St. Simeon Skete, Taylorsville Kentucky USA

With St. Simeon, the God receiver, as our patron, the skete seeks to practice the ideals found in our Rule, The Thousand Day Nazareth. In simplicity and poverty, the skete embraces the struggle of inner life through the practice of the Prayer Rope.

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Donations should be addressed to: Nazareth House Apostolate, 185 Captains Cove Drive, Taylorsville, Kentucky 40071.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Never Enough...

We are living in a society that is obsessed with more - bigger, better, faster, shinier - whatever the situation it is never enough.  ...bigger and better barns.  

"And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; 

and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods". (Luke 12:18)

In order to maintain what we’ve been tricked into believing is what we need, parents are having to work long hours, two or three jobs and children are left to develop the skills of adulthood via video games and television.  

They are not around their parents enough to learn by watching their parents examples of how to be a grown up.  Its all about the chase for happiness, obtaining that American Dream.  What is that American Dream?  Is it really found in the muchness or many-ness of our lives today? 

or is it found in the small still voice (1Kings 19:12)? We say there’s not enough time but we have all these gadgets to help us save time.  When we settle into that bigger house, or buy that newest car - then maybe we’ll be able to do things with the kids.  For now, its not enough.

Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns;
 yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? (Mt. 6:26)

Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit"; ..whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. (James 4:13-13)

 Daycares, soccer games, tee-ball, basketball not bad in themselves,  have now risen to a place of importance that in some instances exceeds that of spiritual growth and education. Sports rate much higher than a simple walk down a shady lane with mom or slipping down to the nearest watering hole to go fishing with dad.  There is nothing wrong with sports - in moderation.  But today Sports with all their competiveness have outplaced worship - if that tee ball tournament is on a Sunday (which most of them are scheduled on Sunday) there is no qualms about skipping church.  People will stand in line all night to get good seats for a sold out basketball game but our pews are empty.   

Can you blame that parent who just worked 75 hours this week for handing an ipad to her son with a new game app loaded?  She’s very tired and his whining because he’s bored is so frustrating. Its a vicious circle and the more tired and frustrated the more the child receives a pay off for his inability to be satisfied with what he already has.  Its not enough.  

Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6) 

Even in  our churches today we find the need for larger and better buildings, more people in the pews, increased monies in the plate.... and we use every  worldly marketing tool in the books to reach those goals - even telling us that if we go to church - God will bless us with riches.  What they don’t tell you is its not the riches of the world that bless us.  What it takes to gain great wealth and maintain great wealth is diametrically opposed to the teachings of Jesus Christ. 

"For where two or three are gathered together in my Name, there Iam in the midst of them" - Matthew 18:20.  In the first centuries the early Christians sacrificed to worship God.  They didn’t go to church to be entertained or be made to feel happy.  They didn’t gather together to recieve a payoff from God.   They jeopordized themselves to meet in hidden places simply to worship Him, it wasn’t about them - it was about Him.  "I must decrease so that He may increase" -John 3:30.  

But for many its got to be more, its just not enough.  This is not simply about the materialistic rich. Since the 1960's there has been a kind of deification of the poor.  There is as much sin among the poor as the rich.  The idea is to be poor like Jesus was poor - 2Corinthians 8:9; Mt. 20-28; Rom. 15:3; 2 for. 6:10; Phil 2:7; 2:8; Mt 5:3; Mark 10:21-22; 12:41-44. 

Think of Simeon and Anna waiting in the temple, they didn’t have to have a 30 piece orchestra entertain them while they waited. God  himself was enough.  ...and it was enough to wait on Him.

 The statue at St Simeon Skete of Mary has one hand up in gesture of peace the other hand held out empty.  This is because we already have been given enough for God to do with what he wants, we don’t need to do more.  We have everything we need already.  In Sierra Leone, I notice the families and children in the deepest poverty realize this.  

They creatively make do as best they can with what they have, not wasting time and energy thinking of what they want or could have.  They use what is before them, they are satisfied and happy.  

Tucked away, here and there, I have found some families doing the same here in America.  To them all the trappings of materialism have become too much.  Enough, for them, indeed has become enough.  They do what they have to do to make time with their children.  Yes, their children are active and they make runs from one appointment to another for sports, school, they make use of every precious moment in the car - they make it a time of family fellowship.  I was particular happy to see that many of them are making their children's gifts this year for Christmas or only giving one gift per child and not giving out so many toys they don’t fit around the Christmas tree, - a gift or two will suffice.  One family says "Christ only received 3 gifts, my children can't receive more than Christ"   

Some parents have even given to NHA in honor of their children for Christmas.... and their kids are happy about it!  Children happy to see others with less have gifts instead of receiving gifts for themselves.  This is wonderful. 

They are making sure that a parent is with the child at all times, as much as possible.  As the children are with the parents,  the children learn about limits and accept and understand the word “no”.  They are learning boundaries.  In the word’s of a young mother - 'its too much and its time for us to return to the days of "Leave it to Beaver". '  

Maybe progress isn't always the answer and maybe its time to return to things that worked in the past.  Sure things were not perfect in those years, but the family was the center of a child's life and not an ipad.  Maybe its time to reestablish the value of life and the value of the family.  Maybe more and more will see - what is enough. 

Fr. Gabriel talks of his youth and the importance of the Rosary and how praying it as a family shaped and formed him. Every night, his father gathered the family together to say the Rosary.  

It was  his family's time together spent  in prayer - praying the Life of Christ. It is important to make a specific space for worship in the home, a prayer corner, a holy space.  

When the path forward is spinning us out of control, maybe its time to look back - and allow God to be in control of our lives and not the media or the world. Make it enough. 

Blessing on the Families of the Land.

ALMIGHTY God, our heavenly Father, who settest the solitary in families; We commend to thy continual care the homes in which thy people dwell. Put far from them, we beseech thee, every root of bitterness, the desire of vain-glory, and the pride of life. Fill them with faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness. Knit together in constant affection those who, in holy wedlock, have been made one flesh; turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to the fathers; and so enkindle fervent charity among us all, that we be evermore kindly affectioned with brotherly love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.