Transcripts

Praying in the Rain

Praying in the Rain

Tools for Theosis

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The spiritual tools of prayer, fasting, and alms-giving are connected; they flow into one another. And all three have one goal, have one purpose, have one thing that they are supposed to do in our life. All the tools that the Church gives us exist to make us more like Christ.

This summer I had the privilege of serving two Orthodox youth camps, one in Idaho, USA and the other in Alberta, Canada.  The spiritual theme of both camps was the same:  “What’s in Your Toolbox?”  The idea was to talk to the youth about the tools the Orthodox Church provides to help them grow spiritually and morally.

On the first day of the first camp, I asked the group—there were about fifty, fifteen to seventeen year olds—if anyone…

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Praying in the Rain

Shame and Forgivness and God

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"The experience of forgiveness is much more organic, more relational. Forgiveness is actually something that grows. St. Theophan says that it is necessary to develop the hope that comes from working on our salvation (i.e. cooperating with God’s Grace through repentance and spiritual disciplines). And it is this hope that begins to release us from shame and is the evidence of growing or maturing forgiveness. 'Without it,' St. Theophan says, 'there can be no beginning of the work of salvation; and even more so, no continuation. But there it was in conception; here it is mature.' For St. Theophan, it seems, forgiveness and the accompanying release from shame is something that is conceived in us and grows to maturity."

St. Theophan the Recluse has a wonderful commentary on Psalm 118 recently (2014) revised and published by St. John of Kronstadt Press.  I’m being both inspired and stretched by it.  I got to thinking about what the Church means when it talks about forgiveness by some of St. Theophan’s comments on verse 31 of Psalm 118.

I have cleaved to Your testimonies, O Lord; put me not to shame.

St. Theophan’s commentary touches on the experience…

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Praying in the Rain

Love is Enough

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Fr. Michael discusses how to relate our faith to those who need to hear it: spreading the crumbs that have fallen from our master's table (Mt. 15:27). How do we share our talents with those in need?

I have developed an on-line acquaintance with someone who works full-time with homeless people in a large city in Canada.  She sometimes asks me theological questions.  Sometimes she tells me a sad story and asks for my prayers.  She says of herself that she is Protestant on the outside and Orthodox on the inside.

I get that.  Lot’s of people feed from the crumbs that fall from the Orthodox table.  I like to spread the crumbs about…

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Praying in the Rain

The Least of These

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"In our awkward attempts to love the needy, we discover our own poverty. They may hunger for bread, but we hunger for righteousness. In clothing the naked, we see our own nakedness, our complete lack of virtue. In visiting the prisoner or the sick we discover that we are imprisoned by habits of prideful and judgemental thought; we are sick with selfish passions and desires. When we do the outer work that Jesus speaks of, we discover the inner meaning that Jesus is referring to."

Here is the article that Fr. Michael refers to: http://blogs.ancientfaith.com/prayingintherain/2015/10/your-kingdom-come-the-sorting-parables/.

One of the problems with reading the story of the Last Judgement as recorded in Matthew 25 is that it’s almost impossible to do so without missing the deeper meaning of the story.  The story of the Last Judgement is more commonly known as the “parable” of the sheep and the goats.  Interestingly, this story is not actually a parable.  Throughout the Gospels, most of what Jesus says about the Kingdom of Heaven, he says in the form of parables. For…

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Praying in the Rain

Advice On Psalmody

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In the middle of Homily 54 of his Ascetical Homilies, St. Isaac gives specific advice on how to do this, how to take delight in psalmody.

He begins by saying that one should disregard both the quantity of verses and the beauty or skill with which one recites them. According to St. Isaac, delight in psalmody has nothing to do with how beautiful the reading sounds nor with the amount of verses one recites.

In the middle of Homily 54 of St. Isaac’s Ascetical Homilies, he begins a set of paragraphs with the question, “Do you wish to take delight in the psalmody of your liturgy and to understand the oracles of the Spirit which you recite?”  In the following three paragraphs, St. Isaac gives specific advice on how to do this, how to take delight in psalmody.

He begins by saying that one should disregard both the quantity of verses and the beauty or skill…

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Praying in the Rain

The Trouble with Balance

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You will often hear people speak of the importance of having balance in our lives. And generally speaking, it is a good idea to have a balanced life. This is especially true if by having balance in our lives we mean that we try to avoid extreme attitudes or behaviours. However, the trouble with the concept of having balance in our lives is that it is not a Christian concept. That’s not to say that the concept is not useful to Christians. It can be quite useful in some contexts to think of having balance in one’s life. It can be useful especially in identifying when something is wrong in our life—when we feel that our life is out of balance. Nevertheless, using the concept of balance as a criterion for the Christian life can also be dangerous.

You will often hear people speak of the importance of having balance in our lives.  And generally speaking, it is a good idea to have a balanced life.  This is especially true if by having balance in our lives we mean that we try to avoid extreme attitudes or behaviours.  However, the trouble with the concept of having balance in our lives is that it is not a Christian concept.  That’s not to say that the concept is not useful to Christians. …

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Praying in the Rain

Recognizing Empty Deceits

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If deception is so deceptive, how does one know if one is being deceived?

I’ve just had a very merry Christmas.  It was about as perfect as they come.  My daughter and her family came for a week (five children, including eleven-month old twins).  The services were beautiful and well attended.  And it snowed enough to feel Christmassy, but not so much that you couldn’t get out of the house and take the kids to the zoo, or McDonalds, or whatever might give mom a break for an hour or two.  It was truly an ideal…

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Praying in the Rain

Abbot Chapman Prays in the Rain

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Spiritual Letters is a collection of letters written in the early part of the twentieth century by a Roman Catholic priest—and I highly recommend it to English speaking Orthodox Christians who want to be encouraged in prayer.

Spiritual Letters is a collection of letters written in the early part of the twentieth century by a Roman Catholic priest—and I highly recommend it to English speaking Orthodox Christians who want to be encouraged in prayer.

The priest, Abbot John Chapman, was a very well educated Oxford graduate and devout Anglican who converted to Roman Catholicism in his mid twenties. …

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Praying in the Rain

Being of One Mind: What It Is and Isn’t

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"As Christians we are all called to be of one mind, but that one mind is not your mind or my mind or somebody else’s—no matter how holy or important that person is or how much authority he or she has. The one mind we are called to have is Christ’s."

One of the themes that resounds throughout St. Paul’s epistles is the exhortation that his spiritual children be of one mind, that they be likeminded.  In Romans and 1 Corinthians, St. Paul explicitly both prays for and commands that the believers be of one mind.  However, it is in the book of Philippians that St. Paul makes his most emotional plea—truly of all of the Churches St. Paul wrote to, it is with the Philippians that he seems to have had the…

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Praying in the Rain

Admitting That We Hate

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"Even if I feel I must oppose in some specific ways someone whose sin, for the sake of Christ, I cannot tolerate; still I must weep, weep as one who also is laden with sin—even if my own particular sins, at least the ones I recognize in myself, are not so socially repugnant."

“Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny” (Matthew 5:25, 26).

It has been said by many others that the “adversary” in this saying from the Sermon On The Mount is a reference to the Holy Spirit acting on…

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