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

The Evergetinos - Vol. I, Hypothesis XIII, Part V

November 30, 2021

Tonight we continued with Hypothesis 13 -  considering once again living a remote life; removing oneself from the things of this world and anything that could arouse the passions. So often we find ourselves walking along the edge of a pit, giving no attention to the nature of our thoughts and where they are leading us. It is only by developing that awareness and drawing closer to God through stillness and simplicity of thought that we become further removed from danger. 

Once again we are given stories of those who choose different paths in their lives. What comes through clearly in these stories is that all that is done without clarity about what is within one’s own heart and one’s need for God, all that is done outside of the grace of God is fruitless. We are impotent to change the world much less to change ourselves outside of this relationship. We are all called to enter into the desert.  We are all called to allow the stormy waters to be stilled by Christ in order that we might see not only the truth about our sin but also see the depths of God’s love and mercy. All is Grace and in this alone do we find true comfort and peace.

---

Text of chat during the group:

00:20:27 carolnypaver: Page??
 
00:20:39 carolnypaver: Thank you!
 
00:22:13 Daniel Allen: What page are we on.
 
00:22:21 carolnypaver: 112
 
00:22:29 Daniel Allen: Thank you
 
00:32:09 Anthony: In the Rule of St. Basil, Basil seems to say "we monks have chosen the easier path to single mindedness, but except to marriage, all of us are called to the same standard of going out of the world"  And he specifically names going out from apostates.
 
00:39:39 Lyle: What a blessing to hear that.
 
00:39:49 Anthony: Is sitting before an icon truly like or equivalent to sitting before the Blessed Sacrament?
 
00:53:02 Justin Massengill : If everyone wouldn't mind, there is a young girl in my neighborhood who was just diagnosed with leukemia. In your charity please pray for her and her family. Her name is Ila. 
 
00:54:08 Lyle: Will add her to my prayer list.  Thanks for sharing.
 
01:05:21 Justin Massengill : Do the Eastern Fathers and later Byzantine writers ever touch on the phenomena of scrupulosity?
 
01:11:30 Rachel Pineda: I think Bishop Sheen talks about how one can become very holy, even and perhaps especially, in occupations like a janitor.
 
01:21:10 Rachel Pineda: Wow!! St. John Climacus, pray for us!
 
01:23:13 Daniel Allen: “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.”

 

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

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

November 29, 2021

How I cherish these opportunities to read St. Theophan and to share in the rich of the discussion and joy of the members of the group.  St. Theophan clearly loves his directee, Anastasia, and this transmits  to her and all of us what it is to be in love with Christ and to subordinate all things to Him. Theophan is a true elder if there ever was one!

Synopsis:

Tonight we concluded Letter 69 with St. Theophan‘s discussion of an evangelical preacher that Anastasia had encountered. Again, he warns her to be discriminating in giving this individual any attention. Despite his stressing the importance of the Holy Spirit, which is indeed true, everything else this man says reveals that he knows absolutely nothing about the Spirit or how the Spirit is received. He lacks a sense of the importance of the experience of God, especially in and through the sacramental life. It is through the holy mysteries that God draws us into his life and enlivens us with his Spirit. To lack these realities, failing to participate in them, is to lack that which is essential.  

In letter 70, Theophan continues to discuss with Anastasia the importance of discrimination in regards to reading spiritual books and secular books. He begins with two examples - Saint Anthony the Great and  Saint Seraphim of Sarov. Neither man was well educated in worldly terms but each had a deep experiential knowledge of God. Pursuing only worldly knowledge, Theophan warns Anastasia, can be detrimental. If it pushes out the life of faith and the primacy of the spiritual life, then it is to be removed for it as a threat to our very salvation. If we are “backwards” in the ways of the world what does that matter to us so long as we have Christ?  If we lack many things in this world, including worldly knowledge, but have Christ - we lack nothing!

---

Text of chat during the group:

00:09:25 Ashley Kaschl: I have to go 😭 please let me in if I can come back 😂🙏
 
00:09:34 FrDavid Abernethy, CO: will do!
 
00:11:10 Anthony: You could make an Old Believer oil lamp.
 
00:45:07 Anthony: Be backwards.  This is like the great satisfaction craftsmen feel, like in my Blacksmith Guild.  There is something both backwards and deeply fulfilling in the tradition.
 
00:46:22 renwitter: You can find the first installment in the series here: https://youtu.be/17NVp4h_aJs
 
00:47:42 Lilly (Canada): Thank you @Ren :)
 
00:53:41 Anthony: Seeing no sense in religious life was part of the heresy of "Josephism" in the 1700s/1800s. and I think in Jansenism.
 
00:55:50 Rachel Pineda: That's a much kinder take on .. "but what do you do?' than I had..lol
 
01:01:36 Anthony: St Francis Xavier
 
01:04:07 renwitter: Thats just the tuition for a year, not room and board
 
01:04:31 Fr. Miron Kerul-Kmec Jr.: 😱
 
01:11:11 Anthony: Talk show host Michael Savage embodied this struggle with Cynicism, and reality.
 
01:11:38 Eric Williams: An ironic quote from an atheist: 
“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”
Friedrich Nietzsche
 
01:19:33 Eric Williams: Church as NGO. Ugh.
 
01:20:28 George: God bless. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.✌️
 
01:20:37 Lilly (Canada): Thank you Father
 
01:20:43 Rachel Pineda: lol
 
01:20:58 Rachel Pineda: Thank you Father and everyone!
 
01:21:08 Rachel Pineda: God bless and Happy Thanksgiving.
 
01:21:09 Ann Grimak: Thank you 🙏 Father
 
01:21:13 Eric Williams: We're all gluttons! Get thee to confession! ;)
 
01:22:21 Anthony: Thank you!
 
01:23:01 sue and mark: God bless you Father.  Will pray for all

 

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

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

November 23, 2021

Tonight we continued our discussion of hypothesis 13. The fundamental focus is a turning away from the things of this world; not because they are evil in and of themselves but rather because of our capacity to make them ends in themselves. We can be seduced, as it were, by our own desires or by the evil one into seeking our identity in the things of this world. This can be obvious or ever so subtle, but it has the same effect; we get caught up in what is false and delusional. 

To combat this we must avoid certain comforts and avoid the softness to which we tend. The habits that we fall into are only overcome by asceticism - by striving to exercise our faith in such away that it orders our desires and keeps us away from diversions. Asceticism is not simply about self-restraint. It is about removing every impediment to loving God and giving ourselves in love. Thus, Christ himself becomes the standard for us - from his struggle in the desert with the devil to his embrace of the Cross on Mount Calvary. 

We must cling to our identity in Christ. We must set aside the false self and live for God who alone satisfies the deepest desires of the human heart.

---

Text of chat during the group: 

00:01:34 D Fraley: Hello everyone.
 
00:01:49 FrDavid Abernethy, CO: Navy Dave!
 
00:17:15 Lilly (Canada): What page are we on?
 
00:17:38 Fr. Miron Kerul-Kmec Jr.: 110
 
00:27:46 Anthony: How hard it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven?
 
00:29:39 Justin Massengill : Iv'e heard St Francis described as a western fool-for-Christ.
 
00:36:26 Anthony: Then it seems to me that a mortal sin happens when the will is fully drawn after errant senses.
 
00:45:24 Anthony: False truth, false goodness, false beauty
 
00:46:41 Anthony: Erick, E. Michael Jones has a decent overview of how modern science was partly driven by the drive to pursue magic
 
01:04:43 Eric Williams: Some monasteries sell coffee beans. ;)
 
01:05:05 Erick Chastain: Mount athos offers coffee to guests
 
01:05:28 Eric Williams: There is no field! 😛
 
01:06:05 Justin Massengill : I heard they don't bathe on Mt Athos 
 
01:13:27 Rachel: Yay! St Gregory!
 
01:14:21 D Fraley: Thank you Father!
 
01:14:31 Rachel: Thanks everyone. Good questions and comments!

 

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

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

November 18, 2021

Wow!  What a wonderful and spirited discussion tonight!  We certainly approached some topics - both personal and cultural - that were weighty and deserving of extra time and attention.  Thank you all for you great questions and comments as always!

Synopsis:

Tonight we continued with Letter 69 on depression and fear. 
Theophan‘s focus, however, shifts to speaking about things that could possibly draw Anastasia away from the fullness of the faith, make her question her practice of the faith, or the path that she has been set upon. 

An old friendship had been broken off. Yet Theophan would not have her try to preserve the relationship at the cost of something greater. Certain relationships falter over time or become toxic. Anastasia should simply be at peace and act charitably towards this past friend, but not seek to immerse herself once again in a relationship that could not bear good fruit. 

Likewise, Theophan then began to express his concerns about someone who saw himself as an apostle; one who was evangelical in spirit and who had inserted himself into the Russian culture proclaiming a gospel and a faith of his own; creating something that was disconnected from the lived reality of the Church. For similar reasons, then, Theophan would have her avoid this man at all costs. She had the fullness of the faith as well as the participation in the Holy Mysteries. She should not substitute this for the particular charisms of a single man. Throughout the centuries the church has been attacked by various heresies and she must see her personal spiritual struggle in light of that broader context.

---

00:07:29 FrDavid Abernethy, CO: Starting on page 270 with “That you broke off”
 
00:11:29 Lyle: Hope everyone had a good week.  I'll be right back.  A stray dog showed up.
 
00:54:28 Eric Williams: Regarding Christians of separated and deficient sects, perhaps these lines from St John’s gospel apply: “And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd.”
 
01:03:13 Ann Grimak: I am very agree Father
 
01:15:24 Wayne Mackenzie: gotta go
 
01:17:46 Ann Grimak: Love is not emotional,love is very deep
 
01:20:20 renwitter: Also, just want to put out there, for anyone who has not heard of him or read him: If there is interest in reading something that witnesses to, as Father says, a great integration of life in the spirit, as understood in recent times, and faithfulness to the Church, check out Raniero Cantalamessa. He is quite extraordinary, and has been the Preacher to the Papal Household chosen personally by Saint John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Pope Francis. My favorites of his are St. Francis and the Cross, Virginity (not really about virginity, per se, but rather the celibate vocations), and, most relevant to this discussion, Sober Intoxication of the Spirit.
 
01:21:50 Lyle: Thanks, Ren.
 
01:23:06 Rachel: Wonderful class! Thank you, God bless everyone. 🙏
 
01:23:11 Eric Williams: I’ll second that recommendation. I haven’t read those particular books, but the ones I have read have been superb - and short!
 
01:24:43 Anthony: Msgr. Knox has a good criticism on Enthusiastic movements.  The podcast "Paleocrat Diaries" recently conducted a survey of the book.
 
01:27:13 renwitter: The full text of the verse:
 
Though with a scornful wonder 
Men see her sore oppressed, 
By schisms rent asunder, 
By heresies distressed, 
Yet saints their watch are keeping; 
Their cry goes up, "How long?" 
And soon the night of weeping 
Shall be the morn of song.
 
01:28:10 Anthony: Protestantism by nature lacks the standpoint to determine with authority what is heresy; by nature, then, it must, to be consistent, tolerate heresy among itself.
 
01:44:39 George: a lot of the problems of sectarianism, charismatics, etc which have been discussed tonight could be easily resolved with a greater exercise of the incensive power. far too many profane thoughts, preliminary judgements, ecstatic emotions. it's like a shipwrecked body being dragged down a craggy ravine. the notion of the incensive power is one of the Eastern Church's greatest gifts.
 
01:45:49 Anthony: St. Theophan's concern regarding the English sectarian reminds me of the great damage to persons' faith done by "Family Radio" for years. That kind of potential damage must be cut off.
 
01:45:55 Andreea and Anthony: The book from which I read the quotes of the Second Vatican Council, Blessed Pope Paul VI, Pope St. John Paul II, and Pope Benedict XVI is “Lord Renew Your Wonders: Spiritual Gifts for Today” by Damian Stayne, the founder of the Catholic community Cor et Lumen Christi recognized by the Vatican.
 
01:46:38 Ann Grimak: Thank you 🙏 Father

 

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

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

November 16, 2021

Tonight‘s discussion drew the group into what was more and  more beautiful. Hypothesis 13 is focused upon remoteness; but not simply a physical remoteness - the removing of ourselves from our external realities and circumstances. Rather, it is removing ourselves from our attachment to the things of this world. The Scriptures tell us that he who loves the world is at enmity  with God. As we strive to draw close to God we are led to let go of our attachment not only to the things of this world but to the internal identity that has often been shaped by them. More and more we are to put on the mind of Christ and this means not only dying to sin but to self. Throughout the course of our life we often fashion a false identity. We succumb to the illusion, even in the most subtle of ways, that our lives can be understood outside of the context of our relationship with God as our Creator and Redeemer. The more that we embrace that illusion the more isolated we become from God and one another. We lose a true sense of who we are and our inherent value.  However, God does not abandon us in the state of spiritual sadness but rather enters into it and by His grace draws us to Himself in the most beautiful way. He reveals Himself in our deepest weakness and vulnerability and it is there that we see the depths of His love. Suddenly all that is dark and ugly, all that seems most empty within our hearts, becomes filled with His light and the hope that He alone offers.

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Text of chat during the group:

00:04:53 Rachel Pineda: Hello to the group...cant hear anything as I put it on mute because my Mom showed up for a bit. God bless to all.
 
00:09:19 Rachel Pineda: Some of my kids want to say hello to the group...we have been listening to the podcasts in the car
 
00:09:50 D Fraley: I was told there would be snacks.
 
00:10:13 Rachel Pineda: lol
 
00:10:58 D Fraley: I have stale pretzels but not enough for everyone.
 
00:11:11 Rachel Pineda: Prayers!
 
00:18:19 Anthony: Dante: I found myself in the midday of my life, alone in the dark woods....
 
00:19:22 Ashley Kaschl: Would this demon of sadness be the noonday devil (Acedia)?
 
00:20:42 Anthony: Ashley, acedia the closest I can think of to this "feeling," but it sounds a bit different?
 
00:23:58 Mark J. Kelly: Yes. Acedie is the Noon Day Demon
 
00:28:17 Anthony: huh.  And on the natural level, don't drink when you are sad.
 
00:33:23 Mark J. Kelly: Excellent book on Acedia or Spiritual Depression: The Noonday Devil: Acedia, the Unnamed Evil of Our Times. https://www.amazon.com/Noonday-Devil-Acedia-Unnamed-Times/dp/158617939X/
 
00:43:40 Anthony: If we had Dom Lorenzo Scupoli's attitude, that God is a fire (of love?) and we submit our own fires of atraction and of sin to that fire "of" God, to be taken over by God, we can pass through and from this life more easily.
 
00:55:23 Ashley Kaschl: Reminds me of a quote by Michael D O’Brien "...This silence before God and man is the presence of being. Such silence speaks! Then when one's spoken words flow, they come from the true heart of one's unique identity. An identity that only the Father in Heaven knows, for it is hidden even from our own eyes." (Island of the World)
 
00:59:44 Lilly (Toronto, CA): Great books written by JPII about that topic “Man and Woman He Created Them” and “Love and Responsibility” :)
 
01:01:05 Carol Nypaver: Both are excellent books, Lilly!
 
01:10:50 Justin Massengill : Gotta go early, see you all on Wednesday, God bless!
 
01:15:06 Lilly (Toronto, CA): Great question @Rachel and excellent response @Fr David !!
 
01:21:04 Wayne Mackenzie: gota go
 
01:24:48 Carol Nypaver: Blessings to you, Father.
 
01:25:43 Rachel: The group and readings are a blessing. Thank you. Prayers!
 
01:25:46 D Fraley: Thank you, Father David!

 

Letters of Spiritual Direction to a Young Soul - Letter Sixty-Eight, Part II and Letter Sixty-Nine, Part I

Letters of Spiritual Direction to a Young Soul - Letter Sixty-Eight, Part II and Letter Sixty-Nine, Part I

November 11, 2021

Tonight we began by reading the last few paragraphs of Letter 68 to Anastasia. Here Saint Theophan tells her that she is to avoid secretiveness in the spiritual life. While privacy is certainly to be valued, in the spiritual life the revelation of one’s thoughts to one’s Confessor or Spiritual Director becomes essential. The evil one through illusory qualities leads us into deception and confuses our affairs. He watches and examines all that we think and do and, at times, even seeks to use suggestions that are good to disguise his provocations. Theophan tells Anastasia that reason alone will ultimately fail her and the evil one will seek to insert his own advice to muddy the waters and to lead her down a path that is not from God. Mistakes, he tells her, will surely come; but they will also show her how to act correctly the next time. 

Moving forward to Letter 69, we find Theophan addressing a ubiquitous reality for us as human beings; the struggle with depression and fear. Surprised that Anastasia is experiencing such things, Theophan asks her to examine her life. Is she living close to God, is she seeking to please him in every way?  It is in doing so that she will root herself in enduring peace. 

He goes on to discuss some of the causes of depression. Amusements, while they may be a gift from God and innocent can be destructive if they are not embraced in moderation. Furthermore, if they are too pleasant they will be unable to content the heart or we will be tempted to seek fulfillment within them. We must be very clear about the goal of life that we have chosen for ourselves and that it always remains in force. God is asking for our hearts and the heart desires God. We are made for Him and can only find true peace by living within Him. Without God our hearts are never satisfied; they are always bored and so we must examine ourselves from this aspect. When we do so, perhaps then we will find the door to peace.

---

Text of chat during the group:

00:17:17 Rachel: 😬
 
00:31:55 Anthony: "Let us entrust ourselves and one another and our whole lives to Christ our God." "To You O Lord." ~Liturgy of St John Chrysostom
 
00:37:45 Rachel: I love how he doesn't seem to spell it out for her...he proposes a question, for her to ponder.
 
00:49:17 Ashley Kaschl: This is especially why we shouldn’t flirt to convert 😂
 
00:50:20 renwitter: Is that advice from experience, Ashley? 😉😂
 
00:51:38 Ashley Kaschl: Second hand 😂 I ain’t got time for that
 
00:53:47 Lilly (Toronto, CA): Lol Ashley. Same girl, same. God totally fills that void. :)
 
00:57:09 renwitter: The flirting void? 🧐 Hey! He’s never flirted with me 😉. Or are you flirting with Him? Batting your eyelashes at Him in Adoration, eh?
 
00:57:34 Lilly (Toronto, CA): Lol Ren.
 
00:58:40 Wayne Mackenzie: no sense of sacrice
 
01:00:29 Joseph Muir: A lot of younger people come from such broken family backgrounds that they don’t know what a healthy relationship is or what it should look like, and thus don’t know how to pursue or maintain a healthy relationship.
 
I’m not making excuses, per se, as some of it does stem from narcissism and/or bankrupt worldviews; but, many are truly aching for love in an authentic sense, yet haven’t a clue as to how seek it out
 
01:00:39 Lilly (Toronto, CA): Totes jealous of all that time you spend with Him at Adoration ;)
 
01:04:36 Anthony: I've studies the Stoics and am studying their predecessors, the Cynics.  The Fathers, in their humility, in their cosmology, are definitely not either; they do incorporate some sense of virtue and of being the fool, but they purify those themes.
 
01:05:13 Lilly (Toronto, CA): 100% agree with you Joseph. Next generation is even more broken, being taught such sad ideas of what love is
 
01:06:54 Lilly (Toronto, CA): Thankful for Everyone’s prayers, by the way. Blessed to be back. :)
 
01:08:20 Wayne Mackenzie: Well their sense of love is not grounded in anything.
 
01:11:44 Wayne Mackenzie: Further to Joseph's comments...want the pleasure without responsibility
 
01:17:01 Lilly (Toronto, CA): Wayne…exactly :(
 
01:18:33 iPhone: ideally, we would have the log removed from our eye before we enter marriage.
 
01:19:10 Joseph Muir: While I don’t entirely disagree, in regards to being empathetic, with divorce rates being firmly north of 50%, with many people being divorced multiple times, how can children from these parents learn or know what an authentic, healthy relationship is?
 
Again, I don’t say any of this to excuse things that are outright wrong, and there certainly are promiscuous people who “want the pleasure without responsibility” (I was once one of these people)
 
01:20:31 iPhone: truly understanding it as a blessed sacrament and living that way is beautiful but the sacramental truth has been lost on most.
 
01:20:41 Amber Hackiewicz: Glory to God for All Things is a wonderful akathist written by a priest when in a prison camp. It is a wonderful meditation to do and a wonderful thing to pray to put ourselves back into perspective to where we fit in the world. It brings humility back to the soul in a prideful world.
 
 
01:21:57 renwitter: “Bless you prison, bless you for being in my life. For there, lying upon the rotting prison straw, I came to realize that the object of life is not prosperity as we are made to believe, but the maturity of the human soul.”
 
01:22:07 renwitter: - Solzhenitsyn
 
01:22:58 iPhone: beautiful - thank you
 
01:23:38 Lyle: Thanks to the Canadians (at least 30,000) who volunteered to serve in the American armed forces during the Vietnam war. At least 134 Canadians died or were reported missing in Vietnam.  
 
Don’t forget to “Hug” a Marine today – their 246st Birthday.
 
01:23:40 Ann Grimak: Thank you so much Father
 
01:23:49 Amber Hackiewicz: Thank you Father!
 
01:24:27 Lilly (Toronto, CA): Thanks Lyle. Happy Remembrance Day!
 
01:25:03 Anthony: An Italo-Greek!
 
01:25:06 Rachel: I don't really want to talk about depression and anxiety though... 😄
 
01:25:18 Rachel: Thank you!! God bless :)
 
01:25:43 Eric Williams: Now we just need Fr David to make the Pittsburgh Oratory bi-ritual .:)
 
01:26:22 Amber Hackiewicz: As an (almost) Greek Catholic, this makes me happy (:
 
01:26:29 Rachel: Our Greek Melkite priest here is from Italo Greek heritage.. such an intense and wonderful personality.
 
01:26:58 Rachel: My kids are scandalized by the group wondering why I didn't get my turn if you all are still talking lol
 
01:27:01 George: Thanks Father.

 

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

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

November 9, 2021

Amazing group tonight folks. Thank you all for your comments and questions. Wonderful as always!

Synopsis:

We continued our reading of Hypothesis 13 which puts before us the idea of moving to a remote place, of embracing exile - as it were - for the sake of living for Christ alone. The lives of the desert Fathers call us to let go of our attachment to the things of this world and all that gives us a false sense of security and stability. We are to cling to God alone. We are strangers and exiles in this world and we will be hated by it as Christ himself was hated. 

None of this calls to imitate the Fathers by going to the deserts of Egypt but rather to enter into the desert of the human heart. We are to draw back and retreat to Christ in order that we might more clearly see the depths of his love and his promise of life; as well as see the things that are an impediment to it. In our retreat into silence and prayer, and subordinating all things to our relationship with God, we prepare ourselves to fight against the enemies, the demons, until we are made free and reach the rest of the kingdom.  

Such a life is not rooted in hard work. We seek our identity not even in the performance of religious activities or driving ourselves relentlessly in the ascetical life. Rather, our worth and identity come to us from what God gives us. All is grace and it is only when we let go of the illusion that this world can provide for and fill the void within our hearts that we will come to know that love in its fullness.

---

Text of chat during the group:

00:18:00 Anthony: Clinging to God alone, nothing is secure....well, 2020 ans 2021 have offered us opportunity to ease into that kind of virtue.
 
00:23:28 Anthony: From historian Charles Coulombe I learned that our valuing of excessive work is a Puritan deformity.
 
00:33:56 Joseph Muir: Of course there is value in being diligent and having a good work ethic, of being responsible and goal oriented, and of planning for the future. With that said, this tendency of finding one’s identity in their work is, I think, where one veers off course
 
01:08:49 Justin Massengill : No, Justin is my Christian name which I tend to use since my conversion. 
 
01:14:37 Ambrose Little: It’s hard to put much value in “hard work” without ending up serving it and having it become a significant measure against which we judge ourselves. We cannot serve both God and mammon. Where our treasure is, there is our heart. It seems so very easy to get sucked in, ever so incrementally so that we don’t even realize it’s happening, until one day what started as a tame regard for our how hard we work has become our identity and our master.  If on the other hand, we prize above all else pleasing and loving God and making that our only goal, we can guard against that danger. 
 
At some point in our lives, this may mean working hard. At another, perhaps when we are sick, it may mean simply offering our suffering to God and offering the simplest of prayers. In health, in sickness, in work, in play—all in God and to God and for God, with gratitude and trust.
 
01:16:51 Lyle: Like St. Peter, I must "Step Out".
 
01:18:28 Anthony: Working in the garage late at night can be crazy - irrational with a job to wake up to - but also be a "mystical" moment.
 
01:22:51 Lyle: They are such great counselors!

 

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

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

November 4, 2021

Tonight we began letter 68, entitled “The Need for a Good Counselor. However, as we noted, this is something of a misnomer. The bulk of the letter is actually about idle talk and the discussions of men and women. Anastasia mentions that “a rumor went around”. St. Theophan is deeply worried about this. He is worried that Anastasia might see this is a small thing or that she might get caught up in the mindset of those around her that make use of words and their meaning in a hurtful or sinful fashion. Anastasia must allow conscience to guide and direct her and give her the courage that she needs to avoid such conversations. She is always to be prudent in her use of words and never provoke others by her speech or by her demeanor. And even if she becomes the focal point of others’ gossip about the way that she lives her life, again conscience should be her source of comfort and courage. She must not allow herself to be baited into responding by what people say or think about her. Rather she had to be patient until the moment passes and seek to respond equably to everyone that she encounters. 

Not surprisingly, much discussion ensued about this matter. Sins of speech are often taken lightly. We are all too willing to judge people by what they do or what they say and to be driven by emotion. Our ego must have no place in our response. Rather, we must put on the mind of Christ and seek to engage all with a humble and loving heart. Meekness is perhaps one of the greatest of virtues. It allows anger in the face of injustice to be shaped by love and by grace. We must withhold judgment when it comes to the other person. Our greatest desire must be to understand, to show loving concern, or to help bring healing and comfort. This is something our world desperately needs and should be a distinctive quality of Christian behavior.

---

Text of chat during the group:

00:31:29 Anthony: I think there is a difference between the mode of interpersonal relations and political relations.  For prudence, I think we need to modify "charity never judges," for sometimes we need to be ware to protect ourselves.  The danger may never come, but maybe it's better to prepare for a possible danger than to be caught flatfooted because you always try to give benefit of doubt.
 
00:38:28 Wayne Mackenzie: guilty
 
00:39:13 Cathy: I do this - I think its
 
00:39:33 Cathy: I think it's impatience
 
00:43:27 Anthony: Gadfly: Socrates and Kierkegaard
 
01:01:23 Anthony: In a way, what St. Theophan is encouraging is a spiritual chivalry.  The tales of chivalry do include knights with sharp words, but in the best form, chivalry is self control and at the service of love.
 
01:06:40 renwitter: It is always a powerful thing to hear Jesus describe his own heart with only two virtues: humility and meakness.
 
01:07:48 renwitter: Maybe as an illumination of the world views meakness…every time I type it, my computer autocorrects it to weakness 😂😂😂
 
01:28:59 renwitter: “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out”
 
01:34:43 Lyle: Imagine how many of “US” there are out here who want to CONVERT from something, BUT we have NEVER found a Confessor, whom we believe is TRULY “standing in the place of Christ”?

 

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

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

November 2, 2021

Thank you once again to all who attended The Evergetinos group tonight. The wisdom of the Fathers is breathtaking to say the least!

Tonight we began Hypothesis 13. The focus is on renouncing the world to go to a remote place, what constitutes a remote place, and the specific benefits that we are seeking. 

We are all too familiar in this world with isolation. We may be surrounded by many people and our lives filled with so many different things and activities and yet we can feel completely alone and empty. 

The Desert Fathers, however, seek the solitude of the desert not to escape the world but rather to seek out Love itself. Their setting aside of country, of material goods, creates within them a need - a need that only God can fulfill. They experience what true desire is - a sense of incompleteness that only God can address. 

Solitude and silence are disciplines that we must foster. They are not something simply to be endured and they are not rooted in a contempt for the world. In the silence and in our poverty we begin to experience the development of true humility; a humility that allows us to see the truth about ourselves and the goodness, the mercy, and love of God. 

Thus, gradually we come to see through them that the experience of exile, poverty and solitude hold within themselves a priceless treasure that we must be willing to do everything to possess.

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Text of chat during the group:

00:08:36 D Fraley: I had hair when I first come to the Oratory too.
 
00:08:48 Ed Kleinguetl: Must be a trend
 
00:33:45 Eric Williams: Certainly no (or limited and hushed) chit-chat in my childhood Lutheran church nave.
 
00:34:43 renwitter: What is the name of the place Mark?
 
00:36:00 mark: I will send a link…
 
00:36:13 Ed Kleinguetl: Thank you!
 
00:36:54 maureencunningham: Holy Presence Monastery inToms Brook  and The Holy Abbey in Berryville VA.  silent retreats
 
00:37:03 maureencunningham: Both VA
 
00:37:15 Eric Williams: I have noticed a paradox as someone with ADHD. Long periods of silence and stillness are very difficult for me, but the cure seems to be more silence. It’s very challenging. Modern technology seems to be making most people struggle with quiet inactivity in a similar way.
 
00:37:51 mark: Our Lady in Beatitude.  The Monastic Family of Bethlehem.  https://www.monasteryofbethlehemnewyork.com/
 
00:40:25 Eric Williams: As a convert, I really don’t miss marathon sermons. ;)
 
00:42:03 Ambrose Little: Agree, Eric.
 
00:45:37 Wayne Mackenzie: what page?
 
00:45:50 Tyler Woloshyn: 106
 
00:46:37 Eric Williams: I’ve noticed that at low Latin masses, the processions are from and to the sacristy. I’ve also seen high masses in which the opening procession starts at the sacristy, continues to the back, and finishes going up the middle aisle. Perhaps that would be a good corrective model for the whole Western Church.
 
00:49:40 Ambrose Little: Cultivating interior silence in the midst of external noise and busy-ness is a good ascetic practice. Maybe we focus there, even if others around us aren’t doing the same.
 
01:18:07 Ambrose Little: Sorry. I gotta run. I will say having six boys helps one find quietude in noise. :D Have a blessed week, y'all.
 
01:18:14 Wayne Mackenzie: got to go
 
01:18:39 Tyler Woloshyn: Have a good night. God bless! :)
 
01:23:25 D Fraley: Thank you Father David. Good night, everyone!

 

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