Prudence True

The Art of Wisdom

through Ancient Words

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An Orthodox Christian Family

1 February 2010

Dear Souls -

        Today I spoke with a woman I know quite well who has a large Orthodox Christian family. Her family all marries in the Orthodox Church and then they have Orthodox children, who have more Orthodox children - and so it goes. Doesn't anyone ever say, "Nope, this isn't for me, I think I'll become a Buddhist." This was my question today for this quiet, calm woman.

    She smiled, shook her head and said, "No one is required to marry and have Orthodox children in our family. They all choose this for themselves."

        "What is the secret?" I asked, knowing you'd want me to explain the details of such a puzzling family.

        At that exact moment her cell phone rang. Timing is everything it seems, and now I'm left to try and explain this myself.

        There are many Orthodox Christian for-ever families. Does the water come out of the tap in their homes with unique minerals? These families aren't heavy Bible quoters or outwardly staunch Christians, but they raise generations of Orthodox Christians. What keeps them with the Orthodox Church?

    When you're raised with Divine Liturgy, rock and roll worship just doesn't fit. Sure the music is good, and Orthodox Christians like good music just as much as non-Orthodox Christians, just not in their Church.  

        But, you think, there must be more. This is too simple, and it can't be about the music. Maybe cradle Orthodox are just too lazy to seek and find another Faith (Becoming Protestant). Perhaps, but I don't think this is the answer. 

          These families of Orthodox Christians have peace with a Faith which isn't changing, in a society which is ever-changing.      

    But, here lies a path towards wisdom.

        Yours, Prudence


A Child's Faith

3 February 2010

Dear Souls -

      Several children ran around a playground today singing and laughing . . .


“Jesus loves me, this I know
For the Bible tells me so.
Little children ask no more,
For love is all they’re looking for,
And in a child’s shining eyes
The Faith of all the ages lies..."

        On a nearby bench sat their mothers deep in conversation about their Faith . . .           
    But, here lies a path towards wisdom.

        Yours, Prudence


Attached to External Faith?

4 February 2010

Dear Souls -

        We seek, find, and follow - but for many this doesn't bring peace. Listening to a view beyond our own broadens our perspective, even when it stings. And if it stings, perhaps it has touched the heart. The article linked here has a direct and humorous way of touching on a sensitive topic.

Orthodox England - On External Faith

    But, here lies a path towards wisdom.

        Yours, Prudence


 Snags and Snares 

5 February 2010

Dear Souls -

         "I saw the snares the enemy spreads out over the world and I said groaning, 'What can get through such snares?' Then I heard a voice say to me, 'Humility.'"

St. Anthony the Great, 251-356

    But, here lies a path towards wisdom.

        Yours, Prudence


The R-Word  

6 February 2010

Dear Souls -

        The R-word is a racy subject often navigated around with precision. But avoided or not, it's still out there on the track.

       Those who were raised in an ethnic Church felt their ethnicity. In a melting pot society ethnicity still stands out, and today there exists Orthodox Christian parishes which are referred to as ethnic parishes. Why do we distinguish Orthodox Christian ethnic parishes from any other parish? Why do we identify the mix of parish populations? After all, who really cares whether or not an Orthodox Christian is a convert or a cradle? 

        Aren't Orthodox Christians all converts day after day, year after year, until the final moment?

        Perhaps the answer rests with the racy R-word. Maybe there is an inclination to distinguish our Christian paths from one another by our ethnicity or race. Although some parishes may have services in languages other than English, there is no place for the R-word in Christianity. Period. (If I were a sophisticated Bible quoter, I would place here a fine quote from Scripture. But I'm not and I can't.) A blended Orthodox Faith brings together the greatest variety of gifts. Young, old, single, married, convert, cradle . . .     

     It's simple, ethnicity in The Church is irrelevant, because it's not about the race.    


    But, here lies a path towards wisdom.

        Yours, Prudence


Where is the Sequel?  

7 February 2010

Dear Souls -

        Sunday morning. I woke up wondering about the sequel to a popular book. No, it's not Gone with the Wind, although I'm still saddened Margaret Mitchell was struck by a car and died before telling us more about Rhett and Scarlett.

        Some books require a sequel, because too much is left unfinished in the final chapter. The reader closes the book, sets it down . . . and then wanders. Perhaps they search their shelves, their neighbors shelves, the internet, but finding the sequel is impossible. The sequel wasn't written, it's missing.

        When a reader is led along a path and then decides to replicate the journey for themselves, they need

the sequel. They need guidance to see how the rest of the journey unfolds. Without the sequel, they're left writing their own, in their own way, and this is a difficult way to travel. Maybe some will wander off in the wrong direction. Then they return to the shelves, looking harder and harder . . . for the sequel.

    Maybe the wise will say, "The sequel is The Church." But I don't believe so.

    The sequel is an unwritten book. "Being Orthodox" the companion to Becoming Orthodox.


    But, here lies a path towards wisdom.

        Yours, Prudence


In the Heart  

9 February 2010

Dear Souls -  

    "Our Holy Fathers have renounced all other spiritual work and concentrated wholly on this one doing, that is, on guarding the heart, convinced that through this practice they would easily attain every other virtue, whereas without it not a single virtue can be firmly established."

St. Symeon the New Theologian, 949-1022 

    But, here lies a path towards wisdom.

        Yours, Prudence



11 February 2010

Dear Souls -


    "O Lord God, give peace to us, for Thou has given us all things; the peace of rest, the peace of the Sabbath, which has no evening. For all this most goodly array of things very good, having finished their courses is to pass away; for in them there was morning and evening."

Confessions of Saint Augustine - St. Augustine, 354-430

     But, here lies a path towards wisdom.

        Yours, Prudence


   Look on the Inside  

12 February 2010

Dear Souls -      

        If you look inside you will see the furnishings; the closer you look, the more you see hidden within.  

        Look on the outside . . . and what do you see?

            "Let us now imagine that this castle, as I have said, contains many rooms, some above, others below, others at each side; and in the center and midst of them all is the chiefest room where the most secret things pass between God and the soul.

Interior Castle - St. Teresa of Avila, 1577

      But, here lies a path towards wisdom.

        Yours, Prudence



    The Holy Trinity  

13 February 2010

Dear Souls -      

Holy Trinity - St. Andrei Rublev, 1408
    But, here lies a path towards wisdom.

        Yours, Prudence



    To Forgive  

14 February 2010

Dear Souls - 


     Sunday morning.

    Forgive - cease to feel angry or resentful toward; pardon


















"The one who is filled with Mercy ought to offer it in the same manner in which he has received it, for such is the Mercy of God."

The Desert Fathers             

    But, here lies a path towards wisdom.

        Yours, Prudence



    In Balance  

16 February 2010

Dear Souls - 

    We may stack up assorted good deeds, build a tower of fasts for each feast, and plow through Lent with rock solid determination.

        The truth, though, strikes not within a tower of pride, but within a heart of balance.
    But, here lies a path towards wisdom.

        Yours, Prudence



    What Your Priest May Not Tell You About Lent 

23 February 2010

Dear Souls - 

         Forgive me for not writing the past few days (yes, it is entirely possible no one noticed other than myself), but I've been away to the mountains for a rest and all the while still contemplating this Lenten season.

         Why, you wonder - when Great Lent is in full swing? 

      You see, I'm somewhere between the ages of Princess Diana and Mother Teresa.This means for me, a life full of Lenten seasons - no Lenten novelty.

            I hear your voice.

            But, I'm neither lazy nor apathetic.

       For me finding the path toward the most spiritual Easter (or Pascha, cringe) varies year to year, and takes some time for me to determine. The simple (or wait, not so simple) fasting regimen is not, for me, the perfect formula.

            Sure, the specified Lenten fast is ideal. But then, I'm not ideal. I'm a struggler. 

            And, I like meat.

            I feel sick when I go without eating any meat.

            And the truth is, I don't feel more spiritual.

       I feel tired, hungry, and distracted. 

       Remember, Mother Teresa was aged 87 when she died. That's eighty-seven Lenten seasons. And somewhere between your tenth and your eighty-seventh, you develop an understanding of your personal Lenten path.

            My Lenten path has meandered across the fasting spectrum, often including, but not limited to, the following:

            - No meat

            - No cheese

            - No sweets (quite popular, by the way, with many Orthodox women who find this an ideal weight loss method)

        - No wine (with no whine).

        - Modified No meat, which means you eat a lot of chicken. 

        - Dedicated Bible reading (a fine habit, and also helps dispel the rumor that cradle Orthodox rarely open a Bible).

        - Fast Light, which means fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays.

        - Fast Lite-Light, which means fasting on Fridays. 

        The truth is, fasting in my life varies and never follows all the prescribed Church rules.


         And the truth is, fasting for most cradle Orthodox Christians does not include following all the prescribed Church rules.

         Ouch, again.

    Is Lent about designating a season for following prescribed Church rules?


    Is Lent a time for increasing your awareness of God's presence in your life?

        Perhaps strict fasting works for those living in a monastery. But I'm not living in a monastery. I'm just an ordinary struggler in the world.

        And my path through the Lenten season meanders along in the direction of God.                      


One Weathered Wagon
    But, here lies a path towards wisdom.

        Yours, Prudence



   Recipe for Lenten Stew  

24 February 2010

Dear Souls - 


    But, here lies a path towards wisdom.

        Yours, Prudence



   Fast . . . or Slow? 

25 February 2010

Dear Souls - 

    Yesterday I spoke with a dear friend. She didn't have much time to talk, since she was in a hurry.

     "Where are you going?" I asked. 

     "I've just got to keep moving," she answered in a rush. There was a small whirlwhind surrounding her busy motions. 

          Just keep moving, just keep moving, just keep moving.... Aren't you a productive member of society if you're moving Fast? Set your goals and then set off . . . Fast.

           Move slow and you're of less importance, or perhaps you're lazy. But either way, you'll never get ahead if you move at a snail's pace.      

      Or will you?

    But, here lies a path towards wisdom.

        Yours, Prudence


  With God's Touch 

26 February 2010

Dear Souls - 

        "One of the brothers suffered an injury from another brother, and came to Abba Sisois to give him an account of his grievance, adding that he would like to avenge the insult.

        "You should leave judgment to God," the old man urged.

        " I shan't give up," he said, "until I am avenged."

        "Seeing that you have made up your mind about that," said Abba Sisois, "at least let us say a prayer."

        And he began to pray in these words:

        "God, we do not need you any more to look after us, for as this brother says, we are quite able to avenge on our own."  - The Desert Fathers

Holy Fire

    But, here lies a path towards wisdom.

        Yours, Prudence


  Fasting Etiquette 

27 February 2010

Dear Souls -

       "Two brothers visited an old man who did not usually eat every day. But when he saw them coming he welcomed them and said, "Fasting has its own reward, but anyone who eats for friendship's sake now fulfils two comandments: he abandons his own will, and  also obeys the commandment to give refreshments to his brethren." - The Desert Fathers

    Pause in any eagerness to observe the Lenten Fast, and avoid the giving of any offense.

    But, here lies a path towards wisdom.

        Yours, Prudence


  The Volume Button

28 February 2010

Dear Souls -

        There is a button we all have that is located somewhere near our heart. Some have the ability to adjust the volume of their heart using this button. Others, though, deny the existence of the button, because sometime in their early childhood they lost access. They aren't even aware of a volume button and prefer their logical mind - which they call intelligence. But with this button, you'll find something unavailable to the logical mind. The label on the button may read spiritual (too complicated), or maybe it's labeled intuition, but for me it's simply the volume button.

        Once you've turned down the volume button and lost access, it is very difficult to retrieve. No amount of hopping up and down, or plowing through thick texts will help you access this volume control. And rule books or charts will not lead you back to the volume button. Patience is the key. Our Western minds struggle with the concept of patience, and the word slow resides in the same neighborhood as some other four-letter words. But if you move slow and listen to the silence, maybe you'll find the way back to your volume button, which is tucked away deep in your heart.


     But, here lies a path towards wisdom.

        Yours, Prudence

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