Transcripts

Praying in the Rain

Praying in the Rain

Everyday Ironies: Finding Salvation In The World

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"Those in the monastic life have spiritual fathers and mothers to help them in obtaining humility. We in the world have the very life in the world itself to humble us. "

One of the biggest stumbling blocks many of us in the world face (by “in the world” I mean “not in a monastery”) is that almost all of the Orthodox spiritual advice written in books is written by monastics for monastics.  Therefore, a certain amount of discernment is called for, a certain amount of adjustment is needed, a kind of returning of the material to fit a different key.  Those who are successful in this endeavour (usually with the help of…

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Praying in the Rain

Reading Spiritual Texts: Knowing That You Don’t Know

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Many holy fathers and mothers of the Church have pointed out that spiritual words are like powerful medicine. If taken inappropriately, what was designed to heal ends up causing harm.

“What brings sweetness is harder to perceive than that which brings bitterness”

Abbess Arsenia

I am reading a collection of letters by Abbess Arsenia, a nineteenth century Russian nun who acted as a spiritual mentor for Peter Brianchaninov, brother of St. Ignatius Brianchaninov.  St. Ignatius Brianchaninov is perhaps most famous today for his book, The Arena, in which he lays out some very practical and insightful advice for monks and anyone…

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Praying in the Rain

Who’s Got Talent?

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Fr. Michael addresses what the word "talent" means (and doesn't mean) in Christ's Parable of the Talents.

What’s a talent? Who’s got talent? Generally speaking nowadays, a talent refers to a special ability someone has. This meaning of talent actually developed from the ancient meaning of the word, which had to do with weighing or scales and money. In biblical times, a talent did not refer to someone’s ability; it referred to a certain weight of gold or silver. The exact weight varied over time and by culture. It was a large amount, somewhere…

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Praying in the Rain

On Perceiving God’s Glory in Another

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Those whose minds are set on the good and the holy, tend to see goodness and even the glory of God in just about everyone they meet. A holy man or woman feels compassion and love for everyone, even those who to most of us seem to have nothing about them worthy of love or compassion. They can see the glory of God in a very broken human being because they themselves have been illumined and shine with God’s glory.

According to Serafim Seppälä*, St. Isaac the Syrian understands the perception of the angelic orders to be limited by their own natures.  That is, each rank of the heavenly orders—angels, archangels, thrones, dominions, powers, etc.— is able to perceive a higher rank, but only in so far as its own nature, it’s own ability to perceive God’s glory, allows it. 

I admit that this is a rather esoteric observation, one that seems a matter of…

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Praying in the Rain

Response To A Question on Buddhist Meditation

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A reader wrote to Fr. Michael Gillis that he had begun to discover himself through Buddhist meditation despite 25 years of Orthodox Christian practice. The reader asked for Fr. Michael's perspective.

A reader wrote that he had begun to discover himself through Buddhist meditation despite 25 years of Orthodox Christian practice.  He asked for my perspective.  This is what I wrote him.

Dear E,

I don’t know enough about Buddhism or specifically about Buddhist meditation to make any sort of intelligent comment.  Neither do I know you personally nor your experience as an Orthodox Christian nor your actual practice of meditation. …

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Praying in the Rain

Some Thoughts on Anger

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Fr. Michael Gillis shares about anger. "If I were to venture a guess as to the most commonly confessed passion that I hear in confessions, I would say that it is anger. Just about everyone is angry. According to many of the saints, anger and misdirected desire are the two main passions from which all vices and passions come."

If I were to venture a guess as to the most commonly confessed passion that I hear in confessions, I would say that it is anger.  Just about everyone is angry.  According to many of the saints, anger and misdirected desire are the two main passions from which all vices and passions come.  The sources of anger can be varied, but I think there are two sources of anger that are most common in the people here in western Canada whom I confess and with whom…

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Praying in the Rain

Hosea 14:2 and Blood Atonement

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Sometimes letters are sent to AFR addressed to no specific person. In such cases various authors, podcasters or bloggers are called upon to respond to the letter. The lot fell to me for this one. Of course, in selecting a person to respond to a question, you don’t necessarily get the best or even most correct answer to the question. You get that person’s answer—given his or her current understanding, knowledge, ability to communicate and level of sleep deprivation. I share the question and my response with you-all in the hope that some of you might find it interesting and even a little helpful—even if you have never wondered about the Hebrew rendering of Hosea 14:2.

Sometimes letters are sent to AFR addressed to no specific person.  In such cases various authors, podcasters or bloggers are called upon to respond to the letter.  The lot fell to me for this one.  Of course, in selecting a person to respond to a question, you don’t necessarily get the best or even most correct answer to the question.  You get that person’s answer—given his or her current understanding, knowledge, ability to communicate…

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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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