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What We Should Learn From The School Of Life


Word Magazine  October 1964  Page 6-7



 (A Sermon Addressed To
Orthodox Youth)



  By Very Rev. Father
Michael Baroudy, Pastor Emeritus

St. George Orthodox Church, Vicksburg, Mississippi




Life is the greatest institution of learning. And the most important training we
get is not how to make a successful living, but how to make the most of our
lives in friendship, love, service, happiness, and worthy experience. So,
whether in war or peace, prosperity or poverty, the quicker we learn some of the
great lessons life tries to teach us, the closer we will come to being able to
say that our lives have been really worth the living. Whether we can pass the
test in the school of life and finish our record with flying colors, depends on
whether or not we are able to grasp these great lessons life teaches, and
practice them day by day.


The first lesson life teaches all of us is to be grateful. It teaches all to
appreciate what others have done for us. Most of the fine blessings we enjoy in
life were made possible to us by others who sacrificed, suffered, and died that
we might enjoy these privileges. There is a question in St. Paul’s letter to the
Corinthians, which I wish every growing Orthodox youth should remember. It asks,
“What is it that you have that was not given to you?” Think of it! Others have
built the churches in which we worship; others have built the schools in which
we study; others have written the books, composed the music, created the arts,
which are ours to have to enjoy. Others have built the roads upon which we
travel; others have made the scientific discoveries which make modern living so
much more comfortable. Others have died and are dying even now that you and I
might live and be free. Not a single step in human progress without someone
sacrificing for it! Others have paid the price that you and I might enjoy life.


The second lesson life teaches all of us is that it is a real game. If you want
to play the game and win it, you must learn the rules and obey them. You can
ignore the rules only to your own hurt. We all want something good out of life —
health, happiness, success, freedom, friends, a good home, a true love
experience, some thrills and adventures. Those are all normal desires for every
healthy soul. No one ever really makes a bad wish for himself or herself. Of all
the inmates in our prisons not one ever started his life deliberately planning
to end in prison. They got there because they used wrong and evil methods to get
what they wanted out of life. You can’t get something permanently good out of
life by doing something definitely wrong.


This is a very important matter for the young people. It is natural for youth to
go after thrills, adventures, self-expression. But the things many of them do to
get their hearts desire are often tragic. They ruin their lives and spoil their
dreams by ignoring the rules of the game, or by breaking them outright. A large
percentage of our prison population is made up of young people. The things they
did to get thrills and adventures led them to prison.


The third lesson life teaches us is that some of the finest things in life have
no price tags on them. Money can’t buy them. Your money may buy you a fine
house, but it can never buy you a real home. Money may buy all the luxuries of a
house, but not true love. It takes a lifetime of living and loving, sacrifices
and devotion to turn a house into a home.


That is true everywhere else. Your money may buy a high-powered automobile, but
it can’t buy happiness for you. You have got to earn that. Money may buy you a
political office, but never the faith and respect of your fellow citizens. You
have got to earn that. No amount of money can buy a man a good name that is
better than all the gold in the world, nor a clear conscience, nor yet a passage
to heaven and the most important truth about this matter is this —   the things
that money cannot buy are far more essential for the happiness and welfare of
our souls than the things it can buy.


The fourth great lesson life teaches us is that a man seldom gets what he wants
out of life, but if he is wise, he will learn to make the most of what life
hands out to him. Never be discouraged or disappointed just because you do not
get your heart’s desire. Life seldom hands out to a man his first choice. Some
of you are planning to become physicians, but will be forced to accept
something else. Some will want to take up law, but may end up as clerks and
laborers. Some young woman may be dreaming of becoming a great actress, but she
may become an ordinary housewife. Life is always like that. Someone said, “When
life hands you a lemon, add some sugar and make lemonade.” The truth is that
life may hand many of you a lemon. Will you be wise and brave enough to turn it
into lemonade?


The last and great lesson life tries to teach those of us who are willing to
learn is that a man’s real value is not so much in what he gets as in what he
gives.  You young people ought to get out of life all you can — education,
technical training, advancement, and success. But in the long run the true
measure of your life is not in what you have and keep for yourself, but in what
you give away. If you would have all the world’s wealth and the best education,
but kept it to yourself, it would be like burying your talents in the ground.
The more you use your talent and ability in some worthy cause, the more you will
get out of life.


So let us live for something worthwhile. Always try to fill your records with
kindness, honesty, love and service. And you will have your greatest rewards in
the loving hearts of your fellowmen.


What we have said so far would be incomplete and inadequate unless we take into
consideration the directives revealed by God in Jesus Christ our Lord. While God
revealed Himself to men in all the stages of history, yet the revelation of
Himself in His Son Jesus Christ excels and transcends all previous
manifestations, for it was the unfolding and unveiling of God in a particular
and peculiar way. In John 1:18 we read, “No man has seen God at any time; the
only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared Him” and
in St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians, Paul affirms, “For in Him (Jesus)
dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.”


Jesus was a comparatively young man when He initiated the Christian movement,
being thirty years of age. He chose twelve young men to assist Him in the
promotion of the Kingdom of God. These men accompanied Him on all of His
missionary journeys, heard Him preach to thousands of people, witnessed His
power in healing people of all kinds of diseases, even raising the dead. Jesus
founded His Kingdom, not upon fear but upon love, not upon fanaticism, but upon
faith, not upon superstition but upon the truth. Jesus revealed God as Love,
Spirit and Light.
The mark of genuine discipleship was love. Said he, “By
this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one for


It was from this nucleus of twelve men — modest insofar as numbers go, modest in
terms of educational, financial, political or social attainment, that it has
grown to be the most sacred, the most powerful instrument for righteousness this
world has ever known. It deals in matters that have to do with the salvation of
human souls, and in life’s higher values. Ours is a faith revealed by Jesus
Christ as to what should be a person’s attitude toward God, toward men and
toward himself.


With the permission and the blessings of our great leader, Metropolitan Antony,
I hereby appeal to all Orthodox everywhere to do no less than their best
in promoting peace, unity, and creative good will. Much depends on youth and how
to evaluate their heritage and their religious faith.


Today much is said about the high standard of living, but what about the high
standard of thinking for as the Good Book affirms, “As a man thinketh in his
heart, so is he.”


Upon the shoulders of all, both clergy and laity, falls the responsibility of
lending a helping hand in guiding the ship of the church, whose Pilot is the
Lord Jesus Christ. The church needs the support of every progressive,
forward-looking, God-honoring and God-fearing Orthodox.


I hope and pray that we won’t fail, neither the Lord nor our church leaders in
this hour of sinister, divisive, secularism and infidelity, and stand together
and fight off all sinister influences contrary to sound doctrine and faith.


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