November 2006

Material ownership of land and such is a human notion, off the mark as it were, and not from the Word of God.

All manner of ownership comes and goes, from owning a simple house, to the existence of a city, a country, an empire, an entire civilization. History shows time and again that a greater force comes along and leaves the former owner a fading memory.

“As for man, his days are like grass, like a blade in the field he shrivels. Life passes away from him and he is no longer there, and the place where he stood no longer remembers him.”

The Word gave us numerous examples of the illusion of material ownership and the meaning of real riches.


To me, economics means contemplating – and putting into practice – to what extent does the effort by man to organize the material world on this planet, or in this universe, add value to human life, to the human experience, and so to spiritual life, and at what point does such an effort begin to take away from that value.

The determination of that value is both a social and individual issue, but the ultimate responsibility for that determination lies with one’s own personal decision, with one’s own basic moral choice, according to one’s own free will.

To be an economist, then, does not mean being materialist.

To be an economist means understanding the real value of material things and, conversely, of spiritual things.

Faith is the mightiest force within us! Tap into it and let it flow. Whatever you do, do it by faith. Why take half measures, why live half-heartedly?

But, do it in conjunction with the other fruits of the Holy Spirit; love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and discipline.

In other words, do not let faith be an excuse for immoderate attitude and extreme behavior.

He was a simple monk, he always worked with his hands, and he ate moderately. He never gossiped. We held short, simple, but meaningful conversations in three languages.

He taught me how to pray. He said pray slowly because, after all, you are speaking to the Lord. And to pray often, to keep away the Devil.

On the evening we learned of his painful death, we composed hymn, psalming good-bye to life as the stalks of wheat swayed in the wind under purple sky like undulating waves of the ocean, and recited Saint Paul’s letter to the Philippians at night in candle-lit darkness. The Lord is near.

For three days we recited all the Psalms and we cried at his funeral because of love.

Just as he worked with his hands, with our hands we dug a hole in the ground in which to bury him, anointing his body with oil, and, after deep sadness, we felt the rush of joy because we know that to live is Christ and to die is gain.

We worked hard on his day of remembrance, like he did during his life on earth, and we cried because of love.

Father Niphon, αιωνία η μνήμη.