We continued reading the 17th Homily of St. Isaac the Syrian which focuses on establishing a "Rule" of life for beginners in light of Hesychasm and Philokalic Spirituality as a whole. Isaac shows how every aspect of our life must be transformed by the grace of God. With a holy genius, he reveals the healing of soul that must take place. Every interaction with others, every emotion, can be a means of seduction and so must be considered with radical honesty. We must possess a willingness to reflect upon things such as laughter, the familiar and lingering gaze upon another, and encounters with the opposite sex from the perspective of their impact upon the spiritual life and the vulnerability that arises out of our sin. This is never a solitary pursuit. A solidarity exists between each of us and thus a responsibility for one another's salvation.
Last night the group took up Cassian's Thirteenth Conference "On God's Protection" which discusses the essential interplay between Grace and Free will. Part of our close reading of the text allows for a "redeeming" of Cassian's understanding of this delicate subject from what has been, I believe, gross misrepresentation of this thought. When read in light of and in the context of the Eastern Christian spiritual tradition and its understanding of SYNERGY, Cassian's Conference is revealed as being the most refined and beautiful explication of difficult subject matter, based upon the lived experience of the ascetical life. It also highlights the importance of the Eastern view of theology as an experiential knowledge of God rooted in purity of heart and the life of prayer and not simply being a rationalistic approach to the mysteries of the faith.
Prayer; Body and its place in purifying the nous through asceticism; necessity of asceticism; impassioned nous and dispassionate nous; contemporary questions about connection between liturgy, worship and the ascetical life; group questions about disciplining the body as a means of purifying the nous and rigor and consistency needed in such discipline.
Cultural Collapse and Schizoid nature of modern society; purification of memories and imagination; Remembrance of Death and Perception of Religious and Spiritual Reality; Prayer as essential to identity as human beings and our life
Importance of Holy Spirit in teaching Nous how to heal the soul; Holy Desire necessary for pursuing purity of Nous, Striving for perfection; Asceticism and Modern Culture; How to communicate the value of asceticism.
Nature of Struggle with attacks on Nous; Obedience and Remembrance of God; Hating Sin; Unceasing Prayer; Watchfulness and Prayer Linked together; Beginnings of Watchfulness - Temperance in Food and Drink, the Rejection of Different Thoughts, Peace of Heart; Purifying Fire of Holy Communion; Revealing of False Self
Definition of the Nous; Man as Triune Image of God - nous, word, spirit; Three powers of the soul; Creative factor of every aspect of civilization; difference in object from other methods of meditation; Fall of Nous of Man before and after Christ; Nous as vigilant gate keep of soul
How to Read the Fathers, What is Nepsis: Being present to where we are; Aliveness to God; the Mind as a sentry; Mindfulness; Attentiveness and Prayer must be combined; All the sense must be guarded as well as thoughts from demonic intrusions and temptations; the Relentlessness of the Demons; Necessity of Interrogating thoughts and questioning their origin; The never ending work of nepsis; Hatred for sin and swiftness in casting out sinful thoughts.
Ressourcement, Kollyvades, primary features of movement; Three basic themes of Philokalia; Relevance of Philokalic spirituality for contemporary Christians.