The above warning was given to me when I first met Orthodoxy in 1986. Today [2009] it is even more perilous, even more difficult to find the Royal Path. For one thing there is a far greater abundance of misinformation. And many materials are missing, and other materials are being rapidly rewritten. For another thing there are fewer than ever guides remaining on the Royal Path, especially who speak English. Hopefully this website will be a place where Newcomers to the Faith can keep at least one foot on solid ground, while they are "exploring."

blog owner: Joanna Higginbotham


jurisdiction: ROCA under Vladyka Agafangel

who did not submit to the RocorMP union in 2007


11 November 2010

Christ's Humble Cottage

"In Christ's humble cottage there is only rustic simplicity; 
except for the chanting of psalms, silence is perfect...  
Wherever you go the husbandman sings the alleluia over his plough; 
the toiling harvester refreshes himself with the psalms;
 the vine dresser prunes the vine to a song of David.  
These are the popular songs of this country; 
the love songs of the shepherd's whistle; 
the lyrics of the farmer as he tills the soil with devotion."
-St. Jerome †420 A.D.

Nothing can sabotage our efforts to acquire the Mind of Fathers more than music, TV, and other entertainments.  In the Lives of Saints we often read that the saint, as a child, avoided the songs and games of the other children.   Either that, or we read that the saint later regretted and repented of wasting his youth.   And these Lives were lived in times before electricity brought to the world even more harmful entertainments.

For hundreds of years people lived without constant music [never mind what kind].  This is an evil of our times.   Today the bass "boom boxes" can be felt over a mile away.  The earphones/headphones are like mainlining the "music" to the soul.  The soul receives impressions through our 5 senses, we need to be careful what we "feed" our soul.  If we find that we have come to enjoy, or even crave, hell-like sounds and sights, or if we need constant sensory stimulation, then we can know we are forming our souls for Satan, and not God.  And we are doing it by what we feed our senses.  

We need to realize and remember that we are given time on earth to develop our souls for eternal life in Heaven.  If we follow the way of the world, we won't make it.

Parents are starting to suspect a serious danger in texting, cell phone use, video games.  We see that there is a mind possessing, obsessive, addicting compulsion about them -an enslaving.  And Satan enslaves in many ways, drugs being a prime example.   We are starting to become alarmed at how the cell phone use and video games have the same characteristics as drug addiction - including withdrawal symptoms.

"If your mind is constantly occupied with diversions, there is no room for Christ to speak to your heart.  Even when things are quiet on the outside, if there is always a song going on in your head, then you will never hear the angels singing."

Teen years are the worst for temptations.  When we recite in our daily prayers "Forgive the sins of my youth" this is what it is talking about - the teen years and young adult.  Sex is a great temptation, but peers is worse.  

For everyone, but especially for a youth, it is naturally very painful to feel alone, not to be part of a group or to not have a "best" friend.  To avoid this pain a youth will often do/say, [or fail to do/say] things that are against his own conscience.  Satan then gets a foot in the door of the youth's soul.  It can take a lifetime of struggle to get him out.

Satan has managed little by little, generation by generation, to break down the family and community which in previous times helped to protect the youth.  Today the state of our country is that even if a family is strong, the anti-community of today works against parents in their labor of raising their children for God.

How can a child survive today?  I see only one way:  Lives of Saints

Someone who reads Lives of Saints as their main or only source of entertainment has a real chance of making it.  And next comes praying to the saints, making them our closest companions.  The saints, along with the guardian angel given to each by God at baptism, can become our closest circle of friends, and our peers.

This is the reason God gave us the saints:  that we would have companions and helpers - a spiritual family - spiritual community made up of every kind of saint and every kind of angel.



What is the ultimate entertainment?  Humans like some kind of challenge, a mystery.  Some kind of goal to attain.  A human soul enjoys exploring and takes delight in discovery.  The saints, during their lives, entertained themselves by studying God.  They considered doing His will as the ultimate challenge.  And learning  the secrets of Heaven as the ultimate Mystery.  And they knew that the ultimate goal is our heavenly Home.

As St. Jerome must have known, the psalms by themselves contain inexhaustible multi-level discoveries.  Everything is in them:  history, prophecy, admonition, instruction, praise, encouragement.  And every human condition is expressed:  abandonment, sorrow, fear, love, joy, repentance, worship.  In the days when few people were literate, they learned these songs.

How much more we are given today with knowing how to read and many Orthodox books, and leisure time to read them, for our soul's development.  

Everything earthly is corrupted.  We live in a fallen world.   While the gates of hell will not prevail against our Church, Satan works constantly to destroy the Church both from without and from within.  Within even the Orthodox Church we find lurking pedophiles and homosexuals.  Our Metropolitan has recently said on his blog that we must not help in concealing these sins [when they occur within our parishes], or else by helping to conceal such things we are participating in them whether we like it or not.  In these days of legally mandated "tolerance" - is this not dangerous advice?  But that is the truth of our Church, and it has historically been dangerous to be an Orthodox Christian [look what they did to Christ].

Our hope for our children is that when they are grown, they themselves will choose the good way for themselves.  We can not force it on them, they must choose it for themselves.  We can only do our best to offer it to them.   We can make rules to help form them, but  -as they themselves will remind you-  after they leave home, a parent can not enforce rules.  A love of good is in all of us somewhere - God created us in His image and saw it was good.  But we need to work hard to develop it, and we need heavenly help, since so much in the world is against us.  The child must keep rules for himself after he is no longer subject to direct parental rule.  We can tell a child is maturing nicely when he uses self-discipline.

A few safe hobbies:

crime solving
furniture making
mushroom hunting

orchard management
medicinal herbs
bread baking
learn to play classical piano, violin, harp
wine making
learn to walk a tightrope