The Byzantine Forum
Newest Members
Cathy Whittington, BinghamtonNYRosic, wamj2008, qmitchell, Adam54
5520 Registered Users
Who's Online Now
2 registered members (ast82401, 1 invisible), 63 guests, and 368 spiders.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Latest Photos
Papal Audience 10 November 2017
Upgraded Russian icon corner
Russian Greek Catholic Global Congress
OL EuroEast II (2007) Group
Portable Icon Screen
Forum Statistics
Forums26
Topics34,570
Posts410,849
Members5,520
Most Online2,716
Jun 7th, 2012
Previous Thread
Next Thread
Print Thread
True Prayer by Archimandrite Sophrony #132189
06/24/06 09:00 AM
06/24/06 09:00 AM
Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 6,294
Hollidaysburg, PA
theophan Offline OP
Moderator
theophan  Offline OP
Moderator
Member
Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 6,294
Hollidaysburg, PA
This an excerpt from the first few pages of On Prayer by Archimandrite Sophrony.

True prayer to the true God is contact with the Divine Spirit which prays in us. The Spirit gives us to know God. The Spirit draws our spirit to contemplation of eternity. Like grace coming down from on High the act of prayer is too much for our earthly nature and so our mortal body, incapable of rising into the spiritual sphere, resists. The intellect resists because it is incapable of containing infinity, is shaken by doubts and rejects everything that exceeds its understanding. The social environment in which I live is antagonistic to prayer--it has organised life with other aims diametrically opposed to prayer. (emphasis mine) Hostile spirits cannot endure prayer. But prayer alone can restore the created world its fall, overcoming its stagnation and inertia, by means of a mighty effort of our spirit to follow Christ's commandments. (emphasis, again, mine)

Something I'll wrestle with today and thought I'd share it with you.

In Christ,

BOB

Re: True Prayer by Archimandrite Sophrony #132190
06/24/06 11:06 PM
06/24/06 11:06 PM
Joined: Dec 2001
Posts: 1,301
Meriden, CT
R
RayK Offline
Member
RayK  Offline
Member
R
Joined: Dec 2001
Posts: 1,301
Meriden, CT
No one has commented.

Would you like me to give it a shot?

-ray


-ray
Re: True Prayer by Archimandrite Sophrony #132191
06/25/06 01:08 AM
06/25/06 01:08 AM
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 10,930
Irondale,AL
Pani Rose Offline
Member
Pani Rose  Offline
Member
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 10,930
Irondale,AL
Quote

True prayer to the true God is contact with the Divine Spirit which prays in us. The Spirit gives us to know God. The Spirit draws our spirit to contemplation of eternity. Like grace coming down from on High the act of prayer is too much for our earthly nature and so our mortal body, incapable of rising into the spiritual sphere, resists . The intellect resists because it is incapable of containing infinity, is shaken by doubts and rejects everything that exceeds its understanding.
It is interesting to hear that statment. A friend said to me recently, and I was kind of shocked, when he said that my body had not caught up to my spiritual relationship with God. I thought that somewhat odd. But, now seeing it this commentary I understand what he was saying.

Thanks
Pani Rose

Re: True Prayer by Archimandrite Sophrony #132192
06/25/06 08:24 AM
06/25/06 08:24 AM
Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 6,294
Hollidaysburg, PA
theophan Offline OP
Moderator
theophan  Offline OP
Moderator
Member
Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 6,294
Hollidaysburg, PA
ray:

I'm wrestling with this one. Seems to speak to me in the couple places I bolded. Go for it.

BOB

Re: True Prayer by Archimandrite Sophrony #132193
06/25/06 05:09 PM
06/25/06 05:09 PM
Joined: Dec 2001
Posts: 1,301
Meriden, CT
R
RayK Offline
Member
RayK  Offline
Member
R
Joined: Dec 2001
Posts: 1,301
Meriden, CT
Quote
Originally posted by Pani Rose:
But, now seeing it this commentary I understand what he was saying.

Thanks
Pani Rose
He was ... wrong. He has a misunderstanding.

-ray


-ray
Re: True Prayer by Archimandrite Sophrony #132194
06/25/06 07:01 PM
06/25/06 07:01 PM
Joined: Dec 2001
Posts: 1,301
Meriden, CT
R
RayK Offline
Member
RayK  Offline
Member
R
Joined: Dec 2001
Posts: 1,301
Meriden, CT
Dear Rose...

I should explain...

while this is true in a certain meaning ...

Quote
Like grace coming down from on High the act of prayer is too much for our earthly nature and so our mortal body, incapable of rising into the spiritual sphere, resists. The intellect resists because it is incapable of containing infinity, is shaken by doubts and rejects everything that exceeds its understanding. "
And so let me chat on something - not personal at all - but in an overview of Christian spiritual progress.

God uses such events as sickness and such - as a tool by which to form our personality. And so if his thought (the one who said that to you) was that a healthy spirit equals a healthy body ... empirically and in reality we do not find that to be true.

If, what he had meant, was personal just for you at the time and regarding personal things … that can be another matter and I do not address that here.

What I address here is an ‘across the board’ concept (or rule) that good spiritual health is reflected in the body as good bodily health.

Stalin and Hitler had relatively good physical health - while many of the saints did not. Padre Pio for example had many physical ailments and John Paul II had his share also.

If (assuming the mind set of the person who said to you that your body has not yet caught up to the level of your spiritual growth) ... now assuming that to be true ... then in that same logic we should avoid the leper because his body reflects something of his bad spiritual condition. People with more physical health are people with more spiritual health .. Etc..

This is an OT belief - which Jesus in the NT puts to rest.

Certainly there can be and often is a correlation with some physical conditions we might have with our own spirit (as all illness has its psycho-somatic connection) and certainly the body begins it's resurrection here (before our physical death) in many ways. But in the interest and efforts of God to form us spiritually ... it is his custom (because our body condition means so much to us) to often use troubles of a body nature ... as a tool.

Of course we are required to do all that is reasonable to have good health and to follow medical advise when we have some troubles. That is required in our part of our cooperation with Providence. But while we can know some of the psychological reasons for illness ... sometimes ... (and there is a definite reasons why God has us to know something about the connection) ... God reserves the greater knowledge of these things for Himself and his own use upon us dependent upon which virtue he wants to grow in us at any time.

As the Revelation of John has it .. when the angel comes out to 'harm' the wheat and grapes (eucharistic materials) ... we ourselves are the bread (wheat) and wine (grapes). The angel is Christ himself. And so it is Christ himself who comes forth to threshes his church (members). That is: arrange the troubles by which we grow in faith and hope and other virtues.

We should be properly dressed (virtues) when we come to the wedding feast. The wheat must be beaten into bread and the grapes crushed to make wine.

Of course… not all Christians are at a level in which they might be called to that type of further growth. And that is why we can not say across the board (one way or the other). And some of the saints who (coming to understand … suffering) went overboard in seeking to ‘subdue’ the body or wanting suffering. Most of them later revised their opinions and later toned such things way down.

Now I have been speaking in general and not to any specific person or circumstance.

(that is the way I see it)

Of course... I may have misunderstood what your friend was saying.

-ray


-ray
Re: True Prayer by Archimandrite Sophrony #132195
06/25/06 07:55 PM
06/25/06 07:55 PM
Joined: Dec 2001
Posts: 1,301
Meriden, CT
R
RayK Offline
Member
RayK  Offline
Member
R
Joined: Dec 2001
Posts: 1,301
Meriden, CT
Sorry Bob...

I wrote a detailed explaination and comments.. and then my word processor crashed ... and it evaporated.

Ya gotta love .. Windows.

I talk too much sometimes anyways.

-ray


-ray
Re: True Prayer by Archimandrite Sophrony #132196
06/25/06 11:12 PM
06/25/06 11:12 PM
Joined: Dec 2001
Posts: 1,301
Meriden, CT
R
RayK Offline
Member
RayK  Offline
Member
R
Joined: Dec 2001
Posts: 1,301
Meriden, CT
Since my music is not doing well tonight…

Let me try to say it (what I was writing before the crash) simply.

The body and its senses are not capable to know anything about God and prayer in the same way our heart (our person) does. The body and the sense are approximate (appropriate-to) to the social environment. Fish are made for the water and birds are made for the air. Our social environment revolves around our bodies and our senses. Our human animal nature. The social environment is the ‘water’ in which our animal nature ‘swims’.

While, in the beginning of our spiritual life, our physical and mental attitude at prayer time seems (we are sure!) conductive to producing prayer and we need these things… later (in the progress) we come to find out that nothing about the attitude of psychological mind (our thoughts) or attitude of body (our senses and emotions) has the capacity to produce or even be conducive to prayer. This can come after a long period of trying very frustratingly to pray in the sensual ways (posture, words, thoughts).

We can say that in a tricky way … ‘What at first gave good fruits - now gives dryness and no fruits‘. But in reality it is that we simply did not yet understand what prayer really is and where it takes place and why.

Prayer (taking place in the person - the invisible heart) may express itself through the body and senses and through thoughts… but the reverse is not true (body and senses and thoughts can not express themselves into our hearts as prayer). This is the meaning of ’it is not what comes into a man that makes him holy but what comes out of his heart‘.

As example: the hands together in prayer - know nothing about the experience of God or the content of our prayers. And so the hands can get bored and fidgety. They would like to be doing … what hands do. And after awhile the mind would like to do what the mind is built to do (thoughts). And so while we are yet young in the ways of prayer it does us good to quiet them so as not to be distracting - but after a while of growth - these senses and thoughts will get fidgety or else we go to sleep. From that point on we make a mistake if we continue to try to un-naturally force them to be still.

If we are to ‘pray always’ then is it that we must be still of body and thoughts… always??

Of course not.

And so we finally come to know that prayer takes place in the deepest ‘I’ … and is independent of thoughts of mind or attitude and things of senses. It is rather totally entwined with attention to conscience. (con: together) and (science: knowing). You knowing what God knows (by way of Logos - his immediate will).

Get the picture?

So while it is not possible for the social environment to be antagonistic toward prayer - it seems that way to us (distracting or antagonistic) as a result of our own (as yet) immature idea of what prayer is and where it takes place. When we are as yet still too attached and habitually obsessed with the experience of our senses or the content and logic of our thoughts.

I am not my body (it simply belongs to me) and I am not my thoughts (they too simply belong to me). I have a special (cause or effect) relationship to them (the glue which we call soul)… but *I* am not these. I am - person - and that is unknowable to either perceptions of body or mind… I am hidden (unknowable) with Christ (also unknowable by perception of body or thoughts). We can not turn the perception of any of our body or mind - faculties - upon - person.

There is a progression to the spiritual life and it is not arbitrary - it has to do with the way (and the changes) that our subconscious mind works. There by it is experienced (some of this progression) by alternating seasons of enlightenment and darkness. Enlightenment plants the seeds of change and darkness is the event of the change (restoration to original design) taking place. Refer to St. John of the Cross. All which seems like enlightenment may not be the right kind .. and all darkess is no nessesarily a result of spiritual progress. And so if people do not know how to tell the diffrence they go in circles in a labrinth (sp).

The organization and aims of the social environment can only be about the body and its senses. These (body and sense) are the only thing involved. Our animal nature.

And so we see that when some religious group decides to make the social environment perfect for religion. Be they … Pharisee or Taliban … JW or fill-in-the-blank … or moments in the history of our own churches when the social environment was socially engineered as perfectly as possible for religion. It becomes fundamentalism and ends up failing - because - the environment can not produce holiness no more than a wooden piano can produce a song in the person playing it.

The composer produces the song in the sound of the piano - and it is we who make our personal experience (of our environment) … holy … and not the other way around).

Now to address a bit more of the quote… It is prayer (our part in a cooperative effort) which ‘restores the created world (from) its fall’. Because the ‘world’ spoken of here is our experiences. Only after the 17th century did people begin to see the things and events of the world as separate from their personal experience of the world. Man became just another ‘thing’ in a world of things. Of course there has always been the two view points… one included Providence and the other does not. And our sanctification is a progress of leaving one view and gaining the other (to Providence).

The Judeo-Christian view is one which presumes that the world, its objects and events, have their meaning (reality) and existence (reality) within - our personal experiencing of them. In that sense we are indeed the cause of our environment. Everyone - is - exactly - where he wants to be. He shapes his environment with things and ways and people to make himself comfortable and secure. But that may not nessesarily be a 'place' of holiness, happiness, peace, and sanctification. And so God 'intrudes' by sending us events to move us more in his direction. We might not like that ... but we are also not designed for anything else.

That is to say that the world exists BECAUSE of humans and not that humans exist because of … the world. It is that the world and its things and events are contingent upon the immediate decision of God as to what experiences we need to have - in his efforts to shape our personalities.

There is a lot here I offer no explanation for.

Quote

So our mortal body, incapable of rising into the spiritual sphere, resists
It doesn’t really ‘resist’ it is simply incapable. Period. The ‘resistance’ is really just our own habit and desire to have our primary interpret of reality come through our senses or as a result of our thoughts.

The Stoics fought against their senses and thoughts. And there is a period in the spiritual life where doing so reveals to one - something of the habitual (subconscious) nature of these. But once some balance is restored one needs to just let them operate as they were designed to operate (our assistants and not our leader).

Sorry I can not explain this further .. I have yakked far too much already.

OK.. everyone wake up! I am done smile

-ray


-ray
Re: True Prayer by Archimandrite Sophrony #132197
06/26/06 12:00 AM
06/26/06 12:00 AM
Joined: Dec 2001
Posts: 1,301
Meriden, CT
R
RayK Offline
Member
RayK  Offline
Member
R
Joined: Dec 2001
Posts: 1,301
Meriden, CT
Now some people might say (and I have been meaning to deal with this for a while now).. Some people might say that conscience can be wrong.. Or that conscience must be formed properly.

And I invite them to a better understanding of conscience… through two - parables (I guess).

First… con is Latin having the meaning here of - together. Joined. Two that is one. And science has here the meaning of knowledge or knowing.

Together-knowing. Knowing something - together.

God knowing something - and me (or you) knowing that same thing.

Now… if God knows the sun to be yellow… and you know the sun to be blue… who is right? (answer = God is right). Now since it is impossible for God to know the sun as blue (simply because his knowing it as yellow is what makes it yellow) - - then - if you still know the sun as blue - - - you and God are not knowing it - together. You have failed. Not God. And if it is not together-knowing - then what you have known is not - conscience. Yu have known something else - something which is not - conscience.

What have you known and why?

Now .. Imagine a table in front of you. On that table (at the far end) is a cup on it is side. And in your hand is a steel ball bearing. You goal is to roll the steel ball straight across the table and into that cup. The path is perfectly clear of obstacles - but - all along the way to either side of the path is several strong magnets. And you can see that what may happen (as you roll the ball) is that it may come too close to one of the magnets and the magnetic field will pull the ball off course and into itself.

The cup (in this parable) is the mind of God within the temple of our conscience. The steel ball is your knowing-ability (your awareness and attention). All the magnets along the way represent things (material or mental) which you have been habitually drawn to. And the magnetic field is the strength of the habits.

One can not avoid the pull of the magnets without first knowing where the magnets are - and secondly - knowing the strength of each magnet. Only once you have found these out through trail - can you finally know well how fast you must roll the ball and where, exactly, on the table, you must roll the ball.

In other words - we must know - ourselves. Someone (Providence) must show us the hidden (subconscious) habits and a bit of how they work and what they do. Then .. It is a cooperation between God (Providence) and us (me or you) to get ever closer to conscience.

Conscience is not formed. It is found. Yet its finding (as we stumble towards it) is what we call ‘forming conscience’. We do not form - it .. What we do form is the path to it.

‘Make straight the path of the Lord’.

That is the way I think of it all. It is just my view. A way to understand it all.

Together-knowing (you knowing what God knows and the way he knows it) this is what Jesus called the Will of my Father. It is an immediate thing - a living thing. An expereince had. One by which can can guide our lives (the lamp that lights the entire room) or we can ignore it and not seek it (the lamp placed under the couch).

-ray


-ray
Re: True Prayer by Archimandrite Sophrony #132198
06/26/06 07:20 AM
06/26/06 07:20 AM
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 10,930
Irondale,AL
Pani Rose Offline
Member
Pani Rose  Offline
Member
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 10,930
Irondale,AL
Ray a quick note as I read on just in case you catch this before going to work.

Quote
God uses such events as sickness and such - as a tool by which to form our personality. And so if his thought (the one who said that to you) was that a healthy spirit equals a healthy body ... empirically and in reality we do not find that to be true.
No actually, I think he meant that my body complains a lot about going through what my mind/spirit & soul have already accepted. Actually, I think I just complain a lot. biggrin

Really, I try to graciouly accept what heads my way physically, but I get frustrated. I have occassional days that I can get up and just get some things done so fast, well what seems fast to me (it is faster than my slow and woo mode) - I actually shock myself - and remember when I could.

I just get frustrated - I don't think it is that I mind the suffering so much anymore - it is just the inconveince of not being able to do for my family and other places I need to be (or think I need to be to help). Instead they have to do for me (of which I am so grateful they do) I should be able to go out and help my 80 yr old dad instead him asking what he can do for me. Yet I know I grow and graces are merited to others because God's mercy is at work in them, gaining grace for them to grow also. And hopefully this suffering brings about some help for those in the world I don't know - forwhatever God needs it for.

So I think that is what my friend was referring to!

Re: True Prayer by Archimandrite Sophrony #132199
06/26/06 08:04 AM
06/26/06 08:04 AM
Joined: Dec 2001
Posts: 1,301
Meriden, CT
R
RayK Offline
Member
RayK  Offline
Member
R
Joined: Dec 2001
Posts: 1,301
Meriden, CT
Quote
Originally posted by Pani Rose:
And hopefully this suffering brings about some help for those in the world I don't know - forwhatever God needs it for.

So I think that is what my friend was referring to!
Oh.

In that case.

You will be pleasantly surprised one day in heaven when God reveals to you just whom you have assisted. For now he hides them from you so that you remain humble. And think about it - that is just what you would want him to do!

There is a freind of mine who came to find out why his life seemed to be so much trouble and discomfort. ... he had always wondered why (when he was born) he was assined to parents who were not good and abused thier children and etc.. etc... down through life.

Then ... for a period... he was surprised by (seemingly coincidence) several people that he had hardly known at all - who came to him (by coincidence) and said "You have no idea ... how much you have helped me." This was so much a surprise because in most cases my friend had not even known thier names. But yes there were a few he knew but name yet he had not known how he had helped them. Untill - they told him.

That lasted only long enough for that freind to know that God uses us (if we have good consceince) in ways that he does not let us know about.

Paul taks of the 'train' the procession of captured that the victor leads into heaven.

We also, have very little idea of who gained for us merit and graces - before us - that have drawn us also towards heaven.

Jesus drew Paul - paul drew Padre Pio - Padre Pio drew many - and these many draw still more - on and on - a train connected.

-ray


-ray
Re: True Prayer by Archimandrite Sophrony #132200
06/26/06 05:00 PM
06/26/06 05:00 PM
Joined: Dec 2001
Posts: 1,301
Meriden, CT
R
RayK Offline
Member
RayK  Offline
Member
R
Joined: Dec 2001
Posts: 1,301
Meriden, CT
(for Bob)

I had said (in my last post) that we are – “exactly where we want to be.”

This is very true. But someone would say “Oh no. I want to be a saint but I am not one. I want to be wealthy but I am not”. Etc..

So let me hone this a bit.

We ARE where we want to be (given our choices) but we may not be where we wish - to be.

Wanting - includes reality (or shall we say Providence) and wishing does not. Wishing is a whisp of our imagination and there is no means to obtain what we wish for.

Think of a man climbing his way up a mountain. At every moment the mountain face presents to him many choices of which way to go. And so the man examines the face of the mountain in the area he is at - and decides to place his hand or foot - here - instead of - there. And now that he is - here (and not over there where he could have been had he made that choice) he must examine the face again to determine where he will put his hand and foot next. On and on. And eventually - where he is at any moment on the mountain is the result of his choices as he climbs. Some of them had been according to reality (that WAS the best next move) and some of them had been choices that he only imagined were best at the time.

Reality (Providence) offers us choices at every moment. And our own imagination also presents to us what we think seems to be also our choices - or perhaps imagination hides from us some of our real choices. No matter.

The man who is wealthy - had made his choices - and he has chosen to be wealthy rather than the other options he saw. Or perhaps he made choices which resulted in wealth as an addition and necessary condition. The man had been so insistent on his choices - that God allowed him to have what he wanted. Wealth. But is the man happy also? He may or may not be at the time. For at some point he may have chosen wealth (security and comfort) over real happiness.

There it is - that – ‘reality’ - again.

Man is not happy (real happiness) unless he lives in God (lives by his conscience). That is reality. Man is not happy unless he lives in the way his nature was designed to live (as a servant to conscience) . Man can wish to be happy in other ways - but that reality does not exist. It is a wish rather than a want. A want is something that we have the means to attain and a wish is something which we do not have the means to attain.

From our entrance into life here (as a child) we instinctively know - that we are most happy when we live by conscience. Yes. We knew that as a child. It is built into our design. But at some point in time and for some reason - we think to obtain something (what seems to us as survival or a way to obtain a wish) by ignoring conscience or going against conscience. We see the world as - mechanical. And it seems that if we pull certain gears and manipulate things - we shall mechanically obtain what we wish for.

At that moment - we chose not-God. We chose not-conscience. And we are immediately expelled from the garden of Eden because that - is what we wanted. We did not want the garden (at that moment) we wanted a – wish – instead.

What we had done is tried to obtain something that Providence was not … providing to us. We tried to obtain it by manipulating the things of creation. We tried to create our own self-providence. And we may have done that in a lesser way than God would have. Because we may posses the shell (the material of creation) but we shall never poses the reality (by our acts of self-providence). Its form may be in our possession but not its substance and essence (meaning). We have become - as gods. (“You shall be as gods.”)
I have yakked far too much.

Peace be to you and your church.

BTW – I think it was you who told me about Tim Gray and the Gospel of John… great stuff!!

-ray


-ray

Moderated by  Father Deacon Ed, theophan 

The Byzantine Forum provides message boards for discussions focusing on Eastern Christianity (though discussions of other topics are welcome). The views expressed herein are those of the participants and may or may not reflect the teachings of the Byzantine Catholic or any other Church. The Byzantine Forum and the www.byzcath.org site exist to help build up the Church but are unofficial, have no connection with any Church entity, and should not be looked to as a source for official information for any Church. All posts become property of byzcath.org. Contents copyright - 1996-2018. All rights reserved.
Powered by UBB.threads™ PHP Forum Software 7.6.1.1
(Release build 20180111)
Page Time: 0.014s Queries: 13 (0.004s) Memory: 2.0099 MB (Peak: 2.1992 MB) Zlib enabled. Server Time: 2018-08-14 19:24:46 UTC