Tonight we began reading letter 31. Theophan begins to speak to Anastasia about ways of increasing and encouraging her sense of desire for God and her urgency about the practice of the spiritual life. He could already see that there were those around her who were calling into question her practices. So he begins to speak with her about means of keeping herself focused upon God. She must take hold of the fact that we are not long for this world and we will have to give an account for our life. All of this must heighten the sense of urgency she must have and the weight of her actions. He encourages her to engage in spiritual reading and prayer every morning as a means of nourishing herself for the day; just as a person nourishes herself with food. Such reading does not have to be extensive but just enough to hold within the mind and the heart; to act as a spiritual balm that not only brings healing but also protection. Finally, Theophan speaks to her about keeping watch over all of her thoughts. Fundamentally this is where the ascetical life rests and where spiritual battles are fought. Many thoughts come to us throughout the course of the day. We must be attentive to them and how they affect us; if they do not lead us to God they must be set aside or redirected. He also gives her a simple counsel about keeping a notebook. In this way she will be able to mark down the things that inspire her in order that they might later encourage her when she is struggling. Such a practice also allows one to gauge where the struggle is the greatest and also to see where there has been growth.
Test of chat during the group:
00:25:21 Eric Williams: When you mentioned watching news first thing in the morning, I was reminded of these wise words: "Let listening to worldly news be bitter food for you, and let the words of saintly men be as combs filled with honey." - St. Basil
00:28:12 Eric Williams: There is solid psychological and neurological research supporting the superiority of handwriting over typing for long-term retention of information.
00:28:23 Wayne Mackenzie: In the Eastern Tradition you are encouraged to have a morning and evening Prayer Rule."
00:29:20 Fr. John (Ivan) Chirovsky: … handwriting over typing …. Hmmm very interesting
00:29:58 Jennifer Parisi: Eric, do you have a link to that research? I would like to share it with someone I know.
00:35:47 Eric Williams: A quick search dug this up: "Handwriting shown to be better for memory than typing, at any age" https://bigthink.com/surprising-science/handwriting-memory
00:38:24 Eric Ash: Witness is often better than teaching and always better than arguing
00:38:37 Jennifer Parisi: Thank you 😊
00:52:08 Mark Cummings: I have closer to the 4 thoughts than the 50,000 thoughts
01:03:27 Eric Williams: I find the Jesus Prayer tremendously helpful for diverting my mind from unworthy subjects.
01:04:16 Margie: How about some Gregorian chat?
01:04:18 Mark Cummings: Can we have some specific recommendations on the Russian music
01:04:28 Mary McLeod: Chants from Valaam!
01:04:40 Wayne Mackenzie: When the thoughts are out of control recite the Jesus prayer..
01:06:53 Fr. John (Ivan) Chirovsky: YouTube has the Jesus prayer sung by monks in the round I use it in the car on the phone on the desktop etc https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXmfvcOU340&list=PLpDitifO6zD8UBi0qUZ5fKYn9HYAzzxWC&index=1
01:08:38 Mark Cummings: Thank you!
01:08:56 Fr. John (Ivan) Chirovsky: the byzantine "angelic greeting" known in the west as "Hail Mary" 100 times https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5EaKrnn3_A&list=PLpDitifO6zD8gNGJ0XvCawWSfCk7jGfCF&index=2&t=659s
01:09:37 Wayne Mackenzie: yes I often will recite the Jesus prayer on you tube as I am involved in different acitvites
01:09:58 Consuelo Haynes: Wow those recommendations are wonderful, thank you
01:13:44 Eric Ash: I remember an anecdote I think from Theresa of Calcutta when asked what she prays for said "I don't pray for anything I listen." and when asked what God tells her in prayer said "He doesn't say anything, he listens." That really helped silence in prayer click for me.
01:13:59 Fr. John (Ivan) Chirovsky: these two links which I gave are sung in Old Church Slavonic albeit in Russian pronunciation. For Ukrainians like me this is an act of double asceticism: to pray and to hear it "mispronounced" by Ukraine's northern neighbor who is constantly telling us - and the rest of the world - that Ukrainians are nothing more than "Little Russians"..
01:14:56 carolnypaver: Awesome, Fr. Ivan!
01:15:47 Mark Cummings: Love the quote plus the anecdotes
01:16:37 Fr. John (Ivan) Chirovsky: Thank you, Eric
01:19:07 Eric Williams: The prompting questions help A LOT.
01:20:25 Fr. John (Ivan) Chirovsky: thank you both Erics
01:20:37 Margie: Thank you! Have a wonderful week!
01:20:42 Cathy Y.: thank you!!!