Christ is the only exit from this world

Christ is the only exit from this world; all other exits—sexual rapture, political utopia, economic independence—are but blind alleys in which rot the corpses of the many that have tried them.

Fr. Seraphim Rose, journal entry dated February 3, 1961. From Hieromonk Damascene, Father Seraphim Rose: His Life and Works (St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 2003), 95.

Self-examination and weeping willingly

The saint of God[, St. Agathon,] constantly and strictly attended to himself and said that without intense self-examination, no person can achieve success. This is the path to salvation. The saints of God, who constantly examined themselves, constantly found within themselves new failing, and once they found them, they plunged ever deeper into repentance that purified them and prepared them for heaven. On the contrary, evil inattentiveness and busyness are always connected with a profound ignorance concerning oneself; not surprisingly, such self-ignorance is always very self-satisfied and proud of itself. "Many delude themselves," said Blessed Theophylact, "with vain hope, thinking that they will receive the kingdom of heaven, and they in advance add themselves to the ranks of those who rose up because of their virtue, imagining great things about themselves.... Many are called, because God calls many, even all, but there are few chosen, few who are saved, few who are worthy of being chosen by God. To call is God's work, but to be chosen is ours: the Jews were called, but were not chosen, for they were not obedient to the One Who called.

St. Arsenius, who was great among monks, during the entire course of his life, whenever he did manual labor, put a kerchief on his knees because of the amount of tears that fell from his eyes. He died. Abba Pœmen, a father who was gifted with unusually profound spiritual discernment, said upon hearing of this man's death, "You are blessed, Arsenius, for you wept for yourself during this life. Whoever does not weep for himself here will weep eternally. It is impossible to run away from weeping. Either you weep here willingly, or you will weep there unwillingly, in tortures." Hearing of this death, Patriarch Theophilus of Alexandria said, "Blessed are you, Abba Arsenius! You constantly remembered the hour of your own death."

St. Ignatius Brianchaninov, "A Homily on Death" in The Threshold: Trials at the Crossroads of Eternity, trans. Nicholas Kotar, The Collected Works of St Ignatius (Brianchaninov), vol. 3 (Jordanville: Holy Trinity Publications, 2023), 88.

Fragmented people make for better consumers

I sense that striving for wholeness is, increasingly, a countercultural goal, as fragmented people make for better consumers, buying more bits and pieces—two or more cars, two homes and all that fills them—and outfitting one's body for a wide variety of of identities: business person, homebody, amateur athlete, traveler, theater or sports fan. Things exercise a certain tyranny over us. Whenever I am checking bags at an airport, I recall St. Teresa of Avila's wonderful prayer of praise, "Thank God for the things that I do not own." Things are truly baggage, our impedimenta, which must be maintained with work that is menial, steady and recurring. But, like liturgy, the work of cleaning draws much of its meaning and value from repetition, from the fact that it is never completed, but only set aside until the next day. Both liturgy and what is euphemistically termed "domestic" work also have an intense relation with the present moment, a kind of faith in the present that fosters hope and makes life seem possible in the day-to-day.

Kathleen Norris. The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy, and “Women’s Work” (New York: Paulist Press, 1998), 35.

Reinforcement of depravity in online communities versus finding perspective in good books

I was fortunate enough not to grow up today, where this loneliness and anger might have found an online community. They would reinforce my feelings, confirming that I was in the right and everyone else was in the wrong. If they rejected me, I would have wandered until I found another group. The power of the internet is the ability to self-select for your level of depravity.

Instead, wandering the poorly lit stacks of the only library in town, I came across a book that child me couldn't walk pass....

I quickly expanded, growing from this historical text to a wide range of topics. I quickly find there is someone there to meet me at every stage of life. When I'm lonely or angry as a teenager I find those authors and stories that speak to that, put those feelings into a context and bigger picture. This isn't a new experience, people have felt this way going back to the very beginning. So much of the value isn't just the words, it's the sense of a relationship between me and the author. When you encounter this in fiction or in historical text, you come to understand as overwhelming as it feels in that second it is part of being a human being. This person experienced it and lived, you will too.

You also get to experience emotions that you may never experience....

Instead of finding a community that reinforced how alone and sad I was in that moment, I found evidence it didn't matter. People had survived far worse and ultimately turned out to be fine.... Humanity is capable of adaptation and the promise is, so are you.

Matthew Duggan, "AI is Already Killing Books" (; November 24, 2023). Retrieved from

We can find Christ partly in all until he has been made all in all

... [H]e must not seek all the kinds of virtue from one person, however outstanding he may be. For there is one who is adorned with the flowers of knowledge, another who is more strongly fortified by the practice of discretion, another who is solidly founded in patience, one who excels in the virtue of humility and another in that of abstinence, while still another is decked with the grace of simplicity, this one surpasses the others by his zeal for magnanimity, that one by mercy, another one by vigils, yet another by silence, and still another by toil. Therefore the monk who, like a most prudent bee, is desirous of storing up spiritual honey must suck the flower of a particular virtue from those who possess it more intimately, and he must lay it up carefully in the vessel of his heart. He must not begrudge a person for what he has less of, but he must complete and eagerly gather up only the virtuousness that he possesses. For if we want to obtain all of them from a single individual, either examples will be hard to find or, indeed, there will be none that would be suitable for us to imitate. The reason for this is that, although we see Christ has not yet been made "all in all" (to cite the words of the Apostle), we can nonetheless in this fashion find him partly in all.... Christ is now divided among each of the holy ones, member by member. But when all are assembled together in the unity of faith and virtue, he appears as "the perfect man," completing the fullness of his body in the joining together and in the characteristics of the individual members.

St. John Cassian, The Institutes, trans. Boniface Ramsey, Ancient Christian Writers, no. 58 (New York: Newman Press, 2000), 118–119.