55 Maxims for Christian Living by Fr. Thomas Hopko

A couple of weeks I was reading Molly Sabourin’s Blog, Close to Home, and found Fr. Tom Hopko’s 55 Maxims posted. I quickly sat down to write Molly an email telling her that Fr. Tom had given me a copy of these while I was in seminary but asked me never to publish them. Fr. Tom only shared these out with a few people… or so I thought. Before I wrote her I did a search on the internet for “55 Maxims.” They are every where! After a little searching I found that Fr. Tom, himself had used them for one of his podcasts. Since the cat is out of the bag, I am glad to share them and hope that they have the impact on you that they have had on me and those who have discovered them.

1. Be always with Christ.

2. Pray as you can, not as you want.

3. Have a keepable rule of prayer that you do by discipline.

4. Say the Lord’s Prayer several times a day.

5. Have a short prayer that you constantly repeat when your mind is not occupied with other things.

6. Make some prostrations when you pray.

7. Eat good foods in moderation.

8. Keep the Church’s fasting rules.

9. Spend some time in silence every day.

10. Do acts of mercy in secret.

11. Go to liturgical services regularly

12. Go to confession and communion regularly.

13. Do not engage intrusive thoughts and feelings. Cut them off at the start.

14. Reveal all your thoughts and feelings regularly to a trusted person.

15. Read the scriptures regularly.

16. Read good books a little at a time.

17. Cultivate communion with the saints.

18. Be an ordinary person.

19. Be polite with everyone.

20. Maintain cleanliness and order in your home.

21. Have a healthy, wholesome hobby.

22. Exercise regularly.

23. Live a day, and a part of a day, at a time.

24. Be totally honest, first of all, with yourself.

25. Be faithful in little things.

26. Do your work, and then forget it.

27. Do the most difficult and painful things first.

28. Face reality.

29. Be grateful in all things.

30. Be cheerful.

31. Be simple, hidden, quiet and small.

32. Never bring attention to yourself.

33. Listen when people talk to you.

34. Be awake and be attentive.

35. Think and talk about things no more than necessary.

36. When we speak, speak simply, clearly, firmly and directly.

37. Flee imagination, analysis, figuring things out.

38. Flee carnal, sexual things at their first appearance.

39. Don’t complain, mumble, murmur or whine.

40. Don’t compare yourself with anyone.

41. Don’t seek or expect praise or pity from anyone.

42. We don’t judge anyone for anything.

43. Don’t try to convince anyone of anything.

44. Don’t defend or justify yourself.

45. Be defined and bound by God alone.

46. Accept criticism gratefully but test it critically.

47. Give advice to others only when asked or obligated to do so.

48. Do nothing for anyone that they can and should do for themselves.

49. Have a daily schedule of activities, avoiding whim and caprice.

50. Be merciful with yourself and with others.

51. Have no expectations except to be fiercely tempted to your last breath.

52. Focus exclusively on God and light, not on sin and darkness.

53. Endure the trial of yourself and your own faults and sins peacefully, serenely, because you know that God’s mercy is greater than your wretchedness.

54. When we fall, get up immediately and start over.

55. Get help when you need it, without fear and without shame.

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6 Comments

Filed under A Good Life, Orthodox Christianity

6 responses to “55 Maxims for Christian Living by Fr. Thomas Hopko

  1. David Felker

    A wonderful set of maxims!

  2. Fr. Michael Sakran

    Fr. Tom just spoke to our class a few weeks ago; you’ll be glad to know that his maxims are still standard reading material for the pastoral theology course.

  3. Pingback: Weekend Update

  4. Thank you so much for a great post. It did shine a light into some areas of my life. I do have a question about one of them.

    37. Flee imagination, analysis, figuring things out.

    I think I understand the spirit of this in how it pertains to our faith but I’m not sure. And maybe I’m breaking this maxim by even asking the question. 🙂

    Anyway, I am a scientific person who works in the tech industry and it is my nature and job to imagine, analyze, figure out, and fix things. I can see how this would be detrimental to faith if we were to constantly analyze God. I’m just confused as to how to apply this particular statement.

    Thank you so much!

    • Fr. James Coles

      J,
      Thanks for the comment/question. It seems to me that most people have had the experience when they think back to an interaction or argument and dream up some zinger they could have thrown at the person. It is probably somewhat universal to rehash what people say trying to decide why they said it or what they REALLY meant by what they said. All of these mental gymnastics can keep us from forgiving and letting things go. I know a man who has called his wifi network at home “AWI.” When I logged on I asked him what AWI meant. He said, “Accept what is.” I think #37 is a reminder to live in reality, in the present moment. We are who we are, where we are, and who we are with.
      I think analyzing data, etc. is different. Many of us need this function of the mind at work. But our minds can betray us when it comes to matters of faith, matters of the heart.
      Hope this is helpful. I look forward to discovering more about findingmagnolia. Blessings,
      Fr. James

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