This may be a little weird but I’m going to present a large introduction to a relatively small excerpt, written by modern spiritual giant.Before I do that, though, I have to spend time setting it up because there’s a particular reason why I’m sharing this specific quotation. After this week’s introductory comments I’ll share Part 1 and next week after a more brief introduction I will share Part 2. So here goes.
I encountered a new concept a few years ago, while working on a board of a non-profit in the city where we were living. A fellow board member was sharing his view that the organization had been doing some “siloing.” So I did what I usually do now when I’m in a meeting and don’t understand a word someone uses: I Googled it (and, yes, I think it’s really funny the nouns we turn into verbs these days, but I digress…).
We’ve all seen silos, those tall, round objects on farms that store grain. Well, it turns out a man named Phil Ensor, an organizational analyst for Goodyear, coined the term “siloing” back in 1988. He noticed that the departments or divisions within a bigger organization can get so focused on their part of the process, that they unintentionally act as if their department IS the organization, and instead of one, large unified body there can be many separate parts–like silos–each doing their own thing.
So when I first read the text that I’m going to share below, I immediately thought of siloing, not within an organization but within each of us as persons.
As a priest, I’m blessed to share in conversations, both in the Sacrament of Holy Confession and in spiritual direction outside of Confession, about people’s spiritual lives. One of the jobs of the
Confessor is to listen carefully and try to point out patterns, connections or even disconnections that occur in the thinking of the person talking/confessing, that the person may not realize. It’s kind of like a spiritual form of counseling. And it’s not unusual to detect some siloing going on.
A person may confess a certain laziness in their work of repentance, and then in what they think is a completely separate topic they talk about a lack of peace in their lives.
It’s easy to fall into the mistaken idea that peace comes to us when the circumstances around us are peaceful. It sounds obvious, doesn’t it? The only problem is, it tends to NOT be true. Truly peaceful people tend to be peaceful from the inside out, no matter what the circumstances are around them. Some famous examples might be Ghandi or Martin Luther King. And this is why the Church always invites us to a life of consistent spiritual effort: our efforts at repentance are not only the way to the Kingdom of God, they are the only way we ultimately obtain peace. Because true peace and the Kingdom of God are one and the same.
So let me wrap up this lengthy introduction to say we would all do well to do less siloing. If we tear down the walls between the parts of our life in which we look for peace and the parts of our life where we are–or are not–willing to make spiritual efforts, then we truly have the opportunity to find the peace we crave so deeply. The excerpt below comes from Elder Thaddeus, a Greek monk who lived in our modern day, in his modern spiritual classic, “Our Thoughts Determine our Lives.” My hope is that it is helpful in all of our efforts to find true peace.
May the peace and joy of our Lord be upon you! For it is true that peace and joy is the greatest wealth for a Christian both in this world and the next. We all long for it. We can have many material things, we can have everything we want, but it is all in vain if we do not have peace. And peace comes from the fountain of peace, from the Lord. When He spoke to His disciples while the doors were shut for fear of the Jews, the first thing He said to them was, “Peace be unto you” (St. John 20:19). Likewise, I too wish that the peace and joy of our Lord may come upon all of us. The Lord will reward us with His peace if we change our way of thinking and turn toward Absolute Goodness. Absolute Goodness is God Himself. He wants His children to have this Divine attribute as well. The perfection of the Christian life consists in extreme humility. Humility is a divine attribute, too. Where humility reigns, whether it be within a family or in society as a whole, it always radiates Divine peace and joy.
Every good and bad thing on earth has its origin in our thoughts. This is why we must struggle. We are a thought-apparatus that emits thoughts, that radiates thoughts by which we influence all beings; men, animals, and plants. The plants, too, have a nervous system. They expect peace, comfort, and love from us.
Repentance is a change of life. One must go to a priest and confess, or tell a friend or relative if something disturbs one’s consciousnesses and shatters one’s inner peace. After confession a person always feels lighter. God has created us in such a manner that we all influence one another. When a neighbor or friend feels compassion for our suffering, we immediately feel comforted and stronger. Likewise, repentance is a change of life. We must change our way of thinking, for life has dealt us many blows. We see the entire world, not just our nation, suffering because of that. If we turn toward the Fountain of Life–God–then He will give us the strength to become rooted in good thoughts–quiet, peaceful, and kind thoughts, full of love. Our sincere repentance will shine through, for good thoughts, good wishes, and feelings of love radiate peace and give comfort to every being.
There, now you understand what repentance is all about. Repentance is a complete turning of one’s heart toward Absolute Goodness, and not only of the heart but also the mind, the feelings, the body, and one’s whole being. Repentance is the unbreakable union of love with our Father and Creator. Therefore we must always be in prayer and at all times ask the Mother of God to give us the strength to love Him as she herself does, along with the Saints and the Angels. Then we will be blessed both in this life and in eternity as well. For God is love (agape), peace, and joy, which fills every being that seeks Him from the heart.