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Peter of Damaskos: “we resent abandoning our own desires”

2 December 2020

“We have to make strenuous efforts when we first try to return from where we fell. For we resent abandoning our own desires, and we think that we can carry out both God’s wishes and our own ? which is impossible. Our Lord Himself said, ‘I have come to do, not My own will, but the will of the Father who sent Me’ (cf. Jn. 6:38).”

St. Peter of Damaskos, The Philokalia

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Diadochos of Photiki: “where the grace of God is hidden”

1 December 2020

“… from the instant we are baptized, grace is hidden in the depths of the intellect, concealing its presence even from the perception of the intellect itself. When someone begins, however, to love God with full resolve, then in a mysterious way, by means of intellectual perception, grace communicates something of its riches to the soul. Then, if he really wants to hold fast to this discovery, he joyfully starts longing to be rid of all his temporal goods, so as to acquire the field in which he has found the hidden treasure of life (cf. Mt. 13:44). This is because, when someone rids himself of all worldly riches, he discovers the place where the grace of God is hidden. For as the soul advances, divine grace more and more reveals itself to the intellect.”

St. Diadochos of Photiki, The Philokalia

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Basil the Great: “peaceableness towards all”

30 November 2020

 “I cannot persuade myself that without love to others, and without, as far as rests with me, peaceableness towards all, I can be called a worthy servant of Jesus Christ.”

St Basil the Great

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Instruments of God’s Peace

29 November 2020

“For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.

But ye said, No; for we will flee upon horses; therefore shall ye flee: and, We will ride upon the swift; therefore shall they that pursue you be swift.

One thousand shall flee at the rebuke of one; at the rebuke of five shall ye flee: till ye be left as a beacon upon the top of a mountain, and as an ensign on an hill.

And therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the Lord is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him.”

 (Isaiah chapter 30, verses 15 through 18)

In the Scripture cited above, the prophet Isaiah is inviting us to trust in the power of God to save us and not in the power of weapons and violence. Just as Old Testament Israel was tempted to trust in horses and chariots, we are too often led to believe that force and violence can save us. After this tumultuous year and a hotly contested election season, Americans seem poised to be at each other’s throats. The Lord says through the prophet Isaiah that violence will not bring us the peace that we desire. Violence now only sows the seeds for more violence in the future. The roots of one war are nearly always to be found in previous wars. Isaiah says that a true and lasting peace will come only through other means. “In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength” In your own life, have you ever known your own expressions of hostility and impatience to result in peace? Isn’t it true for you that it takes more strength to be calm than it does to be hostile? It is certainly true in my case.

True peace is given to us as a gift from God. We have only to prepare our hearts to receive this gift and it will be given. But peace cannot come to hearts torn by envy, greed, or resentment. It cannot dwell alongside of arrogance, hatred, or maliciousness.

There is a song that is well known worldwide, and is particularly associated with the Christmas season, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”  Our faith tells us that we, each one of us, can make a difference. Peace can begin with me. If my heart is a heart through which peace flows, then there is more peace available in our world to flow out to the hearts of others, even to those whose choices and viewpoints we find most difficult to comprehend. In this highly anxious year let’s offer ourselves as instruments of God’s peace in our nation and in our world.

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Peter of Damaskos: “if you are not what you should be”

28 November 2020

“… if you are not what you should be, you should not despair. It is bad enough that you have sinned; why in addition do you wrong God by regarding Him in your ignorance as powerless? Is He, who for your sake created the great universe that you behold, incapable of saving your soul? And if you say that this fact, as well as His incarnation, only makes your condemnation worse, then repent; and He will receive your repentance…”

St. Peter of Damaskos, The Philokalia

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Gregory Palamas: “there is no room for despair”

27 November 2020

“…we are not without hope of salvation, nor is it at all the right time for us to despair. All our life is a season of repentance, for God ‘desires not the death of the sinner’, as it is written, ‘but that the wicked turn from his way and live’ (cf. Ez. 33:11 LXX). For, if there were no hope of turning back, why would death not have followed immediately on disobedience, and why would we not be deprived of life as soon as we sin? For where there is hope of turning back, there is no room for despair.”

St. Gregory Palamas, The Homilies

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Kierkegaard: “Christ is the way as well as the truth”

24 November 2020

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“Truth is not a deposit of acquired knowledge. This might have been if Christ had been, for example, a teacher of truth, a thinker, one who made a discovery. But Christ is the way as well as the truth. His teaching is infinitely superior to all the inventions of any and every age, an eternity older and an eternity higher than all systems, even the very newest. His teaching is the truth – not in terms of knowledge, but in the sense that the truth is a way – and as the God-man He is and remains the way; something that no human being, however zealously he professes that the truth is the way, dare assert of himself without blasphemy.”

Soren Kierkegaard, Provocations

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“the absolutization of politics”

23 November 2020

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Rejection of transcendence has the effect that all human realities (the state, sexuality, work, the family) lose their symbolic or ideal significance and become “dumb,” completely devoid of any finality beyond the satisfaction of the immediate material or psychological needs that can be studied scientifically. It is in this sense that scientism, according to Del Noce, is the philosophical premise of the sexual revolution. At the same time, political struggles take an absolute value, replacing religion as the focus of social concern and the source of people’s identity and meaning.

The flip side of the politicization of reason is the absolutization of politics, which to Del Noce is another definition of totalitarianism. Every aspect of reality is interpreted in terms of a political narrative, which becomes the interpretative key for all aspects of social life: law, education, medicine, the family. Society at all levels splits along political lines because “culture is entirely subordinate to politics” and “the idea of politics is subsumed within the idea of war.” The older totalitarian movements had no desire to find a political accommodation between social classes or races: one side must eliminate the other. Likewise, no compromise is possible with “repression” and “bigotry.” They must be simply fought and, ultimately, eliminated.

But since, in fact, politics lacks any ideal (as opposed to ideological) point of reference, it must necessarily degenerate into “a management technique at the service of the strongest” by a technocratic elite which is not united to the rest of the population by any real ideal bond. The stated goals of politics can only be a constant expansion of production and consumption and the advancement of individual autonomy, expressed in the language of “rights.” Paradoxically, the individualism of the technological society covers “the extinction of the individual, by which I mean the individual inasmuch as he enters into relationship with the absolute, and through this relationship can become critical in the present.” An individual cut off from transcendence becomes “completely dependent on society,” “a social atom.”

“Incidentally, this is perfectly compatible with recurrent spasms of ideological extremism, which claim to fight the “system” but in reality are just expressions of alienation, since they generally fail to call into question the metaphysical presuppositions of the technological society.”

Carlo Lancelloti, in Communo

Read more here.

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Philotheos of Sinai: “Let us cut sin out of our heart”

22 November 2020

“Let us cut sin out of our heart, and we will find within us the kingdom of heaven.”

St. Philotheos of Sinai, The Philokalia

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Father Josiah Trenham: “The great reset that is to come”

21 November 2020

Father Josiah Trenham speaking about what is being called “The Great Reset.”

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