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We continued our reading of Letter 39. St. Theophan wants to prepare his beloved Anastasia for the spiritual battle that lies ahead. He begins by telling her that the adversary never sleeps. This thought alone could be the object of our meditation endlessly. The evil one is relentless in his desire to disrupt our relationship with God. Anastasia must not fear this reality but forever hold it in mind and let it help her understand that she must relentlessly call to God and rely upon his grace and his help. The devil will either withdraw and allow for the illusion of spiritual strength to grow and then attack the person all at once to pull them down. Or he will afflict them right from the beginning so as to discourage them. Attack after attack will come until the individual gives up. Thus, she must be steadfast; and as Theophan has told her she must be courageous and a plucky fighter. She must fight as one who has placed all of her hope in God.

In Letter 40, St. Theophan continues along this line of thought. He begins to discuss with Anastasia the various causes of spiritual cooling. Anastasia fears her own lack of diligence. Wisely, Theophan tells her not to let go of that fear but let it kindle within her a greater enthusiasm to drive her forward in the face of her own weaknesses. Eventually hope for salvation will emerge as one comes to experience the depth of God‘s grace and his constant help. Until then, she must cry out to God with an anguished heart; and anxiety that flows more from the urgent longings of the heart for love than it does from fear of punishment. She must strive to enter by the narrow door and so unite her prayers to the Spirit that calls out to God from the very depths of her being.


Text of chat during the group:

00:48:29 Fr. John (Ivan) Chirovsky: Oh, I can relate to that.....

00:53:59 Eric Williams: I love that bit. Instead of being annoyed and disappointed that their fellow close disciples are pridefully seeking honors in Christ’s royal court, they get jealous! They make the problem worse!

00:59:18 Anthony Joyce: Vicki beckons..thank you, good sir, for your time for us. Til next time!

01:01:08 Eric Williams: Psalm 39 (38) seems relevant here.

01:20:35 Eric Williams: “Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.”

01:26:57 Ren Witter: Or that weird “Man makes plan and God laughs” one. Does not, as you said, reflect the real, deep love of God.

01:32:55 Fr. John (Ivan) Chirovsky: Before we end today, a little taste of Byzantine-Ukrainian spirituality:  To the servant of God, Father David, with the upcoming 27th anniversary of his presbyteral ordination on January 15, grant, O Lord, a blessed and peaceful life, health, salvation, success in every endeavor, and preserve him and his loved ones, for many happy and blessed years!  God grant you many years! Many happy years! God grant you many years!  Many happy years!  May you be blessed with health and salvation!  God grant you many happy years!

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