Feed on

Tonight we began reading letter 27. It has already proven to be thrilling in the sense that we begin to see the promise and the action of God’s grace in our life. St. Theophan makes it clear that we must make a conscious and deliberate choice to embrace this grace of God fully in our lives. There is no static position. We embrace grace in its fullness or we fall into lukewarmness and lose this great gift.

What grace promises is truly beautiful - perfect harmony and a share in the invincible peace of the kingdom. In a few short paragraphs St. Theophan shows us exactly what the pearl of great price is - - it is the grace of God and the transformation that it brings to our lives and that endures unto eternity.


Text of chat during the group:

00:50:01 Fr. John (Ivan) Chirovsky: https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/glory2godforallthings/2020/09/15/a-cruciform-providence-3/

00:58:40 Eric Williams: "All your life, you live so close to truth, it becomes a permanent blur in the corner of your eye. And when something nudges it into outline, it is like being ambushed by a grotesque." - Tom Stoppard (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead)

01:23:54 Eric Williams: Nothing has helped me understand the amazing patience, love, and mercy of God like becoming a parent. As frustrated as I get when my kids don't choose what's in their best interest or in the interest of right or righteousness, imagine how much more frustrated God must be with us and our rebellions! ;)

01:28:06 Mark Cummings: Thank you!

Tonight we concluded letter 26. St. Theophan continues to drive home for Anastasia the importance of actively embracing the grace of God. The more independent she becomes from the pious setting in which she was raised, Anastasia must be ever more cognizant of the need to embrace the grace of God fully.

Our tendency is to live with one foot in the world and one foot in the spiritual life; that is, to be neither pagan and Christian. Our desire for God and for the grace that He gives us can grow cool as we give ourselves over and become sympathetic to what is worldly and secular. In the face of this, St. Theophan warns Anastasia that she is capable of becoming as vain and passionate as anyone who has no faith. What has been given by God must be guarded and protected as the most precious thing of all and our life and work must be subordinated to it.


Text of chat during group

00:40:27 Eric Ash: Sometimes when I talk to people who have left the church it is often because of the "witness" of those lukewarm habitual Christians who follow the rituals but don't seem to Love Christ or find freedom in God but just see a task master. This is such a good reminder to be aware of our drift towards the world and our own witness.

00:53:17 Mark Cummings: My grandmother had the same "washing machine"

00:53:34 carolnypaver: I wonder if the advent of the washing machine coincided with Soap Operas on TV.

00:55:08 Edward Kleinguetl: "Soap" referred to the washing detergent

00:55:40 carolnypaver: Wow!

00:56:40 Edward Kleinguetl: Washing detergent was advertised during soap operas and, as you can imagine, why. Housewives would be washing ...

00:57:00 carolnypaver: Very interesting…..

00:58:32 Edward Kleinguetl: "Individualism is the greatest weakness in American culture" (Archbishop Charles J. Chaput).

01:04:03 Wayne Mackenzie: We have identity  politics in Noth America in part due to individualism   and break down of the family.

01:08:21 Eric Williams: Fascinating essay: "Saint Benedict and family life: An original reading of the Rule of St Benedict" by Don Massimo Lapponi OSB (translated by Liam Kelly) A PDF is available for free online.

01:09:36 Scott: https://newsinteractive.post-gazette.com/thedigs/2013/03/18/eucharistic-rally-at-pitt-stadium-attracts-90000/

Photos of the adoration he mentioned.

01:09:57 Scott: And yes, that's Rocco.  The Mercedarians do that in Cleveland still.

01:11:05 Sheila Applegate: The processions of Saints is something I love when I visit other countries. I have vivid memories from Nicaragua and Brazil in particular. 

01:12:05 Eric Ash: My mother in law lived near an eastern orthodox church which has holy days that the entire congregation leaves the church and processes around it outside during parts of the liturgy. Easter 2019 she participated in an Easter divine liturgy. It was amazing to see her as she connected that this thing she watched the congregation do as an outsider and never dreamed she would be a part, became something she actually participated in.

01:13:02 Edward Kleinguetl: I believe Resurrection Matins and Easter Sunday Divine Liturgy is the most beautiful of all celebrations.

01:13:17 Edward Kleinguetl: Easter Vigil comes the closest in the Roman Church.

01:13:20 Wayne Mackenzie: The Christian message has to compete with many voices

01:18:01 Michael Liccione: St. Peter's in Steubenville is regularly packed to the point where people are turned away every Sunday. That happened to me last Sunday.

01:19:03 carolnypaver: The pastor there told me NO one would be turned away???

01:19:29 Mark Cummings: Saint John Cantius in Chicago had to add masses

01:23:35 Edward Kleinguetl: Which is exactly why the great spiritual fathers say to NEVER trust one's own thoughts.

01:24:15 Eric Williams: The Quakers started out as a Christian sect, but because they have no creed and no definitive canon of scripture, they've demonstrated very well that if you don't stand for something you'll fall for anything. At this point they're barely distinguishable from Unitarian Universalists.

01:25:33 Edward Kleinguetl: Why Cardinal Sarah keeps talking about how we are trying to form God into our own image.

01:25:42 Wayne Mackenzie: Byzantine liturgy is very incarnational

01:27:34 Natalie Morrill: Thank you, Father!

01:27:35 Mark Cummings: Thank you!


Tonight we finished letter 25 and began letter 26. Both begin to describe for us the gift of Baptism and the action of God’s grace in our life. At our baptism the action of that Grace remains hidden. But nonetheless God in His providence acts within us to form and shape the mind and heart according to His will. We are strengthened by the support and prayers of our parents and godparents who continue to form and educate us as we grow.

However, St. Theophan warns Anastasia not to become conceited. She indeed has received the greatest of all gifts and for this she should be forever thankful. Yet it is exactly that - - a gift that is to be embraced and fostered. She must seek to set the spark and the flame of God‘s love ablaze. She must not pity herself but strive to cut away all that would prevent growth and transformation.

In letter 26, St. Theophan uses examples from life such as leaven and dough to describe the character and action of grace in our lives. God‘s grace makes all of our actions grow beautiful and sweet in his eyes. The actions of a baptized person may be exactly the same as one living in the world in terms of externals, but they are animated by the perfect love of God that now dwells within them. The simplest act performed by the grace of God takes on eternal value. Anastasia’s present task, then, must be to strive with her while being to embrace this grace in her life and help it to bear fruit that is acceptable to God. She must increase it and multiply it!



Text of chat during the group:

00:37:38 Edward Kleinguetl: • Abba Lot went to see Abba Joseph and said to him, “Abba, as far as I can I say my little office, I fast a little, I pray and meditate, I live in peace and as far as I can, I purify my thoughts.  What else can I do?”  Then the old man stood up and stretched his hands towards heaven. His fingers became like ten lamps of fire and he said to him, “If you will, you can become all flame.”

00:46:19 Mark Cummings: We all should celebrate our baptismal day rather than our birthday...even a worm has a birthday!

00:54:52 Fr. John (Ivan) Chirovsky: In the East, since one used to receive one's name from the saint being celebrated on the day on which you were born, there arose the custom of celebrating one's "Name's Day" but the emphasis was on one's patron saint not on one's birthday.  Since, in the Byzantine tradition, there's a pre-baptismal prayer by which a guardian angel is assigned to the catechumen, that day was called the "Day of One's Angel".  Often the two days coincided and so, today, in post Soviet societies, they often forget the "Name's Day" aspect and remember only the "Angel's Day", a rather sad reduction from the original connection to baptism....  

01:19:32 Mark Cummings: Thank you!

01:19:39 Fr. John (Ivan) Chirovsky: Pope John XXIII: Do what you do....

I think most would agree that tonight‘s reading was both beautiful and jarring. St. Theophan makes it very clear to the young Anastasia that to put on the new life that Christ won for us means to engage in a spiritual battle. Our zeal for the Lord and our desire to overcome vanity and the passions will mean that we must be ruthless in cutting those things out of our life that lessen our zeal for God or potentially lead us into sin. From this Anastasia is meant to understand that there is nothing more important than our relationship with God.

Theophan emphasizes this further in letter 25 and begins to speak to Anastasia about the dignity of the one who is baptized. The gift that we receive in baptism changes everything about us and the quality of all that we do. Every action, every word, every thought, becomes freighted with destiny because every thing now is a reflection of our unity with God and His Spirit dwelling within us. Nothing we do is insignificant. Even the smallest chore done with love and in union with the Spirit endures unto eternity.


Text of chat during the group:

00:11:52 Mark Cummings: Hello

00:13:48 Davrey Jore: Hi Fr. David... Hi Everyone

00:33:29 Fr. John (Ivan) Chirovsky: Matthew 10:36 and a man’s foes will be those of his own household. 37 He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38 and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 

00:36:55 Fr. John (Ivan) Chirovsky: Luke 14:25 Now great multitudes accompanied him; and he turned and said to them, 26 “If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.[a] 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple

00:37:37 Eric Williams: When I was confirmed as a Lutheran, there was a lot of emphasis on "down religion" (God coming down to us), which was contrasted with "up religion" (us trying to approach God). Asceticism would probably be regarded by my former fellow Lutherans as "up religion", possibly as a sort of heretical "salvation by works". 

00:49:41 carolnypaver: “….that we might not despair, nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your Holy Will which is love and mercy itself.” ~ St. Faustina

00:54:16 Edward Kleinguetl: That and St. John Chrysostom's treatise "On the Priesthood."

01:01:08 Edward Kleinguetl: I thought it was the Rubicon?

01:07:38 Eric Williams: There was mention of prayers before receiving the Eucharist. This one, by St. Thomas Aquinas, is very good: Almighty and Eternal God, behold I come to the sacrament of Your only-begotten Son,  our Lord Jesus Christ. As one sick I come to the Physician of life; unclean, to the Fountain of mercy; blind, to the Light of eternal splendor; poor and needy to the Lord of heaven and earth. Therefore, I beg of You, through Your infinite mercy and generosity, heal my weakness, wash my uncleanness, give light to my blindness, enrich my poverty, and clothe my nakedness. May I thus receive the Bread of Angels, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, with such reverence and humility, contrition and devotion, purity and faith, purpose and intention, as shall aid my soul’s salvation.

01:07:41 Eric Williams: Grant, I beg of You, that I may receive not only the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of our Lord, but also its full grace and power. Give me the grace, most merciful God, to receive the Body of your only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary, in such a manner that I may deserve to be intimately united with His mystical Body and to be numbered among His members. Most loving Father, grant that I may behold for all eternity face to face Your beloved Son, whom now, on my pilgrimage, I am about to receive under the sacramental veil, who lives and reigns with You, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

01:10:35 Fr. John (Ivan) Chirovsky: Chrysostom's Liturgy: Prayer of priest during Cherubimic Hymn: "No one bound by carnal desires and pleasures is worthy to approach or to  draw near You, or minister to You, King of glory. For to serve You is great and awesome, even to the heavenly powers.  And yet, because of Your love for mankind - a love which cannot be expressed or measured - You became man, unchanged and unchanging,   You were appointed our High Priest and as Master of all, handed down the priestly ministry of this liturgical and unbloody sacrifice. ...

01:10:56 Fr. John (Ivan) Chirovsky: … You alone, O Lord, our God, have dominion over  heaven and earth.  You are borne on the throne of the Cherubim;  You are  Lord of the Seraphim and King of Israel.  You alone are holy and rest  in the holies. I implore You, therefore, Who alone are good and ready to listen: look upon me, Your sinful and useless servant;  cleanse my heart and soul of the evil that lies on my conscience.  By the power of your Holy Spirit enable me, who am clothed with the grace of the priesthood, to stand before this, Your holy table and offer the sacrifice  of Your holy and most pure Body and precious Blood....

01:11:41 Fr. John (Ivan) Chirovsky: ... Bending my neck, I approach and I petition You:  turn not Your face from me nor reject me from among Your children, but allow these gifts  to be offered to You by me, Your sinful and unworthy servant.  For it is You Who offer and You Who are offered; it is You Who receive and You Who are given, oh Christ our God;  and we give glory to you, together with your eternal Father, and your most holy, good, and life-giving Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen."

01:21:17 Sheila Applegate: One of my least favorite lines!

01:22:19 Fr. John (Ivan) Chirovsky: Litany of Humility O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, Hear me. From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, O Jesus. From the desire of being loved, Deliver me, O Jesus. From the desire of being extolled, Deliver me, O Jesus. From the desire of being honored, Deliver me, O Jesus. From the desire of being praised, Deliver me, O Jesus. From the desire of being preferred to others, Deliver me, O Jesus. From the desire of being consulted, Deliver me, O Jesus. From the desire of being approved, Deliver me, O Jesus. From the fear of being humiliated, Deliver me, O Jesus. From the fear of being despised, Deliver me, O Jesus. From the fear of suffering rebukes, Deliver me, O Jesus. From the fear of being calumniated, Deliver me, O Jesus. From the fear of being forgotten, Deliver me, O Jesus. From the fear of being ridiculed, Deliver me, O Jesus. From the fear of being wronged, Deliver me, O Jesus. From the fear of being suspected, Deliver me, O Jesus. That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace 

01:23:21 Fr. John (Ivan) Chirovsky: That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. That others may be esteemed more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. That others may be chosen and I set aside, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. That others may be praised and I go unnoticed, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. That others may be preferred to me in everything, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. by Merry Cardinal del Val, secretary of state to Pope Saint Pius X from the prayer book for Jesuits, 1963

01:27:05 Natalie Morrill: Thank you Fr.!

What a beautiful group it was tonight. We finished letter 23 and began letter 24.  St. Theophan continues to discuss with Anastasia the nature of spiritual zeal and its impact upon our souls. It is the fire that purifies us and it also gives us perseverance and diligence in the pursuit of the things of God. 

This zeal leads to a renewal of the mind and a renewal of the spirit by grace. It leads us to renounce our sins and the affairs of the world; encouraging us to seek to make our lives a living sacrifice - holy and acceptable to God.

In letter 24, St. Theophan begins to lead Anastasia into a vision of what setting aside the old person and putting on Christ looks like. It involves a willingness, in love, to give ourselves over to the workings of grace and also to labor for it ourselves. We have been given all that we need to perform the surgery necessary to remove all vanity and passions in the soul. In this we must have the greatest courage and not pity ourselves. God will not force us to take this path but invites us to willingly give ourselves over in love.

This link will take you to a PDF of the text referenced (and written) by Fr. Chirovsky during the group


Text of chat during the group:

00:44:49 Eric Williams: Also, the Campus Crusade for Christ organization rebranded and now goes by Cru. They might still be around, but under that new name.
00:46:10 Adrienne DiCicco: My sister's in Cru on her campus. I'm a little skeptical, but it seems like it may just be a step in her faith journey.
01:00:23 Wayne Mackenzie: If you have a copy of the Orthodox study bible, the footnote expands on the comments made by Fr, Ivan. Romans 12: 1-2
01:17:50 Daniel Allen: i over analyze everything
01:21:29 Ren's Kingdom of Neatness and Organization: Bless you prison, bless you for being in my life. For there, lying upon the rotting prison straw, I came to realize that the object of life is not prosperity as we are made to believe, but the maturity of the human soul.”
01:25:07 Edward Kleinguetl: Thank you, Ren
01:26:23 Fr. John (Ivan) Chirovsky: i have sent the article which I wrote on Romans 12:1 to Fr David.

Tonight we started letter 23. Saint Theophan had just spoken to Anastasia about what it is to rise from the fallen state of sin and what has been revealed to us in Christ. It is for this that we must have a strong zeal and embrace it with true joy. 

In this letter St. Theophan maps out for Anastasia the different kinds of zeal. Spiritual zeal is focused on pleasing God and the pursuit of salvation. Intellectual zeal is the pursuit of any number of temporal goods and works. These are not evil but rather a part of life.  Yet we can give them disordered attention and energy that takes away from our relationship with God. More dangerous still is the zeal for Vanity and for Evil itself. These must be rejected altogether for they entrench a person in sin and darken the conscience. Zeal is not simply an emotion but rather the fervor of the Saints driven by the grace of God which is the fruit of their baptism. So it must be for us.


Text of chat during the group:

00:44:24 Fr. John (Ivan) Chirovsky: The biblical account calls Barnabas “a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith” (Acts 11:24).   In the Byzantine tradition when the priest reunites the Body of Christ with the Blood of Christ in the chalice as a sign of the Resurrection, he says "Fullness of the Holy Spirit" as he drops a portion of the Lamb-the Body into the Blood.  And then  the priest blesses hot water (which the deacon will pour into the chalice) with the words which are intentionally of a double meaning in Greek or Old Slavonic but in English it's either "Blessed is the warmth/zeal/fervor of your "holies" (saints)."  and then when the deacon pours it the priest says, "the warmth/zeal/fervor of faith, full of the Holy Spirit."  And so the Holy Spirit restores life where there is death, and our risen Lord Himself is the source of zeal/fervor in the saints, ie the baptized.  "Without me you can do nothing" John 15:5 
00:45:57 Carol Nypaver: Thank you for the insight Fr. Ivan!
01:23:23 Eric Williams: One of the hardest things for me, with respect to maintaining zeal, is separation from fellow faithful, orthodox Christians. Even before COVID-19, it seemed like we were few in number and scattered. I've found this especially challenging as a father. It's hard to raise children in the faith when they're not surrounded by good examples. Those examples, ideally, would be around in every aspect in life, and not just at liturgies.
01:24:15 Fr. John (Ivan) Chirovsky: Eric, agreed

Tonight we concluded letter 22 of Saint Theophan to the young Anastasia.  Theophan focuses, in this final section of the letter, on zeal for the Lord. God has acted for our salvation and offers us the fullness of His life and love - His grace. He has given us His Spirit to create within us the right disposition to receive His grace. 

That disposition is repentance. We see something of the hopelessness of our sin and in that moment we also become able to see and grasp the depth of God‘s love and mercy.  Yet, in the face of all this, God awaits our consent. We must yield ourselves to the Spirit’s action. God does not force Himself upon us; love must be embrace freely. This freedom means acknowledging the efficacy of the form of salvation put before us, desiring to be saved and a complete willingness to do in sincerity whatever is asked of us.  

This is the path of salvation. When a person sees and embraces this reality an experience of calm comes to them. Once divine grace is established within us, our response, though weak, suddenly becomes all-powerful and knows no impediment and overcomes everything.


Text of chat during the group:

00:42:14 Edward Kleinguetl: For God, all things are possible.
00:49:37 Fr. John (Ivan) Chirovsky: Lord, I believe, but help my unbelief.   (with a gentle reminder that this is revealed to us in the biblical way, many centuries before rationalism separated that which was meant to be whole.  So, belief is not something we do with our cogitating mind, alone.  We are to believe holistically with entire being comprised as it is of body, soul (desires, feelings-willpower, emotions and thoughts) and spirit (heart).)   This is also how we ought to repent, or surrender to God, etc.
00:51:13 Carol Nypaver: Thank you, Fr. Ivan!  So many accuse Catholics of “blind faith.”
00:51:51 Patrick Kiechlin: The Divine Liturgy is so incredibly beautiful.  
00:55:49 Wayne Mackenzie: It appeals to all the senses
00:56:53 Patrick Kiechlin: Indeed.  It is truly Heaven on Earth.
01:18:42 Carol Nypaver: Sorry—I tried to unmute.  What about St. Paul’s conversion?  It seemed there was no movement of his will toward the Lord, but was totally the work of God.  So——when we pray for the conversion of our loved ones, can such a radical conversion occur without their direct “consent?”
01:21:10 Carol Nypaver: Awesome! Thank you.
01:23:07 Sheila Applegate: A misdirected love that God directed.
01:26:14 Fr. John (Ivan) Chirovsky: Paul experienced the Resurrected Lord and not as an intellectual idea but revealed in His Body the Church.  Acts tells us Paul was secluded for three years after.  I like to think he hits the scrolls to reevaluate his thoughts in light of his experience.
01:26:52 Fr. John (Ivan) Chirovsky: a crucifixion of self as it were

Tonight we began reading letter 22 of St. Theophan to Anastasia. He begins to speak to her about the redemptive uplifting a fallen man. Yet once again the Saint works very hard to help her understand the fundamental truths behind the life that she has been called to live. Without understanding these things all else will be wanting.  In particular he wants her to understand that it is the Holy Trinity that is active in the restoration of man.  God has revealed Himself fully to us; He has drawn back the veil and allowed us to see the depths and intimacy of Love. 

This restoration is something far greater than the forgiveness of sins; rather it is being drawn into the very life of the Holy Trinity. The Holy Spirit sets things in motion within us and prepares us to be that faithful dwelling place of God. Yet, this gift must be paired with the revelation of the Good News of the mercy and self-emptying love of God; that while we were yet enemies of God, He gave us His only begotten Son in order that we might have life and have it in all of its fullness. A person must be struck with fear and awe at this reality. They must be shaken to their very foundation. Only by seeing our complete unworthiness of this reality and the depth of our sin can we also come to see the preciousness and the value of the gift that we have received. Only then will we give our lives over fully - as God has given Himself to us.

Tonight we read the 21st letter of the Saint to the young Anastasia. In many ways this is the most touching and beautiful of letters and yet also the most simple in its content. St. Theophan lays out for Anastasia the path that God has opened for us to reunion. He want her to understand that everything has already been set before us. We do not, and must not, seek to fashion a path for ourselves or devise a plan of our own hands. It is His yoke and burden that we must take upon ourselves because it alone is perfectly fit to lift us up and heal us. God has given us all. Better yet, He has given us everything – the perfect love of His only begotten Son and the gift of His own Spirit. We are given something far greater than the original innocence of Adam and Eve. We are given a share in the very life of God and all that He asks is that we receive it with humility and gratitude. Our responsibility is simply to embrace His will and providence and to remove any obstacles that may be an impediment to the work of this grace in our lives. If one were to sum up this letter it would be “All is Grace” - grace that must be received with a childlike faith.



Text of chat during the group

Fr. John (Ivan) Chirovsky: regarding eastern Christian use of the word "passion". In 375 AD, Archdeacon Evagrius of Pontus (c. 346-399) developed a comprehensive list of eight evil assaulting “thoughts” (Greek: logismoi).  Through the centuries this was systematized in the East by various saints, mostly St. Maximos the Confessor (590-662).  The assaulting  “thoughts” act on and overcome people, becoming habits or compulsions of thinking, feeling-willing, and desiring over which we end up having little or no control.  At this point, the “thoughts” are said to have become “passions” (Greek: pathеа).  A “passion” (from pathos in Greek) is any deadly obsession that seems to be beyond our ability to control, let alone to recognize, in ourselves.  Thus, a passion is any spiritual “cancer”, or “death-bearing” and “soul-corrupting” sin.  The Greek word “pathos” can also mean - and be translated as - “suffering, desire, energy, zealous activity, craving”, depending on its context.

Fr. John (Ivan) Chirovsky: In the East, the passions are a distortion, deprivation or misdirection of the intellective, appetitive and incensive powers of the soul.  See Tables at: http://ocampr.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/the-christian-ascetic-tradition-on-dejection-and-despondency-david-holden-2004.pdf.  The “passions” enslave us and thereby are the chief cause of our sufferings.  In liberating us from sin and the effects of sin, our Lord delivers us from our passions as well as the pain which they cause. 

Fr. John (Ivan) Chirovsky: St. Gregory the Dialogist (Pope of Rome from 590-604) would revise Evagrius’ list to form what, in the West, is today more commonly known as “the Seven Deadly Vices”, or Sins.  [Also in the West, the current edition of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, for example §1767, uses the word “passion” to indicate something that is morally neutral, merely a strong feeling or emotion, and thus not sinful - unlike the way that the word “passion” is used in the East.]  Those Eastern Church Fathers, whose works were written between the 4th and 15th centuries and collected and published in the Philokalia-Добротолюбіє, list “by name a total of 248 passions and 228 virtues” (see English language edition, page 205, Volume 3).

Fr. John (Ivan) Chirovsky: St. John “of the Ladder” (Climacus, 579-649) was of the opinion that although the passions (пристрасті) were not directly created by God, they are still naturally good, except for akedia-listlessness, despondency.  In Step 26, 156, of his Ladder of Divine Ascent, he writes: “Nature gives us the seed for childbearing, but we have perverted this into fornication.  Nature provides us with the means of showing anger against the serpent, but we have used this against our neighbour.  Na¬ture inspires us with zeal to make us compete for the virtues, but we compete in evil.  It is natural for the soul to desire glory, but the glory on high.  It is natural to be over¬bearing, but against the demons.  Joy is also natural to us, but a joy on account of the Lord and the welfare of our neighbour.  Nature has also given us resentment, but to be used against the enemies of the soul.  We have received a desire for food, but not for profligacy.”  

Fr. John (Ivan) Chirovsky: It is when we use our free will to misdirect the passions from the good towards the evil, that we allow the passions to gain control over us.  This, in turn, is how the thieves, or demons, are empowered by us to rob us of eternal life.  A helpful passage on this latter point regarding what demons do, is to be found in the homily at: https://www.holycross-hermitage.com/blogs/articles-sermons/sermon-for-the-sunday-of-st-john-climacus-2017

Tonight we concluded letter 20, where the Saint leads the young Anastasia to a deeper understanding of the nature of the Fall and the illness that arises from it. Again St. Theophan reflects with her on the experience of Adam and Eve. They turn away from God in a way that is blasphemous and hostile. They deny His benevolence and seek for themselves self-rule; embracing the illusion that they can become gods.  St Theophan tells Anastasia that God will not violate their self-rule but rather allow them to experience the consequence of their own freedom. They become self-absorbed and for the first time the phrase “I myself” is used.  The order of life and the order within the soul is perverted. The passions become, as it were, inbred and take over the soul like a horde of approaching enemies. We must have no illusion that this is anything but an illness. Furthermore, we must understand that we’ve been overcome by alien tyrants and we set aside our dignity for the worst kind of slavery. We have set aside hope and joy for what promises only darkness and sorrow.


Text of chat during the group:

Fr. John (Ivan) Chirovsky: The Struggle With Passions by I.M. Kontzevich

Fr. John (Ivan) Chirovsky: describes the stages from first being a thought to becoming a passion or vice.

Fr. John (Ivan) Chirovsky: you can access it at http://orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/struggle.aspx

Fr. John (Ivan) Chirovsky: the official catechism of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, Christ Our Pascha identifies five stages but numbers and discusses them slightly differently than I M Kontsevich above. this catechism can be accessed at

http://catechism.royaldoors.net/catechism/ see paragraphs 788 thru 795

Wayne Mackenzie: That we might spend the rest of our life in peace and repentance, let us ask the Lord. from the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom

Mary McLeod: Aquinas also describes the punishment for the fall very similarly (Summa II-II): But inasmuch as through sin man's mind withdrew from subjection to God, the result was that neither were his lower powers wholly subject to his reason, whence there followed so great a rebellion of the carnal appetite against the reason: nor was the body wholly subject to the soul; whence arose death and other bodily defects. For life and soundness of body depend on the body being subject to the soul, as the perfectible is subject to its perfection. Consequently, on the other hand, death, sickness, and all defects of the body are due to the lack of the body's subjection to the soul. It is therefore evident that as the rebellion of the carnal appetite against the spirit is a punishment of our first parents' sin, so also are death and all defects of the body.

Fr. John (Ivan) Chirovsky: in his work On the Incarnation St Athanasius the Great was of the opinion that humanity would devolve figuring out new and better ways of sinning, ways for the body and soul to rebel against the God-intended ascendency of the spirit.

Wayne Mackenzie: Gender Ideology is a good example.

Joe and Larissa: Bl Fr Alexander Schmeman. - life is about how we deal with what we are dealt


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