On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 135: Memory (2/26/17)

“You must always go over in your memory, and guard in unceasing meditations, the remembrance of the goodness of God Who has ordered your life’s course according to His design, of His benefits that aim at your soul’s salvation.” St. Mark the Ascetic, Therapy of Spiritual Illnesses.

Have you ever wondered why we have a memory?  Most of us would say that we have a memory so that we can remember things, numbers, sayings, events, work material, pleasures, pain, etc.  Well, you would be wrong!  God gave us memory so that we might continually remember Him and the benefits he has bestowed upon us.  You see, the remembrance of God is also the remembrance of God’s gifts.  Through remembrance, we give thanks to God.  The primary form of this remembrance is continual prayer.

Adam, who originally possessed this memory, lived in prayer and put into practice this continual remembrance of God.  By continual remembrance, man can be strengthened in keeping and practicing God’s commandments thereby preserving himself from the passions and developing the virtues.

 The Psalmist states, Psalms 102:2, “Forget not all His benefits.”  By remembrance, we show our love and gratitude to God and become the temple of God.  Worldly cares do not interrupt this remembrance, and our joy comes from the remembrance of God and His benefits.

 When we become wrapped up in human-centric thoughts and forget God, we develop an “illness of memory” according to St. Isaac the Syrian.  St. Hesychius the Priest states, “From forgetfulness we fall into negligence, and from negligence into…misplaced desires.”  In other words, our desires are no longer to continually remember God but are the sensual desires of the flesh.  We, therefore, fall into sin and desire more and more of earthly things.  We forget the benefits with which God has gifted us.

 The result of this then is instead of the remembrance of God we become habitually disposed to the “remembrance of evil” and those desires that arouse our sensual passions.  Those desires that arouse our want, our obsession with more.  Jean-Claude Larchet, Therapy of Spiritual Illnesses, states, “..the more it (the memory) recalls God, the less it recalls the world: conversely, the more it remembers the world, the less it remembers God.”

We need only to change our focus.  Bring back the remembrance of God and His benefits.  Use those gifts God has given us as he has instructed us to do.  Be stewards of God, make “Stewardship a Way of Life!”  By using the gifts God has given you, you will begin to continually place God at the forefront of your memory, honor and thank Him for those gifts and be in continual prayer.  You will restore your memory to its natural place, the place where God positioned it. 

This weekly series of brief thoughts on stewardship and Orthodox life is brought to you by your Diocesan Stewardship Commission.

Mark Your Calendar Now for the 2nd annual Stewardship Retreat will be held September 22-24, 2017.

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