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Advent Series: Boundaries with Technology #2

O heavenly king, the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph forsook their homes on the road to Bethlehem. Teach us to forsake the vanity of this world and retreat to the quiet of the soul. O sweet savior, the shepherds waited in the stillness of the pastures where they listened to angelic chant. Allow us to enter blessed stillness, that we may tune our hearts to thy transforming grace. O blessed Lord, the magi lay gold, frankincense, and myrrh at your feet. I pledge to thee the gold of my heart’s love, the incense of my prayers, the myrrh of my willingness to bear my cross. Boundaries with Technology - Part 2: The Solution 1. Facing Reality • I. God’s Intentions: Blessings of Technology • II. The Crisis: Distraction, Forgetfulness, Paralysis • III. The Solution: Goals and Boundaries for Enjoying the Present 2. God’s Intentions: The Blessings of Technology • Cosmic Priest • Centering Life: Pursuing the Eternal Present Moment “We can only meet God in the present moment. This is an area where God chooses to place limits on His own power. We choose whether or not to live in the present moment. Because we can encounter God only in the present moment, whenever we live in the past or in the future, we place ourselves beyond His reach.”~ Archimandrite Meletios Webber 3. The Crisis: Era of Distraction A. Attentiveness is the Heart of Spirituality • “Attentiveness” (προσοχή) & “attending to thyself” (προσέχειν σεαυτῷ) • “Attend (Give heed) to thyself, and keep thy heart diligently” ~ Deuteronomy 4:9 B. Era of Distraction • “Having promised us a technological utopia, our ubiquitous and intrusive cyberculture has instead precipitated a spiritual crisis … Living in a culture of organized distractions, our thoughts are isolated and disconnected, preventing us from seeing and experiencing the wholeness of life.” ~ Fr. Maximos Constas 4. The Solution: Goals and Boundaries for Cherishing Life - G – Get Concerned - R – Re-evaluate Lifestyle - A – Avoid Multitasking - C – Create Rituals - E – Enjoy God G} Get Concerned - “There is a problem; this is not something we are only imagining. The situation is far worse than we often understand. But we have more power than we realize.” ~ Arthur Boers - “Indeed, this has happened previously [scattered thoughts and lack of care in prayer], but you experienced little grief over it; now you not only notice the disorder of your thoughts, but you are disturbed by it and express the desire to cope with them, as if that were possible. Resolve to continue stirring up this anxiety, and intensify your effort in correcting this fault. ” ~ St. Theophan R} Re-evaluate Lifestyle - “Time on the trail helped me reevaluate how I had lived…I could see clearly that many focal concerns (reading, writing, prayer, family) had not received proper attention for some time. I resolved to live differently, ‘to pay attention to the deepest thing [I] know’.” ~ Arthur Boers A} Avoid Multitasking - The monk who drunk from a mug with two handles -- concentration - “Performing Godly work in a careless manner curses it” ~ St. Theophan C} Create Rituals - Put Technology in its Place o Let technology support your priorities, not dictate them - Spirituality is nothing more or less than daily habits o “Often people make the mistake of assuming that religion is only about some disembodied aspect of our spirits and that matter and bodies and physical reality do not count. But that is not the Christian testimony.” ~ Arthur Boers o Ex. Table manners o “The point of table manners – whether hats, utensils, being excused, or leftovers – was not to invent rules to separate the classy from the trashy. Etiquette reminds us of the eminent worth of a meal as an end in itself, a focus, a focal practice.” ~ Arthur Boers - Breathing o “First of all, conscious breathing grounds us in the present moment. The only time we can breathe is now. We can’t breath in the past, can we? Or in the future, obviously. We can only breathe in the present. So, hesychasts and mystics of all major faiths have recognized the breath as a great aid to prayer because it keeps our minds and bodies in the present. This was confirmed for me by a nun from Greece who told me, ‘This is what we do in our cells. We practice staying present, paying attention to our breathing, and being still.” ~ Fr. Anthony Hughes E} Enjoy God - Cherish God in the present o “Life is sacramental, as Fr. Schmemann delighted in saying. If we perceive it to be so, we will be joining the cosmic, never-ending worship of the God-soaked universe” ~Fr. Anthony Hughes o Spirituality and Asceticism must not be joined with bitterness but steeped in joy. It is the constant effort to cherish God in the present. - Do not become discouraged o “Do not be discouraged by the resistance you will encounter from your human nature; you must go against your human inclinations. Often, in the beginning, you will think that you are wasting time, but you must go on, be determined and persevere in it until death, despite all the difficulties.” ~ Brother Lawrence - Fix your Heart on the Beauty of the Kingdom o “When there is a violent storm on the ocean only the surface is disturbed. In our depths is a calm and peaceful center. Do you know that we all have an internal life? We need to pay attention to what is happening under our own noses. There may be chaos when we first look, as the treatise attribute to St. Symeon the New Theologian says…but underneath the chaos is a calm and peaceful center. The image of God and the kingdom of heaven are there and we can discover and connect with them. The Prayer of the Heart, contemplation, silence and stillness all serve to open the eyes of our soul to the reality of God’s presence within. The Fathers speak of it as the mind descending into the heart. Living in the present moment with mindful awareness is a sure path to this transformation descent and to the discovery of the kingdom within.” ~ Fr. Anthony Hughes

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