Saturday, March 28, 2009

Fr. Thomas Hopko's 55 Maxims

WHAT ARE THE BASIC elements of a victorious Christian life?

In response to a request, the Rev. Fr. Thomas Hopko, Dean Emeritus of St. Vladimir's Theological Seminary, prepared a list of 55 Maxims for Christian Living.

As we are in the midst of Great Lent, he read and discussed this list in the most recent episode of the podcast Speaking the Truth in Love:

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 cheerful.

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. 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 you fall, get up immediately and start over.

55. Get help when you need it, without fear and without shame.


OncoPharm said...

Nader, Thank you for posting this. I will never forget Fr. Thomas Hopko when we all went on a retreat together to St. Vlad's and i heard him speak for the first time. I recently did a google video search for his sermons and found tons so i can share them with Laura and benefit. This Blog was an icing on the cake; thank you and God Bless you.

elgreca262 said...

thank you. I will print this out and make it a poster for my children's rooms.

Anonymous said...

Nader, I'll never forget the time you asked Fr. Thomas Hopko a question during one of his sermons. Remember how the dialogue went?
Nader: I have a question? (As he stands up)
Fr. Thomas Hopko: Yes
Nader: Hi, I'm Coptic Orthodox.
Fr. Thomas Hopko: Congratulations, now what's your question.

Oh, good times man.

angela damianakis m.s.w said...

this never gets old

Paul Kist said...

Nader, this is a great post. I've always admired Hopko for his rational thinking. I would say however that these tenants are not reserved for Christian living, but are rather universal. What a world we'd live in if we all followed these maxims.

Nader Alfie said...

I'll have to agree and disagree with you. They are universal in that they would benefit all of humanity. However, #1, #4, and #8 for example are by no means universal teachings.

#38 is based specifically on Hopko's reading of St. John Climacus.

I agree that the world would be a better place if all people followed the teachings of Christ.

Hope all is going well for you in the great state of Massachusetts!