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The Key to Happiness?

image Orthodox Wisdom Newsletter

“Continue to walk the path you are walking. Do not think that the cassock and the holy habit save a person. No, first come the good works of God, humility, obedience, love, charity.”

~ St. George of Drama, Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit

🎥 Latest Video:

Misconceptions Regarding the Clergy-Laity Relationship?

– Archbishop Mark (Maymon)

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☦️ Dear fellow pilgrim,

The quote above, from St. George of Drama, reminds us that both the clergy and the laity have the same spiritual path. As St. Paul tells the Romans: “But glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God” (Romans 2:10-11). Archbishop Mark addresses some issues in clergy-laity relations in this week’s video.

The quote from St. George also reminds us of the foundational virtue of obedience, which is something that St. Porphyrios was blessed to learn as a very young monk:

I can’t give you an example of what real obedience is. It’s not that we have a discussion about the virtue of obedience, and then I say to you ‘go and do a somersault,’ and you obey. That’s not obedience. You need to be entirely carefree and not thinking at all about the matter of obedience, and then suddenly you’re asked to do something and you are ready to do it joyfully. If you are busy at work and not at all in a state of vigilance and readiness, and someone humiliates you, then by your reaction you will show whether or not you have obedience.

~ Wounded by Love, p. 19

One of the great mysteries of life is that this foundational virtue of obedience is the key to a happy life! To humans in our fallen state it may seem counterintuitive that we should place ourselves in obedience to other people, but this is truly the path that Christ showed us in His obedience to His father: “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42); and, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13).

In monasticism, as in marriage, the foundation for stability and happiness is deep and free obedience. Why is this the case? When we give up our own will on behalf of our brother three things happen: 1) We begin to break the tyranny of our own selfishness and in so doing, 2) We attract the grace of God, which strengthens us to greater selflessness – it becomes a virtuous cycle, and 3) The people around us are attracted to the virtues of humility and obedience (as well to the grace of God), which creates another virtuous cycle.

How to learn obedience? I don’t want to lengthen an already long message, but the short version is that, if we are looking for them, every day we are given opportunities to cut off our own will. I’m sure this is a topic that I will return to. Until then, however…may God give us the eyes to see (and the inspiration to seize) these opportunities!

In Christ our Lord,

Herman