Dependence, Detachment, Gratitude and Coffee

LIFE_COFFEE_MUGHere in Madison our water has a very high mineral content. For this reason, like most everyone else, we have a water softener that–ideally at least–takes some of the minerals out of our water. While this works well enough for most use, the water still comes out of the tap with a relatively high mineral content. As a result, we need to replace our coffee maker about once a quarter.

This morning, this MONDAY morning, our most recent coffee maker succumbed to calcium deposits and turned out coffee roughly the strength and color of weak tea. As you can imagine I was not happy. So off I went to the local coffee shop to read and write and, of course, for coffee. And this got me thinking about the detachment.

To hear some talk, detachment means not being dependent on people, place, events or things. Maybe this is because we think more and more in term borrowed from clinical psychology and not the Christian ascetical tradition. The unhappy result of this is that think about detachment as if it were in someway the opposite of addiction. But is this really the case? To answer this we need to think a moment about addiction and what it means to be dependent.

At the heart of any addiction is a certain kind of pathological or unwholesome dependence.This is important because the dependence we see in addiction is a distortion of wholesome dependence based in gratitude. Let me explain. Continue reading

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Part III: To Know & Believe: Intellectual Formation, Gratitude & Humility

Here’s the conclusion to yesterday’s post on intellectual formation. I hope to have the last post on pastoral formation and the whole essay available by the middle of next week.
In Christ,
+FrG

HighPriest21The Personal Awareness of Grace. Just as I can’t live a Christian life without the grace of the sacraments, I can’t live this life without at least some subjective awareness of God’s presence in my life. It is here, in my subjective or personal, awareness of God that my intellectual formation becomes important. While not unrelated to academics, intellectual formation prepares me for joy. Undertaken in the right spirit, my studies are a preparation for the enduring experience of happiness that is essential to a wholesome human and holy Christian life. How does this happen? Continue reading

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Habit & the Love of God

Frequently in his letters the Apostle Paul commends his co-workers and the supporters of his ministry. The idea that their service alone is a sufficient reward doesn’t seem to enter into St Paul’s thinking. No for him a word of gratitude spoken to a trustworthy friend is important.

This got me thinking. How often in my own life and ministry have I taken the time to thank others for their service to the Gospel or even the myriad small acts of consideration without which civil society is impossible? Where, in other words, in my life is gratitude for the gifts of time, talent and treasure that I have received from those I know and those I don’t know. Continue reading

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Cultivating Gratitude & Thanksgiving

I tell my spiritual children, and anyone else who will listen, that we must cultivate in our hearts a spirit of gratitude, of thanksgiving to God for the whole of our life. We are surrounded daily with what, to me as a child anyway, would have been unbelievable riches and technological wonders. How easy it is to take all this for granted rather than, as I think we should, stand in awe at the genius of the human person.

And why should we not see our own genius? We are all of us created in the image of God. And we are all of called by Christ to restore in ourselves by His grace and our own efforts, His likeness.

King David writes in the Psalm 8 about the majesty of God, His creation and the human person:

O LORD, our Lord,
How excellent is Your name in all the earth,
Who have set Your glory above the heavens!

Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants
You have ordained strength,
Because of Your enemies,
That You may silence the enemy and the avenger.

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?
For You have made him a little lower than the angels,
And You have crowned him with glory and honor.

You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet,
All sheep and oxen—
Even the beasts of the field,
The birds of the air,
And the fish of the sea
That pass through the paths of the seas.

O LORD, our Lord,
How excellent is Your name in all the earth!

Commenting on this Psalm, St John Chrysostom says, “Taking full account of such marvelous care and such wonderful providence on God’s part, and the arrangement he put in place for the salvation of the human race, King David is struck with complete wonder and amazement as to why on earth God considered them worthy of attention.”

The saint then continues by asking us to consider that “after all, that all the visible things” are for our sake. It is for us that “the design implemented from the time of Adam up” to the coming of Christ was put in place. All things from God are given to us, for us: “paradise, commandments, punishments, miracles, retribution, kindness after the Law.” And of course for us and our salvation, “the Son became Man.”

And after all this what “could anyone say of the future [we] are intended to enjoy?”

But we lose all this if we are not able to cultivate in ourselves gratitude and thanksgiving for all that God has given us, things great and small, spiritual and material, eternal and temporal. To that end, I offer for consideration a brief video of the comic Louis CK on Late Night with Conan O’Brien.”

In Christ,

+Fr Gregory

h/t: Benedict Seraphim

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