A Letter To My Nephew Upon His Graduation

Congratulations on your graduation from high school, and the advent of life beyond school; the real world, many people call it. Your mom asked if I might write a few words about this for you; on a topic that I think is important, and could be of use to you.

I don’t know whether this will be of use to you, but I do think this is important.

I think every good thing in life begins with Christ, so to have your best life, make Him the center of it. If you lack faith pray for faith. If you don’t believe at all, then realize that this life easily allows you to live without God, or faith in Him, and sometimes one can live here quite well without these, but at some point things usually fall apart in this life, whether from physical or emotional or mental problems, or financial ones, and then it becomes a little clearer why faith, and God, and Christ are important.

But even these are not the best reasons to seek faith, and to seek God, and to seek a relationship with Him; these are in a sense only superficial reasons, even though they are good reasons, but by comparison, the fact that you will die someday, and will need a savior at that time, is by far the most compelling, and unavoidable reason for cultivating a relationship with Jesus, and for living by His commands now, and throughout your life.

But, of course, even the fact of our own death isn’t reason enough, for many people, to seek relationship with Jesus above all other things, because the reality beyond this life is impossible to prove, and we can’t know that His claims are true beyond all doubt; and people want or like proof, before they act. Nobody wants to be a fool, or to appear that way, and basing our life on Christ appears to be foolishness to many people.

Consider this for yourself however, very seriously. Have courage to take your life here, and your potential eternal life, seriously, even if others prefer to avoid the issue, or consider it unanswerable, or pointless, or silly, and consider Christ’s claims of who He is, what He did for us, and why He did it. If you don’t know what He claims to be, what He did, and why, then this is a good first step: to find all of this out for yourself.

There is an excellent quote attributed to Mark Twain, which is: “whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” He is implying that the majority is typically wrong, which of course, isn’t always the case, but it is good to consider that they might be. Don’t allow yourself to go the way of others, merely out of fear or laziness. Your life is too important to squander it out of fear, or from laziness.

When I say to make Christ the center of your life, I mean to do something about that, not to merely say it, or let it just be words without any meaning. There is nothing better that you can do with your time, in my opinion, than to pursue relationship with Christ, and this means learning who He is by reading the Bible, and learning what He asks us to do, which means reading the Bible to find His commands, and then implementing them in your day to day life. This is the source of fulfillment, meaning, and everything else that people want for themselves in life.

Certainly I hope that you find a job that you enjoy, but even if you do, there will be plenty of times that it is just boring, or frustrating, or tedious, and how do you keep going when life can be this way? Do you just find a means of distraction, endless entertainments, only video games and sleep to avoid the monotony, and pass the time? I don’t mean just you, I mean all of us, when I ask this rhetorical question. Maybe this can work for a while, or maybe even for a lifetime, but if you pursue a life with Christ you will come to understand from experience that this is not what He intends for us at all, and while many people settle for just getting by in life, trying not to hurt anyone, and just somehow managing to make it through another day, this isn’t the life you have to settle for.

I can’t tell you what a life dedicated to Christ is like precisely, you will have to discover that for yourself, but I can tell you that it isn’t anything at all, if you don’t do it.

But if you do it, if you learn from Jesus, and follow Him, you will discover a life of joy and blessedness; and I don’t mean a life of ease, or a life without trials and difficulties, that kind of life doesn’t really exist here on earth. I mean a life of joy and blessedness, within the inevitable trials and difficulties of life, and that is something the world without Christ, cannot ever offer you. Take as only one simple example, take the command to love your enemies, to pray for them and wish them good. Who in the world would do that, and who would ever encourage you to do that? But this is one thing Christ tells us to do, and if you do it, if you forgive those who annoy you and who have hurt you, and if you go even further, and even follow His command to pray for them, and to desire good for them, then you will discover a freedom and peace within your soul that would not be there by any other means. His commands are only for your benefit and for your good, and if you trust in Him and in His guidance, you will discover that by doing them, you will find every blessedness that you ever hoped for in this world, and in the next.

This is my advice and suggestion for you as you embark on your life after high school. I hope all the best for you now, and always.

 

~FS

 

 

 

Now

Now—

is so beautiful and so precious;

it costs so much to live it,

it hurts so much to lose it.

 

Now is always here and always slipping away.

Reluctantly I let now go,

and meet the next now coming,

then lose that now as well.

 

Now leading to now leading to now—

until, eventually, no more.

Oh, no!

No now, to know, no more!

 

I relive old nows,

I imagine nows to come.

I attempt to control now—

I choose which now to keep and which to forget,

which now to imagine and which to ignore.

 

If I can only master now—

maybe now would never leave me;

if I could somehow control now…

 

stop changing now stop changing

 

Now never listens, it only talks;

and so seductively.

Now appears, surprising me,

I fall in love with now,

and then it leaves me—

 

now breaks my heart

constantly

 

I’m a fool for now,

when will I learn.

Every now I meet—

perhaps this time will be different  (and it always is)

but will it stay, will it never leave…

No, that now just left, then comes another, goes another.

 

Now makes my head spin—

going, coming, coming, going

I give up.

 

Yes, I give myself up to now—

and now fills my heart.

 

~FS

June 16

We must force ourselves even against our will towards virtue, towards love when we lack love, towards gentleness when we have need of it, towards sympathy of heart and compassion, towards patience in the face of insult and contempt, and steadfastness in the face of mockery, if we have not yet acquired the habit of these things, and towards prayer if we still have not attained spiritual prayer.

If God sees us struggling in this way and forcibly dragging ourselves towards the good even when our heart seems to oppose it, He will bestow true prayer on us, will give us compassion, patience, forbearance, and in general will fill us with all the fruits of the Spirit.

~St Makarios of Egypt

June 15

Would you think it right if this perishable glory, ephemeral kingdom and other such temporal things were gained only after great toil and sweat by those who hanker after them, while to reign endlessly with Christ and to enjoy inexpressible blessings was something to be gained cheaply and easily, and could be attained without labor and effort by anyone who wished?

What is the purpose of Christ’s advent? The restoration and reintegration of human nature in Him. For He restored to human nature the original dignity of Adam, and in addition bestowed on it the unutterable grace of the heavenly inheritance of the Holy Spirit. Leading it out of the prison of darkness, He showed it the way and the door to life.

By traversing this way and knocking on this door we can enter the kingdom of heaven. As He said: “Ask and it will be given to you…knock and it will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7). By passing through this door it is possible for everyone to attain the freedom of his soul, to cut off his evil thoughts, and to become Christ’s bride and consort through the communion of the Holy Spirit. Such is the ineffable love of the Lord towards man, whom he has created in His own image.

~St Makarios of Egypt

June 14

The devil tries to disrupt our hope in Christ and our love for Him in a thousand ways. Inwardly he brings afflictions on the soul by means of the evil spirits, or he fills it with foul and immoral thoughts by stirring up its memory of former sins, so as to make it grow sluggish and to despair of ever attaining salvation.

His aim is to cheat the soul into thinking that it generates these thoughts of its own accord and that they are not sown in it maliciously by an alien spirit. Or else he inflicts bodily suffering and brings on us vilification and tribulation through the agency of other people. But the more he shoots his fiery arrows at us, the more we must enkindle our hope in God, knowing with certainty that He deliberately permits souls that long for Him to suffer these things, so as to discover if they truly love Him.

~St Makarios of Egypt

June 13

When God in His love condemned Adam to death after his transgression, he first experienced this death in his soul (Genesis 3:19): his spiritual and deathless organs of perception, deprived of their celestial and spiritual enjoyment, were quenched and became as though dead. Later, after 930 years (Genesis 5:5), came the death of the body.

Similarly, now that God has reconciled mankind through the Cross and death of the Savior, He restores to the truly believing soul its enjoyment of spiritual light and mystery while it is still in the flesh, and once more enlightens its spiritual organs of perception with the divine light of grace. Later he will invest the body also with deathless and incorruptible glory.

~St Makarios of Egypt

 

 

 

 

 

June 12

The abode and resting place of the Holy Spirit is humility, love, gentleness and the other holy commandments of Christ. If, therefore, a person desires to grow and to attain perfection by acquiring all these virtues, he must initially force himself to acquire and must establish himself in the first–that is to say, in prayer–wrestling and striving with his heart to make it receptive and obedient to god.

~St Makarios of Egypt