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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Timeless Word . . . on the value of recollection and sensitivity for Christians today

Millions of us are spending time interacting with social media. The global village hums with the sound of beeps announcing another contact sent or received.
How do we evaluate the benefits of investing our time and energy online?
Do our social media contacts improve our well-being?
Do our online activities contribute to our relationship with God?
Or are they a form of distraction subtly leading us away from God?
These questions are timely, and a powerful reminder comes to us from a passage in “The Art of Prayer” written by a man who lived centuries ago:
“This is how lukewarmness arises: it begins with forgetfulness. God’s gifts are forgotten, and so is God Himself, and our salvation in Him, and the danger of being without God; and the remembrance of death disappears—in a word the whole spiritual realm is closed to us.
“This is due to the enemy, or to the dispersion of thoughts by business cares and excessive social contacts.
“When all is forgotten the heart grows cool, and its sensitivity to spiritual things is interrupted: and so we fall into a state of indifference, and then into negligence and carelessness. As a result, spiritual occupations are postponed for a time, and afterwards abandoned completely.
“And then we begin again our old way of life, careless and negligent, forgetful of God and divine things, seeking only our own pleasure. Even if there is nothing disorderly in it, do not look for anything divine. It will be an empty life.
“If you do not want to fall into this abyss, beware of the first step—that is forgetfulness. Therefore, walk always in godly recollections—in remembrance of God and divine things. This will keep you sensitive to such things, and these two together—recollection and sensitivity—will set you on fire with zeal. And here will be life indeed” (Theophan the Recluse, as quoted in The Art of Prayer, London, Faber and Faber, 1966pages 122-123).