FAITH IN EVERYDAY LIFE: A PRACTICAL GUIDE
Many people experience a disconnect between their faith and their "secular" life. Yet faithful people recognize that, just because we are outside the church temple, our Christian life does not stop, and we must not lead a double life. Here are ways we can redeem the time spent in everyday activities, to more completely integrate our life into our Orthodox Christian faith.
RESTAURANTS: Perhaps you were raised without prayers before meals, or with the idea that you only asked God to bless your food when you were at home. This simply doesn't make sense. At every meal, especially at a restaurant (since you never know what they put in the food), say the Lord's Prayer, and "Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers..." at the end, asking the Lord's blessing on your hamburger, steak, or shrimp fritata.
AT THE LIQUOR STORE: Buy a bottle of Manischewicz, a fruity Jewish wine from California used in many Orthodox parishes as a Communion wine. If you are the sort who gets shy making the sign of the Cross in public, there is no better place to start turning your heart and mind back to Christ than serving Him in the most unlikely of places: in a liquor store.
ON LONG DRIVES: Plan ahead to bring along recording of spiritual talks or music, or fill up your iPod so you can make the most of the hours you spend travelling. You'll eventually get to the point where you'll miss hearing it, when you travel without it.
IN AIRPORTS: Bring light spiritual reading (not a heavy book, which is hard to carry around, and which you might never crack open). DO NOT bring religious pamphlets: these turn people off God like nothing else, and it will be your responsibility for the way others respond.
LEAVING YOUR DRIVEWAY or a PARKING LOT: Worried about road safety? Put an icon of a "travel" saint (such as Saints Nicholas, John Maximovitch, Innocent, or Brendan) in your vehicle, and reverence it each time you get into the car. Make the sign of the Cross when you start your vehicle. It really is better to have God in the driver's seat.
AT THE GROCERY STORE: Few experinces can be more frenetic and faith-distracting than going to the grocery store. Keep your mind and heart on your eternal priorities by purchasing a bottle of Virgin Olive Oil when you shop, and give it as a gift to the church, to be burned in the lamps before the holy icons. (It will benefit your soul much more than adding it to spaghetti sauce).
ON THE HIGHWAY: North American highways are dotted with tiny memorials to victims of car accidents - usually a cross, perhaps the most overt public expressions of hope in the Resurrection. Pray for departed accident victims by making the sign of the Cross each time you see such a memorial, uttering the simple prayer, "Lord, have mercy on them".
DOWNTOWN: It is always befitting a Christian to give money to those who beg for it on the streets. Don't worry too much about how the recipient will use the money (especially since you are unlikely to be using every $5 and $10 for holy purposes - but more often for junk food, theatre tickets, and dining out). Better than just giving money, ask the name of the person speaking to you, and wish them God's blessing. Then, the next time you are in church, write down their name among the non-Orthodox needing prayers, or make this request directly (or through email) to your priest. This is a very concrete, Christian manner to offer spiritual (not simply material) help to those living on the streets.