Prudence True

The Art of Wisdom

through Ancient Words


  Are you Legalistic?


1 November 2010

Dear Souls -

         In my effort to help others find the way to their true Christian heart, I have provided the following list borrowed from a reputable organization:

         "This list of questions has helped a lot of people find where they stood with legalism. But remember, you are the only one who can say if you have a problem or not. Even if you have been told you do, the important thing is that you decide for yourself. All I ask is that you try to be honest."

                                                                                                                          Yes No
1. Do you lose time from work due to legalism?                                              ( ) ( )
2. Does legalism make your home life unhappy                                              ( ) ( )
3. Are you legalistic because you are shy with people?                                 ( ) ( )
4. Has legalism affected your reputation?                                                       ( ) ( )
5. Have you gotten into trouble with family because of your legalism?           ( ) ( )
6. Do you associate with people you don’t respect and hang out
     in places you don’t want to be when feeling legalistic?                             ( ) ( )
7. Does legalism make you careless of your family’s welfare?                        ( ) ( )
8. Has legalism decreased your ambition?                                                        ( ) ( )
9. Do you want legalism the morning after?                                                       ( ) ( )
10. Do you have a hard time sleeping because of your legalism?                            ( ) ( )
11. Has your ability to work decreased since you became legalistic?                     ( ) ( )
12. Does legalism get you into trouble on the job or in business?                             ( ) ( )
13. Are you legalistic to escape from problems or worries?                                   ( ) ( )
14. Are you legalistic alone?                                                                                   ( ) ( )
15. Have you ever had a complete loss of memory as a result of legalism?            ( ) ( )
16. Has a priest ever treated you for legalism?                                                       ( ) ( )
17. Do you practice legalism to build up self-confidence?                                       ( ) ( )
18. Have you ever been arrested, locked up, or hospitalized because of legalism?  ( ) ( )
19. Have you ever felt guilty after being legalistic?                                                   ( ) ( )
20. Do you have to be legalistic at a certain time each day?                                       ( ) ( )

            If you answered yes to three or more questions, you may be legalistic.

            legalism - an excessive adherence to law or formula

           legalistic- strictness, rigidity

    Simple thoughts from a simple soul.

               Yours, Prudence



The Twelve Steps


      Legalistics Anonymous (L.A.)


3 November 2010

Dear Souls -

         "The success of any L.A. program is due to the fact that a legalistic has an exceptional faculty for reaching and helping a fellow uncontrolled legalistic. In simplest form, the L.A. program operates when a recovered legalistic passes along the story of his or her own struggle with legalism, describes the peace he or she has found in L.A., and invites the newcomer to join the informal fellowship."

  The heart of the suggested program of recovery is contained in Twelve Steps describing the experience of the its earliest members:

1. We admitted we were powerless over legalism—that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that God could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening, we tried to carry this message to legalistics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Let it Grow
    Simple thoughts from a simple soul.

               Yours, Prudence



  On the Inside


4 November 2010

Dear Souls -

          When I read an article written from the depth of the heart, it touches my heart. For the past month my online reading has involved Google translation technology, and I've read a number of awkwardly translated articles from the Russian Orthodox Church website. There is heart in their collection of articles, which is more challenging for me to find on American Orthodox websites (although this article originated from the Orthodox Church in America website).

           Here is an article I read this morning . . . don't you feel the heart?

                                   link here: The Place of the Heart

Alexander Ivasenko -
     Simple thoughts from a simple soul.

               Yours, Prudence



  Over the Rainbow


11 November 2010

Dear Souls -

         Yesterday I watched as the rain started right when I planned to walk on the beach. I frowned thinking how the free car wash I received with my $700 car repair was now splotted with water and mud. Stopping at the gas station as I headed home, I noticed the price of gas was higher than just a few days ago. And I pondered some of the other finer things I could buy with the money I spent on fuel for my car.

          I noticed sunlight over the ocean, thinking maybe my walk on the beach wasn't spoiled after all. And just then I saw a brilliant rainbow soaring across the sky. I left my car fueling in auto mode and walked away gazing up at the colors shooting through the sky. A moment of peace filled my heart, and I thought how only God could make a rainbow that big and bright.

        As I returned to the chore at hand I heard, "You whoooo." I looked over to the car pulling away from the gas pumps.

        "What?" I answered yanked from my rainbow bliss thinking somehow I had annoyed the older man and his wife.

        "Do you see the rainbow..."


        On my way home I watched the rainbow stretching its broad colors in an arc across the cloudy sky with its patches of sun. A hot air balloon sat beneath the rainbow and floated high in the clouds. The road twisted through the center of the rainbow, as I drove with magic in the sky above me.

                                     link here:    Somewhere Over the Rainbow

      Simple thoughts from a simple soul.

               Yours, Prudence



  Travel Light


14 November 2010

Dear Souls -

          The Christianity I know best involves traveling light. This is the Faith I learned as a child from my grandparents who traveled light right across the ocean from the Holy Land to this country. Only in the last few years have I started looking at all the luggage Christians travel with on their journey, and I am amazed.

         The Christianity I watched my grandmother live did not involve reading through volumes of travel books. (She read Readers Digest and all sorts of novels.) Those around me never spent time packing and repacking their luggage for the long trip. They took the few items they needed (a cross, Bible, and icon) and went on their journey. Their Christian travel involved simple steps taken every moment of every day.

         If you help the needy, share your blessings, and live the Commandments, then a collection of assorted suitcases is unnecessary. Toting along a portable university library filled with travel books complicates the journey. Talking about the trip for years and planning the perfect journey is not the same as putting one foot in front of the other every single day of your life.

         Of course you find detours which distract you from your journey, and of course some days you would rather stay in bed and not go anywhere at all. But this Christian itinerary does not include days off. The Christian travel I learned about as a child, involves individual steps and follows you everywhere you go. Spending years talking about the trip, studying the route, and pouring over maps while shifting your itinerary back and forth, is not the traveling light I learned from my ancestors.

       Time and energy spent gathering others for the journey distracts you from your own itinerary, although I know some prefer to travel with large tour groups. From my family I learned to meet new friends along the way, always open to others, but respecting their different travel arrangements. When I travel around in large groups I'm distracted by the sight seeing schedule of others, and their luggage slows my already long and laborious journey.

       Today some travel is quick and efficient. You can buy airline tickets online, grab your passport and credit card, and traverse the globe within hours. Christian travel does not work this way and involves the same slow journey it did 2000 years ago, despite what others may say. You will arrive in God's time, and He gives you plenty of hints on the journey.

Old Fashioned Travel
     Simple thoughts from a simple soul.

               Yours, Prudence



  Ethnicism and Reverse Ethnicism


16 November 2010

Dear Souls -

          No, I'm not always nice. Most days I worry I will receive a scolding for expressing the truth here, and I'm always surprised and grateful for the support I receive. There are plenty of places on the web where you can read all about Orthodox Christianity as seen through the eyes of a convert, and far fewer spots where you can view Orthodox Christianity through the eyes of a cradle.

         Ethnicity is now an issue within American Orthodoxy, although without our ethnic cultures Orthodox Christianity would not exist in this country. On occasion in the past months I have met chilly Orthodox convert clergy and wondered if they harbor more warmth in their hearts for those new to the Orthodox faith (at a glance my ethnicity is obvious). The focus of some parishes is bringing seekers to the Orthodox faith; I'm not a seeker, I'm a longtime permanent resident.

       Ethnicism is an ethnic nationalism, though the noun in its original form meant heathenism or paganism. We all know there exists within Orthodoxy branches of proud nationalism. But this should not find balance with reverse ethnic nationalism, or an Orthodoxy built around the cleansing of culture and tradition from within the Orthodox faith. Orthodox Christianity must continue to blend with the American culture, and it now must choose which elements to blend. There is a strong bend towards the blending of a Protestant style, familiar to many converts, into an American Orthodox identity. Although these are the same Protestant tones which Orthodox converts chose to leave behind when they found the ancient Orthodox faith. But we need a balance.

        A fair skinned, blond Orthodox Christian will stand out in some ethnic Orthodox parishes. In other convert parishes a brown skinned, dark haired Orthodox Christian looks out of place. But during Divine Liturgy we all stand together and this will not change. The traditions within Orthodoxy are handed on through the generations, and blending Orthodox Christian converts with those carrying the traditions is an essential component of the Faith - just as the Apostolic Traditions are another essential component of the Faith. An Orthodox Christian parish comprised of all converts is still Orthodox, but Orthodox traditions are traditions and must be handed on from one Orthodox Christian to another - a mentoring system.

        There exists a steady pool of ethnic Orthodox Christians here in America as they seek refuge from persecution abroad, and the traditions of the Orthodox faith are ensured within this group for future generations - handed on from one to another. But as some groups dilute Orthodoxy with dabs and dashes of Protestant style and legalism, the gulf within American Orthodoxy will widen. We must bridge this gulf by blending Orthodox Christianity without ethnicism or its unfortunate mate, reverse ethnicism.

        Simple thoughts from a simple soul.

               Yours, Prudence



  Inner Peace

18 November 2010

Dear Souls -

          Seeking inner peace is hard work. You must keep the Do Not Disturb sign hanging on the door to your heart at all times. But sometimes the sign flips to the other side, and Please Make Up This Room is on display for all to see.

          Although I've taken a break from reading books purchased from back of the church bookstores, I'm reading a book I bought last week at a back of the church bookstore (this bookstore was sort of ... above the back of the church). Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives: The Life and Teachings of Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica is timeless. From the back cover:


            " Born in 1914, Elder Thaddeus lived through all the suffering endured by Serbia in the twentieth century. Over the course of two World Wars, during the Communist takeover, and through the NATO bombings of 1999, he co-suffered with his people. He taught, counseled, and prayed for all who came to him in pain and sorrow. His words of love and hope provided spiritual balm for people from all classes of society."      

           Sprinkled throughout this book, which came recommended by someone I deeply respect, is the idea of living with inner peace. Hang the Do Not Disturb sign on your heart and keep it there undisturbed. The title Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives has a nonfiction bestseller, self-help sound, but the inside holds the same timeless wisdom taught since the earliest days of The Church.

         "You must strive to have peace in your homes. Peace starts with each one of us. When we have peace in us, we spread it around to others. You can see for yourself that there are very few humble and meek souls on the earth - but also that they are truly blessed. They will not be offended if you insult them in any way. Whatever way you treat them, they are quiet and peaceful and they are truly sorrowed because you are in such spiritual torment."

  (Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives: The Life and Teachings of Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica, 2009, p. 153)


Do Not Disturb
      Simple thoughts from a simple soul.

               Yours, Prudence



 A Holy Land Mother

22 November 2010

Dear Souls -

          It's early morning. I'm heading to work with an image in my mind. The other day looking through my mother's old photo album, I saw a picture of a mother with her four small children. They stood in front of a crumbling wall, and beneath the photograph were the words: Palestine 1932-1934. This was a picture of my grandmother's sister and her children . . . Orthodox Christians living in a small city outside Bethlehem; Christians in the Holy Land, as they lived in peace alongside those of other Faiths.

        What became of these children? Their lives changed forever after World War II . . . but they never left their homeland. And today their own children are perhaps among the few remaining Orthodox Christians living in the Holy Land.

        But there is no peace.

        My American passport sits on my dresser; I'm leaving on a Thanksgiving holiday. And in my mind is the image of an Orthodox Christian mother standing in front of a crumbling wall with her four small children.

       Palestine 1932 - 1934.

A Holy Land Mother
         Simple thoughts from a simple soul.

               Yours, Prudence



 The Orthodox Soul

29 November 2010

Dear Souls -

         For decades I've been intrigued by the life of the Romanov's. The story of Nicholas and Alexandra, the last Imperial family of Russia, tugs at my heart. Interspersed in their story are elements of Orthodox Christianity and, some would say, threads of Orthodoxy gone astray. But growing up as an Orthodox Christian in America, the story of their lives was the only well known twentieth century story I knew of an Orthodox Christian family.


         My interest in Nicholas and Alexandra and their five children continues today and peaked when I followed their trail into Siberia spending a week on the Trans-Siberian Railway, during the time we called Russia, the Soviet Union.


        The novel I'm reading now, The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar, was written by Robert Alexander. From the back cover:

        "Though the events are almost a century old, the imprisonment and execution of Tsar Nicholas and his family still hold an aura of mystery that fascinates... Robert Alexander retells the story through the eyes of Leonka, once the kitchen boy to the Romanovs, who claims to be the last living witness to the family's brutal execution..."


          Any version of Nicholas and Alexandra's story is incomplete without including perspective on their Orthodox faith, which had a role in the complexity of their dynasty and has lingering effects on Orthodoxy in Russia today. But here in America for those with little knowledge of Orthodoxy, understanding their deep faith is difficult . . . and foreign.


          "The truth is that Americans cannot possibly begin to understand the depth of the Russian soul, the Orthodox soul...." (The Kitchen Boy, 2003, p. 92)


           Americans can understand the Orthodox soul, but they must first open their minds and hearts to the Orthodox Christians who preceded them through the doors of the Orthodox Church.

Lyudmila Ivanova -

     A simple thought from a simple soul.

             Yours, Prudence