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What a wonderful discussion and a wonderful group of people!  This one hour makes Wednesday the best day of the week and something that deeply nourishes and gives joy to the soul.

St. Theophan offers Anastasia an exceptional and clear vision of how to prepare oneself for confession. He lays out for her simply how to examine her acts and the circumstances in which they were carried out, her interior disposition, and her general approach to life as a whole. In the few short paragraphs we read and discussed this evening, we began to understand the primacy of conscience in the examination of one’s life. St. Theophan describes it as the “unsleeping guard”.  It lets nothing slip by and lets us justify nothing that is sinful. However, conscience is not infallible. Either age, confusion, or ignorance can distort its vision vision and allow things to go unnoticed about our lives and how they can be touched by sin. The Word of God must become the mirror for us in which we examine ourselves and through which we correct ourselves in light of the Commandments. Beyond this we must look to see if we carry out those commandments fully or if there are subtle ways that we commit sins against charity, against purity of heart, etc. Has our conscience been formed by the world or by the things of God or have we given up responsibility for the formation of that conscience altogether and live faux obedience?

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Text of chat during the group:

00:32:29 Fr. John (Ivan) Chirovsky: Govenie (pronounced go-vye-knee-eh) is the practice of intense fasting and prayer ranging from one day to a week prior to receiving communion, often for one of the four feasts culminating a fasting period.  it included not only fasting, but also attending Divine Services, reading prayers (including canons, akathists, etc.), doing prostrations and engaging in other spiritual activities, instead of going to work.  For a brief overview of govenie, see Saint Theophan the Recluse, The Path to Salvation: A Manual of Spiritual Transformation, trans. Seraphim Rose and the St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood (Platina, CA: St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 1996), 269–73. See also Nadieszda Kizenko, “Sacramental Confession in Modern Russia and Ukraine,” in State Secularism and Lived Religion in Soviet Russia and Ukraine, ed. Catherine Wanner (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 190–217.

00:34:03 Fr. John (Ivan) Chirovsky: https://stmaximus.org/files/ConfTong/200517SamaritanCT.pdf

00:53:08 Eric Williams: Didn't the author of The Cloud of Unknowing warn very strongly against speaking too openly about personal spiritual experiences?

01:16:32 Eric Williams: You have an intimidating visage. ;)

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