In praise of Moses Gonsalves, exemplar of immense equanimity — My prayers, and most important of all, my sense of the closeness of Christ, that closeness I felt when I was in my gardens, was unique and cannot be compared to anything else. — Father Gabriel

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-a-georgescu/defeat-humility-joy_b_3265224.html?utm_hp_ref=religion

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Father Gabriel’s courage was exemplary. In some scenes, where he stands up fearlessly to KGB agents who are trying to turn one of the monks into a collaborator, Gabriel shines as a defender of his brothers. He bursts into the KGB offices, lifts his friend from the chair and leads him outside. No one stops him, and the KGB never meddles with the monastery again.

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This struggle to be obedient to God, for Father Gabriel, was a path toward self-knowledge:

One must discover the truth about oneself, and see oneself as one truly is. You must meet your own self. And believe me it’s the most important acquaintance. A vast number of people live their lives never even bothering to discover themselves at all. Sometimes we have only the vaguest notions or fantasies of who we are, and so depending upon our own vanity, pride, resentments, and ambitions we see nothing … truth comes only to us through honest examination of oneself. Through true humility.

And you achieve that examination and honesty through successive failed attempts to obey your own values — to do good, essentially — and, in this case, live by the rules of a particular religious order.

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Humility, as it turns out, is what he was trying to teach through all that apparent tyranny. Eventually, his methods led to his own exile from monastic life. He was no longer tolerated. He was judged to have been too harsh. So he was forced to live as a gardener among his parishioners, weeding and guarding their little crops, then living frugally during the winter on the money he made in the summer. He became a peasant, essentially. Eventually, after serving his time this way, he was invited back into the monastic order. When the book’s author met up with Father Gabriel after years of this exile, and his eventual return to monastic life, Tikhon asked him to recall the happiest period of his life. He described vividly the period when he had been most humbled:

The very happiest times of my life were the years when I was suspended and disgraced. Never before or since in my life was the Lord as close to me as back then. My prayers, and most important of all, my sense of the closeness of Christ, that closeness I felt when I was in my gardens, was unique and cannot be compared to anything else.

That kind of surrendering obedience was essentially all he’d been trying to impart to the monks who found him so difficult and objectionable. Instead, they blamed him for the discomfort they felt at simply doing what was required of them by their own faith. If they’d been a little more obedient to the demands of the life they’d chosen, they might have found the joy he discovered in his gardens, down on his hands and knees pulling weeds from between someone else’s vegetables and flowers.

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rachel-g-hackenberg/not-enough-time-a-modern-eschatology_b_3268861.html?utm_hp_ref=religion

by Rachel G. Hackenberg

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I don’t mean to critique our use of time merely for the sake of commentary (that elusive holy grail called “Balance”), so much as observe it for the sake of insight. We live as though we are out of time. You might say, we live as though we are at the end of time.

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The primary challenge of this chronological and ontological fusion is the loss of perspective. A snapshot of this loss is evident in the furious pace of news, delivered round-the-clock with unchecked commentary, offering immediate analysis but little (if any) possibility for perspectives that are yet-unknown as a news story unfolds.

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Eschatology is the study of end times, the theological and philosophical word about last things. The eschaton is understood to be the end of the earth’s history; in Christian tradition, the eschaton includes the Last Judgment and the start of eternal life. Our perspectives about end times — both religious and philosophical — impact our perspectives on daily life.

Modern American life, however, has conflated the end of time with everyday time. We are living each day in a panic as though it is the last day. We are scurrying through each hour as though it is the only hour for work or rest or play or relationships (or all of them at once!). We experience each moment as though it is a deadline, an end, a final chance for productivity.

We are not waiting for The End Of Time to live at the end of time.

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For people of faith, the panic of living constantly at the end of time causes a loss of joyful perspective in particular. The end of time — in Christian tradition, at least — will be terrible and awe-full, to be sure, but ultimately it will be a sweet reconciliation of heaven and earth. The eschaton will be the joyful satisfaction of justice and the merciful resolution of humanity’s division with God.

Living as though we are already at the end of time, however, there is no longer an end time to joyfully anticipate, no longer a new reality to hope for, no longer a transitional space that invites theological imagination. There is no longer time for faith-full perspective about our present time because we are living as though at the end of time.

The dissolution of our modern eschatological conflation will not be easily accomplished. The return of joy and time and imagination cannot be found in trinkets and grails. Yet while we strive to squeeze every ounce of efficiency out of our chronological limitations, the vital repair of our perspective on time awaits our collective attention.

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rick-hanson-phd/suffering_b_3267154.html?utm_hp_ref=gps-for-the-soul&ir=GPS%20for%20the%20Soul

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We’re usually aware of our own suffering, which — broadly defined — includes the whole range of physical and mental discomfort, from mild headache or anxiety to the agony of bone cancer or the anguish of losing a child. (Certainly, there is more to life than suffering, including great joy and fulfillment; that said, we’ll sustain a single focus here.)

But seeing the suffering in others, that’s not so common. All the news and pictures of disaster, murder, and grief that bombard us each day can ironically numb us to suffering in our own country and across the planet. Close to home, it’s easy to tune out or simply miss the stress and strain, unease and anger, in the people we work, live, even sleep with.

This creates problems for others, of course. Often, what matters most to another person is that someone bears witness to his or her suffering, that someone just really gets it; it’s a wound and a sorrow when this doesn’t happen. And at the practical level, if their suffering goes unnoticed, they’re unlikely to get help.

Plus, not seeing suffering harms you as well. You miss information about the nature of life, miss chances to have your heart opened, miss learning what your impact on others might be. Small issues that could have been resolved early on grow until they blow up. People don’t like having their pain overlooked, so they’re more likely to overreact, or be uncharitable toward you when you’re the one having a hard time. Wars and troubles that seemed so distant come rippling across our own borders; to paraphrase John Donne, if we don’t heed the faraway tolling of the bell for others, it will eventually come tolling for thee and me.

How?

This week, look at faces — at work, walking down the street, in the mall, across the dinner table. Notice the weariness, the bracing against life, the wariness, irritability, and tension. Sense the suffering behind the words. Feel in your body what it would be like for you to have the life of the other person.

Be careful not to be overwhelmed. Take this in small doses, even a few seconds at a time. If it helps, bring to mind some of the happy truths of life, or the sense of being with people who love you. Know that there are 10,000 causes upstream of each person leading to this present moment — so much complexity, so hard to blame a single factor.

And then open up again to the suffering around you. To a child who feels like an afterthought, a worker who fears a layoff, a couple caught up in anger. Don’t glide over faces on the evening news, see the suffering in the eyes looking back at you.

Watch and listen to those closest to you. What’s hurting over there? Face it, even if you have to admit that you are one of its causes. If appropriate, ask some questions, and talk about the answers.

How does it feel to open to suffering? You could find that it brings you closer to others, and that there is more kindness coming back your way. You could feel more grounded in the truth of things, particularly in how it actually is for the people around you.

Take heart. Opening to suffering is one of the bravest things you can do.

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-j-morgan/changing-the-world-for-good_b_3254052.html?utm_hp_ref=religion

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Changing the World for Good

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One of the joys of being a Christian is knowing Christ changes the world for good. Some may argue Christianity produced wars and advanced slavery, but not everything done in the name of Christianity was done by true Christians. The genuine followers of Jesus — those who bear His name and espouse His values — have flooded the world with good deeds, and their altruism is an apologetic for their truth.

Dr. Paul Maier, professor emeritus in the Department of History of Western Michigan University, wrote:

Not only countless individual lives but civilization itself was transformed by Jesus Christ. In the ancient world, His teachings elevated brutish standards of morality, halted infanticide, enhanced human life, emancipated women, abolished slavery, inspired charities and relief organizations, created hospitals, established orphanages, and founded schools.

Take orphan care, for example. In antiquity orphaned children were societal castaways, receiving little compassion. But from the beginning, Christians loved orphans. The New Testament book of James says that true religion before God is to look after orphans and widows and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. According to Justin Martyr, an early Christian leader, offerings were taken up during ancient church services for orphans. Tertullian reported the same among churches of North Africa. As soon as Christianity became legal in the 300s, Basil of Caesarea and Chrysostom of Constantinople helped establish homes for orphans. Enriched by its Jewish heritage, orphan care as we know it was virtually “invented” by Christ-followers, and the history of Christian compassion is enriching. Recently, my grandchildren were enthralled by reading about George Müller, who established heartfelt ministries for the parentless children of Victorian England. His story should be required reading in schools everywhere.

 

The history of Christian childcare goes beyond orphan care. At the time of the Industrial Revolution in Western Europe, children were expendable sources of labor in factories and mines. Boys and girls as young as 6 crawled through dark, wet passages to fill carts with lumps of coal. Small boys were lowered into chimneys to clean for the sweeps who employed them. But Anthony Ashley Cooper, better known as Lord Shaftesbury, who found Christ through the witness of a maid, became deeply motivated to improve child labor laws. He was a tireless crusader on issues of child labor, and thousands of youngsters were saved from a life of virtual slavery by his political involvement, which was based on his commitment to Christ.

With equal spiritual fervor, William Wilberforce championed the abolition of slavery in the British Empire. Encouraged by John Newton, author of the hymn “Amazing Grace,” Wilberforce devoted his personal and political life to fighting and outlawing slavery, and his example is a prototype for every Christian political leader today.

Consider, too, the sick. Jesus had compassion for the ill. He touched the lepers and broke the barriers of quarantine, loving those ostracized by illness and infectious disease.  From those beginnings, early Christians cared for the sick and dying, and this was revolutionary. The Greeks and Romans glorified the naked healthy body, but disdained the sick. Christ’s followers changed that. About A.D. 250, Bishop Dionysius of Alexandria said that during the Alexandrian plague, the pagans “thrust aside anyone who began to be sick, and kept aloof even from their dearest friends, and cast the sufferers out upon the public roads half dead, and left them unburied, and treated them with utter contempt when they died.” But, he said, “very many of our brethren, while in their exceeding love and brotherly kindness did not spare themselves, but … visited the sick without thought of their own peril, ministered to them assiduously and treated them.”
A hundred years later, Bishop Basil of Caesarea, using his own money, founded a hospital for the care of the sick and for lepers. It’s not hyperbole to call this, for all practical purposes, the first hospital in history.

Just as Jesus healed the sick, He taught the multitudes; so it’s no wonder His followers have been concerned about education from the beginning. Schools were established in monasteries, nunneries and cathedrals, launching the universities of Europe. Reformer Martin Luther developed the concept of public education in the Western world, and correspondingly of universal education. It was a Christian named Johann Sturm who introduced graded education. It was a Christian named Friedrich Froebel who advanced the idea of kindergarten. It was Christians in France who originated education of the deaf and the blind. It was Robert Raikes, a newspaper publisher in England, who advanced the cause of Sunday Schools, originally to teach illiterate children how to read the Bible. Christians were among the first to establish schools for both sexes. And it was a clergyman named John Harvard who founded the first college in America in 1636, for the training of Puritan ministers.

Alvin Schmidt, in his book on the influence of Christianity, wrote that every collegiate institution founded in the colonies prior to the Revolutionary War except the University of Pennsylvania was established by some branch of the Christian church.
Finally, consider the reverence with which Christianity holds life itself. In the days of Christ, society had little regard for the value of human life. Among the Greeks and Romans, infanticide was common and widespread. Babies were killed for many reasons. Unwanted children were abandoned to die of exposure. Some were tossed in the river. Baby girls were especially expendable. The Roman philosopher Seneca said: “We drown children who at birth are weakly and abnormal.”

But Jesus, who lived at roughly the same time as Seneca, had a different attitude. He said, “Let the little children come unto Me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Christians have always valued human life as a gift from the God who made us in His image. This has often been controversial, but incontrovertible; every beating heart is precious in His sight.

The reason Christ and His followers have changed the world for good, of course, is because Christ can change every beating heart, including yours and mine. If anyone is in Christ, said Saint Paul, that person is a new creation. It may seem an odd way to change the world — one heart at a time — but multiply that by millions of people over thousands of years, and you have history’s richest blessing.

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3 Responses to In praise of Moses Gonsalves, exemplar of immense equanimity — My prayers, and most important of all, my sense of the closeness of Christ, that closeness I felt when I was in my gardens, was unique and cannot be compared to anything else. — Father Gabriel

  1. Pingback: My hero Moses Gonsalves: His tormenters forget that a symbol (public servant) is not the thing (public patron) it represents | Curtis Narimatsu

  2. Pingback: Moses Gonsalves’ chief tormenter elevated her subordinate to a permanent section head position to reward her male subordinate for his previous supervisory authority over her, by firing Moses especially on her own lies about Moses. Moses’ boss&

  3. Pingback: Moses Gonsalves’ chief tormenter elevated her subordinate to a permanent section head position to reward her male subordinate for his previous supervisory authority over her, by Moses’ boss’ firing Moses especially on her own lies about

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