I arrived home late on Saturday night. I had a fabulous time with dear friends down at the 7th Annual Women's Retreat in Beaverton, OR. Mother Raphaela was true blessing as she shared with us about prayer and silence. She is the abbess of the Holy Myrrhbearers Monastery in Ortega, NY.
Here I will share with you some of the treasures I heard as she spoke. I cannot do the entire talk justice in the list of quotes and thoughts but I hope maybe you might be blessed from even this small excerpt of her time with us. I realized after I typed it all out there is a lot. But I pray that somwhere in this bulleted list of thoughts you will find something from God.
~When judgment comes we cannot say to God, "Well, Lord, I was born in 20th century America, you can't expect me to become a saint. Maybe if I had been born 200 years ago in Russia or somewhere else, but not here in America, now." For some reason, I just don't think that's going to wash.
~ I think many orthodox don't pray because they have an exalted view of what prayer should be. Prayers from the Jordanville prayer book, 200 hundred prostrations, one time around the 300 knot prayer rope with the Jesus prayer and another time around with Most Holy-Theotokos. If you live with someone and spend the entire day not even acknowledging their presence, not saying hi, not smiling, speaking at all then there is a problem with that relationship, yet many of us go through the day without even saying Hello to God.
~We orthodox DO believe in a personal God.
~Before modern technology brought all the noise into our world, monastics weren't the only ones who lived in silence. When Mother Raphaela was a young girl she had a "boombox" that blared in her bedroom much to the chagrin of her mother. The day she took it into the bathroom with her was the last straw and said to her, "If you turn that off what are you afraid of hearing?"
~What happens when we sit in silence is that every piece of garbage we've seen, heard or been through comes flooding our minds. But we need to realize that God is in control of the universe, and learn to give that garbage to Him as it comes into our minds. We can reprogram ourselves. As a thought comes in, visualize handing it up to Him.
~Sometimes we use religion to measure everyone else by instead of ourselves. Usually what bothers you about a person is really what you yourself is struggling with.
~Some of us feel like we don't have a choice about modern technology. We think it's part of our lives and we can't let it go. If we don't take control of the muscles of our brain that modern technology will (TV, computers, phones, etc.)
~ There is no one who cannot carve out 3 minutes from their day to be with God. If you start treating Him like a person, THE Person, than things can really start to happen.
~Prayer is deliberately & consciously standing before God and handing up to Him those we love. They are His, we need to let them go. God is in charge of the universe, NOT me.
~We need to become more transparent so that God can be seen through us. So that people can meet God through us (and we need to start at home). How? By prayer and fasting! Just like our exalted views of prayer (none or all) we also have exalted views of fasting...none or all. It doesn't have to be that way. We fast to the best of our ability...even a little is better than none at all. Fast from the worst of your addictions. We need a prayer rule, even if ever so small and we need to fast, even if ever so slightly. When we do these things....we change!
Her one and only thought on politics...
~No matter what candidate we end up with we WILL find ourselves surrounded by people who are tolerant of EVERYTHING except us!