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2012-11-04 message

posted Nov 18, 2012, 2:02 PM by St. John's Webmaster   [ updated Nov 18, 2012, 10:15 PM ]
A long time ago I read Six Thinking Hats by Edward de Bono, in which the author argued that we work better if we break down our thinking into categories. So, information (white hat) was processed individually, as were emotions, optimistic projections, pessimistic projections, and creativity. There was also a “thinking about thinking” hat (blue) that decided what type of processing would take place.

This idea of breaking processes down into smaller parts and isolating those parts in order to be more efficient has only become more important in the years since Mr. de Bono’s book was published. This process of compartmentalization seems to be found everywhere. This process can be beneficial: often, we ourselves make the decision to isolate one part of our lives from the others in order to work better, finish things faster, get more done. So the process can be beneficial.

However, this process is also how shady businessmen, corrupt officials, and others can sit in pews on Sundays and consider themselves good Christians: at that particular time and place, they can open up the Christian box, put on the Christian hat, and view themselves as Christian. In these cases, the choice to keep the faith in a box to be brought out at the ‘appropriate time’ belongs to the individuals. We can hope, pray, and sometimes we even have the opportunity to help them grow in the faith.

There are also times when we hear opinions saying that our faith should be private and our public lives and personae should not be influenced by it. However, in the epistle reading for this past Wednesday, St. Paul says to the Colossians, “whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col. 3:17). So St. Paul tells the Colossians something that does not agree at all with the opinions mentioned above: whatever divisions and compartments we may create in our lives, our faith has to be a part of everything. It needs to be the primary way in which we understand and define ourselves: we are Christians before all else, and that has an effect on everything we do.

This is not an easy thing to do. On the contrary, it is entirely too easy to get caught up in the moment—at work, in an argument, when we relax—and think, say, or do things that we later realize are not in line with our faith. The Fathers of the Church have given us a remedy for this: vigilance or watchfulness (νήπσις). They tell us that the easiest place to combat sin is at its inception: in the thought phase. If we learn to identify our thoughts, to cultivate the good ones and cut off the ones that are contrary to our faith, then our journey towards holiness becomes that much easier. Getting there takes prayer, guidance, and many things that fall under the category of virtues: patience, discipline, perseverance, hope. It is my prayer that we help one another in this process of transformation and that we will grow in watchfulness and all the virtues through the prayers of St. Paul and all the saints.

With love in Christ,
+Fr. Peter