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#21 Fr Seraphim (Black)

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Posted 27 January 2006 - 11:46 AM

Deep illness, which has been my daily companion since the day I entered monasticism has been a wonderful but deeply bewildering instructor.

When I found my monastic days passing more and more under its dominion, I said simply to Father Sophrony: 'I came to your monastery to be a monk, but I do not understand, why am I always in London, in a hospital bed?'

His reply was multiform, but he used many former ascetics, now reposed, in his explanation.

I found as the time passed a very indisputable sensation take root in my heart.

The closer Christ enclosed me in agonizing pain, the closer he brought me to the final moment (it was several times), the deeper my personal suffering, the more profound became my ontological connection to every living entity. The greater it deepened.

On one hand I saw clearly the futility of holding on. Yet at in the same breath I experienced love for others as never before.

Due to my intense pain I touched upon the mystery of the preciousness of each breath of another's life. Especially if they were suffering more than I was at the time.
Once again, this time, I was in the cancer ward - could I dare say 'oh, blessed place!' Would you understand? Or run from me in abject horror?

In these precious moments of dying, I see life in glorious, radiant beauty.
Thus, I am truly grateful to all of you for your deep concern and deep prayers.
Yet, in passing, did you know, I glimpsed, a light, a glory upon earth, I have seen only in deep illness?


#22 Byron Jack Gaist

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Posted 29 January 2006 - 03:16 PM

Dear Fr Seraphim,

Many thanks for your edifying postings, which give hope to those who read them. Welcome back.

In Christ
Byron


#23 Fr Seraphim (Black)

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Posted 29 January 2006 - 05:55 PM

Dear Byron et al.,

May God bless all who prayed for me and who have been so generous in their responses regarding my return to posting.

Before my operation I was in deep peace and equally great joy, to the point of joking with all the staff.

Whether I came back or not was not something I dwelt upon before the surgery. But I am grateful to God that He has brought me back, because to echo the words of my beloved Saint Silouan, 'I have not learnt humility.'

Now, as my 'strength' returns, Byron, we can walk the beautiful paths of Mount Athos and visit with Blessed Father Paisios and get to the issue of the relation between carrying the sins of all humankind (to paraphrase Blessed Paisios) and Christ's words in Luke 14:26.

"Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is humble love for enemies and prayer for the whole world."
St. Silouan, pg. 163.


#24 Guest_Eugenia

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Posted 30 January 2006 - 01:39 AM

Dear Fr. Seraphim,
I thank God for His mercy and love and your wonderful words of encouragement for US! God bless you..Eugenia}


#25 Byron Jack Gaist

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Posted 31 January 2006 - 06:32 AM

Dear Fr Seraphim,

Regarding Fr Paisios, you write

Now, as my 'strength' returns, Byron, we can walk the beautiful paths of Mount Athos and visit with Blessed Father Paisios and get to the issue of the relation between carrying the sins of all humankind (to paraphrase Blessed Paisios) and Christ's words in Luke 14:26.


Thank you for remembering this unfinished discussion and bringing the topic back. I would like to hear more about what Fr Paisios attitude towards sin had to do with Luke 14:26 ( "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple."). To bear the sins of others, of the whole world, is what our Lord did - but how can we imitate Him in this? How did Fr Paisios go about this awesome task?

In Christ,
Byron

#26 Guest_Charalambos Andrew Geo

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Posted 20 December 2005 - 07:22 PM

Just wanted to say a couple of things
Happy Christmas to everyone and Glory to our God
pray for me to be simple and well pleasing to God
with love in Christ


#27 Guest_Photini

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Posted 25 December 2005 - 02:01 PM

Have a blessed Nativity.

With love in Christ,
~photini


#28 Theopesta

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Posted 29 December 2005 - 03:52 AM

REV.DR.Matthew and all fora venerable members

And the angel said to them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign to you; You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

IN ONE CHRIST, TheopestaPosted Image

#29 Theopesta

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Posted 04 January 2006 - 09:57 AM

www.orthodox.net/nativity/on-night-of-nativity-ephraim-syrian.
Posted ImageOn the Night of Nativity St. Ephraim the Syrian

Pure is the present night, in which the Pure One appeared, Who came to purify us! Let our hearing be pure, and the sight of our eyes chaste, and the feeling of the heart holy, and the speech of the mouth sincere!

This is the night of the Humble One; let no one be proud!

The present day has opened the door of heaven to our prayers; let us also open our door to those who ask of us forgiveness!

#30 Theopesta

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Posted 04 January 2006 - 10:49 AM

Dear All:
I would like to condense what st. Ephraim said in the above treatise:

On the Night of Nativity St. Ephraim the Syrian

1- it is night of purification of our internal and external senses
2- it is night of reconciliation.
3- it is night of peace.
4- it is night of meekness.
5- it is night of humility.
6- day of joy
7- day of every good will .
8- day of tranquaility.
9- today is the hope for every sinner want to repent.
10- today is for all deeds and thoughts of generosity, hospitality and gratuities of every sort.
11- in nativity day the door of heaven opens to our prayers, to keep it open continously and for ever:
forgive forgive forgive

I wish every day and night and today is nativity

#31 Guest_James Aubuchon

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Posted 19 March 2006 - 03:26 AM

Hello all.

My name is James Aubuchon. I have been an Orthodox Christian for 2 years (and an evangelical for 18 years before that).

I have always had an attraction to the monastic life, and while I am not a monk, and cannot live as a monk, I try to live the ascetic life as best I can, with discrimination and humility, according to the grace that God has given to me.

I am hoping that I can meet some others on this forum that are on similar journeys to my own. I am also looking for a spiritual father. We live 100 miles from the closest Orthodox church, and so we can only attend liturgy about once a month. This has made it hard to connect with anyone that could act as a spiritual father to me.

I am currently reading through the fourth volume of the Philokalia. It is part of what brought me to Orthodoxy in the first place.

God Bless all of you.

James


#32 Guest_Dimitris Aslanidis

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Posted 19 March 2006 - 09:27 PM

Hi James. I am Demetrios. I am from Greece. I assure you that you did the right thing. Besides you know it yourself.

I know a spiritual father who is Greek and is occupied with internet. But i don't know if he can speak English. His name is Antony Stilianakis and his e-mail is "styliant@otenet.gr" You can send him an e-mail and see if he replies. If he replies that means that he knows English.

Explain to him your thought and then wait for a replay. He is a very nice man and except being a priest he is also and a psychologist. If you find any trouble contacting with him say it to me and I will try to communicate with him.Posted Image

#33 Guest_Dimitris Aslanidis

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Posted 19 March 2006 - 09:46 PM

Excuse me, I don't know if you were looking for a spiritual father on the internet. And I don't know if that that I suggested to you is good...Explain to me what you are looking for. Do you simply want to find one priest who is near you?


#34 Guest_James Aubuchon

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Posted 19 March 2006 - 10:02 PM

I was just saying in general that I am looking for a spiritual father. So far, I have been unsuccessful with priests that are local to me. Please pray for me that I would find a spiritual father.


#35 Fr Seraphim (Black)

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Posted 19 March 2006 - 11:39 PM

Pray to God for a Spiritual Father, it may very well be your parish priest, after all humility is a wonderful tool to have in your toolbox.

We are burdened with far too many fantasies about Spiritual Fathers/Mothers.

God will give you, be assured, exactly what you need right now. What you are seeking for can well be right under your nose.


#36 Guest_James Aubuchon

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Posted 20 March 2006 - 12:22 AM

I completely agree with you Father Seraphim. I have just been unable to enter into that sort of relationship with any priest so far. It is not that I reject them or anything. It's just that we live so far away, and therefore establishing that sort of relationship has been impossible up to now. We did have a priest in California who was like a spiritual father, but now we live in New Mexico, and it has been hard to stay in contact with him. He is just so busy, and we are out of sight, out of mind so to speak. We try to contact him, but he does not contact us back. Perhaps I do have too much expectations for the relationship. I don't know. But I would expect that if someone were my spiritual father, he would keep in touch, answer my e-mails, etc. That is not happening. So what do I do?

Please pray for me.

James


#37 Father David Moser

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Posted 20 March 2006 - 04:47 AM

This discussion of spiritual fathers brings up some thoughts that I expressed not to long ago in an email to another person who was asking about this. Here are those thoughts:

Let me say a few words about this idea of a "spiritual father". This is a term that is bandied about very carelessly these days and we all have in our minds the picture of the spiritual elder ala Optina or Mt Athos. Such "spiritual fathers" are extremely rare these days and in this culture. I know of maybe one or two monastics who could take on that role - and one of those speaks only Russian - and no parish priests at all. I do know of a lot of monastics and priests who *think* they are spiritual fathers/elders in this mold - but they aren't and I would avoid them. You are likely not going to find a spirit bearing elder/spiritual father in this culture. The best thing to do is to find a good confessor who will take your confession and give sound spiritual advice (not direction) and then make friends with like minded people (who are interested in/committed to the spiritual life) and draw support from one another. Get together for a meal, for spiritual discussions, whatver, on a regular basis (once or twice a month) and in between chat on the phone or over coffee one on one.

The saints all are very clear that the number of such spiritual guides will continue to decrease as we get nearer the end times and they all recommend that if we cannot find such a guide that we should read the writings of those from days gone by. That is what your group of friends should do together. You can say a molieben or sing an akathist together - even without a priest (there are standard accomodations for this situation) and then spend the evening discussing the writings of the fathers together.

Fr David Moser


#38 Guest_James Aubuchon

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Posted 20 March 2006 - 03:12 PM

Thank you Father David. I agree with what you are saying. I told one lady that if we read the philokalia, we can pray to the saints whose writings we are reading, and ask them to intercede for us. In this way, they can become like a spiritual father, and we can be guided through both their writings and their prayers. I wish I could find a group of Orthodox Christians near me that have an interest in the ascetic struggle, and would be willing to meet and discuss the writings of the fathers, but alas, we don't really have any Orthodox Christians near us (perhaps there are some at the local air force base, but I have never met them). I do think its risky for me to venture out into the deep waters of the spiritual life without any guidance. I would welcome just some timely advice from some experienced travellers. They don't need to be a deified saint.

On the other hand, I am reminded of some of our fathers who went out to the desert, like St. Anthony, without spiritual fathers, and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, were able to achieve theosis. I think if we approach all of this humbly and with discretion, being aware of our shortcomings and our sins, and do everything we can to seek for guidance and fellowship, we can be directed by God into what is necessary for our growth in holiness. I can't believe that God would make such a thing impossible just because we lack access to a spiritual father.

In Christ,

James


#39 Kosmas Damianides

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Posted 23 March 2006 - 11:07 AM

Hi - Long time no see,

I feel like I am new to the group again, since I've been away so long. Anyway hi again and welcome James; greetings and salutations to everyone else.

I am quite busy and stressed out these days so if I don't have anything urgent to say, I may still pop in sometimes to say hi or to just read some of your very interesting conversations about our faith.

Bye for now


#40 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 02:08 PM

Dear Mr Aubuchon,

A belated welcome to the Community. It is good to have you here, and already engaged in the discussion.

To Kosmas, welcome back.

INXC, Matthew





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