Wisdom of Sirach 51
A Psalm of Thanks
1 I will give thanks to You, O Lord and King, And I will praise You as my God and Savior. I give thanks to Your name.†
2 For You have been my protector and helper, And You redeemed my body from destruction And from the snare of a slanderous tongue, From the lips of those who work falsehood. And before all those who stood by, You were a helper, And You redeemed me,
3 According to Your great mercy and Your name, From being devoured as one prepared for food At the hands of those who sought my soul; From many afflictions that I endured,
4 From suffocation by an encircling fire, And from the midst of a fire I did not start;
5 From the depths of the belly of Hades And from the tongue of the unclean and the word of a liar—†
6 The slander of an unrighteous tongue before the king. My soul drew near unto death, And my life was near Hades below.
7 They surrounded me on all sides, And there was no one to help me. I looked for the help of men, but there was none.
8 Then I remembered Your mercy, O Lord, And Your work which is from of old, For You lift up those who wait upon You, And You save them from the hand of their enemies.
9 I sent up my supplication from the earth And prayed about the instability caused by death.
10 I called upon the Lord, the Father of my Lord, That He might not forsake me in the days of affliction, When I am helpless against the arrogant. I will praise Your name continually, And I will sing a hymn with thanksgiving.†
11 My prayer was heard, For You saved me from destruction And rescued me from a time of evil.
12 Therefore I will thank and praise You, And I will bless the name of the Lord.
Striving for Wisdom
13 While I was still young, before I went on my travels, I sought wisdom openly in my prayer.
14 Before the temple I prayed about her, And I will search for her to the end of my life.
15 From blossoms to ripening grapes, My heart rejoiced in her. My foot embarked on her righteous path, And from my youth I hunted for her.†
16 I inclined my ear a little and received her. I found much instruction for myself.
17 There was progress for me in her. To Him who gives me wisdom, I will give glory.
18 For I purposed to practice wisdom; And I was zealous for the good And was not put to shame.†
19 My soul strove earnestly for her, And I examined myself closely in my performance of the law. I stretched out my hands to the heights And mourned my ignorance of her.
20 I directed my soul to her, And in purification I found her. I acquired a heart for her from the beginning; Therefore, I was not forsaken.
21 My heart was stirred to search for her, And therefore I gained a good possession.†
22 The Lord gave me a tongue as my reward, And I will praise Him with it.
23 Draw near to me, untaught ones, And lodge in my school.
24 Why do you say that you are lacking in these things, Yet you let your souls thirst exceedingly?
25 I opened my mouth and said, “Gain wisdom for yourselves without money.†
26 Place your neck under her yoke, And let your soul receive her instruction. She is near that you might find her.
27 See with your own eyes that I labored little, But found much rest for myself.
28 Partake of instruction with a great amount of silver, And gain much gold with it.
29 May your soul be gladdened by His mercy, And may you not be put to shame when you praise Him!
30 Do your work before the appointed time, And He will give you your reward in His appointed time.”
16 To the sinner God says, “Why do you declare My ordinances, And take up My covenant in your mouth?
17 You hate My instruction, And cast My words behind you.
18 If you see a thief, you run with him, And you keep company with adulterers.
19 Your mouth is filled with evil, And your tongue weaves deceits.
20 You sit and speak against your brother, And place a stumbling block before your mother’s son.
21 You do these things, and I keep silent; You think I am lawless like you; But I shall rebuke you, and contradict you to your face.
22 Understand these things, you who forget God, Lest He snatch you away, and there be none to deliver;
23 A sacrifice of praise shall glorify Me, And there is the way whereby I will show him the salvation of God.”
Proverbs of Solomon 10
17 The works of the righteous produce life, But the fruits of the ungodly produce sins.
18 Instruction guards righteous ways of life, But instruction incapable of criticism goes astray.
19 Righteous lips cover hatred, But those who bring forth abuse are very lacking in discernment.
20 You will not escape sin by a multitude of words, But you of discreet lips will be forbearing.†
21 The tongue of a righteous man is silver tried in the fire, But the heart of an ungodly man shall fail.
22 The lips of righteous men understand lofty things, But men without discernment die in want.
1 Corinthians 7
25 Now concerning virgins: I have no commandment from the Lord; yet I give judgment as one whom the Lord in His mercy has made trustworthy.
26 I suppose therefore that this is good because of the present distress—that it is good for a man to remain as he is:†
27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed. Are you loosed from a wife? Do not seek a wife.
28 But even if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Nevertheless such will have trouble in the flesh, but I would spare you.
29 But this I say, brethren, the time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none,†
30 those who weep as though they did not weep, those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice, those who buy as though they did not possess,
31 and those who use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away.
32 But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord.
33 But he who is married cares about the things of the world—how he may please his wife.
34 There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world—how she may please her husband.
35 And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction.
36 But if any man thinks he is behaving improperly toward his virgin, if she is past the flower of youth, and thus it must be, let him do what he wishes. He does not sin; let them marry.†
37 Nevertheless he who stands steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but has power over his own will, and has so determined in his heart that he will keep his virgin, does well.
38 So then he who gives her in marriage does well, but he who does not give her in marriage does better.
39 A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.†
40 But she is happier if she remains as she is, according to my judgment—and I think I also have the Spirit of God.
55 Maxims of the Christian Life
Fr. Thomas Hopko
(Below is a series of short phrases, or maxims, that I have found to be very practical and helpful. We can often times think that the spiritual life is very complicated and and hard to live. Fr. Thomas was asked to come up with a simple and concise list of the essence of our Life in Christ as we struggle on the path towards salvation. He came up with these 55 maxims. I would encourage you to post them somewhere where you can see them often.)
- Be always with Christ and trust God in everything.
- Pray as you can, not as you think you must.
- Have a keepable rule of prayer done by discipline.
- Say the Lord’s Prayer several times each day.
- Repeat a short prayer when your mind is not occupied.
- Make some prostrations when you pray.
- Eat good foods in moderation and fast on fasting days.
- Practice silence, inner and outer.
- Sit in silence 20 to 30 minutes each day.
- Do acts of mercy in secret.
- Go to liturgical services regularly.
- Go to confession and holy communion regularly.
- Do not engage intrusive thoughts and feelings.
- Reveal all your thoughts and feelings to a trusted person regularly.
- Read the scriptures regularly.
- Read good books, a little at a time.
- Cultivate communion with the saints.
- Be an ordinary person, one of the human race.
- Be polite with everyone, first of all family members.
- Maintain cleanliness and order in your home.
- Have a healthy, wholesome hobby.
- Exercise regularly.
- Live a day, even a part of a day, at a time.
- Be totally honest, first of all with yourself.
- Be faithful in little things.
- Do your work, then forget it.
- Do the most difficult and painful things first.
- Face reality.
- Be grateful.
- Be cheerful.
- Be simple, hidden, quiet and small.
- Never bring attention to yourself.
- Listen when people talk to you.
- Be awake and attentive, fully present where you are.
- Think and talk about things no more than necessary.
- Speak simply, clearly, firmly, directly.
- Flee imagination, fantasy, analysis, figuring things out.
- Flee carnal, sexual things at their first appearance.
- Don’t complain, grumble, murmur or whine.
- Don’t seek or expect pity or praise.
- Don’t compare yourself with anyone.
- Don’t judge anyone for anything.
- Don’t try to convince anyone of anything.
- Don’t defend or justify yourself.
- Be defined and bound by God, not people.
- Accept criticism gracefully and test it carefully.
- Give advice only when asked or when it is your duty.
- Do nothing for people that they can and should do for themselves.
- Have a daily schedule of activities, avoiding whim and caprice.
- Be merciful with yourself and others.
- Have no expectations except to be fiercely tempted to your last breath.
- Focus exclusively on God and light, and never on darkness, temptation and sin.
- Endure the trial of yourself and your faults serenely, under God’s mercy.
- When you fall, get up immediately and start over.
- Get help when you need it, without fear or shame.