Thursday, January 24, 2008

"Living In Christ"

I’m reading Living In Christ: Essays on the Christian Life by an Orthodox Nun

I just picked it up at the Church library because it looked good. I actually picked up the sequel first thinking that it looked really good and I can’t wait to read it, but I decided to read this first because she wrote it first. I just thought that while I read it I might quote from it now and again. Most of my posting goes on over at St. Brigid Farm nowadays and this will fill in here as to not completely abandon it.

Chapter 2 is titled “Prayer and Life.”

“That we may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 In these words the Lord speaks of what He desires for all of us; indeed of what he desires for the whole of His creation.

Prayer is the only way. But only as we pray in the Lord’s own Spirit of truth will our prayer be the doorway to abundant life. There are many forms of artificial prayer that lead us to dead ends. We can get so involved in the external mechanisms of prayer that we lose sight of the goal. It is possible even to worship ideas of prayer and lose the living God in the process.

*light bulb goes on over head* Whoa! Is that what has happened?

Prayer is nothing other than bringing our whole self, heart, mind and body, before God, that He may in turn fill us with His own abundant life. This is an effort that takes the whole of our lives and demands everything we can possibly bring to it. We must strive with every ounce of our effort, knowing that when we do so it is God who is working within us. … We must learn to use our minds rightly.

The great saints and fathers of the Church, such as the theologians, St. Basil, St. Gregory and St. John Chrysostom, and their successors, St. Gregory Palamas, the great champion of hesychastic prayer, had a solid foundation in secular studies. Moreover, their minds and consciences were trained through the study of the Old and New Testaments, the lives and writings of the saints and the liturgical texts of the Church.
Until very modern times, study meant getting as much "by heart" as possible. Today, television and education may leave us nearly incapable of memorizing words, let alone knowing them so well that we continually ponder them in our hearts.

The Lord told us: "Out of the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks." (Matthew 12:34) More and more, we should be able to speak from these riches rather than out of the poverty of our hearts. We will learn to test our hearts by hearing how busy our mouths are in "normal" conversations with our self-centered thoughts, complaints and wishes rather than with the truth and beauty of God.

another light...along with a loud knocking on the head*
How much of scripture do I have engraved in my heart? How much of the writings of the saints and liturgical texts do I have engraved in my mind? What have I been missing all these years? Years!?
More tomorrow. I'm going to wrap my ill-trained mind around this a little bit more.

(bolded parts are my emphasis)

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