Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Festival Communications & Temptations

Friends,

Thank God we have gotten to the time of the year where we have the opportunity to slay the temptations! Our festival takes a lot of work and a lot of people spend a lot of time to make this happen. So people get tired. And they don’t think before they speak. Which means they sometimes say hurtful or ignorant things. We have a choice then how we answer. We can slay the temptations by showing Christian love and humility, or we can stoke the passions by returning evil. You don’t need me to tell you what the right thing to do is. But maybe these tactics will help you to be more successful in doing the right thing.

1. THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK. Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky) writes in his manual for priest on confession that if we could just think before we speak we could avoid 75% of our sins. That’s a big number! And if you think about it, you will probably agree that this is just about right. Think first. Then speak. Or return the text that you just got insulted at. Or whatever. THINK. Then act as a Christian.

2. ASSUME OTHERS HAVE GOOD MOTIVES. Most people want to do and say the right thing. Sometimes it seems that this is not the case, but this is OUR problem – not theirs. Assume your brother or sister desires to do good and that YOU are the problem if you are interpreting their actions or words in any other way but good.

3. MAKE EXCUSES FOR OTHERS – NOT FOR OURSELVES. The fathers say that we should make excuses for the bad behavior of others, but never excuse ourselves in this regard. We don’t know what is in the heart of another. If someone acts out or speaks out we should assume their dog got hit by a car earlier in the day, or their mother just told them she has cancer, or whatever. Excuse others. Hold yourself to the highest standard of interpersonal communication. That is the Orthodox way.

4. NO ONE IS CLAIRVOYANT IN OUR PARISH. At least to the best of my knowledge. So we do have to tell people if there is a problem. If no one can read our minds then it makes no sense to hold a grudge or speak out against someone for something you have never told them is an issue. Communicate with love, but communicate clearly.

5. FORGIVE. We are all trying to give our best to God this week. But these words of the Lord should be ringing in our ears as we make our efforts:

“Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” Matthew 5:23-24

Our labor is our gift to God. But if we are not actively forgiving others then our gift is wasted. Let’s not waste our gift! We are all giving a lot! But let us give as a Christian: with love and forgiveness. Then the Lord will accept our gift.

Now – read everything above one more time. And then this: let’s get out there and have the best festival ever AND slay the temptations as a parish family as we do it!

Fr. Gregory

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