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Receiving Spiritual Food

“Attend to thyself, and keep thy heart diligently.” ~ Deuteronomy 4:9 “And he said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” ~ Luke 9:23 “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” ~ Hebrews 5:12-14

1. Eucharistic Dia-Logos: All Things In and Through Christ “Behind all sin is a subtle, beguiling inclination away from grateful, eucharistic dia-Logos*, subverting all things toward the worship of creation instead of the Creator. The devil uses coercion, fantasy, seduction, confusion, and violence to try to force humanity to worship him instead of God. In this way he reverses the order of things, de-sacralizing and depersonalizing humanity and the entire creation, changing what is life to what is evil, rendering the royal priesthood ineffective by removing humanity from noetic communion at the altar of the heart” (Deacon Stephen Muse, 115). * Dia-Logos: “Dia-Logos, literally ‘through the Logos,’ refers to the encounter between God and persons that proves transformative because of the human response to the noetic illumination from Christ’s uncreated presence ‘wherever two or more are gathered in his name’.” * De-sacralizing and Depersonalizing Humanity and Creation: We lose focus of the holiness of humanity and God’s efforts to be present in one another. * Noetic Communion: Experiencing oneness with God in body, mind, and soul. 2. Noetic Communion “The life of solid food is often strenuous and people are tempted to substitute easier quicker things. Rationality, or even irrational passions, are often used as a false basis for the spiritual life…Such a life is also very prone to doubt…and produces depression and anxiety (among many other things). We were not created to live out of our rationality and passions. We are noetic creatures…Christ’s word to His disciples after the resurrection was, “Peace be with you.” It is an invitation to noetic communion for every soul” (Fr. Stephen Freeman). 3. Asceticism Prevents Burnout - “It is essential that the confessor assume responsibility for finding time for silence, peace, and prayer. The fertile time spent in spiritual vigilance and alertness can provide rest and solve problems that would otherwise take whole years of labor, activity, and study to achieve” (Archimandrite Elisaios, 69-70). We cannot succeed until letting go. 4. Healing Asceticism: Anchoring Thoughts on Christ - “A person who truly wanted to live with a Christian conscience began by applying certain practical methods, but, as the years passed, he could see that he was failing to achieve the desired goal. He then consulted a spiritual father and received this answer: ‘Keep silence, keep your tongue silent and do not allow your mind to go anywhere else but to Christ, and return it always to Christ. And when you are in pain, do not say, ‘I am in pain,’ for your mind will thus depart from Christ.’ At first he was in doubt, but slowly he realized that things he could not do by himself before were not being accomplished on their own. How? By the Holy Spirit. His condition was transformed on its own. The Holy Spirit comes and you suddenly discover that you possess all things” (Archimandrite Elisaios, 70). 5. The Value of Stepping Out and Into Silence “The work and service done in an hour of stepping out of the world for the purpose of silence, peace, and prayer can renew the soul, rest it, empower it, increase its faith and hope, and broaden the heart and its horizon. Through his conversatin with God in quiet isolation, and by taking delight in God, the spiritual father can acquire gladness and optimism, he can gain time and energy” (Archimandrite Elisaios. 70). 6. Filling our Hearts with Holy Study - “Another suggestion [to avoid burnout] is ongoing study and research, delving into the depths of sacred scripture and the patristic literature and tradition, as well as the contemporary knowledge and analysis of human nature found in appropriate books and in observations of daily life. Such study is primarily the seeking for God. It is a gift to man, a kenosis of God for the sake of man, whose direct communion with God is thus supported and enhanced. God empties himself, revealing himself from within the texts, the lines, the words and meanings, from within the spirit of the author who imprints these meanings upon his text. Study and research, therefore, uncover the expressions of the long-suffering of God, who introduces us into the place of the mysteries, into mystical communion with him. We embark on a journey and a cohabitation with God. This is why the fathers of spiritual vigilance and alertness urge us, ‘Do not neglect your study!’” (Archimandrite Elisaios, 70-71). *The following notes are taken from Word into Spirit: Pastoral Perspectives on Confession, a collection of articles compiled by editors Vasileios Thermos and Stephen Muse. A quote is also borrowed from Fr. Stephen Freeman’s blog entry: “Seeing and Believing.”

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