Posted by on Sep 24, 2012 in Reflections | 10 comments

To those of you who attended the women’s retreat at St. Joseph Antiochian Church in Houston, TX on Saturday, I want to say thank you. Thank you for your kindness, your openness and honesty, and your sweet Southern hospitality.  I’m still pondering much of what we discussed as women and mothers about faith, family and community. How important it is to remind one another of what is most worth our efforts, and of what time-wasting preoccupations to let go of!

I came away inspired to procrastinate less, beat myself up less, and do more:

 - more serving and loving my neighbor, the best I can, and with what I’ve got

– more responding to quiet prompts from the Holy Spirit to make that phone call, send that note, prepare and deliver that meal, smile at that cashier…


“Cowardice and time always find a reason for not hurrying, for saying, ‘Not today, but tomorrow, whereas God in heaven and the eternal say: Do it today. Now is the day of Salvation.”

- Soren Kirkegaard

I am home, and back in the thick of things. Beside me at my desk are Fr. Hopko’s 55 Maxims for Christian living. We went over them this weekend and then I remembered all over again how crazy insightful they are:


  1. Be always with Christ.
  2. Pray as you can, not as you want.
  3. Have a keepable rule of prayer that you do by discipline.
  4. Say the Lord’s Prayer several times a day.
  5. Have a short prayer that you constantly repeat when your mind is not occupied with other things.
  6. Make some prostrations when you pray.
  7. Eat good foods in moderation.
  8. Keep the Church’s fasting rules.
  9. Spend some time in silence every day.
  10. Do acts of mercy in secret.
  11. Go to liturgical services regularly
  12. Go to confession and communion regularly.
  13. Do not engage intrusive thoughts and feelings. Cut them off at the start.
  14. Reveal all your thoughts and feelings regularly to a trusted person.
  15. Read the scriptures regularly.
  16. Read good books a little at a time.
  17. Cultivate communion with the saints.
  18. Be an ordinary person.
  19. Be polite with everyone.
  20. Maintain cleanliness and order in your home.
  21. Have a healthy, wholesome hobby.
  22. Exercise regularly.
  23. Live a day, and a part of a day, at a time.
  24. Be totally honest, first of all, with yourself.
  25. Be faithful in little things.
  26. Do your work, and then forget it.
  27. Do the most difficult and painful things first.
  28. Face reality.
  29. Be grateful in all things.
  30. Be cheeful.
  31. Be simple, hidden, quiet and small.
  32. Never bring attention to yourself.
  33. Listen when people talk to you.
  34. Be awake and be attentive.
  35. Think and talk about things no more than necessary.
  36. When we speak, speak simply, clearly, firmly and directly.
  37. Flee imagination, analysis, figuring things out.
  38. Flee carnal, sexual things at their first appearance.
  39. Don’t complain, mumble, murmur or whine.
  40. Don’t compare yourself with anyone.
  41. Don’t seek or expect praise or pity from anyone.
  42. We don’t judge anyone for anything.
  43. Don’t try to convince anyone of anything.
  44. Don’t defend or justify yourself.
  45. Be defined and bound by God alone.
  46. Accept criticism gratefully but test it critically.
  47. Give advice to others only when asked or obligated to do so.
  48. Do nothing for anyone that they can and should do for themselves.
  49. Have a daily schedule of activities, avoiding whim and caprice.
  50. Be merciful with yourself and with others.
  51. Have no expectations except to be fiercely tempted to your last breath.
  52. Focus exclusively on God and light, not on sin and darkness.
  53. Endure the trial of yourself and your own faults and sins peacefully, serenely, because you know that God’s mercy is greater than your wretchedness.
  54. When we fall, get up immediately and start over.
  55. Get help when you need it, without fear and without shame.

It’s been too long since I last meditated on their collective, thought and action provoking, wisdom. I’d like to revisit these 55 maxims here on my Close to Home blog – not in any particular order, and not with the intention of somehow “mastering” this list; no, an “all or nothing” approach will do me no good whatsoever. Rather, little by little, I’d like to incrementally add to my daily life more healing habits, to replace the anxiety and numbness inducing habits I’ve allowed to creep in unintentionally. I’d love for you to join me, and to hear (read) your own thoughts on, and experiences with, courageously sucking the marrow out of your existence.