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My family is getting to that point where the next generation are having their first and second children. Now when we gather for Christmas, Thanksgiving, and other events they come in, give everyone their obligatory hug, and proceed to pull out every single toy in the basement, play with it for an average of 5 seconds, and move onto something else. Nevertheless we all look on, either smiling at what they do or chasing them so they don't hurt themselves by falling down a flight of stairs. Scripture, in a manner of speaking, doesn't surprise me when it says that small and insignificant-looking things can and will produce a large and pervasive effect.

This can only happen, I suppose, when we come to appreciate something small as God's most powerful tool. Mary's sister Elizabeth certainly seemed to appreciate it. When Mary, a young lady of probably 15 or 16 years of age entered her house and greeted her she felt her own son, John, leap in her womb. Mary's greeting and the reaction of her unborn son prompted her to say “blessed are you among women” and “how is it that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” What Elizabeth knew in faith is not unlike what we know in love from looking at a little child. A relationship with our Savior is obviously different than watching a child play, but both fill us with words inexpressible. All we can do is look on with wonder and gratitude.

Indeed, we hear often among others who speak to the mother of a little child, “What a beautiful child, you're so lucky.” Perhaps it's not so different in tone next to 'blessed are you among women.'

The meeting between Mary and Elizabeth was also a meeting of the unborn Jesus Christ and John the Baptist. In the wombs of two women meeting in private rested the herald of a new age and the King of all ages. In the quiet privacy of a Jewish woman's home was a new era. Elizabeth, recognizing this silent revolution, rejoices. The author of Hebrews captures this feeling: he recounts that “in burnt offerings and sacrifice you did not desire” (cf. Heb 5:5-10) but rather God delighted in those who did his will.

No flashy work can produce the same fruit as a humble submission to God's will. The strange thing is that this very submission makes something even more wonderful then the spectacle a public sacrifice in the temple might have been. Mary is praised with such fantastic words because she believed “that what was spoken to her by the Lord would be fulfilled.” She is not praised because she has worked some magnificent sign, but she is praised because she heard the voice of God, believed it, and acted on it with a simple 'yes.' This simple and private 'yes' changed her whole life, indeed it changed all of our lives.

This humility and trust produces, as it were, a light to the whole world. The feeling is not unlike that child who captures everyone's attention at a family party. Perhaps our own faith should be regarded as a little child—it is small and innocent and, when we look upon it, we regard it with infinite wonder and gratitude, seeking what's best for it because we realize the profound impact it really has on us and those around us.
This is an Advent reflection on Sunday's readings in 2012 (Dec 23rd). Please let me know what you think.
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:iconimaginer-fox:
Imaginer-Fox Featured By Owner Apr 27, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Its the small every day things that make life as precious as it is. ^^ I feel that these days Ive been forgetting that. thank you for this piece!
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:icontesm:
TESM Featured By Owner Apr 27, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you, and thank you for following me as well. I hope you get a chance to see some of my other works!
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:iconcalleighblack:
CalleighBlack Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Life in general is made up of small things that we deem to be important. Perhaps faith is kind of like that? There are lots of "big" things, but maybe the small things are important too.

(Sorry it took me so long to get to this. We had Helldone and then tour, but I'm glad I got to it.)
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:iconchristian-student:
Christian-Student Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2013
Had trouble following your thoughts. Maybe I just read it too fast and it's late here. Maybe I should re-read. I do like a message on humility.
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:icontesm:
TESM Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks. It's not a treatise or anything, so perhaps it's the manner you're reading it. Well, if you decide to take a second look you can see if it was fatigue or my lac of presentation.
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:iconchristian-student:
Christian-Student Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2013
I believe it's not a clear linear connection of humility through you piece. You leave it to the reader to assume that Elizabeth displays humility with her words--this is a cultural-sociological barrier of understanding >>> trying to say, not a clear and evident thing, and you leave it implied.
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:icontesm:
TESM Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
You may want to read again. I was talking primarily about Mary's humility and likening humility itself to the fragility of a small child, yet how powerful it is at the same time.
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:iconchristian-student:
Christian-Student Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2013
Oh, that part was clearly expressed. I just thought you were trying to imply something else with your writing.
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:icontesm:
TESM Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
If I was, I wasn't aware of it.
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:iconchristian-student:
Christian-Student Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2013
ha!no worries
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:icontesm:
TESM Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Never worries during the Christmas season.
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:iconnordica93:
Nordica93 Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2013  Student Writer
Lovely little reflection; it reminds me of St Therese's 'Little Way,' in that it is the small things we do for the love of each other that can to great things done for the love of Christ. I feel the same way when I wash all the dishes for my flatmates, or when I saw my 12 year old cousin dutifully play with my younger cousins (at that age, I would have avoided them like the plague).

How's your life, by the way? Mine is on the mend - I realise that I am slightly obsessive compulsive, and it manifests itself (among other things) in a form of scrupulosity; however I am managing to control it and my spiritual life has come on in leaps and bounds. Are you still considering the priesthood? I think about being a religious sister, but it's early days yet.
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:icontesm:
TESM Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you.

Though I wasn't thinking about the Little Way it's very easily applicable here.

My life has been good, all things considered. I could be praying a bit more dutifully, honestly, but I haven't been slacking. Just on vacation right now and feeling lethargic about work in general--but midterms a week from today!


I'm glad to see you're doing better too. We all have this or that cross, and as you grow you'll discover your weaknesses, but also your strengths. Scrupulosity can lead to severity which itself can distract us from the good traits we have. If we neglect those traits then we can't give what we can with them--but I think you know yourself better than I do. All I can say is that I think you're doing well and that I continue to pray for you.

I am considering the priesthood. If you would like to shoot a note over I'd be glad to talk about it.

As for the religious life, this is based in the US but maybe it would be of interest for you: [link]

Their website is being redone, so I sent you their facebook page. You may find some inspiration there.

Thanks again and thanks for thinking of me!
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:iconiezeulte:
Iezeulte Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I love this post. I've always had a hard time understanding Christian humility... it suggests that you "give up" something (your personal will) in order to "submit" to God's will. For me, it is more about recognizing what God's will (and, for me, a NeoPagan, the Gods' Will) is and then harmonizing my individual will with the greater Will. My heart yearns to harmonize with the Divine (how could I not?), so it's less about giving up and being humble, and more like going with the divine flow of the universe.
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:icontesm:
TESM Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you.

However, I suppose I would discourage the notion of a Stoic conception of the divine. The idea of "going with the flow" is really just conceding to the notion of 'fate' which is a disposition that relates nothing about divinity.

But regardless of this, I would like to ask you, as a neopagan, what do you believe the gods' wills are (or is)?
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:iconiezeulte:
Iezeulte Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
My personal theology is not completely worked through, and it will be condensed into a tiny nutshell, but the Will is to arise out of our fallen, ignorant state and become totally divine/God-like/God. (Obviously I am deeply influenced by a Gnostic interpretation of the first chapters of Genesis, though I am by no means Gnostic.) Therefore things like social justice become absolutely imperative, for those who suffer greatly generally cannot be in a position to work seriously on their spirituality, since they are busy dealing with other issues (lack of food, lack of shelter, lack of access to education, lack of safety, etc.). A meditative discipline, along with an observance of holidays (to reiterate important theological themes), coupled with this commitment to service, is what my spirituality looks like. Living like this is how I think I can fulfill the Will here-and-now. I disagree that harmonizing your individual will to the Will concedes any notion of fate.
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:icontesm:
TESM Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
If you don't mind me asking further:

Why go with Gnostic interpretations of a Hebrew text? Why not the Hebrew or Christian (1st and 2nd century) interpretation?

Social justice is indeed important, but what do you make of suffering in general then, in this scheme?
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:iconiezeulte:
Iezeulte Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
And even more confusing is that Christ redeems the world and grants humanity everlasting life. So what was the big deal about denying humans everlasting life in Eden? They "disobeyed" only once--and we sin knowingly loads and loads of times, and yet we can be saved so simply? And why must we suffer the stain of original sin because of somebody else's actions? Why not make us all immaculate like Mary, who is held above all other humans? Too much shady action going on for my tastes.
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:iconhoenn-master:
Hoenn-Master Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2013
I'm not sure I can be a eloquent as TESM, but I have an answer for you.

The reason Adam and Eve were ousted from Eden due to only a single sin is because of the fact that their sin was entirely their own to commit. It isn't like today, where mankind is highly prone to corruption, lust, and other things; Adam and Eve knew full well that they were in direct disobedience to God, AND they had many things we people do not have today:

1. A powerful will AGAINST sin.

2. Full control over their fleshly urges.

3. Imparted knowledge. (They knew everything about the Earth there was to know)

Those three things, (apart from lesser gifts that were still fantastic, but nonetheless used wrongly), are the reason that they were ousted from grace.

This sin, which is an infinite offense against an infinite being, can only be atoned for by an infinite sacrifice, correct?

Well, Jesus is the Second Person in the Holy Trinity, God The Father's Son, and one of the components to the Holy Ghost, the Third Person.

Jesus came from Heaven and died the way he did to infinitely atone for man's sin; past, present, and future. Therefore, because it is actually already paid for, all mankind truly needs to do now is avoid sin where possible, and go to Confession (if Catholic) when a serious sin has been committed. Is that really so much to ask; being repentant of evil, and admitting one's faults to God? (He may know already, but to admit one's wrongdoing is the first step to repentance.)

Mary was CONCEIVED WITHOUT ORIGINAL SIN. Meaning, she was immune from the effects that man's sin had caused; she was still prone to sin, but she knew it's full evil, and never committed a sin in her lifetime. No other human being (apart from Jesus) was conceived without Original Sin, therefore, it is impossible to exactly like Mary, though to try is admirable.

How does this answer your question? If we were all like Mary, then her uniqueness is gone, and then the whole problem starts over again; it'd be a paradox in the highest degree.

You must remember, the loss of Eden was a just punishment, and without it, there would be no point. You must understand, more people go to Hell than Heaven, and to say Heaven is easy to get to, is to be deluded. Heaven, as is stated in the Bible, is like traveling upon a tiny, treacherous road, whereas the path to Hell is broad and easy.

I know I didn't help much, but there is my logic. :)
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:iconiezeulte:
Iezeulte Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
It's an interpretation I've always had, but had never seen explained fully until I had read the Gnostics. I have never understood why Adam and Eve were punished for something they could never have known was wrong/evil (disobeying "God") until *after* the deed was done. It's kind of like a Catch 22. My understanding is that something is not a sin unless you know better, and do the deed anyway. How can you call an act made in innocence "original sin?" And the punishments were harsh! I've always looked at Adam and Eve as ignorant thought-slaves to "God" in the garden of Eden, no better than animals. And then, at the last bit of chapter 3, "God" is obviously mostly preoccupied not with their disobeying him but with the fact that they could become fully Godlike. The reason given in Genesis 3:22 for why he kicked A&E out of Eden was NOT that they disobeyed him as such, but because they had the potential to eat from the Tree of Life. Why would he want to deprive his so-called beloved children of eternal life and immense knowledge? Instead he banishes them to suffering for an act made in innocence (though the moment that Eve passes the fruit to Adam is one Mystery I'm not sure I'll ever solve, though of course there are many theories). The Gnostic interpretation that the God of Eden is actually an Archon makes way more sense (though I do not actually adopt it fully myself), especially considering the kinds of atrocities, mass murders, genital mutilation of infants, and other morally questionable things he carries out or authorizes throughout the OT. If this is supposed to be the omnibenevolent author of the universe, I'm not a fan. Of course, I'm not a Gnostic, so I don't have a strict Gnostic interpretation, but learning it helped clarify a lot of issues I've had.

The explanation given to my worries in Catholic school is that the Bible is salvation history, or an ongoing understanding of God and God's relationship to humankind; the understanding of God in the OT is flawed, and Jesus and the NT give the most accurate depiction of God. I'm more on board with that, but the fact that teaching and tradition continually reflect on (often semi-literal or literal interpretations of the) OT for guidance can be very flawed, even incurring psychological harm to people, I think. And even so I oft quarrel with the teachings of the Christ in the NT.

Suffering can be a great spiritual teaching tool, and I usually learn new things from my personal trials. However, there is a lot of suffering that goes on in the world that is not at all instructive, creating way more intense harm than good. The kind of senseless suffering that humans inflict upon themselves, other humans, and the natural world is a testament to our ignorance of our own divine nature and the divine nature of our universe. And this is not to equate all suffering with physical pain--I believe that in many cases pain can be endured without suffering, which requires psychological and spiritual strength. And that is not to say all pain is bad--a lot of natural-caused pain, especially that which leads to death, is a sad but necessary part of balancing life on this small planet.
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:iconroxas1296:
roxas1296 Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2012  Student Writer
I'm glad that you decided to comment on the impact of humility.
There are many out there who have made the claim that humility is "insignificant."
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:icontesm:
TESM Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
A practical but non-transcendent morality will ultimately see 'humility' as pragmatic or submission/obedience as 'necessary for survival' but never as a virtue by which one grows in holiness (or anything, for that matter).

The Greeks had no room for humility in their moral code, despite their praise of virtue. And obedience was to the gods and one's superiors, but it was only because they were greater and they should be lead (in a duty-bound sense).
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:iconroxas1296:
roxas1296 Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2012  Student Writer
Hm... I find that somehow contradictory.
Many modern moralists have argued that a "virtue" is nothing more than a way of living that prolongs the survival of your society or species.

If humility is necessary for survival, I don't see why modern moralists would reject humility as a virtue.
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:icontesm:
TESM Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
And this is the classic world-view shift that Christianity introduces, in a sense. Following the 'rule' is good, but only if your heart is in accord with a good rule. This is in part what Psalm 51 refers to: "burnt offerings from me you would refuse, my sacrifice, a contrite spirit. A contrite heart you will not spurn ... then will we be able to give lawful sacrifices on your altar." What many modern moralists must ask is "am I doing this because it's a good in itself." Many will deny any talk of something 'good in itself' but that all things are only good 'for a purpose.'

Many modern moralists can give a name to whatever they like, but their humility devolves often times into false-humility (pride) or timidness (a lack of courage). They certainly don't hold magnamnity as the Greeks did (demanding the respect due to one's self, especially if you are really important). On the hierarchy of goods humility is, for many, a very low good.

It is also good to ask "what are we obedient to" and "to whom are we ultimately humble." Those without God as their authority must either point to some idea, which can be manipulated more easily than invoking God (e.g., Patriotism), or some person (who sets himself up as a god).
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:iconroxas1296:
roxas1296 Featured By Owner Dec 23, 2012  Student Writer
Well, when people deny a natural longing or state, that longing usually manifests itself in another form. So it would make sense, then, that people would try to appeal to a different authority.
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:icontesm:
TESM Featured By Owner Dec 23, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Perhaps it does make sense, but then again perhaps it is the case that they "make" sense out of it. Hobbes, after all, said that it would be better if we were subject to one weak human being with control over all our lives than being at the mercy of each other.
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:iconroxas1296:
roxas1296 Featured By Owner Dec 23, 2012  Student Writer
Well said.
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:iconsevslover6195:
Sevslover6195 Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Amen to this!
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:icontesm:
TESM Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
thanks
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:iconsevslover6195:
Sevslover6195 Featured By Owner Dec 23, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
You're welcome! And merry Christmas!
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:iconstarlight1216:
starlight1216 Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2012
very well-written. it seems each time i read a piece of yours, i find something new that strikes me, something new to keep in mind. and that's a fantastic thing. :)
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:icontesm:
TESM Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
That's very kind of you to say. Thank you.
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:iconstarlight1216:
starlight1216 Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2012
you're very welcome.
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:iconember-24:
Ember-24 Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
Exactly. Humility is no small thing. I love what you wrote! :)
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:icontesm:
TESM Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
I appreciate it.
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:iconhoenn-master:
Hoenn-Master Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2012
:clap:

Well reasoned!
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:icontesm:
TESM Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you
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:iconhoenn-master:
Hoenn-Master Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2012
You're very much welcome!
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:iconneoconvoy:
Neoconvoy Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2012  Student General Artist
Thanks for sharing.

Humility is a very important virtue.
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:icontesm:
TESM Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
My thanks
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:iconsomniumastrum:
SomniumAstrum Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2012
:clap: A very good piece. You already sound like a Priest. :)
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:icontesm:
TESM Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Ha, thank you for thinking so.
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