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Seeking to do His will, I remain patient. I think some changes are coming soon which will help my prayer life.

“Unless the Lord builds the house, in vain do the builders labor . . .” (Psalm 127)

It must be going on 8 years now that I have actively sought to live a contemplative life. A priest friend of mine, who told me how hard this would be, must have been a prophet.

“One thing I have asked of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.” (Psalm 27)

 

“This Christmas night bestowed peace on the whole world;

So let no one threaten;

This is the night of the Most Gentle One –

Let no one be cruel;

This is the night of the Humble One –

Let no one be proud.

Now is the day of joy –

Let us not revenge;

Now is the day of Good Will –

Let us not be mean.

In this Day of Peace –

Let us not be conquered by anger.

Today the Bountiful impoverished Himself for our sake;

So, rich one, invite the poor to your table.

Today we receive a Gift for which we did not ask;

So let us give alms to those who implore and beg us.

This present Day cast open the heavenly doors to our prayers;

Let us open our door to those who ask our forgiveness.

Today the DIVINE BEING took upon Himself the seal of our humanity,

In order for humanity to be decorated by the Seal of DIVINITY.”

– the Nativity Sermon of St. Isaac of Syria (8th century)

I haven’t been able to blog here nearly as much as I have wanted to lately since I have been working on a blog for Father Damian, to showcase his extraordinarily beautiful iconography and to also feature a bit about our new community, the Community of St. Symeon the New Theologian.

Visit the other blog here.

Currently, Father Damian’s iconography is the sole source of income for our fledgling community.

Here’s a photo of Father Damian at work during one of his icon exhibitions:

The exhibition pictured above was in New Mexico. This month he is in Honolulu, to provide pastoral support to our Ukrainian Greek Catholic mission there, especially during this holy season of the Nativity of Our Lord, and also to participate in an exhibition of his work at one of the fine art museums there.

We’re off to a start. Time will tell if we are off to a good start. The most challenging part is meeting our financial responsibilities and trying to find faithful benefactors so we can support more men in our community. Some say it is because of the economy that we are unable to get the help we had hoped to find. At least three good candidates are interested in joining us on this journey and we need, of course, to have more income to support more men.

The past weeks have been frustrating in trying to get out the word and raise funds. I never wanted to be involved in this part. I wanted to live a life of prayer. We don’t always get to choose what responsibilities fall to us though and I accept that.

The other evening, in praying vespers, I was suddenly struck by a particular part of this prayer:

“O Lord our God, who bowed the heavens and came down for the salvation of the human race, look down on Your servants and on Your inheritance. For Your servants have bowed their heads and bent their necks to You, the Judge both awesome and loving. They do not await the help that is from man, but look for Your mercy and are ready to receive Your salvation. Guard them at all times, this evening and tonight, against all enemies, against the devil’s assaults, against vain thoughts and evil dreams. May the might of Your Kingdom be blessed and exalted, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and always and forever and ever. Amen.”

I hear this line every evening, as the priest prays it – They do not await the help that is from man . . . – but tonight there was such a resonance to it.

I begin to see that our only hope in all of this is Him. Only Him.

When his breath departs, he returns to the earth . . . his plans perish.

May I never forget the words of Psalm 146, may they always be in my heart:

Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul! I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have being.

Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no help. When his breath departs he returns to his earth; on that very day his plans perish.

Happy is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps faith for ever; who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry.

The LORD sets the prisoners free; the LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous. The LORD watches over the sojourners, he upholds the widow and the fatherless; but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

The LORD will reign for ever, thy God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the LORD!

St. Hesychios the Priest, (9th century abbot at Mt. Sinai) from On Watchfulness and Holiness

“Those who lack experience should know that it is only through the unceasing watchfulness of our intellect and the constant invocation of Jesus Christ, our Creator and God, that we, coarse and cloddish in mind and body as we are, can overcome our bodiless and invisible enemies; for not only are they subtle, swift, malevolent and skilled in malice, but they have an experience in warfare gained over all the years since Adam. The inexperienced have as weapons the Jesus Prayer and the impulse to discern what is from God. The experienced have the best method and teacher of all: the activity, discernment, and peace of God himself.”

Although I am now in Augusta, I won’t have an internet connection in the house until Wednesday of next week. In the meantime I am using the computer in Father Damian’s office next to his icon studio.

More to come! Check back soon.

A morning of new beginnings.

Making my way East, from Colorado, this Monday morning. East and east. I see the sun rising, a beautiful morning. A three day drive. What does Kansas look like? Lots of time for prayer. Heading to a new life, my hope and prayer is that I always hear the Master’s voice. LORD, send a guiding angel before me to show me the way.

Christ Pantocrator

As the we sing in the Cherubic hymn of the Divine Liturgy:  “now lay aside all earthly cares.”

And so, I do.

O Lord, be merciful to me a sinner.

Our God is our refuge and strength: a helper in troubles, which have found us exceedingly. Therefore we will not fear, when the earth shall be troubled; and the mountains shall be removed into the heart of the sea. Their waters roared and were troubled: the mountains were troubled with his strength. The stream of the river makes the city of God joyful: the most High has sanctified his own tabernacle. God is in the midst thereof, it shall not be moved: God will help it in the morning early. Nations were troubled, and kingdoms were bowed down: he uttered his voice, the earth trembled. The Lord of armies is with us: the God of Jacob is our protector. Come and behold the works of the Lord: what wonders he has done upon earth, making wars to cease even to the end of the earth. He shall destroy the bow, and break the weapons: and the shield he shall burn in the fire. Be still and see that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, and I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord of armies is with us: the God of Jacob is our protector.” – Psalm 46