Philokalia Ministries
The Evergetinos - Vol. I, Hypothesis V Part II

The Evergetinos - Vol. I, Hypothesis V Part II

May 26, 2021

We continued with our reading of Hypothesis Five where the Fathers discuss with us the importance of remembering death as well as judgment. Such thoughts are not to elicit fear within the heart but rather magnify the significance of the moment and help us live in the moment as opposed to the past or the future. Every moment is freighted with destiny because every moment is an opportunity to love or not to love. The remembrance of death teaches us not to put off repentance and not to doubt the mercy of God when we find ourselves caught up in our sin. It also teaches us to listen keenly to the voice of our conscience as it calls us back to God. This is a fundamental and permanent element of the spiritual life and so should be cultivated with great discipline and care.

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Text of chat during the group:

00:31:03 Erick Chastain: "sin makes you stupid"

00:48:19 Michael Liccione: Negative anthropology becomes very attractive if you spend much time on social media.

00:51:09 sue and mark: now it makes sense.

00:58:26 renwitter: First he coughs at me, then he yawns at Ambrose. . . geez. I think the next time Erick starts talking we should all start quacking or something.

00:58:45 Michael Liccione: LOL

00:58:49 Carole DiClaudio: hahaha

00:58:59 Lilly Crystal: Lol @ren

00:59:00 Erick Chastain: Yeah sorry everyone for that.

00:59:16 Joseph Muir: 🤣

00:59:49 Erick Chastain: It's the live experience I guess

01:00:05 Michael Liccione: Your lived experience :)

01:01:04 renwitter: I love that our chat transcript is published along with the podcast 😂😂😂

01:01:09 Daniel Allen: Only adds to the group it’s hilarious.

01:02:01 Erick Chastain: Yeah who needs TV?

01:08:39 Sharon: Otherwise, would that be the sin of presumption?

01:08:59 renwitter: And terrifying

01:11:34 Ambrose Little: Work out your salvation with fear and trembling. (Phil 2:12)

01:11:39 Sharon: … and ought we not canonize people when they die?

01:12:55 Sharon: I don’t mean canonized saints, but just anyone at the time of death.

01:13:18 Michael Liccione: No

01:14:56 Sharon: I agree. It just seems like no matter whose funeral, people talk as though they absolutely know the deceased is in heaven.

 

Letters of Spiritual Direction to a Young Soul - Letter Fifty-four

Letters of Spiritual Direction to a Young Soul - Letter Fifty-four

May 20, 2021

It was an extremely powerful group this evening; as one might expect in a discussion about the passions. In letter 54, Saint Theophan begins to instruct Anastasia about the nature of the passions and where they spring from in our lives. Theophan tells her that they are not part of who we are as human beings. They can be removed without destroying the soul.  In fact, he instructs her that unless we drive them out they will leave a person in ruins. When they control a human being - in many respects they become more like an animal. Their will and their consciousness are driven and controlled by what is not in accord with nature and with how God has created us. The passions, according to Theophan, arise out of the desire to please one’s self, selfishness and pride. The passions are sustained by these. When we give ourselves over to them we are dragged along like a young ass on a cord behind its owner. Therefore, the Saint tells Anastasia that she must not be sparing with herself. She has been controlled by these passions even though that they have not dominated her life. He would have her understand our capacity for self-pity and so also our capacity for self-deceit. The passions can seem and make themselves seem attractive. Thus, we must, in accordance with the Scriptures, be sober and vigilant. We must watch and pray. It is this radical alertness the keeps us from falling victim to the relentless attack of the evil one which can be direct or very subtle. When you look inside of yourself you will see all the many subtle attachments that keep you from embracing the will of the Lord. This is the first thing in the struggle with the passions and she must learn this lesson well.

 

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Text of chat during the group:

00:17:12 Fr. John (Ivan) Chirovsky: the best modern day book on the passions is:   Therapy of Spiritual Illness: An Introduction to the Ascetic Tradition of the Orthodox Church (Therapy of Spiritual Illness, I,II,III boxed set) Paperback – January 1, 2012 by Dr Jean-Claude Larchet

00:17:23 Fr. John (Ivan) Chirovsky: you can get it in paperback

00:17:44 Erick Chastain: I love those books!

00:38:03 Eric Williams: How, then, do we avoid the heresy of quietism?

00:45:18 Eric Williams: Sorry for being generic. ;)

00:54:23 Eric Williams: Fair point :)

00:57:10 Erick Chastain: LOL I really didn't intend to sidetrack us big time like this

00:57:29 Lilly Crystal: All amazing points :)

00:59:31 Fr. John (Ivan) Chirovsky: It is to be remembered that there is a secular definition of “passion”, for example: “Passion is a feeling of intense enthusiasm towards or compelling desire for someone or something. Passion can range from eager interest in or admiration for an idea, proposal, or cause; to enthusiastic enjoyment of an interest or activity; to strong attraction, excitement, or emotion towards a person” (Wikipedia).  Thus, we have the Western Christian definition in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, § 1767, 1773, where a “passion” is a morally neutral concept.

00:59:50 Fr. John (Ivan) Chirovsky: In the Eastern Christian definition, used here, and in the official catechism of the UGCC: Christ Our Pascha § 795, “passion” is always a vice, one of the eight capital sins.  In the East, 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.  “Passions” arise from “logismoi”, literally “thoughts”, that act on and overcome people, becoming habits of thinking, feeling-willing, and desiring over which we have little or no control.  Thus, a passion is any spiritual “cancer”, poetically described as a “death-bearing” or “soul-corrupting” sin.

01:00:09 Fr. John (Ivan) Chirovsky: 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).  The Greek word “pathos” can also mean and be translated as “sufferings, desires, energies, zealous activities, cravings” depending on its context.

01:01:33 Lisa Weidner: Thank you, Fr John

01:02:19 Fr. John (Ivan) Chirovsky: In 375 AD, Archdeacon Evagrius of Pontus (c. 346-399) developed a com¬pre¬hen¬sive list of eight evil assaulting “thoughts” (Greek: logismoi, Ukrain¬ian: помисли).  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 over¬come 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, Ukrainian: пристрасті).

01:02:49 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.  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.

01:03:14 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.”

01:03:29 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

01:13:51 Mark Cummings: I hope he was talking to a do

01:13:53 Mark Cummings: dog

01:15:22 renwitter: Mark! :-D Hahhaha. LOL

01:19:19 Lilly Crystal: Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry! -Padre Pio

 

The Evergetinos - Vol. I, Hypothesis IV and Hypothesis V

The Evergetinos - Vol. I, Hypothesis IV and Hypothesis V

May 18, 2021

Tonight we picked up with Hypothesis IV.  Its focus is that those afflicted by the passions should be guided slowly in the works of repentance. To help us understand this we are given a wonderful story of a young man who is sent into the fields to clear them. However upon seeing them filled with thorns and weeds he very quickly becomes depressed at the thought of the work that was ahead of him. He lays down in the grass and goes to sleep. His father on approaching him ask him why he has been so negligent. The young man states that he was overwhelmed.  Wisely and with compassion the father simply tells him to sleep in a different place every night so as to flatten out the grass and the weeds simply where he chooses to lay down. This is the son did and over time he was able to clear the entire field. This is a wonderful parable because it shows us how difficult the spiritual life can be at the beginning. The bar is set very low by the father so as not to discourage. We must invest ourselves and create a rule to follow. That is a given. However, we must have patience and an awareness of our poverty. We must work within our limits until God adds grace to grace and we are able to complete the task. The spiritual life is not simply about our will but rather our embrace of the grace of God in the moment.

In Hypothesis Five, the fathers begin to describe the importance of keeping the thought of death and future judgment in mind in order that one might struggle constantly against the passions. Remembering death daily will begin to free us from unduly attaching ourselves to worldly things or losing ourselves in the work of our own hands. The remembrance of death dispels the illusion of pleasures and lifts up the soul when it is inclined to sin.  All the stories in this section seek to remind us not to be prideful about our spiritual pursuits or to see them as arising from our own efforts. They also remind us not to put off our conversion from day to day for we are not guaranteed a long life. We know neither the day nor the hour when God will call us to himself and when we will stand in the fullness of his light. This is the very nature of God. To come into His presence is to be penetrated by the light of truth. Nothing shall be hidden and so nothing in this life should be taken for granted or taken lightly.

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Text of chat during the group:

00:15:11 Lilly Crystal: Welcome Kyle and Andrew! Happy you guys could make it :)

00:15:35 Kyle Davidson: thanks for the invite, Lily

00:35:26 Tyler Woloshyn: Spiritual directors mention that God's work is clearest in the hidden.  The liminal space, or that threshold a person crosses is where God is working the most in the soul of the Christian. Not focusing on the past or worrying about the future. It is like a furnace and forge at work simultaneously.

00:38:54 Lilly Crystal: @Diana welcome hermana so happy you could make it :)

00:53:01 Lilly Crystal: “4 Last Things” by Father Isaac Mary Relyea is an amazing 4-part sermon… New Yorker by the way ;)

00:57:04 Tyler Woloshyn: "As I arise from sleep, I thank You O Most Holy Trinity, for Your great goodness and patience with me, an idler and a sinner. You have not become indignant towards me, nor have You allowed me to die in my sins.  Instead, You have shown me the love that You have for all mankind.  You raised me from sleep, that I may greet this new day in prayer and glorify Your sovereign power.  And now enlighten my eyes of understanding, open my understanding, open my ears to receive Your words, and teach me Your commandments.  Help me to do Your will, to sing to You, to profess You from all my heart, and to praise Your all-holy name, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and for ever and ever. Amen."  (Morning prayer of St. Basil the Great)

01:00:58 Joseph Muir: Prayer of Saint John of Damascus, to be prayed before going to sleep:

O Lord, Lover of Mankind, is this bed to be the coffin, or will You enlighten my wretched soul with another day? Here the coffin lies before me, and here death confronts me. I fear, O Lord, Your Judgment and the endless torments; yet I cease not to do evil. My Lord and God, I continually anger You, and Your Immaculate Mother, and all the Heavenly Powers, and my Holy Guardian Angel. I know, O Lord that I am unworthy of Your love, but deserve condemnation and every torment. But, whether I want it or not, save me, O Lord. For to save a good man is no great thing, and to have mercy on the pure is nothing wonderful, for they are worthy of Your mercy. But show the wonder of Your mercy to me, a sinner. In this, reveal Your love for Man, lest my wickedness prevail over your unutterable goodness and mercy. And order my life as you will. Amen.

01:01:45 Tyler Woloshyn: In ancient Rome, whenever a Roman General or Emperor returned from a victory in battle. During the Triumphant parade, there would be a man hired to whisper into his ear, "Thou art mortal."

01:11:19 Tyler Woloshyn: Thank you for the wonderful lesson tonight Father. I am off to a Moleben to the Mother of God. Have a blessed evening everyone.

01:11:36 Kyle Davidson: thanks for the talk. I have to join a new call.

01:11:52 renwitter: We should have shirts made that say YODO - You Only Die Once. Get Ready.

01:12:17 carolnypaver: Oh yeah!

01:12:17 Joseph Muir: I’d buy one, Ren!

01:12:18 Lilly Crystal: @Ren omg lol

01:12:52 renwitter: I’ll design it. With a nice little skull. Maybe a prayer rope.

01:13:06 Eric Williams: Life is Short: Pray Hard

01:13:07 Lilly Crystal: Yesss girl

01:14:18 Joseph Muir: You could collaborate with https://instagram.com/pursuedbytruth?utm_medium=copy_link

01:16:13 Lilly Crystal: @Joseph coolest nun ever

01:17:18 Eric Williams: The second law of thermodynamics tells that nothing left alone stays the same. Anything we don't put energy into will degrade into chaos.

01:17:44 renwitter: Ooo. I love that. Lessons in the spiritual life straight from the natural world **heart**

01:20:06 carolnypaver: Are there any books left to purchase?

01:20:12 renwitter: No, not at the Oratory

01:20:18 renwitter: But direct from the Publisher

01:20:55 sue and mark: retreat!!!!!

 

Letters of Spiritual Direction to a Young Soul - Letter Fifty-two Part II and Letter Fifty-three

Letters of Spiritual Direction to a Young Soul - Letter Fifty-two Part II and Letter Fifty-three

May 13, 2021

We began this evening with letter 52. St. Theophan continues to discuss with Anastasia the importance of warming the heart.  Our passions have so dampened the wood that it can no longer be enkindled. We must go out in search of dry wood. We must protect that part of ourselves that have perhaps not been permeated by the passions.  More importantly we must draw close to God that it might inflame our hearts and free our spirit.

All of this is a preparation for letter 53. St. Theophan begins to discuss with Anastasia the passions and how they are an obstacle to the spirit that burns with the love for God. They must be expelled. The passions are not a part of us as human beings. They arise out of our fallen state and our sin and they permeate every aspect of who we are as human beings. The are alien to us and parasitic. These passions, then, acting in collusion with the demons take control of the person even if he thinks that he is in control of himself. It is the spirit that must first escape their grip. And this only comes when the grace of God pulls it free. The spirit, then, filled with the fear of God and the action of grace develops a resoluteness. However, the emergence of this resoluteness in the pursuit of God must be accompanied by the willingness to labor for many years. We are to engage in a spiritual warfare against the passions. Theophan describes thrashing them; driving them out of the temple of our hearts as Christ drove out the money-changers from the temple in Jerusalem. The remembrance of God is the foothold for life in the spirit. It is for this reason the Theophan has spent so much time speaking with Anastasia about it. She has only come to acknowledge and recognize the passions within her. She has of yet, and perhaps we have as yet, not entered fully into the spiritual battle. She must not, he tells her, be bashful but prepare herself to enter fully and vigorously into the battle and to expose her passions and sins to the light.

 

Text of chat during the group:

00:19:04 Joseph Muir: What’s the name of the biography on St Philip Neri?

00:42:33 Lilly Crystal: Hi Father, Sorry for being late! ❤️🙏

00:45:34 Lilly Crystal: I love your rants, Father😂

00:48:37 Eric Williams: So when are you founding a seminary, Father? ;)

00:53:11 Eric Williams: It’s a shame so many in the West rejected and opposed hesychasm (or at least what they believed it to be).

00:54:36 Wayne Mackenzie: And the prayer life forgotten.

00:57:09 Eric Williams: Vitamin G[od] ;)

00:58:03 renwitter: Robert Bellarmine was the Theology teacher of the first Oratorians :-D Can you imagine?

01:02:07 Sharon: Beautifully said…Amen!

01:06:58 Mark Cummings: Ren- If you have not read the Art of Dying Well then I recommend that you do. I recently read it and it really resonates with me.

01:07:17 renwitter: Thrashing demons away from myself and others is what I imagine when I am praying Jesus Prayers with my prayer rope - it makes a good whip ;-)

01:12:44 renwitter: My real name is Anastasia :-D

01:20:28 Lilly Crystal: Always a joy to listen❤️

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

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

May 11, 2021

This evening we concluded Hypothesis III on “how a person should repent”.  The elders begin by emphasizing sorrow in the spiritual life. This is not a sorrow that leads a person into depression or despondency. It is not rooted in shame but rather in the acknowledgment of the impact of our sin on the relationship that we have with God and also how we have treated the grace and mercy that he has shown us. Sorrow, therefore, is to be carried along in the spiritual life as a bridle for the soul which will keep us from falling into sin once again. Granted, this is a very difficult thing for us to understand and embrace. We do everything in our power to alleviate the sorrow tied to sin or to escape it. But in regards to anything that afflicts or affects us on a spiritual level, it becomes the most powerful remedy. Each story this night tells us that we are to care for our passions with medicines that are at odds with them. We must consciously struggle to blot out recollections of the sins we have enjoyed with the corresponding hardships that they have brought.

Yet, in all of this the elders emphasize a kind of freedom in the embrace of a specific practice of penance. Each person is unique and God Who alone searches the depths of the mind and the heart can guide the individual along the path of true healing. There are many paths to this healing and as many remedies as there are human beings. Each person is a mystery, a mystery that only God can grasp. Therefore, our wounds can only be healed by more radically open the mind and the heart to His grace. The ascetical life simply serves as an aid in doing this.

Until next week dear friends . . .

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Text of chat during the group:

00:23:19 Daniel Allen: What page and number are we on?

00:23:28 renwitter: PAge 32

00:23:31 renwitter: #4

00:23:37 Daniel Allen: Thank you

00:46:19 Lilly Crystal: Very well said, Father :)

00:56:28 Lilly Crystal: What prayer was that?

00:57:17 Tyler Woloshyn: 6th Prayer Before Holy Communion by St Symeon the New Theologian

01:13:18 Tyler Woloshyn: Have a blessed time folks. Off to Moleben (prayer service) to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

01:15:59 Eric Williams: Their repentance had equal merit, but one of them was a lot happier. I’m a fan of the happy one. ;)

01:19:10 Lilly Crystal: Please keep my Canadian friend, Bill, in your prayers. He’s in the hospital attached to oxygen as of 2 days

01:30:05 Lilly Crystal: There’s never too many books, Father. Just not enough time :)

01:35:00 Nicole’s iPhone: Thank you!

Letters of Spiritual Direction to a Young Soul - Letter Fifty-one and Letter Fifty-two

Letters of Spiritual Direction to a Young Soul - Letter Fifty-one and Letter Fifty-two

May 6, 2021

Tonight we picked up with Letter 51, entitled “Turning the burdens of life to spiritual profit”. Saint Theophan gives Anastasia some of the best and most practical advice and counsel here. He begins to teach her a method of reinterpreting everything that comes before her eyes in a spiritual sense. She had been struggling, as we often do, with distractions in her day-to-day work and so finding it very difficult to maintain the constant remembrance of God. Therefore, gradually, Theophan teaches her how reinterpret every day activities, extraordinary and ordinary, into a means of actually drawing the mind and the heart to God. Far from being an obstacle, when spiritually reinterpreted they become the most beneficial means of moving the thoughts and imagination toward God.  Theophan tells Anastasia to begin with home and the people that she knows in her every day activities; and then to do it with everything that she sees within the world and every circumstance she encounters. Gradually it will become very natural for her. At the close of the letter, however, he warns her not to spare herself. There’s a certain wrongful activity that is afflicts everyone. We spare no labor on any matter except when it comes to that of salvation. This she must remove from her heart. The most important matter is our salvation and consequently it will be the most difficult labor of our life. But it is worth it. 

In Letter 52, Theophan brings Anastasia back once again to the remembrance of God. He knows that he is repeating himself and that she is probably becoming fatigued. Yet he tells her that his repetition is rooted in the fact that this remembrance of God is the most important thing of all and all power is in it. What he explains to her in this letter is that she must do all in her power to warm her heart with ever deeper devotion and reverence for God. It cannot simply be a barren remembrance but that which is guided by the deepest feelings of love and urgency. She must pray and read until she begins to notice this warmth developing within the heart. Only when she sees this happening can she be confident that it will continue to influence her throughout the course of the day. This is what the Lord himself desires: “I came to set fire on the earth of human hearts, and I could not wish for more other than that it inflame everyone as soon as possible!” 

 

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Text of chat during the group:

00:29:07 Lilly Crystal: Gracias hermana @Ren

00:30:37 Eric Williams: I am still disappointed and saddened that the Church did not use closed churches as an opportunity to promote the Divine Office. :(

00:30:54 renwitter: De nada mija @Lilly!

00:33:35 Eric Ash: Mother Theresa once said, "the most terrible poverty is loneliness and the feeling of being unloved." And she is someone who saw the ravages of what we traditionally call poverty.

00:35:00 Lilly Crystal: Toronto is back under severe lockdowns. 10 people max at Church. I was turned away from confession yesterday. Please keep us Canadians in your prayers

00:35:42 carolnypaver: Heartbreaking…..We’ll keep praying for an end…

00:36:12 Wayne Mackenzie: in Edmonton back in major lockdown 15 people  allowed in church

00:37:12 carolnypaver: *gasp*. And I complained that AAA made me put on a mask today to get some documents notarized.  :(

00:37:24 Lilly Crystal: It's truly heart breaking @Wayne

00:37:55 Eric Williams: Better to pray in the bathroom than to doomscroll through Facebook, right? ;)

00:38:07 Joseph Muir: We have it good here in the States, Carolyn

00:38:16 Joseph Muir: PREACH, Eric!!!!!!

00:38:37 Erick Chastain: it is a canticle

00:39:02 Lilly Crystal: @Eric Me and my chotcki😂 #sorry lol

00:42:37 Nicole’s iPhone: Great idea! I’m good at editing :)

00:44:24 Nicole’s iPhone: Lilly, I have a priest friend in Marmora and churches are closed, no sacraments at all there
He’s on a farm and last year would put the monstrance in the window for people to come visit Our Lord
00:48:00 renwitter: @deacon Miron is practicing rocking for when Baby comes :-)

00:48:54 Miron: practice makes perfect! only five more days till due date! :)

00:49:07 renwitter: Wow! Five days?!? Amazing!

00:49:50 carolnypaver: Awwww——Happy delivery!  God bless Mom, baby, and you, Deacon!

00:50:50 Eric Williams: I like the phrases "spiritual exercises" and "training", because we intuitively understand how necessary training and exercise are for physical health and pursuit of excellence. Sometimes - perhaps often - we must force ourselves to do it. Likewise for spiritual health.

00:51:37 Lilly Crystal: Praying for health and safe delivery @Miron

00:53:37 Miron: Thank you Thank you!!!

00:59:00 Deacon Robert Cripps: Praying for a safe and healthy delivery!

01:05:23 renwitter: All that time in Adoration has @Father David burnin’ up

01:06:15 Lilly Crystal: @ren lol

01:14:27 Nicole’s iPhone: Thank you!

01:14:38 Lilly Crystal: Gracias Padre

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

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

May 4, 2021

There are times that it becomes perfectly clear that one is being fed on solid food. Tonight was such a moment. We picked up with Hypothesis Three on “how we should repent”. We heard from St. Isaac the Syrian with whom we are familiar. St.  Isaac begins by teaching us that for every illness, whether of the soul or body the appropriate medicine must be applied. Only then will one be cured. We must apply the appropriate remedy to the passion that afflicts us the most.

St. Isaac gives us two examples this evening of men pierced to the heart with contrition. Both impose upon themselves penances that seem disturbingly severe to modern sensibilities. But it is precisely here that we must suspend judgment and allow ourselves to consider the deeper action at work in the hearts of these men. We must ask the question: Could they ever know the joy of the hand of mercy reaching out to them and lifting them up out of their sin and offering them forgiveness if they first did not experience the depth of sorrow for their sin against love? Having been so cut off from the spiritual tradition and developing such a truncated view of the human person that is often either overly intellectual or psychological, we tend not grasp the wound of sin and the effect that it has upon our relationship with God. We do not see what we have become in Christ; that we are God-bearers and that we have been imbued with His own Spirit that searches the depths of our souls. We have become so isolated from one another that we no longer see the radical solidarity that exists between ourselves and each other in our sin. How can we know anything about either the depth of compunction that arises from a heart that mourns the loss of love and will do anything to regain it or of the beauty and tenderness of the mercy of God that reaches out to touch us and raise us up?

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Text of chat during the group:

00:22:16 Tyler Woloshyn: This reminds me in many way of the many saints of the east who bore the title, "Fools for Christ" who took on those self-imposed penance to maximize their humility as a witness to those who are indifferent otherwise to the gospel.

00:23:12 carolnypaver: Why does he say “the rule” put him in chains?

00:24:42 Joseph Muir: What page are we on?😀

00:24:58 carolnypaver: 31

00:25:02 Tyler Woloshyn: 30

00:25:04 Tyler Woloshyn: 31

00:25:05 Joseph Muir: Much thanks!

00:30:10 Tyler Woloshyn: When I think of red hot piercing contrition it reminds me of The Great Canon of Saint Andrew of Crete during Great Lent.  Prayerful and very catechetical.

00:53:43 renwitter: Most. Beautiful. Story. Yet. *heart*

01:03:08 Lilly Crystal: Amen!

01:14:34 Lilly Crystal: Yes! It’s so sad here in Toronto!

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