Prudence True

The Art of Wisdom

through Ancient Words

A Path to Your Heart:


Not Silent


5  December 2011

Dear Souls -

         A few hours ago I realized I've been dishonest with you. Maybe not just dishonest, but deceptive too. The thought struck me across the face and resonated through my soul. As an Orthodox Christian born and raised in this country, I learned long ago that most people hear three words about Orthodoxy before they're done listening. So talking about my faith is not something I do. Maybe it's aversive conditioning: I speak about Orthodoxy and eyes glaze over. I'm an expert at the express route out of conversations about my faith, and I apply this expertise mercilessly.

         I'm passionate about caring for sick and dying children. But I rarely speak more than three words about this topic, and I've never written about the pain and suffering of children at all. I know the express route out of conversations about critically ill children, and I apply this expertise mercilessly. For the past two decades I've cared for children in a major metropolitan pediatric trauma center: I'm intimate with far too many details about the pain and suffering of children.

         Today I spent time at the bedside of one of the worst pediatric trauma cases I've ever seen. I cannot describe for you all I saw, because it's inhumane to share the intimate details of such suffering in this impersonal space. But if you ask me whether God cares about fasting, Confession, or other church details, it's hard for me to spend the brain energy on such trivialities.  I know a child who lies within inches of death, and today he gripped both my hands with all his strength.

         The truth is, most of what we believe matters, matters not at all . . .      




With Love


6  December 2011

Dear Souls -

         Abusing the shock value of human suffering is poor form. I see pain on someone's face when I share with them a tiny detail on the suffering of a child. The realities of serious traumatic injuries in children are seared into my brain; I don't need a newspaper or 24 hour news channel for the intrigue of human suffering.

          I struggle with the contrast between the institution of church, and the realities of human suffering. This contrast shocks my soul. How is it the focus of church shifts from love for others, to worries about theology? This, I will never understand. A single moment spent at the bedside of a critically ill child, stops my straying thoughts cold. And my personal concerns over the Nativity fast are a Pharisee-ism (pronounced the same as narcissism), which hurts the peace in my soul.

           My mind is seared with images of sick and dying children: I know disturbing stories of suffering children from infancy through adolescence, all contained within the small space of my heart. These stories you would rather not hear, and I would rather not know. But with this knowledge of pain and suffering, I receive a glimpse of truth I cannot see touching the pages of a book or standing in a church. I' m not anti-church, I'm pro-Love. And a church must be Love, if it's Heaven on Earth. 



All you need is Love


8  December 2011

Dear Souls -

                                      Orthodox Christianity is a slow path paved with Love.

           I'm sure someone smarter than me has said this before, but when I Google the above phrase I find: "Monastery Drive is now a paved road..."

           You cannot travel at a faster clip unless God lends you a hand, and God decides when and to whom He lends a hand, not us. But He has made the path clear:

             Love God.

             Love Others.

             The Orthodox path is the path of the ancient Christian Church. And those traveling along the path are not all dead and gone. They're here in all sorts of forms, and their traditions are alive, although they may look different than you expect. After generations on a slow path you hunker down and settle into the journey. This Orthodox path is not the expressway, and a bright red Ferrari will not speed up your trip down this path. The Orthodox road is laden with dilapidated cars, and if God equips you with a Porsche, disguise it as a lemon.

              Monastery Drive may now be a smooth paved road, but the monastic journey is not. And the monastic journey is best suited for those living at Mount Sinai, or in another monastic enclosure. For the rest of us, we must integrate a Love for God into our lives in the world, and our path is not along a slick paved road. I'm blessed with a history of living Faith and Love for God surrounding me within my family. (A wise soul said to me recently, "When I say my family, I mean 10 people; when a Greek says my family, they mean 100 people.) Not everyone receives these traditions from family, but Love for God and Love for others, the engine for our journey, is the same.

              Orthodox Christianity is a slow path paved with Love. The engine for our journey is a heart full of Love. We cannot distill Love down into another form. Love is Love, and it's the engine God provided us with for our long treacherous trip. You may use other tools (fasting, Confession...) along with Love, or you may not. But well polished tools, or not, we must focus on the engine taking us along the path. All you need is Love. 

                                                                  click below:





 Photos from a few hours ago at Saint Catherine Monastery at Mount Sinai on the Feast of Saint Catherine (old calendar Jerusalem Patriarchate):

Beyond Words


11  December 2011

Dear Souls -

         The following photographs are from Saint Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai, on the Feast day of Saint Catherine. My words cannot touch the beauty in these pictures: the feeling goes beyond words.

Archbisop Damianos (center), Patriarch Theodoros II (right)



 Peace of Soul

                  (Piece of Sole?)


15  December 2011

Dear Souls -






24  December 2011

Dear Souls -

          When words resonate through my soul, I share them here with you. Listen to the ring of truth in these words from Step 26 of The Ladder of Divine Ascent (6th century, St. Catherine's Monastery):

"The lessening of evil breeds abstinence from evil;

and abstinence from evil is the beginning of repentance;

and the beginning of repentance is the beginning of salvation;

and the beginning of salvation is a good intention;

and a good intention is the mother of labours.

And the beginning of labours is virtues;

the beginning of the virtues is a flowering,

and the flowering of virtue is the beginning of activity.

And the offspring of virtue is perseverance;

and the fruit and offspring of persevering practice is habit,

and the child of habit is character.

Good character is the mother of fear;

and fear gives birth to the keeping of commandments in which I include both heavenly and earthly.

The keeping of the commandments is a sign of love;

and the beginning of love is an abundance of humility;

and an abundance of humility is the daughter of dispassion;

and the acquisition of the latter is the fullness of love,

that is to say the perfect indwelling of God in those who through dispassion are pure in heart.

For they shall see God...."

21st century, St. Catherine's Monastery