It’s never by accident or coincidence that we come upon holy writings from the Scripture, or from the pens and minds of holy saints over the millennia that, not so amazingly, speak pointedly to the issues of our own times. This ‘catholicity‘ – the shared fullness of faith from the ages – is why in order not to make foolish mistakes today, it’s imperative to consult the sage holy wisdom of yesterday – and then act on it.
Here’s an example. Early this morning, before I was barely awake, I read words from St. Theophan the Recluse, a gifted holy man of God, a monastic and Bishop, who wrote about ‘…becoming a real man…’ Of course this topic peaked my interest, due to my own sinful inadequacies as I seek to live out my salvation as an Orthodox man, husband and father in these trying times… But I also thought of other men (never assuming for one minute that I, or you, or we are somehow better than they) nevertheless their actions and levels of authority and popularity have given rise to extensive media coverage and in most cases personal and national shame: Weiner, Woods, Edwards, Farve, Strauss-Kahn, Schwarzenegger, and the list could go on… These real men of power and influence are often considered by many the epitome of “manhood” – power, prestige, popularity… and yet their hidden house of cards in each case has crumbled. So what can we learn? What does Theophan, a saint who struggled with his own sin, say?
“So how does one become a real man?”
The more firmly you are established in the recollection of God – in mentally standing before God in your heart – the more quiet your thoughts will become and the less they wander. Inner order and success in prayer go together.
In this way our spirit is restored to its just rights. When it is so re-established, there will begin an active and vital transformation of soul and body, and of outer relationships, until they are finally cleansed.
And you will become a real man.
There it is, “…the more firmly you are established in the recollection of God – in mentally standing before Him in your heart – (and not your iPhone without clothing) – the more quiet will your thoughts become and the less they will wander…” The more you will seek to serve – and not be served.
Lord have mercy on me… Lord have mercy on all men.. for within us is the divine responsibility of headship, leadership – the great ability to bless and bring compassionate good to so many – or the power to wound, kill and destroy everyone and anything – especially the women and children of the world who look to us for compassion, protection, affection, and sacrificial servanthood. Real manhood serves others and not-self.
Lord restore us to this manhood through repentance and obedience.