Tag Archive for: Purposeful Life

Our Purposeful Life – Giving

Fr. John Codis
October 21, 2012

Book Reference
Life of the Beloved
Spiritual Living In A Secular World
By Henri J. M. Nouwen

Opening thoughts and basis for discussion

Our purpose as Orthodox Christians is a constant learning on how to welcome God into our Lives to live and work through us.

Giving is the third leg in the tree legged stool that is our spiritual life; prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Almsgiving is giving of our times, talents and blessings that have been given to us.

What is giving?

Giving is not only giving of our time and talents but our real gift is not so much what we can do, but who we are. Who can we be for each other. Our greatest gift is to give of ourselves…our joy of living, our own inner peace, our own silence and solitude, our own sense of well-being.

Our gifts are more important than our talents

We may only have a few talents, but we have many gifts. Our gifts are the many ways in which we express our humanity. They are part of who we are: friendship, kindness, patience, joy, peace, forgiveness, gentleness, love, hope, trust, and many others. These are the true gifts we have to offer each other.

As the Beloved Children of God, we are called to become bread for each other – bread for the world. The spiritual life is like the miracle of the Feeding the Five Thousand (Matt 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-15). Is not our lives but a grain of sand that we must also trust to multiply itself and be able to fulfill the needs of countless people?

The trust in one’s fruitfulness emerges from a humble spirit.

Living in the world but not of the world

“The world is evil only when you become its slave.”

“The great struggle facing us is not to leave the world, to reject our ambitions and aspirations, or to despise money, prestige, or success, but to claim our spiritual truth and to live in the world as someone who doesn’t belong to it.”

Got not only says “You are my beloved” but he also asks us “Do you love me?” and offers us countless chances to say “Yes.” This is the spiritual life, saying “Yes” to God in all his works, to our inner truth.


Living the spiritual life means living as one unified reality. The forces of darkness are the forces that split, divide, and set in opposition. The forces of light unite. Literally, the word “diabolic” means dividing. The demon divides; the Spirit unites.

The purpose of our life is to lead us back to the “place” we come from, the “place” of God.

John Chrysostom gives us good advice from the 4th century.

“Some people see the houses in which they live as their kingdom; and although in their minds they know that death will one day force them to leave, in their hearts they feel they will stay forever. They take pride in the size of their houses and the fine material with which they are built. They take pleasure in decorating their houses with bright colors, and in obtaining the best and most solid furniture to fill the rooms. They imagine that they can find peace and security by owning a house whose walls and roof will last for many generations. We, by contrast, know that we are only temporary guests on earth. We recognize that the houses in which we live serve only as hostels on the road to eternal life. We do not seek peace or security from the material walls around us or the roof above our heads. Rather we want to surround ourselves with a wall of divine grace; and we look upward to heaven as our roof. And the furniture of our lives should be good works, performed in a spirit of love.”

Chrysostom, On Living Simply, pg 11

Our Purposeful Life – Blessings

Joseph Olas
October 14, 2012

Book Reference
Life of the Beloved
Spiritual Living In A Secular World
By Henri J. M. Nouwen


Who do you ask blessings from?
Whom do you give your blessings to?

Book of Job
Blessed is the man whom the Lord has reproved (Job 5:17)

How have you been blessed in correction?


What pains are in your life?

Henri states: “The great spiritual call of the Beloved Children of God is to pull their brokenness away from the shadow of the curse and put it under the light of the blessing (p. 79/sc p. 97). How does putting our brokenness under the blessing differ from putting it under the curse? Why do we find it so difficult to do this?

What cross are you called to carry?

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. (Matthew 16:24)

Our Purposeful Life – Living Purposefully

Fr. Christopher Metropulos
October 7, 2012

Book Reference
Life of the Beloved
Spiritual Living In A Secular World
By Henri J. M. Nouwen

Opening thoughts and basis for discussion

Purpose in Life – Living a Purposefully Orthodox Christian Life

A life of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Not an occasional glance at each but rather a more meaningful and on purpose action in each area.

When we define the word purpose the following words come up: intention, aim, object, objective, goal, end, plan, scheme, target; ambition, aspiration. These definitions or synonymns are action based.

Reaching Our Full Potential

We don’t realize our full potential to be purposeful due to the trappings of this life but also because we really do not know how special we are to God according to Henri Nouwen. We are in God’s eyes the beloved.

It all stems from knowing who we are from the beginning of time. Jesus Christ’s baptism is a good place to start. We hear the voice of God at Jesus’s baptism, “You are my Son, the Beloved;my favor rests with you.” (Matt 3:16-17; Mark 1:10-11, Luke 3:21-22) The key words here are, You are my beloved.

What Voices Are You Listening To?

What are the voices of the world calling you? Beloved or not loved at all. True to heart or hypocrite. etc. When Henri Nouwen hears the word beloved this is what he hears. “I have called you by name, from the very beginning. You are mine and I am yours. I have carved you in the palms of my hands and hidden you in the shadow of my embrace. I look at you with infinite tenderness and care for you with a care more intimate than that of a mother for a child. Wherever you go I go with you, and wherever you rest I keep watch.

Has anyone ever expressed themselves to you in such a way? If yes, Glory be to God and if not, why not?

I don’t want you to waste to much of your time on silly things. I have fewer years behind me than ahead of me.

The Journey

The journey of the spiritual life calls not just for determination but to also know the terrain you are traveling on. I don’t want you to get stuck somewhere and not be able to fend for yourself, free yourself and move towards our Lord.

It is our task our destiny to become one with God as we discussed last month. In the words of St. Augustine, “My soul is restless until it rests in you,O God”. We were innocent before we started to feel guilty; we were in the light before we entered into the darkness; we were at home before we started to search for a home.

Becoming God like in a purposeful way takes more than determination. It means becoming vulnerable and asking God to enter your life and take charge. “Letting the truth of our belovedness become enfleshed in everything we think do and say.

Words to Live By

Let’s talk now about four words that Henri Nouwen feels he lives his life by and frankly words that we would do good to live by as well.

Taken, Blessed, Broken, Given


St Theophan the Recluse: Exert all your strength, but rest your concern with success on God.”

Finally, “May your baptism remain as your shield, your faith as your helmet, your love as your spear, your patience as your armor.”