Sunday, March 21, 2021

Letters to My Children - Letter 6: Seek a Spiritual Father


I will now focus more on how you can develop an Orthodox phronema or mind. To begin, just think of it as acquiring the mind of Christ. If you are like me most likely you currently have a secular way of thinking. Everything is in reference to the life on earth. Heaven is distant and rarely influences your thoughts.

Saint Paul in his letter to the Romans tells us we need to learn to walk by the Spirit instead of the flesh. He says, “Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on things of the Spirit.” (Rom 8:5). To have the mind of Christ is to live by the Spirit. To keep your mind focused on the Spirit. If this seems impossible, don’t worry, this all takes time once you surrender to the way of the Church and you allow grace to heal your soul.

What do I do, I hope you ask. I can tell you what I did. Although I was chrismated as Orthodox when we were married, it wasn’t until many years latter that I chose to surrender to the way of the Church.

On of the first things I can remember was reading a book by Saint Theophan the Recluse titled, The Path to Salvation. So your journey may or may not begin like mine by the reading of a book written by a Saint of Church Father. I had earlier developed a passage meditation practice where I would meditate for 30 minutes every morning. I don’t recommend this as it’s hard to overcome some of the pitfalls os this approach. But is gave me a way to discipline my mind as well as establishing a time each day for spiritual nourishment. But on reading Saint Theophan’s, book I learned about daily prayer using the Jesus Prayer. It seemed similar to passage meditation but soon I was to learn it was quite different. As a result I began to pray everyday for the first time in my life. This began to open my heart to something greater. I had been a big time doubter. I refused to accept the miracles performed by Christ. I saw Him as a “good” person and not as a God and man. One day I had a vision after praying where Christ came to me and said, “Charlie, why do you doubt me?” This was a wake up. This is often called an awakening.

I knew I had to do something to bring me closer to God. I began to search for  someone to help me. We were living at Natures Spirit at the time and attended Saint George Greek Orthodox Cathedral In Greenville periodically. After contacting several monasteries for help, I concluded that I needed to go and talk with  at Saint George, my local parish. I was anxious about arranging to have this discussion with him. When I first met with him he new how difficult this was for me. He then arranged to meet with me regularly to teach me about the Orthodox way.

I think I will end this here and suggest that, when you feel the desire to get closer to God, you humble yourself and make an appointment to see an Orthodox priest. I would choose one who is mature. Most likely he will embrace you like the father embraced the Prodigal son on his return (Luke: 11–32). Just tell him you want to come closer to God and to commit to the way of the church, but that you need instruction and help.

 

Questions:

Ask yourself if you are ready to seek help? If not what are the questions that you need to have answered?

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