CONTEMPLATIVE PROFILE: GREGORY THE GREAT ON “RESTING IN GOD”

Lisa Deam pointed me to this recent post of hers about Gregory the Great, germane to my recent work here on the pocket scroll.

The Contemplative Writer

You may have heard that St. Gregory the Great (c. 540 – 604) defined contemplation as “resting in God.” Indeed, this quote is posted on the home page of The Contemplative Writer! This snippet is a condensed version of what St. Gregory really said, and I thought we should take a look at the full statement. It’s a wonderfully nuanced description of just what “resting in God” really means:

But the contemplative life is: to retain indeed with all one’s mind the love of God and neighbor, but to rest from all exterior action, and cleave only to the desire of the Maker, that the mind may now take no pleasure in doing anything, but having spurned all cares, may be aglow to see the face of its Creator; so that it already knows how to bear with sorrow the burden of the corruptible flesh, and with all its desires…

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“The Power of the hidden Father comes and in you will be clothed with a body”

Sorry this is a day late. Some of the beautiful theological poetry of Jacob of Serugh for the Annunciation.

Eclectic Orthodoxy

The revelation went out from God to the pure one
by means of Gabriel, the learned one, who teaches fine sayings.

The man of fire was sent from God
that he might bring the message from the house of the Father to the glorious one.

From the heavenly legions, the spiritual one went forth,
who had been sent from God with a hidden mystery.

He met with the maiden, greeted her, and revealed the mystery,
as he had been commanded by God in the heavens above.

He bowed to the Virgin, the Mother of the King, and He spoke with her
in the speech of the country such as she was able to receive:

“Peace be with you, full of divine splendour!
Peace to you Mary, Mother of the Sun of Justice!

“Peace be upon you, castle of holy things and full of virtues,
harbour of mysteries and new ship…

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The Psalms at the heart of prayer and worship

After my criticisms of Tim Keller, here’s my latest post on a different blog where I express appreciation for his book on prayer — more importantly, let’s keep the Psalms at the heart of our prayers. Maybe even bring them back into Sunday worship where they’ve been laid aside?

thewitnesscloud

Praying the offices daily, whether it’s BCP or BAS or Common Worship or Celebrating Daily Prayer or the Roman Breviary or the Benedictine office or the offices of the eastern churches, you will find yourself praying through the book of Psalms in a regular cycle, whether that cycle is weekly, fortnightly, monthly, or maybe bi-monthly. Or, if not the entire book, you will still pray one or two Psalms at each office every day.

The Psalms have been called God’s Prayer Book and God’s Hymn Book. They are the source of much rich depth and beauty in the entire history of prayer and worship, and the office is one means of making them our own. They express the full range of human emotion in interactions with God, and they help us find an approach to God we might otherwise avoid if left to our own devices.

The Psalms are an…

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The Noonday Demon

Having blogged recently about Evagrius and Cassian, I was interested to see this recent post at Eclectic Orthodoxy describing the Evagrian passion/logismos of acedia. It is insightful, and it treads lightly on the relationship of Evagrian wisdom to depression — a place I dare not go, as one neither qualified in psychology nor suffering from depression. It’s worth the read.

Eclectic Orthodoxy

Acedia—raise your hand if you know how to pronounce this word correctly. If you don’t, click on the word. But what does it mean? The term derives from the Greek word akēdeia. The ancient ascetics used it to signify a specific spiritual condition that afflicts monks and indeed all people. Possible renderings into English include “boredom,” “inertia,” “sloth,” “apathy,” “repulsion,” “indolence,” “lassitude,” “dejection.” Hieroschemamonk Gabriel Bunge proposes “despondency” as perhaps the most apt translation, “if it is understood that in the term despondency the other shades of meaning are heard together” (Despondency, p. 46).

Evagrius Ponticus puts acedia right in the middle of his list of the eight fundamental passions or thoughts (logismoi): gluttony, lust, avarice, sadness, anger, acedia, vainglory, and pride. He describes them as generic thoughts because, as Bunge writes, “not only are all other thoughts generated from them, but these eight themselves are…

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Preaching the Politics of Pascha

Powerful words about the most important message the Church needs to offer not only in post-election America but in post-Brexit Britain, in Canada, and to the ends of the earth.

Eclectic Orthodoxy

Since November 8th, contributors to Public Orthodoxy have advanced various responses to the unexpected victory of Donald J. Trump. Fr John Jillions proposes that the Church needs to practice a politics of communion, which includes charitable works, prophetic political witness, and renewed ascetical life. Aristotle Papanikolaou asserts that the Church needs to vigorously denounce racist, sexist, and xenophobic rhetoric. Samuel Bauer maintains that before the Church can effectively contribute to the healing of our country, she must “seek forgiveness from the marginalized of society, the very individuals whose dignity it has at times assailed.” Each proposal has merit, but each lacks that one needful thing, the proclamation of the gospel itself. The Church has one word that she, and she alone, can speak to the world—Jesus is risen! There are many penultimate words that the Church may and must speak; but if she does not proclaim Pascha, not just one Sunday…

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A Liturgical New Year’s Resolution: Pray the Office with Us!

My most recent post on the blog my brother and I share. Take up the challenge this Advent!

thewitnesscloud

This coming Sunday, November 27th, is the First Sunday in Advent. Advent, in the western liturgical calendar, is the start of the liturgical year. That makes it the liturgical New Year! I have to confess that I’ve never heard of anyone making a liturgical New Year’s resolution. Nonetheless, perhaps Advent is just the time to start, anyway.

After all, it’s the lead up to Christmas, ‘another year over / a new one’s just begun’, as John Lennon says. In December we often look back not so much over the past year but over past Decembers and past Christmases; hopefully with fondness, sometimes with sorrow. As we survey the history of ourselves, the history of our spiritual lives, hopefully we can seek out ways to draw nearer to our Lord Jesus — and the Daily Office as we promote here is just one way.

For the more liturgically- or traditionally-minded, Advent…

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The Essence/Energies Distinction and the Myth of Byzantine Illogic

One of the reasons I feature western poets and mystics on this blog — as I did yesterday with St Columba — is to disassemble the false dichotomy between eastern Christianity as solely mystical with mystery and western Christianity as solely interested in dogma and logic. Here is a great post by Christian Kappes, guest blogging at the excellent Eclectic Orthodoxy blog. He discusses the use of logic in the antecedents and successors of Palamas. And he even admits where there are convergences between different strands of eastern and western theology. Dogma is not the sole domain of the West; mysticism is not the sole domain of the East. Enjoy!

Eclectic Orthodoxy

by Fr Christiaan Kappes

First of all, I heartily thank Fr. Aidan Kimel for inviting me to write a guest column on Palamism. Although, in the essence of the argument, it should not make a difference, I will start by revealing my sympathy with Palamas and my general agreement with him about the distinction in God into essence and energies. However, there are actually several issues, all of which are equally complicated. Not only is there the question of what kind of (1.) ingredients are in the primordial divine soup or essence of God, but (2.) about how those ingredients are perceived by you and me (3.) and whether these ingredients in the divine soup are somehow mediatory or means of arriving at their lesser imitations in the real peas and carrots at the real dinner table.

The first question is “What kind of items go together in God?” The…

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