How easy it is to say, "My Lord Jesus, have mercy on me! I bless Thee, my Lord Jesus; help me!" - St. Macarius of Egypt



OUR LIVES ARE FULL OF DISTRACTIONS, business, complexity. To some degree, this is a matter of choice, what do we focus on, what do we ignore?Even if our lives are chaotic and busy, our minds don't have to be. We need to require ourselves to refocus our attention on our spiritual, inner life. We have the precious tools of Orthodox praxis; prayers, fasting,

almsgiving. These tools are the crucial exercises that we need to stay spiritually fit. How do we accomplish spiritual fitness with the multitude of demands on our lives?

We must take control of our choices, slow our minds and hearts, and take the time to offer prayers. It is our choice to go ahead and do this work or not. In a very practical way, once we make this choice, we can gradually fill ourselves up with the practice of good things, which leaves less room in our lives to be consumed by lesser things. It doesn't have to be big, or occupy our entire day, but we need to start, be faithful to it, and allow God to provide the increase. The saints "filled" their lives with holy living to the degree that they became saints with wonderworking relics. Through God's grace, we all have this same potential.


Many of us are required to use a computer to accomplish our regular work, why not utilize the computer for holy work as well? Your personal computer can be an "instrument" of grace, the bells, if you will, calling you to pray, and even prompting you by providing the text easily. The computer's reliability makes it a perfect reminder to say your personal prayers following the direction of your spiritual father.

We have the conventional tools

of our faith, as well as some

unexpected ones to help us on

our path.

What you are looking to do, is to establish a "set it and forget it" system. In this section, I have listed a few websites that have prayers and daily readings. The simplest way to access them regularly is to bookmark them to your toolbar, or set them as your home page when you open up your internet browser. Require yourself to visit this area first each day. After you have prayed, then begin your day of work. If you keep a browser window open on your computer, you might enjoy the website from Mt. Athos that allows you to light a virtual candle! What an encouragement to glance at throughout the day!

On the top menu bar, if you click on the online chapel, you will see a button, "Daily reading and daily saints," On the right side at the bottom of the online chapel page, you can sign up to have this delivered to you as a free daily e-mail serVICe.

If you click on Liturgical texts, which is located in the middle towards the bottom of the main page, you will get a list of numerous services, prayers and sacraments, accessed with just a click of the mouse. These are also available at the very bottom of each document as a primer friendly version.

Morning, midday, evening and occasional prayers are available here, also available in a primer friendly format.

A selection of morning, 'evening and occasional prayers. Available in a printer friendly format.

This website, provided by Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, NY has an extensive listings of prayers and serVIces.

Here is a large index of prayers, both for specific times of the day, and various needs.

You will need Macromedia shockwave to operate this website. (This is available as a free download at http:// download/download.cgi?PLProd- Version=ShockwaveFlash.) Here you will see a chapel on Mt. Athos, and be able to light a candle, (or many) by dragging and dropping them onto the virtual candlestand. This would make a pleasant browser to leave open on your desktop during the workday, since the candles do burn down, you may replace them periodically, and thus say another prayer!

During the day, if you are routinely at your computer when it is time to pray, a simple alarm clock feature can remind you to say prayers, and then with a click on your bookmark, your prayers can be displayed. The computer doesn't do the praying for you, but it is able to remind you and even open up the book!

If you do not have internet access, but still work on a computer, you could create a document of prayers using any word processing program, and open that document at your prayer time. This would be a bit more labor intensive initially, but then, you would have prayers accessible in a file, on your workstation.

One idea for a Church "family night" could be a computer setup night! As a group, everyone could set up their own machines
or watch someone demonstrate this. Invite children, teens, and adults, encouraging everyone to use their computers for their spiritual enhancement.


The sacraments and services of the Orthodox faith are concentrated with significance and beauty. In order to deepen ones understanding of what is going on during the service or sacrament, one can prepare oneself by reading more about it beforehand. As noted above, on the GOA site, the full text of many services are available if you would like to pre-read the service or print it

out to take along. By reading the epistle and Gospel lesson of the day before services, one can be ready to absorb the lesson more fully when it is read in church.

Several CD's of instructional material are available through the Department of Religious Education. These do not require internet access, making them workable on most computers that are equipped with a CD Rom drive.

The Royal Road - This is a thorough overview of Great Lent. Each week explored chronologically, lending itself to regular use, as Great Lent progresses. This would be ideal for use in most age groups as a Lenten study tool, or the framework for a Lenten study.

Baptism and Chrismation - This CD would be excellent gift for new parents or an adult catechumen of the Orthodox faith. These sacraments are explained.

Crown them with Glory and Honor (Marriage) - In addition to information about what marriage is in an Orthodox context, there is also a personality inventory for the betrothed to fill out and examine. This tool can help the couple to identify and discuss potential conflicts (and thus hopefully avoid them). Another handy tool in this CD is a customizable bulletin insert. This template allows you to create a preformatted, personalized bulletin, that includes a written introduction/ explanation to the marriage service. Since many non-Orthodox will likely attend a friend's wedding, this helps them to understand what is happening, and teach them abut the Orthodox faith.

In addition to educating oneself or a church school class, all of these make very good gifts for growing Godchildren, catechumens or family members who are about to encounter one of these events. Since they are independent of the internet, the information is accessible with just a computer.

"A monk was once asked, "What do you do there in the monastery?" He replied, "We fall and get up, fall and get up, fall and" get up again." - Tito Colliander (20th Century)

We will fall down in our spiritual life. But we are not alone or without help. We have the conventional tools of our faith, as well as some unexpected ones to help us on our path. Our choice is to follow the path, an d continue to get up when we fall.

Elizabeth Borch is managing editor of Praxis magazine. She is married to Holy Cross seminarian, Brad Borch, and has two children whose photos occasionally appear in Praxis magazine. She is also a registered nurse who works with cardiac telemetry patients at St. Elizabeth 5 Medical Center in Brighton, MA.

(Posting date 21 November 2006)

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