Category: Meditations

Meditations – August 5, 2020

By Christopher Simon
The Virtue of Constancy
“Teach me, Lord, the way of your decrees, that I may follow it to the end.” ~ Psalm 119:33 NIV
Virtue must be inculcated when we are young, because the virtues are essentially habits of acting properly, as Aristotle pointed out some 2500 years ago. If those good habits are not developed early on, it’s much harder to develop them when we are older. And whether we have inculcated virtue from our youth or not, we are all tossed back and forth by the winds of selfish desire and vice.
Even when we know what the right thing to do is, we are often tempted to do the opposite. Knowing that we should return the dropped or misplaced ten-dollar bill to its rightful owner, we are still tempted to slip it in our pocket and keep it for ourselves. If we have been raised right, however, we won’t sleep well. Likewise, in so many areas of our life, we know we should be temperate when it comes to eating and drinking, and all of our appetites, but we are still tempted to overdo it.
The virtue of constancy is in some ways a virtue which helps us stay on the path of virtue, telling us to steer clear of vice and always do the right thing, despite obstacles in our path.
Perseverance is the virtue that allows us to keep striving to do the right thing, despite the difficulty of continuing the act itself, while constancy is the virtue of continuing to do the right thing despite external difficulties. We get distracted, we lose patience, and often we just want to do the easy thing, but constancy keeps us on the right path.

Meditations – July 29, 2020

By Christopher Simon
Who Is Essential?
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” ~ Matthew 6:26 NIV
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought with it a host of new expressions, from “social distancing” to “essential workers.” These shine a light on some important aspects of our society and how we think of ourselves.
Perhaps we should consider more deeply who is essential? Of course, we all know that the healthcare workers who are caring for the sick and dying are essential, as are the people who deliver essential services, the police, the firefighters, and the EMTs. We also think of the people who work in the grocery stores as essential, and of course the people who deliver the food, as well as the restaurant workers and the people who grow the food.
But what about the people who help all of these people get to work, the taxi, Uber and Lyft drivers, and the bus drivers? They too are essential. And more broadly, aren’t the next generation of workers essential? Aren’t the children who are now in school (albeit at home) also essential? And even the elderly, and the retired, aren’t they also essential? In reality, everyone is essential if we are to have a society that values life the way we should.

Meditations – July 22, 2020

By Christopher Simon
Love in the time of Covid-19
“Comfort and prosperity have never enriched the world as much as adversity has.” ~ Billy Graham
Whatever else we might think about the Covid-19 pandemic, we can be thankful that most people are showing more love and kindness. Deprived of physical closeness and contact with our friends and family, we are moved to show our love in other ways. And while we cannot be thankful for the virus itself, or the pain and suffering it brings, we can be grateful for the salutary effects it has on communities in general and individuals in particular. Besides people expressing their love and tenderness in myriad ways, people are slowing down and finding peace in their solitude. Speed and noise, those anxiety-producing hallmarks of the modern world, have been replaced by a much-needed slowing of the pace and a quieting of the noise. How ironic that during the period of Lent, the quarantine that was imposed on many of us provided its own type of Lent. (The word “quarantine” comes from the same word which our Hispanic friends use for Lent, namely, “Cuaresma,” both deriving from the Latin word for forty.)
Some of us find comfort in the austerity and simplicity that is forced upon us. But most of us also feel a gnawing anxiety, and in some of us this rises almost to panic, for which prayer and following the guidelines are perhaps the only remedies. But most of all it is the love that comes to the fore, the love we see in the healthcare workers practicing their professions, and all the “essential” workers, but also the love that we see in people simply treating each other with tenderness and solicitude.

Meditations – July 15, 2020

By Christopher Simon
Self-Examination
“Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord.” ~ Lamentations 3:40 NIV
Socrates’ famous remark that the unexamined life is not worth living is probably an overstatement, but there is certainly a grain of truth in the idea that we should examine our lives, and by this Socrates really meant a moral examination.
That is, do our words match up with our deeds? Have we sinned by breaking any of the ten commandments or have we perhaps sinned by omission, by failing to do something we should do?
A thorough self-examination might also require us to really question our beliefs about right and wrong. Are there things which we take for granted as permissible which in reality are not. This is where it can be helpful to have a spiritual advisor, someone who can tell us the things which we sometimes refuse to see about ourselves. Sometimes our intuition about something makes it appear self-evident and too obvious to question when in fact this is just a blatant prejudice.
Finally, we can be fooled by our feelings. Feelings can be so strong that they appear to us as facts. The feeling of jealousy can seem to prove that your beloved was unfaithful, just as the feeling of anger seems to validate the fact that you were wronged. A conscientious self-examination should be a regular part of our spiritual journey.

Meditations – July 8, 2020

By Christopher Simon
A Good Spirit
“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?”
~ James 4:1 NIV
We often think of patience as self-restraint. When we are irritated and annoyed by others and want to lash out with angry words, patience is seen as the ability to repress those impulses. And let’s face it, we all have impulses to say and do hurtful things, and those impulses should be resisted.
But often what happens after we resist the nasty impulse is that we stew over the thoughtlessness of the other person, and we say or do the nasty thing in our minds, perhaps even going further than our original impulse. All of a sudden, we are having an argument in our mind and we are stuck in a bitter, rancorous morass of negative feelings. This is sometimes where patience takes us, down a bad path.
Far better to pray for charitable feelings, and rather than repress the negative feelings you are having, be honest and tell the person right off that they hurt your feelings, or that you felt disrespected (or whatever it was that bothered you – maybe it was just wishing that they’d turn the music down, or stop tapping, or whatever they did that bothered you). This approach is more likely to lead to a positive outcome for everybody involved, and then your patience stems from a good place within you, a positive spirit of love and understanding. Be kind and forgiving, and let this be the primary source of your patience, not feeling that you have to repress every negative thought.
Pray for a spirit of loving kindness and let this be the spirit that animates you.

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