We picked up this evening with Step One “On Renunciation of the World”. St. John‘s focus is on entering into the spiritual life, the ascetical life, fully. We are not to make excuses out of our past sins or let them become impediments to our engaging in the spiritual battle. Psychologically they can become exactly that. Shame can make us hold back from opening ourselves to God and the healing that He alone offers. Likewise, fear of what lies ahead and the discipline involved can keep us from investing ourselves fully. Rather, we are to respond as if we were called by an earthly king; eagerly leaving everything to go to him and remaining alert lest he should call us day or night. We would never give ourselves over to sloth or cowardice knowing that we would find ourselves under the king’s judgment. Thus, we are to enter into the spiritual life unfettered by worldly concerns. Whether one is a monk or living in the world, one must have God as the beginning and end of all things - the very center of our existence. He must be desired and loved above all things.
If this is true then we will charge into the “good fight” with joy and love without being afraid of our enemies, the demons. They know the movements of the mind and the heart, the patterns of behavior that they observe within us and whether or not we are scared. Therefore, John tells us, we must enter into the battle courageously for no one fights with a plucky fighter.
Naturally St. John begins by focusing on the early moments of the ascetical life. God by design protects the novice in the spiritual life in order to keep him from falling into despondency. He hides the difficulty of the contest. However, if God sees a courageous soul He will allow him to experience conflict and to be in embattled in order that he might be crowned all the sooner. Thus, God will allow us to be tested if it will perfect our love and virtue and if He sees our zeal for Him.
Text of chat during the group:
00:09:34 Robyn Greco: i could listen to you preach anytime Father, because you're such an excellent teacher
00:18:20 Ren: The number of men who started chuckling just then was pretty fantastic. Caught on camera! :-D
00:18:40 Debra: 😄
00:18:40 Cathy: i was thinking the same
00:24:28 Sam Rodriguez: Have heard it said before “if we don’t make time for prayer, we’ll never find time for prayer.”
00:24:48 Debra: Is removing prayer time, and saying that we are too busy, a sign of spiritual warfare....or 'just' allowing our will to 'win?
00:25:16 Debra: Sorry...I don't know how to do the digital hand lol
00:25:57 Carol Nypaver: Go to “reactions”
00:26:20 Debra: Oh! Thanks, Carol!
00:26:32 Carol Nypaver: 😇
00:26:56 Ambrose Little: Alt+Y on Win; Opt+Y on Mac
00:27:16 Debra: Thank you!
00:27:23 Carol Nypaver: 👍🏻
00:29:24 Ambrose Little: Did you really go to college if you never pulled an all nighter?? 🤔
00:29:35 Debra: Yes! Fr. D, I've experienced that...a peace when I've pushed through my will, to pray
00:30:19 Vicki Nichols: I never pulled an all nighter either
00:31:05 Carol Nypaver: Same, Vicki. I can’t function without sleep.
00:38:38 Sheila Applegate: This. Above. Not because I am an asetic but I can't function as a human without 7 hours plus. Carol. :)
00:39:37 Carol Nypaver: In living the Gospel, how do you NOT offend people?
00:44:25 RiccardoO: “You will not be far from the Kingdom of Heaven” has an interesting ring to it. Not far, but not yet in the Kingdom. Am I correct to interpret the list in this paragraph as the starting point? Is there another step that Climacus is not mentioning here, along the lines of the invitation of Jesus to the young rich man, “if you want to be perfect..”?
00:49:16 RiccardoO: Thank you father.
00:50:30 Rachel: LOL Nope, that would be me.
00:53:56 Robyn Greco: Ive lived on anxiety almost all my life but recently when I slow down and give it all to the Lord the fear leaves, literally, its holding onto that, that is the hard part
00:54:45 Sr Mary of our Divine Savior solt: I heard that the demons can't read your mind. Is that true?
00:56:35 Debra: I wonder if Fr. Rippenger has talked about whether or not demons can read our minds
00:56:54 Robyn Greco: He has Debra
00:57:38 Robyn Greco: If you search on YouTube Father Rippenger you'll find talks he's done
00:58:24 Robyn Greco: I keep hearing about this "centering prayer" stuff but have no idea what it is
00:59:57 Debra: Robyn, I have one of his books...I went to get it lol
01:00:44 Debra: Yes....a 'little knowledge' is a dangerous thing lol
01:00:53 Robyn Greco: I've been told it's dangerous so I think I'll just keep staying away from it
01:01:34 Sam Rodriguez: Fr Ripperger gives an answer very similar to Fr Abernethy. One element that Fr Ripperger emphasizes is that they can access our memory and feed “thoughts” into our minds (for lack of a better term) and create confusion within us between our own inner voice and theirs
01:01:35 Ren: I love your thought about the problem being our over-reliance on ourselves. If we are weak, we are weak; that is not the problem, because God’s grace can work through that. Fear, and, essentially, the lack of trust in God that it exposes, is the real problem that leaves us vulnerable to demons.
01:03:01 Wayne: Need to attend church Services tonight.. Happy Easter everyone.
01:05:56 Sr Mary of our Divine Savior solt: 🙂
01:08:19 Rachel: If not only other people but demons can read us so to speak in order to attack us and pull us away from God through fear, can it be that when one by grace, little by little comes closer to Christ, in turn, that person because of their close proximity to Christ can ward off attacks? Where a person is able to discern more easily because they have kept the waters still. I think of Saints like Saint Maximus. Where many were against him and he kept pressing on able to discern and not abandon Christ. ( E
01:08:42 David Robles: Dear Father David, I am an Orthodox Christian in the Patriarchate of Antioch. This coming Sunday is Palm Sunday for us. Next week is Holy Week. I would like to wish everyone a blessed Easter. Christ is Risen! Truly, He is risen! We sing an ancient hymn,
01:09:50 David Robles: Christ is risen from the dead trampling down death by death and upon those in the tombs bestowing life. 🙏😀
01:09:54 Carol Nypaver: Easter Blessings, David!🐣
01:10:47 Michael Shuman: Amen, David.
01:11:33 Cathy: Thank you David Palm Sunday Blessings and have a Holy Lent.
01:11:59 Ashley Kaschl: There’s a good book by the late Fr. Gabriele Amorth called “An Exorcist Explains the Demonic: The Antics of Satan and His Army of Fallen Angels” and it might clear up what demons are able and not able to do. 😁
01:12:02 Sam Rodriguez: When our sufferings and trials seem to pull us farther from God and hurt our relationship with God, is it perhaps our own preconceived notion of what is a “good” thing to happen vs a “bad” thing ultimately the source of that wedge? Given that any sufferings or trials that God Permits, we can trust that He Has Covered them all in a greater Good
01:12:32 Sam Rodriguez: Grace
01:14:23 Carol Nypaver: Thanks, Ashley.
01:14:55 Ambrose Little: St. Paul spoke of something like this as a thorn in his side that he beseeched God to take away, but God said, “my grace is sufficient for you; my power is perfected in your weakness.”
01:15:01 Robyn Greco: Been trying to find a spiritual director for years, they are, sadly, a rare breed these days
01:16:35 Robyn Greco: We see across the street, God sees 20 miles ahead of us
01:16:56 Sam Rodriguez: I’m reminded of a prayer that Mother Teresa prayed regularly: “Heavenly Father, if there’s anything I’m doing that’s not your Holy Will, please let it fall apart in front of me.”
01:18:13 Bonnie Lewis: I love that Sam.
01:18:49 Sam Rodriguez: 🙂
01:18:56 Debra: ❤️
01:18:56 Rachel: Yes, lots of baggage affects our vision. Throw it overboard!
01:21:34 Babington (or Babi): Thanks be to God
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