On daily bread

Every Orthodox Christian, at least once a day, says the Lord’s prayer: “Our Father…” Everyone knows the words “give us this day our daily bread” very well. Alas, not everyone ponders enough on the meaning of these words.

In our prayers, both public and private, we often ask the Lord to have mercy on us and to save us. Directing our spiritual gaze on the Lord’s sufferings on the cross, on His death and resurrection, we say that He did save us on the cross. In other words, we recognize that the Lord, on His part, accomplished everything necessary for our salvation, now before us is the task of doing our part. Salvation is the result of the cooperation of God and man. The Lord doesn’t save anyone against his will; everyone has to make the choice: whether to accept the Lord’s salvation, or not. Every Orthodox Christian should be acquainted with the saying of the holy fathers: “God does not save us without us.”

To some degree, the above may be applied to “our daily bread”. The Lord gave us the earth and its fruits for the nourishment and restoration of our physical strength. We must make an effort in order to gather these fruits, to sow the new seeds, to work the earth and to gather the new harvest. Undoubtedly, not everyone in life is a farmer, but everyone does work in his vocation and does acquire the necessary means by his labour. Consequently, one is nourished – one physically supports the building of new cells in one’s organism – by that, which he grows on his own land, or purchases at the market, or in a store. To a certain extent, the expression: “we are what we eat” may be understood in its literal sense.

The same should be applied to our spiritual life. The “cells” of our soul are generated, built from the material that we ingest spiritually. If we read, or listen to, the Holy Scriptures, writings of the holy fathers, lives of the saints, and other books beneficial for the soul, if we listen to church chants and prayers, then, our soul will be made of good materials. If, on the other hand, we direct our spiritual gaze toward the mass media and use the TV, the internet, and print publications in order to fill our soul with all sorts of entertainment programs, secular movies (the spirit of which, at times, is directly opposed to the teaching of our orthodox faith), and simply useless news, then, alas, our soul may be compared to a person, whose diet is destructive for the organism, with a person, who is trying to obtain nourishment only from sweets instead of bread.

Without a doubt, it is difficult, at sometimes altogether impossible, for a person living in a contemporary secular society, to limit one’s spiritual diet solely to church materials. Some people, as part of their job responsibilities, may have to come into daily contact with various information, be it movies, or television news. However, everyone knows that healthy balance in a food diet is a must; many also know that there are times, when vitamins, or special supplements, are necessary in order for the organism to manage stress. We must act similarly in the spiritual life: at times we must increase our prayer, or spiritual reading, in order to provide our soul with proper nourishment, the necessary quantity of “spiritual cells” for its proper constitution.

May God help us gather the bread for our soul – prayer and spiritual reading – every day with understanding and good discernment, so that we would have the spiritual strength to live a true Christian life, according to God’s commandments. Amen.