November 23 - Daily Thoughts from St. Theophan, One of Russia's Favorite 19th Century Writers

"Even if you abandon worldly business, you could still be enslaved inside your heart. Conversely, your heart can be free without abandoning the world. So everyone should choose the best course for himself."

Originally appeared at: Global Orthodox

Editor's Note: Saint Theophan the Recluse (1815-1894) was one of the most prolific and beloved spiritual writers of 19th-century Russia. His works comprise over twenty volumes. Although he lived the last twenty-eight years of his life as a hermit, his impact on his homeland was immense. His articles appeared in the popular spiritual journals of his time, his books were in great demand, and he personally replied to an average of thirty letters daily. We will be publishing excerpts from Thoughts for Each Day of the Year (Amazon). In it, St. Theophan takes us through the yearly cycle of Gospel and Epistle readings, humbly and reverently offering us brief but powerful daily meditations on the word of God. He also addresses the problems of his day: lack of faith, coldness of heart, trust in the rational mind rather than in the revealed Truth of God - which are problems of our day as well.


Tuesday, 23rd week after Pentecost
Epistle reading: 1 Thessalonians 1:6-10
Gospel reading: Luke 12:42-48

Worldliness Inside and Outside

The Parable of the Steward offers us an example of the Christian attitude towards worldly business [Luke 12:42-47].  The steward is carefully doing his job, but he does not let his heart become involved in it too deeply. His concern is external, and he is free from any bonds.

That is how we should look at any worldly affair. Is this at all possible? Yes, it is. Just like piety which can be external only — that is, false piety — there can be external worldliness without internal involvement: such worldliness is just what we need.

─ "Would it not make all human relations very dry, formal, and lifeless, with people being cold to one another like marble statues?"

No, it would not. What it would bring about is an altogether new life amidst the familiar social realm, a life immeasurably more attractive than the most abundant life in the worldly sense. Certainly, conventional worldliness will be left behind as a lifeless form. The heart will be warmed by energy coming from a different fountain, and whosoever drinketh from that fountain shall never thirst.

─ "Then shouldn’t we just abandon all worldly business?"

─ Not at all. Even if you abandon worldly business, you could still be enslaved inside your heart. Conversely, your heart can be free without abandoning the world. But it is, indeed, easier to reign in your heart if you are disengaged from worldly affairs. So everyone should choose the best course for himself. Only make sure to set yourself up as the Lord has commanded.

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