Sunday, August 7, 2011

Ten Point Program for Orthodox Life

I ran across this website a few months ago and have been wanting to write on it for a while. I wrote to Father Tom Pistolis from the Saint George Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Greenville, SC to ask for his permission to republish the information. He responded with a very kind message and said that they had received permission from other sources to republish the information themselves, and wanted to pass on the favor. 

In essence, the program includes ten elements of sacramental life that should be incorporated into our everyday living as a guide for deepening our relationship with God. The ten points include:

1. Daily prayer
2. Regular worship and participation in the Sacraments
3. Honoring the liturgical cycle of the Church
4. Using the Jesus Prayer (or praying the rosary)
5. Slowing down and ordering your life
6. Being watchful
7. Taming passions
8. Putting other first
9. Spiritual fellowship
10. Reading the Scriptures and Holy Fathers

Obviously, the primary focus of the material is geared toward Greek Orthodox Christians, but it can be put into practice by anyone. Some of these points are already a part of my life, but certainly not all. I would like to start working on the missing elements, one at a time. So I'm going to share the details of each point as well as my experience with each over the coming weeks and months.  Below is the introduction to the program as found on the Saint George's Greek Orthodox Cathedral. If any of you decide to take this on as well, I would love to hear your story about how it has changed your perspective and helped grow your life in Christ.

“The final goal of man is communion with God. The path to this communion has been precisely defined: faith, and walking in the Commandments with the help of God’s grace.
Saint Theophan the Recluse

While it is true that the Orthodox way of life is not the normal way of life for most people in our society, it is a most practical life for married people with families faced with the challenges of careers. In fact, it is the way of living that will make your life less stressful and more meaningful.

The Orthodox Way of Life is NOT a monastic way of life. Even though monasticism was part of the early church, we are not required to live this most honored lifestyle. Only a few are called to this style of life. We do, however, have the same goals. Like the monks we seek holiness and union with God, but we are called to live in the world with our families. The principles of our spiritual growth are the same no matter which path we chose.

Most of us never take the time to reflect on the purpose of our lives. Often we don’t do this until someone we love departs from this life unexpectedly. During this moment of grief, our soul has our attention and we begin to think about what life is all about. In one way, life is about death. We all know this is where we are headed, but we too often refuse to think about this seriously because of the unknown and the fear it presents.

The purpose of life taught by the Apostles and the Church Fathers is one of finding union with God. Jesus came to save us and to open the gates of heaven for us. He showed us how to live through His teaching and example. He showed us that we have nothing to fear in death.

To begin, you must have faith in God and accept His love for you. With a little faith, you can begin to live the Orthodox way of life outlined in this booklet. This way of life is given to us by Christ Himself through His Church. It is a proven way of life that WILL bring you closer to God. As you come closer to God, you increase your capability to deal with any difficulty you may face. You increase your ability to live according to the virtues.

These ten points presented here are only an outline on how to find union with God. However, if you follow them you will be led to everything you need to know.

Study each one of them and examine your current life. Then seek ways to make the necessary changes in your life to incorporate them. Always pray for God’s help in this.”

And may the peace of the Lord be always with you.

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