“Beat on that thick cloud of unknowing with the sharp arrow of longing and never stop loving”

Some challenging but beautiful thoughts from the Cloud of Unknowing

Eclectic Orthodoxy

Lift up your heart to God with a gentle stirring of love. Focus on nothing but him. Don’t let anything else run through your mind and will. Here’s how. Forget what you know. Forget everything God made and everybody who exists and everything that’s going on in the world, until your thoughts and emotions aren’t focused on or reaching toward anything, not in a general way and not in any particular way. Let them be. For the moment, don’t care about anything.

This is the work of the soul that most pleases God. All saints and angels rejoice in it, and they’re always willing to help you when you’re spending time in contemplation. They rush to your side, their powers ready. But contemplation infuriates the devil and his company. That’s why they try to stop you in any way they can. You can’t know how much. This spiritual exercise even…

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“The story of Life imparted its voice into the apostolic group”

As the Easter season continues, some Late Antique Syriac poetry for you.

Eclectic Orthodoxy

The disciples saw that the Slaughtered One was not there in the tomb
and they believed that He had risen,
and they became confirmed in the things revealed.
They saw the covering of borrowed garments placed aside by Him,
and they had perceived that He had clothed himself in glory and manly power.
They saw the resurrection and they became confirmed on account of its effects;
and they clothed themselves in power
so that they might become mouth-pieces for His proclamation.
They saw that the region of death had been trodden under foot
at the Resurrection of the dead.
Then they returned to become witnesses in the world about the resurrection.
They saw that birthpangs had struck Sheol and it gave birth to Life
and they accepted upon themselves to become advocates of the Truth to the new world.
They returned from the tomb with confidence to their companions
while…

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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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