Philokalia Ministries
The Evergetinos - Vol. I, Hypothesis VIII Part III

The Evergetinos - Vol. I, Hypothesis VIII Part III

August 31, 2021

Continuing with Hypothesis VIII and considering the experience of those who die and come back to life, we are brought to a place of self-reflection that we often resist. The only thing that we take out of this world is either our virtue or our vice. Saint Ephraim tells us tonight that it is the it voice of these sins that will bear witness to the truth about our lives before God. 

Again we must strive to think about this in the full context of our faith and what God has revealed to us. God, we are told, wills that all be saved and does everything in his power to bring us to salvation. In His Son He has revealed to us his love and his mercy and he has given us the fullness of his grace in order to elevate us to the very life and the love of the Trinity. We must see our lives in light of this ultimate reality and our engagement with the world around us must be given shaped by this distinctive identity. There is no in-between state for us as Christian men and women. Life has been given to us for repentance; that is, in order to turn toward God and to receive his grace and mercy. We must not through heedlessness or sloth elevate other things above God and make them our idols. The stories that we are presented with tonight call out to us: “Now is the time, now is the moment of salvation.” Let us pray that we would have ears to hear.


Text of chat during the group:

00:11:56 John Clark: The 3 key ingredients in French cooking..Butter..butter..and butter!
00:34:11 Ambrose: gaudium et spes
00:37:39 Lilly: in the wise words of an old man ... ‘god meets us where we are’
00:40:06 Tyler Woloshyn: Like the Old Testament Brazen Snake was made for good, it did get corrupted when misused for the wrong reasons.  It can be the same when people worship liturgy above God.
00:40:15 Joseph Muir: Thank God that He does, Lily!
00:57:11 Tyler Woloshyn: A priest once said, he would rather encounter people who are "theologically stupid" rather than the  career theologian who runs people over to put them down to reach the next theology book."
00:58:56 Joseph Muir: Which reminds me all the more, Tyler, that the greatest theologians are those who pray the most❤
00:59:41 Ambrose: GS 44-45 touch on this engagement as well as the priority of the Gospel and the person and work of Christ.
01:02:20 Eric Williams: At least you didn’t quote Only The Good Die Young. ;)
01:02:28 Tyler Woloshyn: Praying without ceasing makes great theologians. Good input their Joseph about prayerful theologians.
01:02:58 Joseph Muir: Hahahaha, wait, what Billy Joel song was he referencing?
01:06:24 Ambrose: Fr. A shared this recently. Thought it was great. If you are an eye-witness of your brother falling [into sin], say without hesitation: “A curse on you, Satan! My brother is not to blame”, and strengthen your heart against judging your brother, or the Holy Spirit will withdraw from you.
Anonymous Sayings of the Desert Fathers
01:06:30 Eric Williams: Even vice is sort of a product now (maybe always was?). “Collect them all! Don’t be left out!”
01:09:40 Eric Williams: Billy Joel lyric:
01:09:45 Eric Williams: “You can get just so much
From a good thing
You can linger too long
In your dreams
Say goodbye to the
Oldies but goodies
‘Cause the good ole days weren’t
Always good
And tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems”
01:10:10 Eric Williams: Keeping the Faith, from the album An Innocent Man
01:10:40 Francesca pineda (30): Oh no! I missed what Paul of Thebes said because my phone died!
01:15:06 Francesca pineda (30): Thank you


Letters of Spiritual Direction to a Young Soul - Letter Sixty-One Part II, Letter Sixty-Two Part I

Letters of Spiritual Direction to a Young Soul - Letter Sixty-One Part II, Letter Sixty-Two Part I

August 26, 2021

St. Theophan continues to nourish the young Anastasia with solid food. He guides her deeper and deeper into the spiritual life and warfare. 

We began this evening with Letter 61 where Theophan teaches Anastasia about guarding the senses of hearing and sight. Often the present generation neglects the constant state of receptivity that we find ourselves in as human beings; the intense amount stimuli that the mind and the heart have to engage. We must learn to discriminate between those things that are destructive to our relationship with God or those things that help to elevate it. 

In Letter 62 Theophan begins to make a distinction between active warfare with the passions and spiritual warfare. The spiritual warfare is everything that he has been speaking to her about; guarding the thoughts, feelings, and the desires that give rise to the Passions.  To progress in this arena is the larger part of the spiritual life and leads to holiness. However, active warfare with the passions consist in the deliberate undertaking and carrying out of actions that are directly opposed to the Passions. This, to combat pride a person might embrace a humble occupation or to combat carousing one might stay at home more frequently. When the inner spiritual warfare is tied to this active combat, the passions will soon be defeated. This makes Theophan‘s counsel priceless.


Text of chat during the group:

01:08:33 Eric Williams: Tiny homes would be wonderful blessings for the homeless, if only so many cities didn’t ban them for violating building codes (for minimum square footage). :(
01:17:48 Natalia Wohar: Watch the movie “1917”
01:17:57 Eric Williams: You’re a Theophan…fan ;)
01:18:40 Rachel: Thank you.


The Evergetinos - Vol. I, Hypothesis VIII Part II

The Evergetinos - Vol. I, Hypothesis VIII Part II

August 25, 2021

There are times when reading the Fathers or the gospel when one walks away feeling as if the earth is shifting beneath one’s feet; or one begins to question their perception of who they are, their identity as a Christian, and whether or not they are living it fully or if it is an illusion. As difficult as it is to consider such things, and as hard as they strike at the heart, they are often the most important things for us to reflect upon. To consider the truth about death and judgment as in Hypothesis VIII in an unvarnished fashion and to let it create tension within the mind and the heart, is something that perhaps relatively few people are willing to do. We grow comfortable in our illusions. To understand that we are being invited into the very mystery of God, the mystery of our redemption and the life that it is made possible, requires a willingness to make an ascent of faith. It means to allow ourselves to let go of all limitations and to allow God to draw us through the darkness of our faith to comprehend what he desires to reveal to us and as he desires to reveal to us. It is always love that is behind this but our experience of it and our resistance to it in our sin or our fear can make us turn away. Like Saint Peter it is our love and trust in Christ at those moments, when our sensibilities rebel or recoil, that allows us to say, “Lord where are we to go? You have the words of everlasting life.“


Text of chat during the group:

00:54:00 Lilly Crystal: The last sentence “Now, at the setting of the sun, you remember God?” reminds me of the Hymn sung at Vespers- O Joyful Light
01:07:43 Ambrose: That always gives me tingles.
01:22:33 D Fraley: Thank you Fr David.



Letters of Spiritual Direction to a Young Soul - Letter Sixty-one Part I

Letters of Spiritual Direction to a Young Soul - Letter Sixty-one Part I

August 20, 2021

Tonight we began Letter 61. St. Theophan begins to teach Anastasia about the necessity of guarding the senses, in particular hearing and sight. This is especially challenging in modern times when there are so many sources of stimuli. Nonetheless, Theophan tells her they all hold their influence on the person and guide them either toward the good or toward the evil. Therefore, one must not give free reign to the senses.

Do not allow yourself to see everything and hear everything but rather be extremely discriminating. A person who opens up a window and lets in bad air is doing wrong and likewise the person who fills a cup of dirty water from a puddle and pours it over himself is stupid. We do the same when opening ourselves to evil feelings and desires. We act without prudence and responsibility and we subject ourselves to stimuli through the things that we see in hear throughout the course of the day. It is necessary instead for us to rush immediately to blot out the stimulus and to suppress the thoughts by taking them captive through turning the mind and the heart to God in prayer.

By leaving evil within ourselves for a long time we give it the opportunity to become more deeply implanted and opposed to expulsion and cleansing. It can take possession of the mind. Theophan, in a very stark way, tells Anastasia that a person who has experienced harm from a stimulus and willingly allows himself to encounter the objects again shows that in reality he delights in the evil; and so is impure to the bottom of the heart. Again, to modern sensibilities this seems harsh or unyielding. But we hold something precious within us - the very love and grace of God and we are to protect it. And so as Jesus says: if your hand causes you to sin cut it off or if your eye causes you to sin pluck it out. There will be certain things that we have to do without in the course of our life in order to protect that which has greater value. In the struggle with temptations the coward is the victor - he who flees or rather runs toward God.


Text of chat during group:

00:17:09 Joseph Muir: My wife is pretty spotty, so we’ll see if I make it through the whole group

00:17:15 Joseph Muir: WIFI*🤣

00:17:42 renwitter: hahahahahahaha

00:18:31 Ashley Kaschl: 😂😂😂

00:33:39 Edward Kleinguetl: "When a thought arises, cut it off at once with the Prayer of Jesus. If you start examining it, it will stick to you and you will get interested in it. It will chain you and you will have agreement with it and will start thinking how to fulfill it. And then you will perform it in deed, and this is how sin arises."  (Elder Michael the Recluse of Valaam)

00:44:51 Joseph Muir: All of this is why I stopped watching Black Mirror. As much of a fan as I am of dystopian literature and stories, I found that, as the seasons progressed, it more consistently went down paths that I, in good conscience, couldn’t justify in watching it anymore.

01:03:58 Lilly Crystal: Theology of the Body by St. P. John Paul II has been an amazing resource for my personal struggles regarding topics as such :

01:11:57 Ashley Kaschl: Well shoot 😂

01:13:30 Sheila Applegate: I had to stop Black Mirror too and keep far away from Games of Thrones which as a fantasy lover and reader of the first book (and appauled) I know I would be addicted too.

01:17:19 carolnypaver: “Renew the I Do” is an excellent pre-marriage prep program.

01:18:16 Lilly Crystal: @carolyn where can I find that?

01:18:37 Art: The Catholic Guide 
Friendship and Chastity for young adults and older teens (but great for all ages with great chapters on True Friendship and Choice of a Marriage Partner)

01:20:37 carolnypaver: Contact Dolores Shipe and ask if there is a program in Canada.  412-760-3177 She is in the Pittsburgh Diocese.

01:21:36 Lilly Crystal: @carolyn thank you so much :)

01:21:47 Mark Cummings: Love will keep us together- Captain and Tennile

01:24:10 Lilly Crystal: Same here lol

01:24:55 renwitter: Father David has been known to honk at Newman Center couples when he drives by them holding hands and walking down the sidewalk :-D

01:25:08 Mark Cummings: Date night is the best night to shine up my shotgun

01:25:12 Ashley Kaschl: 😂😂😂

01:25:34 Callie Eisenbrandt: Lol



The Evergetinos - Vol. I, Hypothesis VIII Part I

The Evergetinos - Vol. I, Hypothesis VIII Part I

August 18, 2021

In Hypothesis VIII, we found ourselves considering something that is rather jarring to our sensibilities. We began listening to Saint Gregory the Great on the experience of those who die and come to life again and how this can happen by Divine Providence. We are presented with stories of those who are brought to deep repentance when they began to see that fearful state of Hell. We are also shown that such experiences may take place by God‘s providence perhaps not for the conversion of the one who is dying but for those who witness the the terror of the death of one outside of the grace of God and lacking a repentant heart. There is a fierce love at work bringing about our redemption and that fierceness shows itself by stripping us of any illusions about our lives; illusions either about our own mortality or the immortality of the soul. We see our great dignity and destiny in Christ. We are offered life eternal and an experience of union with the Triune God. However, this immortality of the soul outside of the context of our relationship with Christ presents us with a fearful reality; life without God and eternal death. God and his providence will scourge us in order to correct us and draw us back to the path that leads to life. He will allow us to taste the consequence and the bitterness of our own sin in order that we might turn away from it and hate it. This may not be easy to listen to and our inclination may be to turn away from it or to sanitize it. But if we strip the gospel of its teachings on the last things, if we remove the challenging thoughts of Christ in regards to the unbridgeable chasm that exist between heaven and hell, we lose sight of both our dignity and the weight and significance of our choices in this world. If the stories lead us to repentance they will ultimately lead us to joy; for they will lead us back to the bosom of God. Therefore we must not fear them and we must not avoid them - but allow them to shine their fearsome light upon us.


Text of chat during the group:

00:16:07 Eric Williams: Father forgot to mute everyone, so everyone check your mics! :)

00:16:23 Edward Kleinguetl: Thanks!

00:21:36 Tyler Woloshyn: He was also the author of the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts in the Byzantine church.

00:33:46 Ambrose: The staff is for beating off the wolves. :)

00:39:19 Eric Williams: Like what I was saying about young married priests in the East not having older priest families to learn from.

00:48:32 Edward Kleinguetl: Heb. 12:6.

00:49:58 Edward Kleinguetl: "For whom the Lord loves, he disciplines;  he scourges every son he acknowledges.”

00:51:59 Eric Williams: “My child, do not despise the Lord’s discipline
    or be weary of his reproof,
for the Lord reproves the one he loves,
    as a father the son in whom he delights.” - Proverbs 3:11-12

00:52:02 renwitter: We do not always want to draw that connection between suffering and sin though, right? Christ himself addressed that, and I think of job’s friends trying to convince him that all he is suffering is a result of sin, which it wasn’t. Isn’t suffering also something given to us as a means of drawing us closer to Christ in His passion?

00:52:22 Erick Chastain: oh yeah for sure, not always

00:53:55 Eric Williams: ““How happy is the one whom God reproves;
    therefore do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.[d]
For he wounds, but he binds up;
    he strikes, but his hands heal.” - Job 5:17-18

00:54:31 Edward Kleinguetl: Abba Dorotheos of Gaza: “In God’s providence everything is absolutely right and whatever happens is for the assistance of the soul. For whatever God does with us, he does out of love and consideration for us because it is adapted to our needs.”

01:17:01 Edward Kleinguetl: I met him, April 2, 2019, on Mt. Kolzam.

01:29:30 Nicole: Thank you!!!

01:29:59 D Fraley: Thank you Father David




Letters of Spiritual Direction to a Young Soul - Letter Sixty Part II

Letters of Spiritual Direction to a Young Soul - Letter Sixty Part II

August 5, 2021

Sometimes a great question can lead a group in exactly the right direction!  That was true this evening in our discussion of Letter 60 of Saint Theophan‘s correspondence with Anastasia.

So often the spiritual life can seem amorphous. Yet, how is it lived practically? How is it that we direct anger at the passions and what does that look like? Sometimes the spiritual life and the warfare that Theophan describes can seem frightening - let alone confusing. Understanding this leads us right where we need to be. The Fathers of the Church understood that our faith is not simply a set of beliefs or an ideology. It is essentially ascetical; that is, a response to God‘s revelation of Himself to us and His revelation of what the Paschal Mystery has made possible for us.

Our destiny in Christ is to share in the life of the most Holy Trinity. But this involves a response to the grace that God has given to us. That response is repentance; a constant turning toward God and away from the passions.

The nature of the passions make this a Warfare. We must invest ourselves with a kind of aggression to kill the passions. They are like serpents seeking to reach the surface from within a pit. The Saints tell us we must strike each one of them down until we have killed them. We must not nourish them through a kind of sympathy towards their presence in our lives. In fact, we must poison them with a holy anger that would strike down anything within the human heart that becomes an impediment to our sharing in the love of God.

This is, Theophan tells us, the “shortest path” to purifying the heart and there is no other. We may develop our natural virtues to a high extent but without engaging in this battle we will remain passionate and we will become like the foolish virgins described in the gospel who run out of oil.  We cannot borrow virtue, faith, or love from another. Our hearts must burn with desire for the Heavenly Bridegroom.


Text of chat during the group:

00:20:16 Ashley Kaschl: Don’t know how long I’ll be able to stay/have service but hopefully I’ll get to stay the whole time.

00:44:28 Ashley Kaschl: I think the problem, at least that I’ve confronted, is that people are afraid to start in earnest in any spiritual warfare in their lives because they have a preconceived notion or image from the culture that they’re scared off.

00:56:14 Ashley Kaschl: Gotta go, everyone. Taking off again 😁 great to see you all!

01:02:13 Carole: Safe travels!!


The Evergetinos - Vol. I, Hypothesis VII Part IV

The Evergetinos - Vol. I, Hypothesis VII Part IV

August 4, 2021

This evening we concluded Hypothesis VII of the first volume of The Evergetinos. Once again we considered the experience of death of two saintly figures, St. Daniel the Stylite and Abba Sisoes. We begin to see in these two men how their constant repentance and the embrace of God’s grace brought forth, in anticipation, the life of the kingdom. The presence of the saints and angels, the light of Christ and the transformation of their countenance, all speak of the glory that lies on the other side of death. The stories are meant to awaken within us the desire for God and the life of virtue and to give us a lively sense of hope as we approach our own deaths. We are to allow these examples to spur us on in the spiritual life and to do so we must not read them simply in a notional way. Rather we must gaze upon them and listen to them with the eyes and ears of faith; such that we begin to comprehend the mystery of the Kingdom itself. Indeed this should be the posture of every man and woman of faith. We must look at all things in the light of what has been revealed to us in Christ; for only then will we begin to understand our true dignity and destiny as the redeemed Sons and Daughters of God.


Text of chat during the group:

00:27:55 Eric Williams: Probably a lounge lizard. ;)

00:31:15 renwitter: Honestly, I feel super awkward when the priest begins confession by saying “Welcome!” Instead of making the sign of the cross. Its like….ummmm…thank you?

00:32:11 Michael Liccione: I'm just relieved to get a priest who doesn't need convincing that my sins are sins!

00:32:20 renwitter: Wow Joe. Ditto to everything you’ve said so far.

00:32:41 Erick Chastain: my secret is my own y'all

00:33:09 carolnypaver: You mean, “yinz.”

00:33:26 renwitter: Ooo….the Saint Philip influence is rubbing off on Erick :D

00:33:49 Daniel Allen: Erick Chastain for the win!

00:33:50 Erick Chastain: am I allowed to use yinz as a non-Pittsburgher?

00:34:02 carolnypaver: Absolutely!

00:34:25 carolnypaver: ; )

00:35:33 Joseph Muir: I maybe lived in Pittsburgh for 11 years, but it was prefaced  with 25 years in Georgia, so my vote will always be for “y’all” over “yinz”

00:35:56 carolnypaver: Snob!  ; )

00:36:44 Joseph Muir: Having now been in the NYC area for 2 years, we’ll see if “you’s guys” eventually enters my lexicon🤣

00:37:25 carolnypaver: NYC——so sorry to hear.   : (

00:38:04 Joseph Muir: Not a fan, I take it, eh, Carolyn?😆

00:38:50 carolnypaver: Visited once…not impressed.  One-and-done for me. Thank you very much.

00:39:48 carolnypaver: The ‘Burgh is the place for me.  People are friendlier, I have found.

00:40:48 Joseph Muir: Half of my family is originally from here, so a part of it has always felt like home. I also get to hang out a lot with the Missionaries of Charity, Sisters of Life, and Franciscan Friars of the Renewal a lot, which is a blessing (I went to the profession of final vows Mass for the Franciscans yesterday afternoon, actually ❤)

00:41:39 carolnypaver: Awesome!  You’re in a good part of NYC!  ; )

00:42:34 Ambrose: Who is “the Church”? We is the Church. :)

00:44:56 Jonathan Rodriguez: Great point Eric

00:45:00 Daniel Allen: Facebook and Twitter... the “anti-church”? The depth of a puddle, I like that a lot.

00:45:08 Joseph Muir: That’s a very theologically astute observation, Fr Ambrose!😀

00:47:31 Ambrose: Just a mister Ambrose. There is a Fr. Ambrose Little, O.P. in the St. Joseph province (Eastern USA), who I have occasionally been mixed up with. I don’t mind, but poor Fr. Ambrose! lol

00:48:32 sue and mark: understood that the confessional was sacrosanct and can not be hears by the demons.  Isn't that true?

00:50:58 Eric Williams: “Who is the Church?” That’s a great thought and something that should convict us. I was thinking more of the institutional Church, though. We’ve had so many generations of poorly catechized members of the Church that we’re a chaotic mess of well-intentioned klutzes. It seems to me - and I’m frequently wrong - that our leaders have let us down and left us hanging. Too many of us are wandering sheep without reliable shepherds. To mix metaphors, we’re the blind leading the blind.

00:52:34 Ambrose: I dare say that is the perennial reality of the Church—always something of a mess; always in need of reform.

00:53:21 Joseph Muir: On that point, Eric, I’ve been listening to the Bible In A Year podcast from Fr Mike Schmitz ever since the start of this year, and looking at the Facebook group, the comments and questions are so all over the place, in a way that demonstrates the poor catechesis

00:53:45 Joseph Muir: I should probably leave the group, for the sake of my own soul🤣

01:02:27 sue and mark: who would not want to die that way?

01:05:12 Joseph Muir: “Noble simplicity”🙄

01:05:26 Lilly: Agree 100% Fr David

01:13:10 Eric Williams: In other words, we don’t overcome sin, per se, so much as we acknowledge that we are always sinning. So, we must be in perpetual repentence.

01:13:41 Joseph Muir: Found the article😀:

01:13:56 Lilly: @Eric well said.

01:14:47 Ambrose: The “art” of repentance. A good term for it. Always room to improve and further our art.

01:14:51 Eric Williams: The secret to the Hulk controlling his rage was acknowledging that he’s always angry, rather than blaming his outbursts on particular outrages. He stopped treating his anger as someone else’s fault. He’s always angry, so he is always dangerous.

01:16:32 Joseph Muir: Amen, Eric. This is also why it’s healthier to not simply see sin as the bad things that we do and say and think, but it is the state of our broken selves due to our inheriting this brokenness by virtue of original sin. We aren’t simply sinners due to our commiting individual acts of sin; we are sinners due to inheriting a sinful nature, a disease which only the God can cure us of in in the church, via the sacraments and prayer

01:17:12 Jonathan Rodriguez: Thank you!

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