especially good to do when things seem bleak or unclear.
First, list ten things you wish for your most treasured relationship.
Next, list ten things you would wish for a child born today.
Now, using the words from your two lists, make about ten three word
statements (only three words) of spiritual intent.
Here are some I came up with:
See beauty everywhere.
Know God's love.
Be at peace.
Illumine midnight places.
Participate in life.
Follow holy ways.
Share God's light.
Hear creative music.
Believe despite doubt.
Act despite fear.
Keep them in a place you can read them daily for awhile. Reflect on
them. Ponder them. Your spiritual intentions will become clear.
This is very good way to commune with the heart.
Pray for me, a servant
Rev. Fr, John=Brian
Pope in Morning Homily Gives 3-Step Plan for Overcoming Conflict
Warns That Insulting a Brother Is Akin to Murder, Since Both Are Rooted in Hate
Vatican City, June 12, 2014 (Zenit.org)
During his morning Mass in Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis today
proposed a three-step plan for overcoming conflict and living in
fraternal communion with one's neighbor.
He addressed the question of how we ought to love one another, drawing
from the Gospel reading of the day, which recounts the Lord's
conversation with His disciples about brotherly love (Mt 5:20-26).
The Pope first recommended a "criterion of realism: of sane realism."
"If you have something against another and you cannot fix it, look for
a [compromise] solution - at least," he suggested.
The Pontiff acknowledged that a compromise might not be ideal but is
at least a good thing and is "realism."
In order to save many things, in fact, "one must make a deal – and one
takes a step, the other takes another step and at least there is
peace: a very [imperfect] peace, but a peace agreement
We face many difficult situations in life, and, "while we are on the
road, we make compromises … and in this way we put a stop to hate and
strife among us," Francis said.
He proposed a second criterion, coherence, meaning a recognition that
"to speak ill of someone is to kill the other, because the act [of
insulting] is rooted in hatred all the same."
It is to "kill" our neighbor in "a different way: with gossip, with
calumny, with defamation. Jesus warns us: The one who calls his
brother stupid is killing his brother, because the act is rooted in
hate," Francis said. "In our day, we think that 'not killing our
brother' means simply not actually murdering him – but no – not
killing our brother means not [even] insulting him. The insult comes
from the same root of the crime: hatred. If you do not hate, and you
would not kill your enemy, your brother, then do not insult him
Finally, the Pope said, Jesus offers a third criterion, that of
"fraternity rooted in sonship."
"If we must not kill our brother, it is because he is our brother,
that is, because we have the same Father. I cannot go to the Father if
I do not have peace with my brother," the Pontiff reflected.
"Do not talk to the Father if you are not at peace with your brother –
if you do not have at least a compromise agreement," he insisted. "Do
not talk to the Father without being at peace with your brother."
Summarizing, Pope Francis admitted that these three criteria are not
easy to fulfill: "Three criteria: a criterion of realism; a criterion
of coherence, meaning not to kill and not even to insult, because
those who insult kill; and a criterion of fraternity rooted in
"One cannot talk to the Father if one cannot even speak to one's
brother – and this means overcoming the holier-than-thou attitude of
the scribes and the Pharisees. This program is not easy, is it?
Though, it is the way that Jesus tells us to keep going.
"Let us ask Him for the grace to move forward in peace among
ourselves, with compromises, and always with coherence and in a spirit
of fraternity rooted in sonship."
(June 12, 2014)
Syriac Orthodox Church
Priest: O Christ, our God, the eternal Tranquility of creation, and the true
Peace of the uttermost parts of he world; Thou Who art love and art
called love, and Who delighteth in this title more than all other
titles; Thou Who giveth honor to those who hold to this love.
By Thy love for us, Thou offereth Thyself as an acceptable sacrifice
and a sweet fragrance.
By Thy crucifixion, Thou breakest down the barrier of enmity and,
By Thy blood, Thou hast reconciled the dwellers of heaven and earth
and hast removed the enmity from the middle and united them as one.
By the indivisible unity of Thy Godhead from eternity and Thy human
nature in time, Thou hast called all those who were far off and those
who were near, and thus Thou has joined them together with the concord
of Thy divine love.
By this same love, Thou hast counted them among the household of Thy
eternal kingdom and brought the whole world good tidings of peace and
tranquility. At Thy birth, the heavenly hosts proclaimed peace to the
shepherds. Thou gavest peace to the women, who went and announced Thy
glorious resurrection. In peace, Thou assureth Thy holy apostles of
Thy resurrection in the upper room where they gathered. When Thou
wast ascending to Thy Father, Thou gavest Thy peace to Thy disciples,
saying to them: "My peace I leave with you; not as the world giveth,
do I give it to you. This is my commandment that you should love
another, just I have loved you." Keep this love entrusted to us, our
Savior, and by it, confirm our minds.
By Thy love, may we be bound together.
By Thy love, drive out from among us divisions and controversies.
By Thy love, make us keep Thy life-giving commandments.
By Thy love, hold afflictions and sufferings from us.
By Thy love, make us children of peace and tranquility.
By Thy peace, unite the shepherds and their flocks.
By Thy peace, cause priest to delight in their offerings.
By Thy peace, perfect Thy Church and her children.
By Thy peace and tranquility, guide and adorn Thy Church.
By Thy peace and tranquility, lead her congregations and make her
In Thy tranquility, keep those who are near her.
In Thy peace, purify her deacons.
In Thy tranquility, unite her leaders.
In Thy peace, reconcile the wrathful.
In Thy tranquility, unite those that are divided.
In Thy peace, fill bitter souls with happiness.
In Thy tranquility, keep Thy flock.
In Thy peace, settle doubting minds.
In Thy tranquility, purify our thoughts.
In Thy peace, deliver us from merciless people in authority.
In Thy tranquility, adorn us in all Thy festivals.
In Thy peace, accept our fasting and our prayers.
In Thy tranquility, grant us mercy and forgiveness.
In Thy peace, loosen us from the bonds of wickedness.
In Thy tranquility, break us out of the yoke of the adversary.
May Thy peace be with us and may Thy tranquility reign among us. Bind
our minds with Thy Love and establish Thy loving-kindness in our
hearts that we may offer thanks to Thee, O Lord of tranquility, and to
Thy Father, the Giver of peace, and to Thy Holy Spirit, the Perfector
of true love, now and forever.
From: mussie hailuIn ancient Greece (469-399 BC) Socrates was widely lauded for his wisdom. One day the great philosopher came upon an acquaintance that ran up to him excitedly and said", Socrates, do you know what I just heard about one of your students?""Wait a moment, "Socrates replied, "Before you tell me, I'd like to pass a little test. It's called the test of three." "Three?" that's right" Socrates continued, before you talk to me about my student let's take a moment to test what you're going to say.The first test is truth, have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true? "No" the man said, "Actually I just heard about it." "All right" Said Socrates". "So you do not really know whether it's true or not. Now let's try the second test, the test of goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about my student good?"No, on the contrary …" so," Socrates continued," you want to tell me something bad about him even thou your are not certain it is true?" the man shrugged, a little embarrassed. Socrates continued, "You may still pass because there is a third test –the filter of usefulness. Is what you what to tell me about my student useful to me?""No, not really …" "well," concluded Socrates, "if what you what to tell me is neither true nor good not even useful, why tell it to me at all?" The man was defeated and ashamed. Hear no evil, talk no evil, and see no evil. The more we listen to useless or negative talks the more we become negative.
And a man said, "Speak to us of Self-Knowledge."
And he answered, saying:
Your hearts know in silence the secrets of the days and the nights.
But your ears thirst for the sound of your heart's knowledge.
You would know in words that which you have always know in thought.
You would touch with your fingers the naked body of your dreams.
And it is well you should.
The hidden well-spring of your soul must needs rise and run
murmuring to the sea;
And the treasure of your infinite depths would be revealed to your eyes.
But let there be no scales to weigh your unknown treasure;
And seek not the depths of your knowledge with staff or sounding line.
For self is a sea boundless and measureless.
Say not, "I have found the truth," but rather, "I have found a truth."
Say not, "I have found the path of the soul." Say rather, "I
have met the soul walking upon my path."
For the soul walks upon all paths.
The soul walks not upon a line, neither does it grow like a reed.
The soul unfolds itself, like a lotus of countless petals.
Khalil Gibran - The Prophet
The spiritual struggle of a Christian has never been easy, He has to
contend not only against the obvious temptations of the world and
against the corruption in himself, not only "against flesh and blood,
but against... the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly
places." (Eph. 6:12)
In addition to the decisive support which participation in the life of
the Church offers hime, he is comforted by the knowledge that there
exists a "great cloud of witnesses," those who have already been
through the same struggles and know how to advise and encourage people
who follow in their footsteps. The spiritual experience of numerous
ascetics is contained in crystallized form in the writings of the
Fathers. We can draw on their spiritual wisdom when it is hard to find
living examples and guides for the spiritual life, as is the case in
Humble enjoyment of the teachings of the Fathers, whether in the
monastic cell of an elder or through books, is a basic part of
Orthodox devotional life. "He who has learned obedience," the Fathers
advise, "will himself be heard and will enter boldly into the presence
of the Crucified One," for the Crucicifed Lord Himself was "obedient
unto death." (Phil. 2:8)
Archbishop Paul of Finland
"The Faith We Hold"
SVS Press, 1980
Saint Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessalonica
Sermon on the Transfiguration
For an explanation of the present Feast and understanding of its
truth, it is necessary for us to turn to the very start of today's
reading from the Gospel: "Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James
and John his brother, and led them up onto a high mountain by
themselves" (Mt 17:1).
First of all we must ask, from whence does the Evangelist Matthew
begin to reckon with six days? From what sort of day be it? What does
the preceding turn of speech indicate, where the Savior, in teaching
His disciples, said to them: "For the Son of Man shall come with his
angels in the glory of His Father," and further: "Again I say to you,
there are some standing here who shall not taste death, until they
have seen the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom" (Mt 16:27-28)? That is
to say, it is the Light of His own forthcoming Transfiguration which
He terms the Glory of His Father and of His Kingdom.
The Evangelist Luke points this out and reveals this more clearly
saying: "Now it came to pass about eight days after these words, that
He took Peter and John and James, and went up the mountain to pray.
And as He prayed, His countenance was altered, and His raiment became
a radiant white" (Lk 9:28-29). But how can the two be reconciled, when
one of them speaks definitively about the interval of time as being
eight days between the sayings and the manifestation, whereas the
other (says): "after six days?"
There were eight on the mountain, but only six were visible. Three,
Peter, James and John, had come up with Jesus, and they saw Moses and
Elias standing there and conversing with Him, so altogether there were
six of them. However, the Father and the Holy Spirit were invisibly
with the Lord: the Father, with His Voice testifying that this was His
Beloved Son, and the Holy Spirit shining forth with Him in the radiant
cloud. Thus, the six are actually eight, and there is no contradiction
regarding the eight. Similarly, there is no contradiction with the
Evangelists when one says "after six days," and the other says "eight
days after these words."
But these twofold sayings as it were present us a certain format set
in mystery, and together with it that of those actually present upon
the Mount. It stands to reason, and everyone rationally studying in
accordance with Scripture knows that the Evangelists are in agreement
one with another. Luke spoke of eight days without contradicting
Matthew, who declared "after six days." There is not another day added
on to represent the day on which these sayings were uttered, nor is
the day on which the Lord was transfigured added on (which a rational
person might reasonably imagine to be added to the days of Matthew).
The Evangelist Luke does not say "after eight days" (like the
Evangelist Matthew says "after six days"), but rather "it came to pass
eight days after these words." But where the Evangelists seem to
contradict one another, they actually point out to us something great
and mysterious. In actual fact, why did the one say "after six days,"
but the other, in ignoring the seventh day, have in mind the eighth
day? It is because the great vision of the Light of the
Transfiguration of the Lord is the mystery of the Eighth Day, i.e., of
the future age, coming to be revealed after the passing away of the
world created in six days.
About the power of the Divine Spirit, through Whom the Kingdom of God
is to be revealed, the Lord predicted: "There are some standing here
who shall not taste death, until they have seen the Son of Man coming
in His Kingdom" (Mt 16:28). Everywhere and in every way the King will
be present, and everywhere will be His Kingdom, since the advent of
His Kingdom does not signify the passing over from one place to
another, but rather the revelation of its power of the Divine Spirit.
That is why it is said: "come in power." And this power is not
manifest to simple ordinary people, but to those standing with the
Lord, that is to say, those who have affirmed their faith in Him like
Peter, James and John, and especially those who are free of our
natural abasement. Therefore, and precisely because of this, God
manifests Himself upon the Mount, on the one hand coming down from His
heights, and on the other, raising us up from the depths of abasement,
since the Transcendent One takes on mortal nature. Certainly, such a
manifest appearance by far transcends the utmost limits of the mind's
grasp, as effectualized by the power of the Divine Spirit.
Thus, the Light of the Transfiguration of the Lord is not something
that comes to be and then vanishes, nor is it subject to the sensory
faculties, although it was contemplated by corporeal eyes for a short
while upon an inconsequential mountaintop. But the initiates of the
Mystery, (the disciples) of the Lord at this time passed beyond mere
flesh into spirit through a transformation of their senses,
effectualized within them by the Spirit, and in such a way that they
beheld what, and to what extent, the Divine Spirit had wrought
blessedness in them to behold the Ineffable Light.
Those not grasping this point have conjectured that the chosen from
among the Apostles beheld the Light of the Transfiguration of the Lord
by a sensual and creaturely faculty, and through this they attempt to
reduce to a creaturely level (i.e., as something "created") not only
this Light, the Kingdom and the Glory of God, but also the Power of
the Divine Spirit, through Whom it is meet for Divine Mysteries to be
revealed. In all likelihood, such persons have not heeded the words of
the Apostle Paul: "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered
into the heart of man, what things God has prepared for those who love
Him. But to us God has revealed them through His Spirit. For the
Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God" (1 Cor
So, with the onset of the Eighth Day, the Lord, taking Peter, James
and John, went up on the Mount to pray. He always prayed alone,
withdrawing from everyone, even from the Apostles themselves, as for
example when with five loaves and two fish He fed the five thousand
men, besides women and children (Mt 14:19-23). Or, taking with Him
those who excelled others, as at the approach of His Saving Passion,
when He said to the other disciples: "Sit here while I go over there
and pray" (Mt 26:36). Then He took with Him Peter, James and John. But
in our instance right here and now, having taken only these same
three, the Lord led them up onto a high mountain by themselves and was
transfigured before them, that is to say, before their very eyes.
"What does it mean to say: He was transfigured?" asks the
Golden-Mouthed Theologian (Chrysostomos). He answers this by saying:
"It revealed something of His Divinity to them, as much and insofar as
they were able to apprehend it, and it showed the indwelling of God
within Him." The Evangelist Luke says: "And as He prayed, His
countenance was altered" (Lk 9:29); and from the Evangelist Matthew we
read: "And His face shone as the sun" (Mt 17:2). But the Evangelist
said this, not in the context that this Light be thought of as
subsistent for the senses (let us put aside the blindness of mind of
those who can conceive of nothing higher than what is known through
the senses). Rather, it is to show that Christ God, for those living
and contemplating by the Spirit, is the same as the sun is for those
living in the flesh and contemplating by the senses. Therefore, some
other Light for the knowing the Divinity is not necessary for those
who are enriched by Divine gifts.
That same Inscrutable Light shone and was mysteriously manifest to the
Apostles and the foremost of the Prophets at that moment, when (the
Lord) was praying. This shows that what brought forth this blessed
sight was prayer, and that the radiance occurred and was manifest by
uniting the mind with God, and that it is granted to all who, with
constant exercise in efforts of virtue and prayer, strive with their
mind towards God. True beauty, essentially, can be contemplated only
with a purified mind. To gaze upon its luminance assumes a sort of
participation in it, as though some bright ray etches itself upon the
Even the face of Moses was illumined by his association with God. Do
you not know that Moses was transfigured when he went up the mountain,
and there beheld the Glory of God? But he (Moses) did not effect this,
but rather he underwent a transfiguration.
However, our Lord Jesus Christ possessed that Light Himself. In this
regard, actually, He did not need prayer for His flesh to radiate with
the Divine Light; it was but to show from whence that Light descends
upon the saints of God, and how to contemplate it. For it is written
that even the saints "will shine forth like the sun" (Mt 13:43), which
is to say, entirely permeated by Divine Light as they gaze upon
Christ, divinely and inexpressibly shining forth His Radiance, issuing
from His Divine Nature. On Mount Tabor it was manifest also in His
Flesh, by reason of the Hypostatic Union (i.e., the union of the two
perfect natures, divine and human, within the divine Person
[Hypostasis] of Christ, the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity).
The Fourth Ecumenical Council at Chalcedon defined this Hypostatic
union of Christ's two natures, divine and human, as "without mingling,
without change, without division, without separation."
We believe that at the Transfiguration He manifested not some other
sort of light, but only that which was concealed beneath His fleshly
exterior. This Light was the Light of the Divine Nature, and as such,
it was Uncreated and Divine. So also, in the teachings of the Fathers,
Jesus Christ was transfigured on the Mount, not taking upon Himself
something new nor being changed into something new, nor something
which formerly He did not possess. Rather, it was to show His
disciples that which He already was, opening their eyes and bringing
them from blindness to sight. For do you not see that eyes that can
perceive natural things would be blind to this Light?
Thus, this Light is not a light of the senses, and those contemplating
it do not simply see with sensual eyes, but rather they are changed by
the power of the Divine Spirit. They were transformed, and only in
this way did they see the transformation taking place amidst the very
assumption of our perishability, with the deification through union
with the Word of God in place of this.
So also she who miraculously conceived and gave birth recognized that
the One born of her is God Incarnate. So it was also for Simeon, who
only received this Infant into his arms, and the aged Anna, coming out
[from the Jerusalem Temple] for the Meeting, since the Divine Power
illumined, as through a glass windowpane, giving light for those
having pure eyes of heart.
And why did the Lord, before the beginning of the Transfiguration,
choose the foremost of the Apostles and lead them up onto the Mount
with Him? Certainly, it was to show them something great and
mysterious. What is particularly great or mysterious in showing a
sensory light, which not only the foremost, but all the other Apostles
already abundantly possessed? Why would they need a transforming of
their eyes by the power of the Holy Spirit for a contemplation of this
Light, if it were merely sensory and created? How could the Glory and
the Kingdom of the Father and the Holy Spirit project forth in some
sort of sensory light? Indeed, in what sort of Glory and Kingdom would
Christ the Lord come at the end of the ages, when there would not be
necessary anything in the air, nor in expanse, nor anything similar,
but when, in the words of the Apostle, "God will be all in all" (1 Cor
15: 28)? That is to say, will He alter everything for all? If so, then
it follows that light is included.
Hence it is clear that the Light of Tabor was a Divine Light. And the
Evangelist John, inspired by Divine Revelation, says clearly that the
future eternal and enduring city "has no need of the sun or moon to
shine upon it. For the Glory of God lights it up, and the Lamb will be
its lamp" (Rev 21:23). Is it not clear, that he points out here that
this [Lamb] is Jesus, Who is divinely transfigured now upon Tabor, and
the flesh of Whom shines, is the lamp manifesting the Glory of
divinity for those ascending the mountain with Him?
John the Theologian also says about the inhabitants of this city:
"they will not need light from lamps, nor the light of the sun, for
the Lord God will shed light upon them, and night shall be no more"
(Rev 22:5). But how, we might ask, is there this other light, in which
"there is no change, nor shadow of alteration" (Jas 1:17)? What light
is there that is constant and unsetting, unless it be the Light of
God? Moreover, could Moses and Elias (and particularly the former, who
clearly was present only in spirit, and not in flesh [Elias having
ascended bodily to Heaven on the fiery chariot]) be shining with any
sort of sensory light, and be seen and known? Especially since it was
written of them: "they appeared in glory, and spoke of his death,
which he was about to fulfill at Jerusalem" (Lk 9:30-31). And how
otherwise could the Apostles recognize those whom they had never seen
before, unless through the mysterious power of the Divine Light,
opening their mental eyes?
But let us not tire our attention with the furthermost interpretations
of the words of the Gospel. We shall believe thus, as those same ones
have taught us, who themselves were enlightened by the Lord Himself,
insofar as they alone know this well: the Mysteries of God, in the
words of a prophet, are known to God alone and His perpetual
proximity. Let us, considering the Mystery of the Transfiguration of
the Lord in accord with their teaching, strive to be illumined by this
Light ourselves and encourage in ourselves love and striving towards
the Unfading Glory and Beauty, purifying our spiritual eyes of worldly
thoughts and refraining from perishable and quickly passing delights
and beauty which darken the garb of the soul and lead to the fire of
Gehenna and everlasting darkness. Let us be freed from these by the
illumination and knowledge of the incorporeal and ever-existing Light
of our Savior transfigured on Tabor, in His Glory, and of His Father
from all eternity, and His Life-Creating Spirit, Whom are One
Radiance, One Godhead, and Glory, and Kingdom, and Power now and ever
and unto ages of ages. Amen.
From the times of the Apostles, Christians of all ages, when entering
upon a task, began it with prayer, and the end of it they also
hallowed with prayerful thanksgiving to the Lord, in Whom we live and
move and have our being. And let us do the same, beloved reader.
But not having the gift of effectual prayer, let us recall and commit
to memory what once was offered to the Lord by the grace of the Holy
Spirit out of the inspired heart of the great Russian man of prayer,
our father among the Saints, Dimitri, Metropolitan of Rostov and
I am sure that for you, as for me, in offering to your attention "The
Tale of The Five Prayers" the work of the great Bishop, it will be
both welcome and useful, especially in the view of the wonderful
promises which it contains. So hear this tale, my beloved reader.
You will not blame me for offering you in this Tale something new - it
is not mine, and not new, but only fundamentally and completely
forgotten, forgive me that I have disturbed the dust of ages: but this
dust is holy ...
One of the holy fathers, standing in prayer and being in ecstasy,
heard the voice of our Lord Jesus Christ speaking to the Immaculate
and Holy Mother of God, His Mother, saying to her: "Tell me, My
Mother, which were the greatest of your sufferings, when you lived in
the world, which you suffered for My sake?" The Immaculate One
replied: "My Son and God, five times I have endured my greatest
suffering for you: First, when I heard from the Prophet Simeon that
you were to be killed; Second, when I looked for you in Jerusalem, and
did not see you for three days; Third, when I heard that you were
seized and bound by the Jews; Fourth, when I saw you on the Cross
crucified between the robbers; Fifth, when I saw you placed in the
Tomb." And the Lord said to her: "I tell you. My Mother, whoever reads
every day each of your sufferings with My prayer, i.e. 'Our Father,'
for the first suffering I will give the knowledge of his sins and
sorrow for them; for the second, I will give the forgiveness of all
his sins; for the third, I will restore to him the virtues lost
through sin; for the fourth, I will refresh him at death with my
Divine Body and Blood; for the fifth, I will appear to him Myself at
his death, and receive his soul into eternal life. Amen."
After this vision of the Holy Father, the following prayers were added
by St. Dimitri:
At the beginning of the five prayers:
"Glory to Thee, Christ my God, that Thou hast not destroyed me a
sinner, with my sins, but even till now hast borne -with my sin."
Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep me this day without sin. Grant, O Lord,
that I may not anger Thee, my Creator, in thought, word or deed, but
that all my actions, counsels and thoughts may be to the glory of Thy
"God be merciful to me, a sinner, throughout my whole life. In my
passing and after death, forsake me not."
Falling low on the earth, say:
"Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, accept me, dead in mind and soul,
accept me, a sinful prodigal, impure in soul and body. Take from me
all shameless enmity and resistance, and turn not Thy Face from me, O
Lord, nor say: I know not who thou art. But hear the voice of my
prayer: save me, for Thou hast a wealth of compassion and desirest not
the death of a sinner. I will never leave Thee nor depart from Thee,
my Creator, till Thou hearest me and givest me forgiveness of all my
sins, through the prayers of Thy Most Pure Mother, the intercession of
the honourable Bodiless Powers of Heaven, of my holy and glorious
Guardian Angel, of Thy Forerunner and Prophet, the Baptist John, of
the God-speaking Apostles, of the holy and victorious martyrs, of our
Reverend and God-fearing fathers, and all Thy Saints, have mercy and
save me, a sinner."
Heavenly King, Comforter,...
Holy God, Holy Mighty,...
Virgin Mother of God, rejoice, Mary full of grace; the Lord is with
thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy
womb, for thou hast borne the Saviour of our souls.
"O merciful Mother, Virgin Mary, I thy sinful and unprofitable
servant, remembering thy suffering on hearing from the Prophet Simeon
of the merciless murder of thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, offer thee
this prayer and the Angelic Salutation. Accept it in honour and memory
of thy suffering, and pray thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to grant me
the knowledge of my sins and sorrow for them."
Our Father .. .
Virgin Mother ...
"O Divinely-blessed and Immaculate Maiden, Mother and Virgin, accept
from me, thy sinful and unprofitable servant, this prayer and the
Angelic Salutation, in honour and memory of thy suffering when thou
didst lose thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ, in the Temple, and for three
days didst not see Him. Pray and beg of Him the forgiveness and
remission of all my sins, O only Blessed One."
Our Father .. .
Virgin Mother ...
"O Mother of Light, most blessed Virgin Mother of God, accept from me,
thy sinful and unprofitable servant, this prayer and the Angelic
Salutation, in honour and memory of thy suffering on hearing that thy
Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, had been seized and bound. Pray Him to
restore to me the virtues lost through sin, that I may magnify thee, O
Most Pure One, for ever."
Our Father ...
Virgin Mother ...
"O Fountain of Mercy, Virgin Mother of God, accept from me, thy sinful
and unprofitable servant, this prayer and the Angelic Salutation, in
honour and memory of thy suffering when thou didst see thy GOD, our
Lord Jesus Christ, on the Cross between the robbers. Pray Him, O Lady,
to grant me the gift of His mercy in the hour of my death, and to
refresh me with His Divine Body and Blood, that I may glorify thee, my
Defender, for ever."
Our Father .. .
Virgin Mother . ..
"O my Hope, Most Pure Virgin, Mother of God, accept from me, thy
sinful and unprofitable servant, this prayer and the Angelic
Salutation, in honour and memory of thy suffering when thou didst see
thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, placed in the Tomb. Pray Him, O Lady,
to appear to me in the hour of my death, and to receive my soul into
eternal life. Amen."
Jul. 5, 2013 12:21 PM
Probably the most meaningless apology we give in our culture is the
one we express when we accidentally brush against someone in a crowd.
Our response is something like "I'm sorry," or "Excuse me" and it's
nearly as useless as the "gesundheit" offered after a sneeze.
I say useless because our touch is likely just an unintentional brush
with someone sharing the same space we occupy. We apologize more
because we've committed a social faux-pas than because we are actually
No, this column isn't a rant against good manners; I just think it's
too bad we have to say we're sorry for giving someone a human touch,
accidental or otherwise.
Truthfully, our apology might be better spent in those moments when we
fail to give people a caring touch. I really think that it is our
failure to touch that is often much more harmful.
There's an incident recorded in the Christian gospels about a woman
who sought a healing touch for 12 years. She was sick with a bleeding
disorder and spent her savings on doctors who proved unable to help
In desperation, she used the crowd cover to surreptitiously touch the
hem of Jesus' robe. The Biblical record claims that this brush with
the divine miraculously healed the woman and stopped her hemorrhaging.
Interestingly enough, instead of saying, "Pardon me, ma'am," Jesus
asked, "Who touched me?"
The dumbfounded disciples responded with "Didn't you notice that
you're in a crowd?" Their question implies that they were annoyed with
Jesus' expectation that they would be able to identify any specific
individual in such a large crowd. Anyone who has experienced a
pressing Independence Day crowd or the bustle of holiday shoppers
knows the impossibility of Jesus' question.
The truth is that touching someone or seeking the touch of another is
always a risky thing. If, like this woman, you touch someone seeking
help, you risk the humiliation of rejection. Perhaps that's why Jesus'
question made this woman duck in shame.
Perhaps she thought, "Who am I to approach such a masterful teacher
for healing? What makes me think I'm that important?"
That's what shame does to us. It causes us to question our worth. It
causes us to distance ourselves from those who would help us.
According to Luke 8, "Jesus insisted, 'Someone touched me. I felt
power discharging from me.' Immediately the woman blurted out her
story — why she touched him and how at that same moment she was
However, it was what Jesus said next that interests me most.
"Daughter, you took a risk trusting me, and now you're healed and
whole. Live well, live blessed!"
At the end of the day faith always is about risk. It's risking
something you have to receive something of higher value — your
In reading the story, you might ask, "This woman had nothing to lose,
so why wouldn't she risk touching Jesus?" Yet, I suspect she had a
great deal to lose. After all, she had somehow managed a precarious
existence for 12 years and with that single touch, she risked losing
When I consider how she risked her status quo for a touch from God, I
have to ask myself, where is my faith? And what do I risk? My prayer
for us today is that we take that risk. Seek a touch and seek to be
touched. Live well, live blessed.
Norris Burkes is a syndicated columnist, national speaker and author
of "No Small Miracles." He is as an Air National Guard chaplain and is
board certified in the Association of Professional Chaplains. Call him
at 321-549-2500. email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at
www.thechaplain.net. Write him at P.O. Box 247, Elk Grove, Calif.,
- May 29, 2013 - 1:29 PM
There are many passages in the Gospel in which Christ turning to a person who is either sick in mind or in body asks a question, and this question is always: Does thou wish to be made whole? And I think, this phrase is important because it implies something which is vaster, more complete than simply restoration of health: a return to the condition that was the sick person’s before illness attacked him. Because very often illness is the result of the way of life which we lead, of our folly, it is the result of heredity, it is the result of outer conditions and this is all within the compass of our situation in a world which from a Christian point of view is a fallen world, or if you prefer another term, a distorted world, a world that has lost its harmony, its wholeness or has not attained it. Whatever way you look at it our world is a broken one.
A thing that has been striking me quite a lot in the last years is this: why does Christ ask a person, Do you want to be made whole? Isn’t it obvious that anyone who is sane will say: Of course I do, - with the impact, perhaps, on the word ‘of course’. Why are you asking a silly question? Who wishes to be ill? And yet, I think, it is a very important question because in terms of the Gospel to be made whole means not simply getting rid of one’s physical illness but of being reintegrated to a quality of life which one did not possess before and which may be given us on condition. The condition being that being made whole, being restored to health even physically means that we must take responsibility for our bodily and mental condition in a way in which we didn’t do it before. To be healed physically is perhaps a small image of being restored to life having come to the brink of death. The life which would have continued within us without this healing act of God would have been a life that gradually deteriorated more and more and would bring us to dying, a gradual disintegration either of our mental condition or of physical condition. And if we are given back a wholeness which we had lost or perhaps which we never possessed before, it means that the life which is ours now after healing is not simply for us to use any way we chose, it is a gift, it is not ours in a way. We were dead, we were dying, we are brought back to a plenitude of life and this plenitude is not ours, it is a gift. So that in terms of the Gospel, as far as I can see it, when Christ says: “Dost thou wish to be made whole?”, He implies: “Supposing I do it, are you prepared to lead a life of wholeness or do you want Me to make you whole in order to go back to what destroyed this wholeness, destroyed you in body and soul?” And this is a question which stands before each patient, although most patients, practically all patients have no idea of the question, and it stands certainly in front of each of us when we want to be healed beyond our physical illness.
There is another aspect of wholeness restored in other situations in the Gospel when Christ says to someone: “Go and sin no more”. I think we must realise that when we speak of healing in Christian terms we do not speak simply of a power possessed by God or by His saints or by people who being neither saints nor God are possessed of a natural gift to restore health for us to continue to live in the way in which we lived before, to remain the same unchanged. God does not heal us in order that we should go back to our sinful condition. He offers us newness of life, not the old life which we have already lost. And the new life which is offered us is no longer ours in a way, it is His, it’s a gift of His, a present. It was Mine to give, take it. And thinking in spiritual terms, it is true. Because what is sin? We define sin all the time as moral infringement but it is much more than this: it is the very thing of which I was speaking, it is the lack of wholeness. When we think of ourselves: I am divided - mind against heart, heart against will, body against all the rest. We are all not only schizophrenic, but schizo-everything, we are just like a broken mirror and so that is the condition of sin: it is not so much that the mirror doesn’t reflect well, it is the fact that it is broken that is the problem. You can, of course, try to take a small piece of it and see what you can see, but it is still a broken mirror. And this brokenness of ours within corresponds to a brokenness in our relationships with other people. We are afraid of them, we are envious of them, we are greedy, what not. So it creates a whole relational sinfulness and indeed it applies supremely to God because it all results from our having lost our harmony with God. The saints are people who are in harmony with Him, nothing more, nothing less, simply that. And as the result of being in harmony with God, then they can be in harmony within themselves and with other people.
And then I want suggest something which you may find difficult to take: then in a way whether one is healed physically or not becomes a secondary thing, not to our relatives, not to our friends but to the person concerned. What matters is the wholeness restored and once the wholeness is restored if together with it goes a physical healing - good, if it doesn’t, it may be as good.
* All texts are copyright: Estate of Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh
Metropolitan Anthony Library
1. Inspiration -Inspired people achieve more in life than those who are `not' inspired. Like a bird, who flies over the fences on the ground unmindful of the fences, inspiration makes me feel I can conquer everything. I sort of shrug off the doubts and hurdles on the path of my dreams. There is an inner force that sharpens my focus on what is to be done and makes me ignore what cannot be done. Even in the worst of times, an inspired person can see options. They never feel insecure.
2. Selfless Contribution – When I give without expecting anything in turn, I feel `powerful'. I feel `self worth'. I feel `I am good'. There is no possibility of insecurity. There is only `My life is worth living'. This makes me search for opportunities to give (When I feel secure, only then I can give without expectations). This is the opposite of `I am scared of giving as I may not have enough for me' (which is insecurity).
3. Improve – Every time I find someone is better than me, I can either feel inferior or I can decide to improve. As I improve I KNOW I am becoming better. This gives me a sense of control over life. Insecurity makes me feel out of control. Hence, improvement is one of the easiest ways of tackling insecurity. After improving, so often I feel it was not worth feeling insecure. I realise this insecurity was a mirage. Ironically, this mirage makes me see what I am capable of. It is a wistful, funny, embarrassing truth and always implementable.
4. Count Your Blessings – This used to be my favorite. There are always some people who are worse off than we are. There are always some people who have much less than what we have got. There are always enough people who are happily willing to exchange what we are complaining about. Yes certainly, things can be better. However, things are already much better than many lives. I used to tell myself, "Don't be greedy. Be content with what you have. And work harder than ever before to get what you want. Don't Complain. Don't Blame. Don't carry excuses." It always used to work. It always used to put me in the proper frame of mind to realise, this is indeed the truth. I would then smile, say a sorry to the creator and carry on."
5. Whole and the role -Ahaa…this is a little mystical one. This is also my current favorite. This is what is working for me `big time' today. I believe all of us are `one'. In this oneness, all of us have a role to play. The way the body is one and all the body parts have a role to play, all the parts are different, yet all of them are important. Similarly, each person belongs to the same force, the one force, the ONE. Each one of us have a role to play. Let's focus on our role and not get concerned about my role being bigger or smaller. Big or small, the role is important. In being insecure, our focus shifts from our roles to `I want that role'. Imagine the tongue wanting the role of the leg and the leg thinking the throat is doing a more important work. There is no iota of truth in that. I am a part of the whole and I will focus on my role. It makes me feel important, valuable and determined.
To sum it up, each one of the above points puts you in the zone of `peace, self worth and performance'. It makes you realise no one can have it all. It makes you realise, no one ever NEEDS it all. It makes you realise there is so much that can be done with what we have, there is no point in being insecure.
Japan with hardly any natural resource is the second biggest economy of the whole world. With no offense to all my friends in Africa, with all the natural resources in the world, their economic and social status today is a tragedy. Be a Japan that we have today, and not the Africa that we have today
Top five regrets of the dying
Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She recorded their dying epiphanies in a blog called Inspiration and Chai, which gathered so much attention that she put her observations into a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.
Ware writes of the phenomenal clarity of vision that people gain at the end of their lives, and how we might learn from their wisdom. "When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently," she says, "common themes surfaced again and again."
Here are the top five regrets of the dying, as witnessed by Ware:
1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
"This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it."
2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard.
"This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children's youth and their partner's companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence."
3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
"Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result."
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
"Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying."
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
"This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called 'comfort' of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again."
What's your greatest regret so far, and what will you set out to achieve or change before you die?
- Find a loving relationship and stick with it.
- Support those around you in their times of need.
- Give thanks for what you have. There are many benefits of being grateful. It has been shown to strengthen social bonds and makes people more likely to want to help us again. There is also promising evidence linking practicing gratitude to better sleep, fewer symptoms of illness, and less stress.
- Stay in school. Education is good for your health.
- Treat your body like a temple. Eat right, get regular exercise, get a good night's sleep, don't smoke, and if you drink, do so in moderation.
Seven Steps to Achieving Your Dream!
Can achievement be broken down into steps? Well, it isn't always that clean
and easy, but I do know that those who achieve great things usually go
through much of the same process, with many of the items listed below as
part of that process. So if you have been struggling with achievement, look
through the following and internalize the thoughts presented. Then begin to
apply them. You will be on the road to achieving your dream!
1. Dream it - Everything begins in the heart and mind. Every great
achievement began in the mind of one person. They dared to dream, to believe
that it was possible. Take some time to allow yourself to ask "What if?"
Think big. Don't let negative thinking discourage you. You want to be a
"dreamer." Dream of the possibilities for yourself, your family, and for
others. If you had a dream that you let grow cold, re-ignite the dream! Fan
the flames. Life is to short to let it go.
2. Believe it - Yes, your dream needs to be big. It needs to be something
that is seemingly beyond your capabilities. But it also must be believable.
You must be able to say that if certain things take place, if others help,
if you work hard enough, though it is a big dream, it can still be done.
Good example: A person with no college education can dream that he will
build a 50 million-dollar a year company. That is big, but believable. Bad
example: That a 90 year-old woman with arthritis will someday run a marathon
in under 3 hours. It is big alright, but also impossible. She should instead
focus on building a 50 million-dollar a year business! And she better get a
3. See it - The great achievers have a habit. They "see" things. They
picture themselves walking around their CEO office in their new 25
million-dollar corporate headquarters, even while they are sitting on a
folding chair in their garage "headquarters." Great free-throw shooters in
the NBA picture the ball going through the basket. PGA golfers picture the
ball going straight down the fairway. World-class speakers picture
themselves speaking with energy and emotion. All of this grooms the mind to
control the body to carry out the dream.
4. Tell it - One reason many dreams never go anywhere is because the dreamer
keeps it all to himself. It is a quiet dream that only lives inside of his
mind. The one who wants to achieve their dream must tell that dream to many
people. One reason: As we continually say it, we begin to believe it more
and more. If we are talking about it then it must be possible. Another
reason: It holds us accountable. When we have told others, it spurs us on to
actually do it so we don't look foolish.
5. Plan it - Every dream must take the form of a plan. The old saying that
you "get what you plan for" is so true. Your dream won't just happen. You
need to sit down, on a regular basis, and plan out your strategy for
achieving the dream. Think through all of the details. Break the whole plan
down into small, workable parts. Then set a time frame for accomplishing
each task on your "dream plan."
6. Work it - wouldn't life be grand if we could quit before this one!
Unfortunately the successful are usually the hardest workers. While the rest
of the world is sitting on their couch watching re-runs of Gilligan's
Island, achievers are working on their goal - achieving their dream. I have
an equation that I work with: Your short-term tasks, multiplied by time,
equal your long-term accomplishments. If you work on it each day, eventually
you will achieve your dream. War and Peace was written, in longhand, page by
7. Enjoy it - When you have reached your goal and you are living your dream,
be sure to enjoy it. In fact, enjoy the trip too. Give yourself some rewards
along the way. Give yourself a huge reward when you get there. Help others
enjoy it. Be gracious and generous. Use your dream to better others. Then go
back to number 1. And dream a little bigger this time!
San Francisco, CA (PRWEB) February 26, 2013
Spiritual people experience a large amount of gratitude, focus on
compassionate emotions, lead an overall flourishing life, are
self-actualizing, and savor experiences.
Researchers at BeyondthePurchase.org wanted to determine the personal and
societal benefits of spirituality - a search for something sacred. They
determined the positive personality traits of spiritual individuals by
having participants complete over 30 surveys. Here are the top five positive
characteristics of spiritual people:
>1. Spiritual people are gracious. Psychology has demonstrated that
expressing gratitude is associated with many positive emotions such as
optimism, being generous with time and resources, and overall vitality.
Spirituality encourages people to be positive, which may be expressed in
many of these life practices.
>2. Spiritual people are compassionate. Experiencing compassion toward
others is one the strongest correlates with living a spiritual life. A
variety of positive or pro-social emotions have strong links with
spiritualism, including allowing one to feel good about the little things in
life and look at the world through empathetic eyes.
>3. Spiritual people flourish. Spirituality is linked to many important
aspects of human functioning--spiritual people have positive relationships,
high self-esteem, are optimistic, and experience meaning and purpose in
>4. Spiritual people self-actualize. Spiritual individuals strive toward a
better life and consider personal growth and fulfillment as a central goal.
Spirituality can be considered to be a path toward self-actualization,
because it requires people to focus on their internal values and work on
becoming a better individual.
>5. Spiritual people take time to savor life experiences. Individuals who
value spirituality take the time to reflect on their daily activities and
ultimately build lasting memories of their experiences. Because spiritual
people are more conscious of small, daily activities, they experience
positive emotions associated with the smaller pleasures in life.
For the original version on PRWeb visit:
I always look forward to the Great Lent because within me there is a child
looking for the felt presence of God. I like pictures of the Guardian Angel
and the Holy Family. I want to feel loved and cherished and guarded by the
Ultimate and feel His ever present care. I want to be special to Him even
while realizing that each one of us is special to Him.
It is all very well to say that the Triune God dwells in you. We know that
it is correct in the same way as we know that an apple falls to the ground
due to gravity; but that knowledge does not overcome our busy involvement
with everyday life and in this business, we often forget that we are the
temples of God. Gradually, as in the case of Jerusalem Temple and as so very
often seen in our own Church, we compromise and justify and rationalize and
allow buyers and sellers and commerce within its Holy walls and in the
process, we evict the spiritually needy/ outsider who might have been
looking at us for a sign of the indwelling of God. The Lent is the time when
Jesus comes in and overturns the tables and casts out the traders.
Whenever I join in social chit-chat, I find that often the conversation
moves to someone absent. Somebody comes up with an unkind remark about the
absent person and even when I feel uncomfortable about it, or consider it
unjust, I find myself either openly condoning the gossip monger or
maintaining a cowardly silence. But during Lent, the daily prayers from the
prayer book which is repeated morning, noon, evening and night makes me wake
up to my responsibility before God. I remember the prayer on Monday Morning-
Brother loving brother is the fasting chosen by me. Tuesday Night we pray
`The fast / Lent which adorns our spirit with spiritual wings is this: Be
wise, pure, and loving (paripaakatha, nirmalatha, sneham). Restrain your
mouth from injustice and your heart from deceit. Love your brothers and
respect your teachers.' I realize that without this, my observance does not
reach the Holy God and my offerings are like those of Cain. They are impure
and like grass which is burnt up by the fire of his Holiness even before it
reaches Him, leaving nothing.
Each prayer is a wake up call. And fifty days of prayer coupled with
abstinence, will surely build me up in self control and spiritual strength.
I am reminded through these prayers that all this work and the strength that
I gain would stand me in good stead and may even save my life. It would help
me become more pleasing to God and man as I would become a better and more
honest person. It would cast out much of my negative characteristics and
evil which now dominate my inner space. At least it makes me ashamed of
myself when I join gossip even passively. I become aware of my poverty and
ashamed of my apparel soiled by sin and deceit and long for the garment of
light that God had initially adorned man with. It sounds so magnificent and
perhaps it would make the rather plain and old susan beautiful and lovable.
I become impatient with my old mother's seemingly unreasonable demands and
try to avoid her constant complaining. I forget her age, loneliness and
illness and am wrapped up in my problems. I fear whether I would ever have
the strength for the inner unseen warfare and learn to be truly loving and
charitable. No gifts to poor homes can cover up for the unkindness to those
closest to you- helpers,housemaids, children, parents, friends, neighbours.
I am greedy and attracted by the display of diamonds and silks and the smell
of wonderful confectionery even as I realize that all these are bad for
me-what with Bunti Chors and Diabetes and the need of others for sustenance
I am often tempted to give the prayers and church attendance a miss. But
once there, I feel a great sense of peace and realize that I would have
passed by the blessings of Lent through my casual approach.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
God grant us poverty of spirit and a pure heart.
The Psychology Behind Superhero Origin Stories
How does following the adventures of Spider-Man and Batman inspire us to cope with adversity?
“Why is every superhero movie an origin story?” complained Entertainment Weekly film critic Adam Markovitz after seeing a trailer for this summer’s Man of Steel—yet another version of the 75-year-old Superman saga. Perhaps we love origin stories, Markovitz suggested, because they “show the exact moment when a normal guy goes from being Just Like Us to being somehow better, faster, stronger.”
I’m inclined to disagree. As a clinical psychologist who has written books about the psychology of superheroes, I think origin stories show us not how to become super but how to be heroes, choosing altruism over the pursuit of wealth and power. I’ve learned this through hundreds of conversations at comic book conventions, where fans have been remarkably candid about their lives and the inspiration they draw from superhero stories.
In one form or another the superhero origin story has been around for millennia: A hero battles “supernatural” forces and returns home “from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man,” as the mythologist Joseph Campbell wrote.
In my surveys of the genre, I’ve found that superheroes undergo three types of life-altering experiences that we can relate to.
The first is trauma, which lies at the heart of Batman’s origin story, in which Bruce Wayne dedicates himself to fighting crime after seeing his parents murdered. In real life, many people experience “stress-induced growth” after a trauma and resolve to help others, even becoming social activists.
The second life-altering force is destiny. Consider Buffy the Vampire Slayer, about a normal teenager who discovers she’s the “Chosen One”—endowed with supernatural powers to fight demons. Buffy is reluctant to accept her destiny, yet she throws herself into her new job. Many of us identify with Buffy’s challenge (minus the vampires) of assuming a great responsibility that compels her to grow up sooner than she wants to.
Lastly, there’s sheer chance, which transformed a young Spider-Man, who was using his power for selfish purposes until his beloved uncle was murdered by a street thug. Spider-Man’s heroism is an example of how random adverse events cause many of us to take stock of our lives and choose a different path.
At their best, superhero origin stories inspire us and provide models of coping with adversity, finding meaning in loss and trauma, discovering our strengths and using them for good purpose. (Wearing a cape or tights is optional.)
Comic book writers could have chosen not to endow their characters with origin stories. (In fact, Batman’s back story wasn’t published until the comic’s seventh installment.) But those writers were keen observers of human nature. And they were able to translate those observations into captivating stories reflecting aspects of psychology that were confirmed by researchers decades later. In doing so, they tap into our capacity for empathy, one of the greatest powers of all.
Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/The-Psychology-Behind-Superhero-Origin-Stories-187938991.html#ixzz2JLJRmmCX
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The prevalence of mental disorders among those who 'do God' alone is an indictment of churches' failure to meet their needs
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 9 January 2013 05.00 EST
'Individuals are not just not coming to church, some are becoming mentally ill as a result of religious failure.' Photograph: Don Hammond/Design Pics Inc
People who are "spiritual but not religious" are more likely to suffer poor mental health, according to a study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry. Michael King of University College London and his colleagues examined 7,400 interviews with folk in Britain, of whom 35% had a religious understanding of life, 19% a spiritual one and 46% neither a religious nor spiritual outlook. The analysis led to one clear conclusion. "People who have a spiritual understanding of life in the absence of a religious framework are vulnerable to mental disorder [dependence on drugs, abnormal eating attitudes, anxiety, phobias and neuroses]." The work supports evidence from other studies too.
All the usual weaknesses associated with asking individuals about religion are at play here, as the authors acknowledge. Nonetheless, the study prompts a number of speculations.
The spiritual itch is a deep one in the human psyche, for those who feel it. To scratch without the support of others might lead to an inner obsession that spirals out of control. It is possible, too, that personal crises drive people to seek spiritual solace that of itself does not address the underlying psychological distress. Then again, the resources of a healthy spiritual tradition, not pursued in isolation, should provide or point to the means of addressing psychological problems. The ground is then gradually cleared for genuine spiritual growth.
This raises another question, though. Do religious organisations in the UK today take enough notice of the insights of psychology and, conversely, do schools of therapy treat spirituality seriously? As the Cambridge psychologist and priest Fraser Watts explored in a recent talk, American therapists, for example, seem to be far happier talking about their clients' spiritual concerns than their British counterparts.
This must highlight broader cultural differences. In the US, religion tends to carry associations of freedom. I remember an American priest once saying to me, when I expressed amazement at the prevalence of religiosity in the US, that Americans came from Europe fleeing religious persecution. The two words "religion" and "freedom" naturally go together in the American psyche.
In Britain, though, it appears that many individuals view religion as an impingement upon their spiritual searching. Christianity, say, is felt to constrain life – perhaps because of the negative attitudes it projects about gay people and women; or because it presents belief as more important than growth; or because it looks more interested in sin than enlightenment. If that is so, the new research is a striking indictment of the failure of British churches to meet spiritual needs: individuals are not just not coming to church, some are becoming mentally ill as a result of religious failure.
Other results from the research are striking too, though similarly not determinative. People with no religious or spiritual understanding were significantly younger and more often white British, but were less likely to have qualifications beyond secondary school, perhaps challenging research purporting to show that atheists are more intelligent.
Another finding of this work was that those who were neither religious nor spiritual had just as good mental health as those the religious. This contradicts a notion widely held in positive psychology that religion is good for happiness (though that positive correlation typically derives from North American evidence.)
Finally, the research challenges the stance of those who are spiritual but not religious. It might be called the individualism delusion, the conviction that I can "do God" on my own. And yet, as the psychotherapist Donald Winnicott argued, human beings need to work through traditions to resource their personal creativity. Only in the lives of others can we make something rich of our own life. To be spiritual but not religious might be said to be like embarking on an extreme sport while refusing the support of safety procedures and the wisdom of experts who have made the jump before. Spirituality is like love: more risky than you can countenance when you're falling for it.