Saturday, February 19, 2005

"What I Call Joy..."

Some thoughts from the Journals of Fr. Alexander Schmemann:
Monday, April 10, 1978: "I feel a kind of fear when faced with activism (of the young at the seminary) who passionately want to be pastors, to guide. It always seems to me that it's not needed--for if man would see what I call joy, or if man would simply love Christ--just a little, would come to Him, nothing else would be needed. If not, nothing will help."
And to cure this enthusiasm:

Tuesday, January 20, 1981: "If I were a starets--an elder--I would tell a candidate for monasticsim roughly the following:
  • get a job, if posible the simplest one, without creativity (for example as a casher in a bank);
  • while working, pray and seek inner peace. Accept everyone--coworkers, clients, as something sent to you; pray for them;
  • after paying for a modest apartment and groceries, give your money to the poor; to individuals rather than foundations;
  • always go to the same church and there try to be a real helper, not by lecturing about spiritual life or icons, not by teaching but with a "dust rag" (cf. St Seraphim of Sarov). Keep at that kind of service and be--in church matters--totally obedient to the priest;
  • do not thrust yourself and your service on anyone; do not be sad that your talents are not being used; be helpful; serve where needed and not where you think you are needed;
  • read and learn as much as you can; do not read only monastic literature, but broadly (this point needs more precise definition);
  • if friends and acquaintances invite you because they are close to you--go; but not too often, and within reason. Never stay more than one and a half or two hours. After that the friendliest atmosphere becomes harmful;
  • dress like everyone else, but modestly, and without visible signs of a special spiritual life;
  • be always simple, light, joyous. Do not teach. Avoid like the plague any "spiritual" conversations and any religious or churchly idle talk. If you act that way, everything will be to your benefit;
  • do not seek a spiritual elder or guide. If he is needed, God will send him, and will send him when needed;
  • having worked and served this way for ten years--no less--ask God whether you should continue to live this way, or whether change is needed. And wait for an answer: it will com; the signs will be 'joy and peace in the Holy Spirit.'"

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