Fr. Thomas Hopko, of blessed memory, recounts this conversation:
A few years ago, I was asked: “Father Thomas, if you summarized, in the shortest form, what a practical life of a believing Christian, of a human being who believes in God and believes in Christ, what would it be like? What kind of maxims or rules would that include?”
And in response to that request, I made up a list of what I called “55 Maxims,” 55 things that a believer, very simply, would do if they were really a believer and were really obedient to God and wanted to live the way God would have us live.
This series will contain my own reflections on each maxim. I hope you find them encouraging.
Here is a Printable Version from Many Mercies.
Listen here to the podcast of Fr. Thomas himself discussing these Maxims.
Fr. Thomas Hopko’s 55 Maxims for Christian Living
- Be always with Christ and trust God in everything.
- Pray as you can, not as you think you must.
- Have a keepable rule of prayer done by discipline.
- Say the Lord’s Prayer several times each day.
- Repeat a short prayer when your mind is not occupied.
- Make some prostrations when you pray.
- Eat good foods in moderation and fast on fasting days.
- Practice silence, inner and outer.
- Sit in silence 20 to 30 minutes each day.
- Do acts of mercy in secret.
- Go to liturgical services regularly.
- Go to confession and holy communion regularly.
- Do not engage intrusive thoughts and feelings.
- Reveal all your thoughts and feelings to a trusted person regularly.
- Read the scriptures regularly.
- Read good books, a little at a time.
- Cultivate communion with the saints.
- Be an ordinary person, one of the human race.
- Be polite with everyone, first of all family members.
- Maintain cleanliness and order in your home.
- Have a healthy, wholesome hobby.
- Exercise regularly.
- Live a day, even a part of a day, at a time.
- Be totally honest, first of all with yourself.
- Be faithful in little things.
- Do your work, then forget it.
- Do the most difficult and painful things first.
- Face reality.
- Be grateful.
- Be cheerful.
- Be simple, hidden, quiet and small.
- Never bring attention to yourself.
- Listen when people talk to you.
- Be awake and attentive, fully present where you are.
- Think and talk about things no more than necessary.
- Speak simply, clearly, firmly, directly.
- Flee imagination, fantasy, analysis, figuring things out.
- Flee carnal, sexual things at their first appearance.
- Don’t complain, grumble, murmur or whine.
- Don’t seek or expect pity or praise.
- Don’t compare yourself with anyone.
- Don’t judge anyone for anything.
- Don’t try to convince anyone of anything.
- Don’t defend or justify yourself.
- Be defined and bound by God, not people.
- Accept criticism gracefully and test it carefully.
- Give advice only when asked or when it is your duty.
- Do nothing for people that they can and should do for themselves.
- Have a daily schedule of activities, avoiding whim and caprice.
- Be merciful with yourself and others.
- Have no expectations except to be fiercely tempted to your last breath.
- Focus exclusively on God and light, and never on darkness, temptation and sin.
- Endure the trial of yourself and your faults serenely, under God’s mercy.
- When you fall, get up immediately and start over.
- Get help when you need it, without fear or shame.