November 3rd, 2006

HTOC

The challenge of belief

I am really enjoying Fr. Stephen Freeman's new journal.  Allow me to qoute a large portion of his current post:

There was a time in my life that I thought belief in God was easy, and that those who did not believe in God were just obstinate or wrong-headed. As years have gone on, I’ve come to think that belief in God is a very hard thing - perhaps the hardest thing of all.

Much of my change of mind has to do with my understanding of belief in God. The more belief has become a matter of the heart (of “willed knowing” to use a Hebrew concept) and not a matter of the intellect, the harder it has become. At the same time, it seems to me that everything has become much clearer. Ninety-five percent or so of America says it “believes in God.” Given the life of our nation, it must mean that the phrase is fairly empty.

In The Pilgrim Continues His Way, the attached sequel to The Way of a Pilgrim, the little anonymous gem of Russian spiritual writing, there is something of a model confession. It begins simply:

Turning my gaze at myself and attentively observing the course of my interior life I am convinced, through experience, that I love neither God nor my neighbor, that I have no faith, and that I am full of pride and sensuality. This realization is the result of careful examination of my feelings and actions.

The guide goes on to detail each of these observations.

I do not love God. For if I loved Him, then I would be constantly thinking of Him with heartfelt satisfaction; every thought of God would fill me with joy and delight. On the contrary, I think more and with greater eagerness about worldly things, while thoughts of God present difficulty and aridity.

This model confession continues in this manner for several pages - absolutely spot on.

He writes more here

HTOC

Matins

The morning prayers begin guided by the sunrise.  It is fifteen degrees outside while inside, gentle candles warmly dance before warmer icons.  And lo and behold - miracle of miracles - I am given a taste of hope and peace.  Only a taste, but it is a gift and it is enough.  My God!  Nothing else matters!  Realize, realize, realize.