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December 13, 2015

Advent 3 Sermon 2015

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Dorothy Day, the great American Christian activist, was fond of repeating the words of a wise and aged monk from a 19th C Russian novel: “Love in practice”, says the monk, “is a hard and dreadful thing compared to love in dreams”. The monk speaks the words in response to a woman who has come to him desperate to know if God exists. As one writer recounts the story, “He assures her that really there is no other way to know God in reality rather than God as an idea. The woman confesses that sometimes she dreams about a life of loving service to others — she thinks perhaps she will become a Sister of Mercy, live in holy poverty and serve the poor in the humblest way. It seems to her such a wonderful thought. … But then it crosses her mind how ungrateful some of the people she is serving are likely to be. They will probably complain that the soup she is serving isn’t hot enough or that the bread isn’t fresh enough…. She confesses to [the monk] that she couldn’t bear such ingratitude — and so her dreams about serving others vanish, and once again she finds herself wondering if there really is a God. To this the Staretz responds with the words, “Love in practice is a hard and dreadful thing compared to love in dreams.” ...

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