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The Sixth Wednesday of Great Lent. Fast from…Feast on…

FAST from self-concern and FEAST on compassion for others. FAST from discouragement and FEAST on hope. FAST from lethargy and FEAST on enthusiasm. FAST from suspicion and FEAST on truth. FAST from thoughts that weaken and FEAST on promises that inspire. FAST from shadows of sorrow and FEAST on the sunlight of serenity. FAST from idle gossip and FEAST on purposeful silence. FAST from problems that overwhelm you and FEAST on prayer that sustains. FAST

Prayer: The Need for Intentional Silence

By Fr. Stavros Akrotirianakis, May 23, 2018 We all know the externals of prayer.  Many people also pray in front of icons.  Today’s reflection is about the need for intentional silence. Before we can encounter God, there is a necessity for silence and stillness.  You might be wondering “it is not silent when we worship,” so does there need to be silence in order to encounter God?  There has to be a sense of stillness,

True Self and False Self: Living in God

Guest writer and CAC faculty member James Finley continues exploring insights on the true self and false self that he gleaned from Thomas Merton. In ways known only to God, the one seeking God in silence unexpectedly falls through the barriers of division and duplicity to discover, as Merton writes, that: . . . here, where contemplation becomes what it is really meant to be, it is no longer something infused by God into a

What the Fathers Sought

What the Fathers sought most of all was their own true self, in Christ.  And in order to do this, they had to reject completely the false, formal self, fabricated under social compulsion in “the world.”  They sought a way to God that was uncharted and freely chosen, not inherited from others who had mapped it out beforehand.  They sought a God whom they alone could find, not one who was “given” in a set,

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

The Seventh Thursday after Pascha. Silence, Awareness, and Contemplation

Stand diligently at the gate of the heart. —St. Philotheos The practice of stillness is full of joy and beauty. —Evagrius By the grace of creation and redemption, there is a grounding union between God and the human person. In the depths of this ground, the “between” cannot be perceived, for it is completely porous to the Divine Presence. Indeed, there is more Presence than preposition. While this is the simplest and most fundamental fact

The Second Tuesday after Pascha. CHRISTOS ANESTI! CHRIST IS RISEN! Staying by Oneself (Part II)

The inner attitude with which monks are supposed to sit in their cells is described by another elder in a drastic image: “When you dwell in the desert as a hesychast [a person who practices quietistic meditation], don’t imagine that you are doing something great. Instead, think of yourself as a dog that has been driven away from the crowd and tied up because he bites and bothers people.” The monks do not remain sitting

The Thirty-First Day of Great Lent. “. . . BUT BY PRAYER AND FASTING” (Part V)

Everyone will no doubt agree that the whole style of family existence has been radically altered by radio and television. These media of “mass communication” permeate today our whole life. One does not have to “go out” in order to “be out.” The whole world is permanently here within my reach. And, little by little, the elementary experience of living within an inner world, of the beauty of that “interiority,” simply disappears from our modern

Witnesses to Silence and Stillness (II)

Witnesses to Silence and Stillness (II) In a hospital room a number of years ago, a close friend lay dying. For years he had rebelled against God and against his Orthodox faith, expressing that rebellion by indifference to everything connected with the Church. In the last years of his life he had come home. With the simplicity and openness of a child he now turned his face to God and prayed. You could see in

Witnesses to Silence and Stillness (I)

Witnesses to Silence and Stillness (I) To close this series of reflections on silence, solitude and inner stillness, it seems most appropriate to share a few very modest, personal experiences that I have been blessed to undergo over the years. These involve encounters with unpretentious yet holy persons whose example can guide all of us who long to acquire these virtues or qualities for ourselves. In the early 1970s a community of French Roman Catholic