Economia: In short, economia is discretionary deviation from the letter of the law in order to adhere to the spirit of the law and charity. This is in contrast to legalism, or akribia (Greek: ακριβεια)–strict adherence to the letter of the law of the church.
I love using or playing with words. And today, I am playing. Today I began my Christmas shopping, while trying to complete some birthday shopping for two of my sons. In my previous blog, I spoke to the term “hospitality” and learning to be more welcoming, and less of worrier or a Martha, about how the holiday celebrations would turn out. And today, well, today I struggled with applying “economia” to my shopping trip and our “economic” situation. (Tee-hee; see? I am playing with words).
I want to provide for my children, even if they are married with their own families, a birthday or holiday experience that will highlight their experience of that year, and perhaps be a fond memory in years to come. But I am constrained by my desire to maintain our economy, and also live within the spirit of the season, my religious economia. And I think this is an eternal struggle we all have…how to find balance in a consumer-driven culture, and still maintain our faith in a manner in which we are “standing for something, so we don’t fall for anything?”
My Byzantine-bones look to the Divine Liturgy itself, as well as the wisdom of the Eastern Fathers and Saints. whenever I am pondering a particular subject. I particularly love the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, and his quotations, too. And this quote of his seems rather appropriate, “When we once begin to form good resolutions, God gives us every opportunity of carrying them out.” And today, both St. John Chrysostom and Our Lord gave me an opportunity to keep to my resolve to be less Martha and more Mary this Christmas season.
I entered Target with a firm resolve to keep to the Spirit of the Season (economia) while still keeping to my resolve of financial responsibility (economy). First of all, let me say that I entered this store in Redmond, Washington at about 9:15am on a Saturday, the first Saturday in December. I was greeted cheerfully and there were all sorts of extra staff on hand to assist people in all the sections of the store. A nice selection of Christmas music was also playing overhead. People were smiling. And there were very few customers in the store and this is one of those Targets with a grocery store in it; a big store.
I was able to spend my allotted time in a good mood. I was enjoying myself. I had a pretty exact idea of what I wanted to get and who I wanted to get it for, and I went about my business in a somewhat organized fashion. I spent considerable time comparing prices and was determined to spend as little as possible. The back of my car was fairly full and I almost completed all my holiday shopping. And I did NOT break the bank.
The lesson I learned today was to go into thing with a firm resolve; set goals, set time frames; and don’t be fooled into anything you have not thought of beforehand (smart marketers try to do that to you…all stores are set up to make you spend money!!). And afterward, sit and review what you purchased, what it will mean to the person you bought it for, and if you experience “buyer’s remorse,” take it back and start again. The largest box may not hold the choicest gift; the box may entertain more than what it contained.
So, I kept to the “economia” or the Spirit of the Season (I found myself actually singing along to the Carols) and I also kept to my economy. Aren’t words fun??
Wow…..somehow my musings were deleted and this is what is left. I must have pressed the wrong button….however, “It is not he who begins well who is perfect. It is he who ends well who is approved in God’s sight.” St. Basil the Great