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Archive for September 2020

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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

 

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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!

 

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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....

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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.

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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.!

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