June 4, 2020
Tonight we read St Theophan’s 15th letter to the young Anastasia. He encourages her to plant the things that he has taught her deep within her heart. She will not only find comfort in these things but encouragement and support for what lies ahead.
St. Theophan begins to introduce Anastasia to the life of prayer. But he does not begin with the discipline itself or specific practices. Rather, he speaks to her of the radical and instantaneous connection that one has with the Angels and the Saints. The moment a prayer is uttered from the heart it is immediately heard and responded to. Again this is supremely encouraging because it reminds us that we do not tread this path alone. We are surrounded by angels and saints that God has willed to give us, that in His providence He has chosen to support us in the spiritual battle and to lift us up if we have fallen. Their presence magnifies the beauty that we seek. In them we see the love and the grace of God with an even greater clarity than if we were to look up these things with our own eyes and hearts that have yet to be purified. In the angels and saints we see the God who is set upon our salvation and who has given us all that we need as human beings to participate in fully in His life.
Transcript of chat during the group:
00:26:29 Eric Williams: What page are we on?
00:26:43 Natalia Wohar: 69, Letter 15
00:26:44 Ed Kleinguetl: 69
00:26:44 Eric Ash: 69, start of letter 15 I
00:26:58 Eric Williams: Thank you :)
00:42:43 carolnypaver: I need that Novena to St. Charbel.
00:56:33 Fr. John (Ivan) Chirovsky: Some saints are given a broader mission or extension of their earthly mission to a heavenly mission dimension. We think of the most Holy going from being the Mother of God to Mother of the Church and Mother of Humanity as the most obvious case. Often repeated in Byzantine liturgical texts is the term « derznovennia », which is a specific type of boldness, a specific « access » to God, given by God to those saints who were pleasing to God by their lives and in their ministry on earth, and thus, God gives them an added or intensified capability of interceding for us.
00:59:08 Mary McLeod: In theology school they always repeated that grace perfects nature, not destroys it.
01:07:20 Eric Williams: Fantastic book. Very challenging - not difficult, but he doesn't beat around the bush. ;) I wholeheartedly recommend it to all. As a depressive, one might think his intensity and his distress over sin would bring me down, but I find great comfort in reading the prayers of a holy man who often found himself feeling as lowly as a worm.
01:09:36 Fr. John (Ivan) Chirovsky: one of my favorite prayers to the most holy Theotokos: "Most glorious, ever-virgin Theotokos, receive our prayers and bring them to Your Son and our God, that because of you, He might save our souls." Sometimes I say it on the big beads or knots of the Prayer Rope, in between the Jesus Prayer.
01:16:04 Eric Williams: "Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call ‘humble’ nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all. "If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can, I think, tell him the first step. The first step is to realise that one is proud. And a biggish step, too. At least, nothing whatever can be done before it. If you think you are not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed." C.S. Lewis
01:19:30 Mary McLeod: I remember in the St. Isaac readings a monk was saying he labored without any discernible progress for 25 years!
01:23:04 Eric Williams: It blows me away to contemplate the fact that God gives us so few years to prepare for eternity.