This evening I came upon this quotation attributed to Rabbi Nachman of Breslov:
“If you are not going to be any better tomorrow than you were today, then what need have you for tomorrow?”
That is a serious provocation to self-examination and personal responsibility.
What have I done to deserve tomorrow?
Tomorrow is a gift I cannot merit, but what would it look like to try to become more worthy of it?
What difference would it make, every night, to create new day’s resolutions?
This year I came upon this interesting sermon for Yom Kippur titled, “Let Death Be Our Teacher.”
This piece explains the way in which Yom Kippur is traditionally understood to be “a rehearsal of our death.”
In it, Rabbi Dara Frimmer says:
Let’s be honest, most of us wait until a crisis is upon us to make significant changes in our lives.
My father had a great life before he was diagnosed. He worked hard AND played golf every Wednesday. He loved photography, travel, and good food. He collected recipes from the New York Times and once a month our kitchen would become a gastronomy lab.
And when he was diagnosed, as most of us might do, he took account of his life – a Cheshbon Ha- Nefesh – literally, an accounting of his soul. Which is exactly what we are asked to do on Yom Kippur. A Cheshbon HaNefesh invites us to take inventory: Are we wasting moments of our life or are we lifting up and celebrating what is most precious?
Rule Four of Jordan Peterson’s new book Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life is: “Notice that opportunity lurks where responsibility has been abdicated.”
In this chapter, Peterson discusses how choosing to take responsibility is fundamental to being useful and leading a meaningful life. As usual, he weaves a range of sources together from the Hebrew Bible, to Egyptian myths, to Pinocchio and Peter Pan.
The section of this chapter that especially interested me is about conscience. Since conscience is a word that does not have a great deal of resonance in our contemporary culture, Peterson patiently expounds upon what conscience is and how it works.
Here is the relevant excerpt:
This evening a dear friend and I reunited in Toronto and spontaneously decided to attend Vespers at St. Moses & St. Katherine Coptic Orthodox Church.
The evening prayer and raising of incense was set to begin at 7:00 p.m.
Aside from the priest, two young men chanting liturgical responses, and one woman from the community, my friend and I were the only ones there.
Before beginning vespers, Fr. John Boutros came over to give us a brief explanation of the prayer.
“The purpose of vespers is start wondering now: where has my life gone? It’s a journey toward reconciliation in preparation for the liturgy the following day. Accordingly, people will usually go to confession after Vespers and during the Midnight Praises on the vigil of the Divine Liturgy. As the sun sets, you are invited to ponder: What am I doing? Where did the light go? Where did my life go?”
Fr. John also gave the analogy of working on a paper or a project into the late hours of the night saying, “When you’re working late at night, you can lose sense of the time. The purpose of these evening liturgies is partly to enter into the timelessness of eternity.”
This is the structure of Vespers in the Coptic Orthodox Church:
Today is the feast of St. Joseph the Worker and this post examines Pope Francis’ beautiful Apostolic Letter “With A Father’s Heart” to explore the practical ways in which we can see work as a context for self-gift through which we fulfill the meaning of our lives.
I have organized the themes of the letter into the following eight categories. Each category begins with a excerpt from the letter and then includes a question or two for our contemplation of some possible practical applications.
1. Names and Relationships: