

    Matthew,
    He wants us to keep His commandments. The whole thing about decisions is, frankly, largely a function of modernity, driven by the mythology of freedom. The notions about “God-lead” decisions often presumes that there is this singular path through life that will be best if it is directed by God. It helps us blame Him or ourselves and not those who are tilting the playing field and such.

    There are, no doubt, clear calls within our lives. But, we have overdone the “leading” thing. Instead, we should do “all things as unto the Lord,” keep His commandments, and give thanks for all things.

  87. Shawn Avatar
    Shawn

    -Nathan Fischer
    Thank you for your perspective. I can certainly see how the illusion would quickly fade or not arrive at all in your situation. I almost wish I didn’t chase the mirage for over a decade. Just like all of life, I believe God created work to be beautiful and satisfying which is why we long for it to be so. However, part of the fall directly involved work being cursed. I’m convinced that no amount of human effort can ever fully restore it, but perhaps seeing it’s fallenness can help us yearn for God more and try and see the small glimpses of good in our daily work. I hope you continue to make peace with it.

    -Matthew
    I understand how hard it can be to follow that still small voice pointing you to the good and simple and quiet when it seems everyone around you is on the highway of mammon. I can’t tell you how discouraged I’ve felt at times as I’ve eased off my striving, let go of my young adult dreams and then taken a glance at those I know still pushing the pedal down. What’s sad is that I know that they aren’t as fulfilled as they appear. National statistics make that abundantly clear. But, man, are we good at projecting a certain image. Hang in there!

    -Father Stephen
    You said it well when you said many people feel “lost”. I know I certainly do. This is one reason orthodoxy seems so very appealing to me at the moment, a community that isn’t lost….or at the very least….has a very strong anchor tethered to the true source.
    Any chance you could elaborate on structuring out lives to the Commandments of Christ?

    -Byron
    Thanks for pointing that out. My wife, who stays at home, has often felt shame for not measuring up since she didn’t have “work” to do. I’ve done my best to remind her that her work, the caring for young souls, is of utmost importance. She knows this, but still struggles with what she sees from time to time.

  88. Dee of St Herman Avatar
    Dee of St Herman

    Instead, we should do “all things as unto the Lord,” keep His commandments, and give thanks for all things.

    Thank you for these words, Father. You summed it up neatly!

  89. Fr. Stephen Avatar

    Shawn,
    I’ll see what I can do viz. elaborating on keeping the commandments.

  90. Andrew Roberts Avatar
    Andrew Roberts

    Matthew,
    re; Ignatian Spiritual exercises. Having embarked on them when I was younger and not completing them, after advice from a Cistercian monk and having had some experience with the Jesuits, I would recommend not going down that road. They are heavily imaginative and dare I say a door to delusion. There are many different methods of prayer and approaches to the spiritual life in the Roman Catholic Church, some of which are questionable.

  91. Andrew Roberts Avatar
    Andrew Roberts

    Also Matthew, due to the market mentality of these days it is popular to cherry pick methods of prayer and spirituality and even theologies from the vast array of religions and spiritualities on offer. A sort of mix and match approach. There is the danger then, which is very apparent now, of truth becoming purely subjective.

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