Sinful Dreams and Spiritual Warfare

A catechumen once asked what he could do to get victory over bad dreams: especially lustful dreams that roused his passions and often led him into temptation. I told him that this is one of those aspects of life in a fallen body that must be resisted and endured. One of the ways satan seeks to weary and wear out the saints (or those who strive to be holy) is through the…

The Lord’s Prayer and Pre-prayer

Over the past several months, I have been reading up on the Lord’s Prayer.  Basically what I have been doing is reading homilies written by ancient and contemporary fathers (and in a couple of cases, mothers) of the Church.  As I read, I found it impossible to take notes because, on the one hand, I didn’t know what I was looking for, and on the other hand, just about everything seemed notable. …

Muddling Through The Snirt Of This World

In Homily 37, St. Isaac the Syrian discusses how a person comes to desire the heavenly life. In a series of questions and answers, he explains to the questioning novice how one comes to give himself or herself completely over to the experience of the heavenly life.  One does this, according to St. Isaac, only through obeying Christ’s word to deny one’s self and take up one’s own cross to follow Christ…

Learning The Prayer Of The Heart

In 1851, an anonymous monk on Mount Athos wrote a book on prayer.  The title of the book has been translated as The Watchful Mind: Teachings on the Prayer of the Heart.  It is a book that I cannot recommend for most people because, like much classic Orthodox spiritual writing (the Philokalia, The Ladder of Divine Ascent, The Ascetical Homilies of St. Isaac the Syrian, to name a few), it was written…

Fleeing From and To

Saint Paul warns Timothy twice (1 Tim. 6:11 and 2 Tim. 2:22) to flee temptation.  On an external level, this fleeing takes the form of exiting yourself from the situation, like Joseph fleeing the temptation of Potiphar’s wife. This leaving the situation may have adverse consequences, as it did for for both Joseph and Potiphar’s wife. Joseph suffered losing his position and ending up in prison, but Potiphar’s wife also suffered adding…

Passions as disease

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the passions and how they afflict us like a disease. Even when you fight against the passions, I find that I am often tricked by them. Really the only hope I have found is to call out to God (using the Jesus Prayer) when I am strongly feeling a passion. However, if someone doesn’t strongly fight the passions, then they take over his life. Some…