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Saint Isaac the Syrian: Desperation, Prayer at Night

Desperation Nothing is so strong as desperation. It knows no defeat at the hand of any, whether on the right hand or the left. When someone has cut off in his mind all hope of life, no one is more daring than he; no foe can face him, no rumors of affliction can weaken his purpose, for every affliction which may come is less than death, for he has resolved to accept death for himself.

Make Me Feel Your Presence. Years without Prayer.

Make me feel Your presence Lord, I have to tell You that prayer is a problem for me. How should I collect my spirit, which is split and squandered in a thousand pieces? How should I concentrate; how can I close off from all around me and within me each entrance from the outside world, appearances, and sensations? My mind buzzes like a beehive. My ears are bombarded by a million noises. In my eyes

I Don’t Know How to Pray. Be the Conversant I am Looking For.

I don’t know how to pray My God, I don’t know how to pray. Yet I so deeply feel in myself the need for prayer. I want to pray. Hour by hour the intense longing to talk with You altogether comes over me. The longing to come into contact with You, the Ineffable and Unfathomable. But I lose the words. I cannot piece together what I mean. My thoughts become confused. So often I don’t

Persons in Communion: The Disciplines of Communion (Part II)

The training of our consciousness enables us to recover an immediacy of response to anybody’s face, however spoilt, haggard, or careworn, and precisely because it is such. God loves this person here and now, in their very ordinariness, their cowardice, their loneliness, their sin. Our consciousness being awakened, the eye of the heart is opened, and we begin to see with the eyes of God. Then we can put ourselves in the other’s place, share

REPENTANCE IN THE PHILOKALIA (Part I)

ST. ISAIAH THE SOLITARY I, ON GUARDING THE INTELLECT, SEC. 22 Here Isaiah the Solitary expresses the same confidence that Paul speaks of in Romans 8:38-39, that “nothing can separate us from the love of God.” All that is required is for the sinner to repent and return to God.      “Be attentive to yourself, so that nothing destructive can separate you from the love of God. Guard your heart, and do not grow listless

Father Maximos on the Need to Learn Our Archetype

There was a pause as Fr. Maximos signaled that he was ready for the next question. “During the morning session you said something very significant,” said Eleni, a professional accountant who had decided to get an M.A. in theology. “You mentioned that in order to understand the essence of who we are as human beings we need to understand the nature of God. What did you mean by that? Who is God? What can you

Contemplation and Self-Abandonment

Contemplation (the prayer beyond words and ideas) is a way to describe what Jesus did in the desert. It is not learning as much as it is unlearning. It is not explaining as much as containing and receiving everything, and holding onto nothing. It is refusing to judge too quickly and refining your own thoughts and feelings by calm observation and awareness over time—in the light of the Big Picture. You cannot understand anything well

Prayer

Abba Poemen said: “The nature of water is yielding, and that of a stone is hard. Yet if you hang a bottle filled with water above the stone so that the water drips drop by drop, it will wear a hole in the stone. In the same way the word of God is tender, and our heart is hard. So when people hear the word of God frequently, their hearts are opened to the fear

Contemplative Prayer

Only contemplative prayer touches the deep unconscious, where all of our real hurts, motivations, and deepest visions lie. Without it, we have what is even worse—religious egoic consciousness, which is even more defensive and offensive than usual! Now it has God on its side and is surely what Jesus means by the unforgivable “sin against the Holy Spirit.” It cannot be forgiven because this small self would never imagine it needs forgiveness. It is smug

Holy Week Meditation and Study Guide (Part II)

The primary theme of Holy Wednesday is our human need for the healing and forgiveness that comes into our lives when we establish a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. We are reminded that the way to this relationship is to be found, above all else, through the life of prayer. In the Sacrament of Holy Unction, the faithful are anointed and thus, healed both physically and spiritually.