Philokalia Ministries
Letters of Spiritual Direction to a Young Soul - Letter Seventy-Five, Part I

Letters of Spiritual Direction to a Young Soul - Letter Seventy-Five, Part I

January 27, 2022

We began this evening with letter 75 entitled “The tricks of the enemy.” Anastasia has fallen into sadness inexplicably. Her heart is overcome with heaviness and darkness. Theophan, therefore, wants her to understand exactly what is going on: she is engaged in spiritual warfare and these are the attacks of the enemy. 

However, he exhorts her, “the power of the cross is with us! Take heart and stand fast.”She need not fear the enemy that is attacking her and approaching her from every side, creating such a disturbance that her world seems to be turned upside down. She must simply cope as well as she can and be long-suffering in the battle knowing that it will pass. She need only “not consent” to anything that is not necessary. Similar to Job, Anastasia must thank the Lord both for the times that are peaceful as well as the times of difficulty. She must simply throw herself before the Lord with her whole being as well as call upon the Mother of God to intercede on her behalf. 

Theophan does not deny that she is suffering attack. However, he wants her to be like a soldier; steeling herself against the enemy’s attacks, unwilling to change her intention or decision one iota. She must struggle and renounce his suggestions and curse them. The more that the evil one murmurs in her ears the more she must call out to Christ and simply express her belief even when all seems shrouded in darkness. She must state clearly “I do not want any of this, anything the enemy suggest.” Rather, he tells her, she must want one thing; to “speak solemnly before the Lord in her heart.”  Fight the good fight of faith even when you find yourself thrown down and seemingly overcome.

---

Text of chat during the group: 

00:22:47 Lyle: Do NOT consent!  Each of us KNOWS, yes KNOWS, where we are spiritually weak.  If you can not do anything else, pray - "Lord, Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner!  Cleanse my thoughts!  Cleanse my heart!  MAKE my thoughts, YOUR thoughts!"
 
00:23:20 Edward Kleinguetl: Amen!
 
00:33:51 Lyle: Even the Archangels do NOT battle the demons directly.  Michael on behalf of God Almighty, as a representative of His kingdom said "The Lord rebuke thee."
 
00:40:12 Lyle: Deuteronomy 31:6.  Be strong AND courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them (distractions, demons, etc.) , for the LORD your God goes WITH you; he will NEVER leave you nor forsake you.”
 
00:49:52 renwitter: “The Asceticism of Joy”
 
00:55:05 Rafael Patrignani: we know and live the perfection of love in the trials. are we with God or not?
 
00:57:00 Sharon: Reading and praying over “Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence, the secret of peace and happiness” has helped  me, Anthony.
 
00:57:13 Lyle: John 14:27.  Our Lord, HIMSELF said, “Peace I leave with you, MY peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let NOT your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
 
01:17:45 Cathy: Very well said Erick
 
01:22:38 Miron Kerul Kmec: Thank you Father

 

The Evergetinos - Vol. I, Hypothesis XV, Part V and Hypothesis XVI

The Evergetinos - Vol. I, Hypothesis XV, Part V and Hypothesis XVI

January 25, 2022

Tonight in our reading of The Evergetinos we concluded Hypothesis 15 and read the entirety of Hypothesis 16. Both have a similar focus: our natural loves and affections for others or the things of this world are to be set aside for the love of God in the kingdom. We must acknowledge that all things begin and end with God and all things come to us from His hand. Simply put - all is grace and our acknowledgment of this truth should give us a kind of freedom to set aside or worldly attachments be they bad or good. Once again, we are presented with multiple illustrative stories that challenge our sensibilities. We see individuals who heroically struggle to let go of worldly ties, not because they are evil but in order to be able to embrace not just the greater good but that which is eternal. Even that which is good, even our virtues must be perfected by the grace of God. In many different ways we can be willful; we can choose paths, even those that are religious in nature, because they appeal to her sensibilities rather than being clearly something that God demands. We must let go of the illusion that we are the source of life and salvation. It is a particularly modern notion of creating a better world or acting to bring about societal change as the object of the deepest aspiration of a person’s life. All that we read from the lives of the Saints shows that they see things through the lens of God’s revelation of Himself to us in His Son.  Our dignity and destiny as human beings is found in Christ and it is Him that we must seek and devote ourselves to completely. It is only when all things are subordinated to Him that we come to see our lives and others with a kind of clarity.

---

Text of chat during the group:

00:09:01 Rachel: Oh darn, Im too late! lol
 
00:11:41 Daniel Allen: Where are we at?
 
00:11:58 Carol Nypaver: 123
 
00:16:59 Anthony: This may be the movie. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhKorITYvDU
 
00:44:03 Rachel: I LOVE that story! Because I am a twin, so I understand very much!
 
00:45:02 Rachel: Wait, weren't they twin brother and sister? I could be wrong...
 
00:45:33 renwitter: Yes :-)
 
00:52:38 Anthony: This story also indicates that the monastics were not completely cut of from their families....St. Ioannikos had to have known of his brother-in-law's rage for him to pray for his brother-in-law.
 
00:54:34 Rachel: :)
 
01:00:07 jack: Their human dignity
 
01:01:30 Rachel: Please share the talk by Kallistos Ware!🙏🏼
 
01:02:10 Anthony: This disfigurement of the image of ChristI think distinguishes our understanding of sin from _Total Depravity_ of the Calvinists.
 
01:03:00 Rachel: WOw, wow, wow! Thank you!!
 
01:03:12 Erick Chastain: that's great!
 
 
01:08:15 Erick Chastain: which book by Mectilde de bar are you reading now?
 
01:08:17 Rachel: Oh my goodness. One of my favorite readings.
 
01:08:33 renwitter: Breviary of Fire
 
01:08:42 Erick Chastain: thanks
 
01:09:17 Daniel Allen: What caryll hauls lander book was that quote from?
 
01:10:46 Carol: I think it may be Rocking-Horse Catholic
 
01:12:29 Daniel Allen: Thanks
 
01:13:44 Rachel: I had never heard Fr. Abernathy's interpretation but the one Anthony stated. I don't think they conflict though, as the intention of the heart, the lengths this child was willing to go to in order to live the life of a monk in this community.
 
01:16:35 Rachel: Yes, exactly. This is one special case.
 
01:17:03 Rachel: St. Rose of Lima used to try to make her face ugly.
 
01:17:37 Rachel: Not because she thought the gift of beauty was bad.
 
01:19:06 Rachel: It is jarring because of the reality of disordered passions.
 
01:19:26 Anthony: Sometimes the young saints need correctives: like St Simeon Stylite went too far in his penances.  We need to be sane, not crazy.
 
01:20:23 Erick Chastain: Some are fools for Christ
 
01:21:01 Rachel: Yes, I do not tell my non Catholic family or, even some fellow Catholic these stories of the Saints. Because I think it would cause scandal and be too jarring.
 
01:22:40 Forrest Cavalier: In the story here, if the scandal was temptation, the knowledge of paternity was not enough to protect him in one skete, and he expresses doubts that it will go better when it is not known. He was desperate.
 
01:24:40 Ambrose Little: Doesn’t seem to follow why they’d focus on the paternity, if it were just youthful attractiveness? Maybe nepotism? Maybe they had a rule against father-son in same monastery?
 
01:25:41 renwitter: I agree. It seems to me that the scandal really was the Paternity
 
01:26:36 Anthony: I usually thought of nepotism in Middle Ages. It didn't occur to me to read it here.  It could fit.
 
01:26:48 renwitter: Why else would the problem the son presents be that everyone knows they are Father and Son, and they will know it at the next place to? I thought he disfigured himself so that no one would see the resemblance.
 
01:29:00 Ambrose Little: I always look at the particularly self-disciplining saints as a kind of object lesson—they are showing just how far we are from where we ought to be. The saintliness came first; they were called to these penances, presumably, for a reason, if their wills were unified with God’s, as is the idea for sanctification.
 
01:29:57 sue and mark: while I do not know much, I have always heard that holiness is always beautifully balanced.
 
01:30:51 Rachel: Thank you, God bless!
 
01:31:10 David Fraley: This was great! Thank you!

 

Letters of Spiritual Direction to a Young Soul - Letter Seventy-Four

Letters of Spiritual Direction to a Young Soul - Letter Seventy-Four

January 24, 2022

Thank you to everyone who participated in tonight's group on St. Theophan's Letters on the Spiritual Life to Anastasia.  Great conversation as always.

Synopsis:

Tonight we read letter 74 entitled “Yearning for the monastic life”. Anastasia has made a decision to enter the monastery; she has decided to give herself over completely to God in mind and body. And yet, Theophan senses within her a kind of urgency that is pressing her forward and making her want to rush the moment of her entrance. He wants her, however, to pray and wait with patience. He does not want her to enter the religious life in a willful fashion precisely because she’s entering in order to set aside her will in the spirit of obedience. Thus, she should strive to let God act in her life and open the door for her to enter in the time He desires. For the moment she is to focus upon embracing the life of a monastic at home; deepening her spiritual life, living in obedience to her parents, making herself a novice in relationship to all of her siblings. She is to be, as it were, a soldier in training; humbling herself and preparing herself for the rigors of the religious life. Such waiting takes nothing from her. In fact it serves her by allowing her to mature emotionally and spiritually precisely that she might endure in her vocation.  He reminds her of the history behind such a vocation. In the beginning monasteries did not exist - nor vows. What existed were men and women filled with a desire and yearning for God and it is this spirit that she must foster. She must enflame the desire for God within her own heart by being faithful in the moment. She must wait and adapt her life and her habits to those in the monastery. But most of all she must wait upon the Lord who says “Come follow Me”!

---

Text of chat during the group:

00:06:26 Rachel: How do I get a snazzy picture like that??
 
00:19:23 Anthony: And some people had her religious desire, but God (I suppose) chose them never to enter a community, such as Benedict Labre or the Pilgrim of the Russian classic.
 
00:28:05 Edward Kleinguetl: "Gentle, organic approach" -- love it!
 
00:31:20 Anthony: FYI under the Lombard Laws of the 600's to about 800s or so, Vowed and nonvowed persons living a religious life were both recognized as having special protection against violation by criminals.  One living the life but not vowed as treated as or just about as at the state of a religious person.
 
00:38:09 Anthony: "The Ancient Path" is Talbot's book about his community
 
01:14:26 Wayne Mackenzie: got to go see you monday
 
01:16:24 Anthony: We in the West are sometimes formed by a relatively small cadre of Western Catholics, too....and that is magnified by the psychologies of certain persons who choose messages to magnify to the rest of us.
 
01:17:11 Rachel: I do have to say that put here in California, I am  blessed with a wonderful grace filled parish. 🙏
 
01:17:31 Edward Kleinguetl: Rachel, that is great!
 
01:20:38 Rachel: Even though I do and have encountered hesitation about the desert Fathers, when I point out how there are western Saints who teach and lived the same way, who loved the desert Fathers and read quotes from the desert Fathers, people start usually listening. I then refer them to the Oratory talks.
 
01:21:27 Edward Kleinguetl: Evagrios the Solitary: “If you are a theologian you truly pray. If you truly pray you are a theologian.”  This is what we lost in the West when spirituality was separated from theology.
 
01:21:48 Rachel: I think I am, but, have never been. I know about th Orthodox parish downtown and go pray Vespers sometimes with them. a beautiful church.
 
01:22:02 Rachel: I am in Sacramento.
 
01:23:45 Rachel: I'm I'm rad Trad too lol
 
01:24:15 Anthony: Pope Francis elevated St. Gregory of Narek as Dr of the Church though he was canonically in Armenian Apostolic Church.  And WOW is Gregory's works beautiful.
 
01:24:45 Edward Kleinguetl: Details 😀
 
01:26:39 Miron Kerul Kmec: Thank you Father

 

The Evergetinos - Vol. I, Hypothesis XV, Part IV

The Evergetinos - Vol. I, Hypothesis XV, Part IV

January 18, 2022

Thank you once again to everyone who participated in tonight's group on The Evergetinos. Your deep reading of the text always inspires me and fills me with a greater thirst and desire for Christ and a more radical embrace of the Gospel.

Synopsis:

We continued our reading of Hypothesis 15, reflecting upon the kind of exile that the monks embraced; an exile that was not rooted in a hatred of the world but rather in an absolute response to Christ’s call “follow me”.  In this the monks become living icons of the gospel and of Christ who said that his food was to do the will of the heavenly Father. 

Over and over again in the stories we are taken into a deeper view of the nature of love. Our love as human beings must be perfected by the grace of God and directed by His providence for it to be a bear fruit that is worthy of the kingdom and that will endure. In this sense we must be guided by prudence; not simply responding to our first emotional reaction to certain circumstances nor allowing ourselves to be drawn into things that might stir the remembrance of things that can lead us away from God’s Providential will into self-will. We are, in our lives, to be guided by the Spirit of God and to put on the mind of Christ. 

This is the focal point of our lives; not being catalysts for social change in the world but rather allowing the grace of God to be the catalyst of change within our hearts. We are to be guided by the virtues that have God as their object - faith, hope, and love. These alone draw us to God’s desired end which is life in Him and Love eternal.

---

Text of chat during the group:

00:07:55 FrDavid Abernethy, CO: Sorry Dave Fraley.  No snacks
 
00:08:27 D Fraley: Oh. It was good to see you anyway. Good night!
 
00:08:37 FrDavid Abernethy, CO: haha
 
00:24:07 Carol Nypaver: Page?
 
00:24:17 Ashley Kaschl: 121
 
00:24:26 Carol Nypaver: TY
 
00:24:48 Ashley Kaschl: No prob
 
00:30:19 Rachel: What? Willfull in our acts of charity?? 🙏🏼🙇🏼‍♀️
 
00:32:11 Mark Kelly: Another desert story about being “on fire.”                  
Abba Lot went to see abba Joseph and he 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 streched his hands toward heaven; his fingers became like ten 
lamps of  fire and he said to  him, "If you will, you  can become  all flame."
 
00:33:29 Ambrose Little: Maybe Joseph did crack Jesus upside the head for that, so that’s why He went ahead and performed a miracle.
 
00:53:32 Rachel: Yes, The asceticism of the thoughts, taking every thought captive, can seem to make one feel as if they are doing violence to themselves. In a way, they are, to their old self. But, I heard a priest once say no to do violence to oneself. The only way I reconciled this seeming contradiction of my experience and Father's advice, is to go and stay with Christ. The priests cannot heal what has been broken, only Christ can so it forces one to stay, with Christ and be patient to let Christ heal, the heart in His way, in His time.
 
00:54:15 Rachel: Ugh, this was meant for Father Abernathy.
 
01:17:08 Forrest Cavalier: It has to be both/and, not either/or. Christianity meets the world in its present.
 
01:17:24 Rachel: Yes, very happy note! lol
 
01:18:19 Eric Williams: Gee, are you saying the Church shouldn’t enthusiastically deploy reliable catalysts for change? ;)
 
01:19:12 Rachel: Yes Ren!! Thank you!!
 
01:19:31 Ambrose Little: We gotta also avoid substituting seeking exceptionalism for authentic discipleship.
 
01:19:33 Forrest Cavalier: Can we say "apostles" instead of "reliable catalysts for change"?
 
01:20:00 Eric Williams: I got that whole phrase from a corporate buzzword generator ;)
 
01:20:23 Forrest Cavalier: Oh, good. I thought it came from a synodality document!
 
01:20:37 Forrest Cavalier: A little of both, Father.
 
01:21:58 Forrest Cavalier: Amen!
 
01:23:41 Miron Kerul Kmec: Thank you Father
 
01:23:47 Rachel: Thank you God bless!
 
01:23:49 Mitchell Hunt: thank you
 
01:23:50 D Fraley: Thank you, Father!

 

Letters of Spiritual Direction to a Young Soul - Letter Seventy-Three, Part II

Letters of Spiritual Direction to a Young Soul - Letter Seventy-Three, Part II

January 13, 2022

Tonight we concluded letter 73 to Anastasia. Once again St. Theophan is seeking to help prepare her for the path that God has called her to take. Even though she is still living at home she is not to remove her hand, as it were, from the plow or look back. She must keep her focus intently upon Christ and not lose that gaze even for a moment. Walk circumspectly, he tells her. Guard your heart in all the ways that you have been shown -  for God is a jealous God and would have your heart completely. In the rarest of ways she is to be the spouse of Christ, giving herself to him in mind and body and with an undivided heart. She must even admonish herself at times - knowing that she cannot rely upon her zeal or constancy.  A life that is lived in half measures is destined for great sadness. This is true and whatever station in life or vocation we find ourselves. The consecrated virgin becomes for us the eschatological sign par excellence; we are destined to share in the fullness of the life of the holy Trinity and to be wrapped in an eternal love that would have us completely.

---

Text of chat during the group:

00:32:38 Mark Cummings: The Carmelites describe our union with Christ as a mystical union that is vastly superior to whatever bonds of union may be found in a physical or moral body...a real union, so real that it surpasses all the others "as the grace surpasses nature, and immortal realities surpass perishable realities"
 
00:36:16 Anthony: A family ideally is a little "monastery," in my opinion, exercising humility, and caring for each other to bring each other to Heaven....and when children grow up and marry, they establish "daughter monasteries" of their initial family.
 
00:37:13 Mitchell Hunt: Important topic, I think the even the  married can be internally chaste (withdrawn from lust and the sexual spasm).  Similarly a "celebate" can be not chaste behind  closed doors
 
00:46:17 Mark Cummings: As many know, Saint JPII has some great writing on sexuality and love. https://www.jp2.info/JP2_on_Love-Responsibility.pdf
 
00:49:14 Anthony: 1 Cor 7:14....the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the believing wife.
 
00:49:37 Anthony: If wifehood is not holiness, she cannot make him holy.
 
00:52:49 Anthony: 1 Cor 7:7 "but everyone has his proper gift from God"
 
00:56:23 renwitter: I’ve always loved the term grindstone for the people in our lives who help make us holy. Sandpaper is a good one too though :-D
 
01:00:26 Anthony: Grindstone - I make my own tools for chasing and repousse.  Grindstones and sandpaper are _indispensable_ to getting a polished tool face.  If your tools are good, you can make a thing of beauty.
 
01:02:09 Mark Cummings: We must embrace our crosses.
 
01:15:28 Miron Kerul Kmec: Thank you
 
01:15:47 Anthony: OK PAdre

 

The Evergetinos - Vol. I, Hypothesis XV, Part III

The Evergetinos - Vol. I, Hypothesis XV, Part III

January 11, 2022

Picking up once again with Hypothesis 15, we find ourselves considering the nature of detachment from the things of the world; a detachment that is rooted first and foremost in our response to the love that God has shown and given us and his only begotten son. What does our embrace of this divine love means for our lives in this world?  To take hold of this godly love what is there of the self and our attachment to the things of this world that we must be let go? 

So often there are subtle ways that we will cling to natural sensibilities and loves and we view our lives through that lens alone. Yet the Incarnation and the Paschal Mystery is meant to radically reshape our view of what it is to be a human being both in relationship to God and to one another. Our dignity and destiny is caught up in what has been given to us through our baptism - a share in the divine life. It is the faith and hope that this reality evokes that must guide our lives and the decisions that we make. 

Inevitably the stories that we read from the fathers of the desert jar our sensibilities, especially when they are very much tied to a worldly perspective. In many ways we must allow ourselves to experience the discomfort of having our perspective on life challenged so radically. God has turned our world upside down in revealing Himself to us. It is that revelation that must shape all we do and our understanding of life. 

---

Text of chat during the group:

00:03:52 Randi Altman: 🙏
 
00:11:33 Vicki Nichols: the video is really good. Jerzy Popieluzsko is a very inspiring person
 
00:38:38 Anthony: I've studied Socialism (philosophically and politically) for years.  Socialism is the tyranny that comes from bringing men's vision of "god" and men onto the earth - and you will like it, so to speak.
 
00:44:06 Anthony: Like St. Paul: 'I begged God three times to take away this thorn of the flesh, but 'My grace is sufficient for thee.''
 
00:51:03 Ambrose Little: Christ got told “no” by God, when he asked that “this cup might pass from me.” He needed to live in solidarity with we humans.
 
00:53:24 Randi Altman: It’s not responsiblity. It is an incredibly beautiful grace!!!
 
00:58:33 Ambrose Little: You were reading the Bible, largely. ;)
 
01:07:34 Randi Altman: He wanted or expected more of his son
 
01:18:45 Randi Altman: Be thankful to have hairs!🤣
 
01:19:14 Daniel Allen: Perfect closing insight.
 
01:19:55 Michael Winn: Thank you, Father! (my first time here - Ukrainian Greek Catholic priest in Winnipeg)
 
01:19:57 Randi Altman: Thank you for having me
 
01:20:19 maureencunningham: When. Saint John
 
01:20:23 Mitchell Hunt: thanks Father David
 
01:20:33 D Fraley: Good night!

 

Letters of Spiritual Direction to a Young Soul - Letter Seventy-Two, Part II and Letter Seventy-Three, Part I

Letters of Spiritual Direction to a Young Soul - Letter Seventy-Two, Part II and Letter Seventy-Three, Part I

January 6, 2022

This evening we picked up with the letter 72 where is Saint Theophan begins to engage Anastasia about the decision that she has made to become a religious. More than ever it is necessary to become closer to God, he tells her. She must fix her mind on the remembrance of God in every circumstance. Likewise she is to hold onto the remembrance of death in order that she might lose fear of everything within this world and also to order everything to its ultimate end and the final judgment. In other words, she must work harder than ever to clarify her vision and her desire. She must set about her life a little more decisively and await the fulfillment of her calling with patience. 

In Letter 73, Theophan begins to focus with Anastasia upon what is at the heart of this vocation: chastity or consecrated virginity to be more specific in her case. God has called her to Himself with a kind of jealous love, desiring that she give herself over to him in mind and body. Although never having set out to lead her upon such a path,  Theophan is overjoyed for her and gives thanks to God for the calling. The decision has been made but she is so far from the actual deed. Therefore, she must not fall into naïveté but rather realize that the enemy will seek to beguile her through his subtlety. She must remain sober and awake, vigilant and prayerful. The enemy can attack at any moment. She has been especially blessed by God to walk along this path that has existed from apostolic times; and so she must seek to treat it as the most precious of gifts.

---

Text of chat during the group:

00:29:47 Carol Nypaver: For how long was she under the spiritual direction of St. Theophan?
 
00:32:13 Lyle: And it is never, never, NEVER too late to desire that CHANGE.
 
00:35:01 Lyle: In spite of those "barriers", God's Spirit has led and WILL lead "seekers" to Him.
 
00:38:22 Mitchell Hunt: Every Apprentice needs a Master/Masters to learn from
 
00:48:04 Mark Cummings: I believe it will be a worthwhile exercise to review the Letters again and write down the things that will help me to map out the way to a deeper relationship with Jesus. Off the top of my head, simplifying, asceticism, memorizing key scripture/psalms, mortification, prayer (prayer rule, the Jesus prayer,etc), guarding against sin and avoiding the near occasion of sin by avoiding spending time with those that may contribute to my corruption., recognizing and embracing the Grace of God, the list seems to go on and on. If someone has already gone through the exercise of creating this map of the Letters then please let me know if you will share it.
 
01:17:39 Anthony: In Dante's Paradiso, the soul is drawn upward to God by the gravity of love.
 
01:19:34 Ashley Kaschl: A book that gives greater clarity on the charism of celibacy and speaks more on virginity is “And You are Christ’s” by Thomas Dubay, if anyone wanted to dive a little deeper into that topic.
 
01:22:35 Mark Cummings: Saint JP IIs Five loves,  according to Jason Evert's book Saint John Paul the Great: His Five Loves, includes Human Love and does a great job of providing a synopsis of Theology of the Body and puts it in to the context of loving God by loving others.
 
01:27:49 Mark Cummings: Thank you, Father!
 
01:28:04 Eric Williams: Have a blessed Theophany tomorrow!
 
01:28:09 Rachel: Thank you Father, and thank you everyone. Great questuons!
 
01:28:24 Ann Grimak: Thank you 🙏
 
01:28:25 Rachel: Blessed Theophany!
 
01:28:40 Erick Chastain: blessed theophany and a happy epiphany to all of you

 

The Evergetinos - Vol. I, Hypothesis XV, Part II

The Evergetinos - Vol. I, Hypothesis XV, Part II

January 4, 2022

Tonight we picked up with Hypothesis 15. The focus has been on detachment from the things of this world and the state of exile in which the monks lived. The temptation after leaving all for God is always to be drawn back to the things of the world. These things that draw us are not  necessarily evil or sinful but can be quite benign or even very good. Yet even that which is good can be contrary to the will of God. Our responsibility is to embrace His will and to walk the path of salvation that He has set before us and to remain ever faithful to it. Even the love and affection for other that is genuinely good can be something that we make our god. Yet there is one thing necessary - Christ and doing His will. He is the origin and fulfillment of every person’s deepest yearning. He alone can fulfill that longing for love deep within our hearts. We will rationalize or we will follow the subtle deceptions of the Evil One to take any or every path that leads away from God. Therefore we must be ever vigilant and unceasing in our prayer. Ego will always move to the forefront. We will place the self at the center of the universe and convince ourselves that what intellect, reason, or emotion tells us is truth. Thus we must be discriminating of what goes on within and foster a kind of stability that allows us to listen to God and subordinate all things to him. This is true whether one lives in the desert or in the heart of the busiest city.

---

Text of chat during the group:

00:08:44 Rachel: ….cricket....
 
00:09:43 Rachel: My paint wont dry here in Cali
 
00:11:45 Rachel: I will be arriving fashionably late to a party because there is no way I am missing the Evergetinos. 😊 lol
 
00:20:13 Anthony: This creeping back of the world into the consciousness....these fresh attacks of vanity and despicable things....is this why they are always weeping for their sins
 
00:27:05 Anthony: This is like iconography.  Icon don't depict mundane persons but persons purified by Divine Love.
 
00:46:25 Anthony: phone > Greek for sound > the siren's call to Ulysses to detract him from his mission and shipwreck the crew?
 
01:08:56 Eric Williams: Biritual! ;)
 
01:10:26 Mark J. Kelly: Sometimes, when rejected, Christ does say, “Go to another city”.  Wisdom and application are important.  “Stay in your Cell” is not a fixed command but a wisdom Verba.
 
01:15:43 Forrest Cavalier: Or cell phone telling us!
 
01:24:10 Randi: I don’t know how to turn on the mic🙁
 
01:27:39 Forrest Cavalier: Randi, Can you press Alt+A? That unmutes on windows zoom.
 
01:31:17 Rachel: Please pray for us!
 
01:32:41 carolnypaver: Wow! Glad you found your unmute button, Randi!
 
01:33:01 Mark J. Kelly: Thank you Randi
 
01:34:57 Randi: I’ve written all your names on the chapel wall
 
01:35:18 carolnypaver: Thank you very much!
 
01:36:13 Daniel Allen: Thank you Randi

 

Letters of Spiritual Direction to a Young Soul - Letter Seventy-One, Part III and Letter Seventy-Two, Part I

Letters of Spiritual Direction to a Young Soul - Letter Seventy-One, Part III and Letter Seventy-Two, Part I

December 30, 2021

After a brief hiatus we picked up with our reading of St. Theophan’s letters to Anastasia. We concluded Letter 71 with Theophan’s discussion with Anastasia about the struggle with coldness and prayer. Once again he reminds her of the value of memorizing prayers -  in particular the psalms. Yet what is essential is not simply the memorization but rather that she would embrace each word and pray it with a depth of feeling. It is essential that she approach the prayer life not as a task oriented behavior but rather as a spirit guided response to love. There are times when a certain word or prayer will speak to the depths of the heart and she may remain with that prayer for the entire period that she has set aside. The more that she cultivates prayer, the more that she comes to love it, the less need there will be for rules. One thing needs to be understand: prayer is the root of everything!

In letter 72, Theophan is filled with great joy. Anastasia has made a decision to embrace the religious life. He begins by telling her to hold fast to the decision now that it has be made and let it form her thoughts and to further mover her away from worldly desires and pleasures. She is going to live as one completely given over to the Lord. Therefore, she is to kindle that very spirit in which she voiced her decision. Theophan’s initial counsel is to wait patiently. God will test and deepen her desire for this vocation. He will show her how to carry it out. For now, she has to wait and pray in a spirit of obedience and love. Everything that she set out to do in her pursuit of holiness she is to do a little more decisively now. The foundation has been laid; now she must construct the building. Set aside worldly amusements and distractions, Theophan tells her. Become ever more attentive to God’s call. 

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Text of chat during the group: 

00:14:31 Rachel Pineda: Wow, hello! Good to see everyone.
 
01:13:09 Anthony: I really appreciate this point....the flip side is the pressure to be a religious / priest if you really want to do something good.'
 
01:14:53 Anthony: Good point Joanne on our unawareness of lay saints
 
01:18:31 Anthony: There are lots of lay saints in Lives of the Saints Vol 2, by Catholic Book Publishing Co.
 
01:18:55 renwitter: As usual, compelled to point out that though she is depicted as if she was, Saint Catherine of Siena was not a religious. Nor was Saint Gemma Galgani, or Saint Kateri, Saint Margaret of Cortona, Saint Monica, Joan of Arc, and so many more. An equally long list on the men’s side. It is very common for Saints to be depicted in the habit of a religious order they were closely associated with, and it came make is seem like they were religious, but they weren’t! I always love finding new lay saints :-)
 
01:20:14 Ashley Kaschl: Yes! Thank you, Ren. We aren’t taught that as clearly, if at all.
 
01:21:12 Cathy: Happy New Year Blessing to all!

 

The Evergetinos - Vol. I, Hypothesis XV, Part I

The Evergetinos - Vol. I, Hypothesis XV, Part I

December 21, 2021

Tonight we began Hypothesis 15 in The Evergetinos. I think it is safe to say that on the surface it is perhaps one of the most difficult to listen to so deeply is it tied to the monastic commitment and detachment from the world. The fathers speak to us about the abandonment of the world and not communicating even with one’s relatives. 

However, upon closer reading we see that this Hypothesis is about much more than than this. The exile the fathers speak of really has to do with what goes on deep within the heart; our willingness to detach ourselves from our own ego and from the things of this world in order to respond fully to God‘s will in our life. In subtle ways we rationalize and we place impediments to our responding fully to God’s call to love. One does not have to be a monk or live in the desert to see this go on within the human heart. If we could see all the moments that we let pass in a given day to refer back all that we do to God and seek always to act in obedience to his will we would weep inconsolably. What the fathers invite us to consider is whether or not we are living for the kingdom or the world; do we seek to do the will of God or to obey our own will. 

Christ’s embrace of our humanity elevates our dignity as human beings and what we are capable of doing by the grace of God. We should be willing to sacrifice all to protect that dignity. God has made us one with Him in His Son. Let us rejoice!

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Text of chat during the group:

00:02:27 Eric Williams: Fr Miron, thank you for raising a good son. I very much appreciate having him as my parish priest. 🙂
 
00:04:32 Miron Kerul Kmec: thank you
 
00:27:25 Anthony: This is really hard.  Since the Enlightenment, the general tendency of intellectual development and education is to "institutionalize" our wills; spiritual/intellectual/material/career avarice has become ingrained in our consciousness as a virtue.
 
00:39:12 Rachel: God is the one Who is capable! 🙏🏼
 
00:41:04 Rachel: I totally understand what George is saying, it can seem close to impossible at times when perspective gets skewed out in the world.
 
01:05:15 Lyle: Page 118:  Lord Jesus, may I avoid worldly contacts that are “unprofitable”.
 
01:12:56 George: the poetry of St John Henry Newman is fantastic
 
01:13:30 Rachel: your blessing!
 
01:14:14 Miron Kerul Kmec: Thank you!!!
 
01:14:17 Rachel: Thank you!!
 
01:14:40 Rachel: I got mine today!! So happy, what a blessing. Thank you!

 

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