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Simply Orthodox

Desert Spirituality

Simply Orthodox

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  • December 15, 2007
    Dr. Nassif begins a series of talks titled Desert Spirituality for City Folks.  He surveys opposing views on the legitimacy of the monastic life, then shows how central the monastic tradition has been to the Orthodox Church, and why it is important for us today.  This series is an abbreviated selection of just a few of the talks he gives on Orthodox spirituality throughout our Churches in North America and Canada.
  • December 22, 2007
    What caused the monastic movement to arise in such dramatic ways in the life of the Orthodox Church? Dr. Nassif explains the historical and spiritual motivations behind the greatest renewal movement in the history of Orthodoxy. Get your camels ready for a fascinating journey into the heart of the desert!
  • December 29, 2007
    Why the desert...? Dr. Nassif discusses the lure of the desert and what its landscapes taught the monks -- and us today!"
  • January 26, 2008
    What is the goal of the monastic life? Why all that fasting, prayer, silence, meditation and so forth? What's behind it all? Dr. Nassif looks for the answer in a most unexpected place: The inner life of the Holy Trinity! He shares how "love" is the goal of the monastic life-- Love for God and love for neighbor.
  • January 19, 2008
    Pachomius: A Man of Scripture and Humility. Dr. Nassif explores the biography of St. Pachomius, the founder of communal monasticism. Important insights are shared on a central goal of Christian parenting, and the true nature of Church leadership. Parents and Church leaders will grow from the life of this great desert Father!
  • January 12, 2008
    Who were some of the great personalities of the desert? Is there anything we city dwellers can apply from their lives? Today we begin by looking at the greatest of all monks -- a common man of uncommon holiness -- St. Anthony of Egypt.
  • January 5, 2008
    The lives of the desert Fathers are filled with miraculous stories. Some go beyond "normal" miracles; other stories tell of fascinating and highly imaginative encounters between monks and wild animals. But are these miracles and stories fact or fiction? Dr. Nassif offers theological wisdom in assessing what CS Lewis called "The Fact of Myth". This podcast will keep you both honest and holy!
  • February 2, 2008
    There is no 'one-size-fits-all' approach to developing intimacy with God, such as Bible study and prayer. Rather, the monks teach us a variety of new ways of relating to God that meet our needs in deep and lasting ways. In this podcast, Dr. Nassif talks about "the journey" of applying spiritual practices taken from the lives of the desert Fathers.
  • February 9, 2008
    What's the problem? What gets in the way of our goal to loving God and others? One monk, Evagrius, tells us "the passions" are our problem. Dr. Nassif explains what "the passions" are and how to fight them. He explains the lifelong battle between "the flesh" versus "the Spirit." If you're a monk, or a city-dweller, this podcast will map out the terrain of our spiritual warfare and show you the way to victory through our baptismal beginnings in Christ.
  • March 8, 2008
    What's the difference between true humility and false humility, as the desert Fathers saw it? Today we refer to ourselves as "The Most Unworthy Servant of Christ." But some of the desert Fathers would have identified such language as an example of counterfeit humility. True humility doesn't call attention to our unworthiness, but to God's greatness. It functions as a powerful influence in the lives of others, not ourselves. In one of the Saying of the Desert Fathers, we're told that St. John the Dwarf was so humble that he had his entire community "hanging from his little finger!" Hear why this was so.
  • March 1, 2008
    Detachment was the first step to the monks’ renunciation of their possessions and flight to the desert.  The Fathers knew that by accumulating lots of things in the cell, one could have a rather pleasant and comfortable life.  So even little things had to go! By application, we city dwellers can own our possessions so long as our possessions do not own us!  More than that, sometimes even our personal reputations have to be put on the line for the gospel.  Listen to how the desert Fathers show us what to do with our possessions and how to regard ourselves before God and others.
  • February 23, 2008
    The desert Fathers post three Wrong Way signs on the road to Christian living. The signs keep us from believing that (1) the body is evil, (2) fasting, prayer and other spiritual practices are "ends in themselves" and (3) we can "earn" our way to heaven by doing good works! This podcast will keep us on a spiritually safe road if we obey the Wrong Way signs God has posted for our protection.
  • February 16, 2008
    Get Ready for Battle! In this podcast Professor Nassif asks the monks "What's the right way, and the wrong way, to fight against the world, the flesh and the devil?" The desert Fathers teach us that before we get into this spiritual arena, we should expect discomfort, and that the true meaning of perfection in the Christian life does not look for "flawlessness" but "change." The monks counsel us on how to prepare our hearts before engaging in the hard work of holiness.
  • March 15, 2008
    How Not to Fast During Great Lent. How are we to interpret some of the Church's liturgical guidelines during Great Lent? What's so special about not eating fish, meat, cheese, oil, wine and so on? Are these foods "unclean"? Is there something special about these foods but not others? In this podcast, Dr. Nassif interprets the meaning of these foods in light of the " big picture" of what Lent is supposed to be all about: Love for God, and love for neighbor. Listen to this penetrating evaluation of some of the ways we go about our lenten fast.
  • March 22, 2008
    What keeps us from obeying Jesus? As Orthodox, we're inclined to think that since our theological bank account is full, that is all we need. But the monks had a different perspective. For them love, not knowledge, was the key to the spiritual life. Our lives are small because our wills are big! Listen to wisdom from the sayings of the desert Fathers to encourage you on during this Lenten season.

    (13:10)
  • April 5, 2008
    At its core, anger is a dark and cruel wish for harm to come upon the person who hurt you. The Desert Fathers had at least three strategies for conquering anger: 1) don't be surprised when anger enters your soul, 2) deal with it quickly, and 3) die to your ego. A humorous story taken from the life of St. Makarios of Egypt illumines the way to an anger-free life.
  • March 29, 2008
    The 'noonday demon' was the monk's greatest of all temptations! And it may be yours as well, especially if you're a clergyman. All Christians, ordained and lay, will want to know what that 'noonday demon' is, and how the gospel conquors it.

    (8:22)

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