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Monday, March 12, 2018

     “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence; and remove not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation: establish me with the governing/directing Spirit (πνεύματι ἡγεμονικῷ).” (Ps 50: 10-12, Septuagint-translation)

     Psalm 50 (51) is chanted several times each day, in our daily cycle of church-services. In it we ask for “renewal,” several times each day, – because we can be “renewed” in God’s ever-new, ever-“governing” or “directing” us forward, Spirit, whenever we choose to open up to Him. Whenever I notice that I’ve slipped into going around in circles, according to “old” patterns or some “wrong” spirit or voice in my head, like idleness or despondency, I can call out and be restored i...

Friday, February 23, 2018

"O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of idleness (ἀργίας), despondency (περιεργίας), love of power, and idle talk (ἀργολογίας).
But give rather the spirit of whole-mindedness (σωφροσύνης), humility, patience, and love to Your servant.
Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own transgressions, and not to judge my brother, for You are blessed unto ages of ages. Amen
." (Lenten Prayer of St. Ephrem)

One of the great paradoxes of the cross-carrying journey, (the cross itself being the greatest paradox, as something that brings victory through defeat), is that I learn to embrace God’s Spirit, of whole-mindedness, humility, patience, and love, through being confronted with, and turning away from, “other” or opposing “spirits,” like idleness, despondency, love of power, and idle...

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying, ‘Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.’” (Lk 2: 27-32)

Today, on the great feast of the Meeting of the Lord (OC), we’re celebrating an encounter of the Lord with an old man, Simeon, who allowed himself to be “guided by the Spirit.” The Holy Spirit guided him to “come into the temple” and to “see” with his own eyes, and embrace in his arms, a Child and the “salvation” He is bringing. The...

Friday, October 27, 2017

For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words. For though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.” (Col 2: 1-5)

How important are these words, in our Internet Age, when we are often "connected" with people, without actually seeing their “face in the flesh”! What is it, I’m a...

Monday, June 5, 2017

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit (πνεῦμα εὐθὲς) within me.” (Ps 50/51: 10)

The “right” spirit is the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit. He carries me in the “right” direction, like the wind carries a weak little bird in its flight, because God (“G” “O” “D”), as I heard somebody say, is all about “Good Orderly Direction.” Conversely, the “not right” kind of spirits, when I choose to befriend them, carry me all over the place, so I aimlessly “miss the mark,” that is, where I am supposed to be going, according to my God-given purpose or vocation. This state of affairs is both disorienting and lonely, leaving me flapping my wings against all sorts of hostile winds, on my own.

Today let me recognize, once again, God’s “right” Spirit, Who is always ready to carry me, when...

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; if you ask anything in my name, I will do it. If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Comforter (ἄλλον Παράκλητον), to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you desolate (ὀρφανούς, as orphans); I will come to you.” (Jn 14: 13-18)

The feast of the Ascension had a subtle note of sadness, because of Christ’s departure from us in the flesh. But He had assured us, as quoted above, that He wasn’t leaving us “as orphans,” because we were to receive “another Comforter,” the Holy Spirit. He “p...

Friday, May 12, 2017

While Peter was still saying this, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. And the believers from among the circumcised who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, ‘Can any one forbid water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?’ And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.” (Acts 10: 44-48)

Those who came with Peter were not a little surprised, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out “even on the Gentiles.” But the surprising part for our Orthodox mentality today, I think, both in terms of our ecclesiological and sacramental Tradition, is that these Gentiles wer...

Sunday, March 26, 2017

And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, ‘You dumb and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again.’ And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse; so that most of them said, ‘He is dead.’ But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, ‘Why could we not cast it out?’ And he said to them, ‘This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting.’” (Mk 9: 25-29)

A “deaf and dumb spirit” afflicts me when I am unable to say what I need to say, for example, at confession, and hear what I need to hear, in open-hearted teachability. This kind of spirit traps me in circle...

Monday, May 30, 2016

The (Samaritan) woman said to him, ‘Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain; and you say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.’ The woman said to him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming, he who is called Christ; when he comes, he will show us all things.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I who speak to you...

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