Once upon a time here in America extended family was a much greater factor in our lives. I was an only child, and my cousins and I played together when we were small, but we have had a lot of resources at our disposal to choose the kind of life we wanted, and have drifted apart. We are pretty much strangers now, in terms of shared values.
For Orthodox Christians, the Church is the center of the shared values that really matter. But children’s sports teams now practice and play on Sunday as well, and this creates a choice for some of our families.
And there are a multitude of other choices we can make that can conflict with our commitment to our Church family.
When a child with a severe disability is born, the family involved will really need, on a long-term basis, an extended family or a Church family for support. Will we be there for them?
A number of American (and all of modern Western civilization, for that matter) cultural influences and “dead end choices” have occurred to me that cause us to fail in terms of that commitment of love which is at the heart of our Eucharistic life. These failures apply to me as well.
Perhaps you can think of more. I welcome comments. Here’s the list:
1. The first few mountains of Christmas toys that teach us that happiness consists of things
2. When our most significant “joy” in life resides in our performance in sports.
3. When TV, computer games, and the Internet begin to take the place of interaction with people
(3a. And entertainments in general become a “break” from Church)
4. When the sex and violence prevalent in the media finds a home in our soul.
5. When we choose “success” over family
6. When we put security ahead of mission
7. When we find solace at the funeral of a loved one in the words, “He looks really good, very natural, doesn’t he?”
That last one speaks to the way our society denies death, and seeks to promote a lifestyle devoted to eternal youth and play, thus evading the call to live lives of service to our Lord Jesus Christ and His Presence in others in need, as set forth in the Gospel of St. Matthew 25:31-46:
31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy[a] angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43 I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’
44 “Then they also will answer Him,[b] saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Also . . .
. . . Dear and Pious Readers
Blessings of the Lord!
“This life is neither a joke nor a plaything, although men may turn it into either. They fritter away the time given to us to prepare for eternity, disporting themselves with empty words. They go about visiting, sitting and gossipping, playing this or that game. They get together in the theatres and amuse themselves there. Life is, for them, amusement. But woe to those who do nothing but amuse themselves.”
– St. John of Kronstadt
from frjosiah.wordpress.com/2008/12/11/on-the-danger-of… (amusing ourselves to death)