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Continuing to Climb Towards Theosis – Communion with God

Rev. Christopher T. Metropulos
April 14, 2013

Book Reference
With Burning Hearts
A Meditation on the Eucharistic Life
By Henri J. M. Nouwen

Opening thoughts and basis for discussion

Reflect on the journey to Emmaus

Essence of Life in the Giving of Bread. The Eucharist is a simple human gesture. 

The Eucharist is an opportunity to welcome Christ into our home. Jesus is so human, yet so Divine,so familiar, yet so mysterious, so close, yet so revealing.

The Eucharist is the story of a God who wants to come close to us, so close that we can see him with our own eyes, hear him with our own ears, touch him with our own hands, so close that there is nothing between us and him.

Jesus Christ is God for us, God with us, God within us

“My heart is restless until I may rest in you, my beloved Creation.” St. Augustine. God wants to be with us if we will allow Him to do so.

God wants communion with us!

“I created you, I gave you all my love, I guided you, offered you my support, promised you the fulfillment of your hearts’ desires: where are you, where is your response, where is your love?  What else must I do to make you love me? I won’t give up, I will keep trying. One day, you will discover how I long for your love!” Nouwen

The receiving of the Eucharist has been for all time the realization that we are taking Christ into us. We are made with a heart that only God can fully satisfy. We know that people today are chasing many things and still remain unfulfilled. It is not secret as to why this is happening. They are chasing the wrong thing. We see people looking for the splendor of nature, the excitement of history, and the attractiveness of people.

Communion, becoming one with Christ, leads us to a new realm of being. It ushers us into the Kingdom. There the old distinctions between happiness and sadness, success and failure, praise and blame, health and sickness, life and death, no longer exist. In the Eucharist we no longer belong to the world that keeps dividing us, judging, separating and evaluating. Here we belong to Christ and Christ to us and of course with Christ we belong to God.

Communion creates community. A gathering of faithful seeking communion and or the Eucharist is in a position higher than most are able to conceive.

Communion though is not the end. Mission is. For to receive Christ and keep Him to yourself is not the way God intended His son to be represented or lived. We must make a sacrifice and let go of our selfishness and make known to all that Christ is the salvation of our souls.

This begins however in the home. This is the most difficult part since those in our home know when we miss the mark. We receive the Eucharist and then we miss the mark of living out our lives as Christians.  Our families are all too quick to pick this up but that is not the reason to avoid trying to live a Christian life. It can cause some to say why live the life of a Christian, why receive Holy Communion when we see your impatience, your jealousies, our resentments and our little games. The answer is we live as Christians and as Christ taught us to do because it is right and the end is our ultimate salvation. It doesn’t mean that we are perfect and that we will not fall along the way. We must as families and as a community realize that people will disappoint us but God never will.

Conclusion

We have a mission to fulfill. We are sent out to teach, to inspire, and to offer hope to the world–not as an exercise of our unique skill, but as the expression of our faith that all we have to give comes from him who brought us together.

Life lived Eucharistically is always a life of mission. Our world is troubled by so many things that people can become discouraged by all of these situations. Yet we are called to bring healing where there is pain. Maybe it is impossible to change what has happened to you, but you are still free to choose how to live it.

To view this class visit our Adult Education Video Page

Continuing to Climb Towards Theosis – Living Eucharistically

Joseph Olas
April 7, 2013

Book Reference
With Burning Hearts
A Meditation on the Eucharistic Life
By Henri J. M. Nouwen

How do you treat strangers that are placed in your pathway?

When is the last time you identified yourself as an Orthodox Christian to someone who is not Orthodox?

Is there a time that you have played the role of the stranger?

Have you invited as many people to attend church as you invited to attend the Greek Festival this year?

If you are asked the question, what do you believe? How would you answer that?

I believe in one God, Father Almighty, Creator of
heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of
God, begotten of the Father before all ages;

Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten,
not created, of one essence with the Father
through Whom all things were made.

Who for us men and for our salvation
came down from heaven and was incarnate
of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became man.

He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate,
and suffered and was buried;

And He rose on the third day,
according to the Scriptures.

He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father;

And He will come again with glory to judge the living
and dead. His kingdom shall have no end.

And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Creator of life,
Who proceeds from the Father, Who together with the
Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified, Who
spoke through the prophets.

In one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.

I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

I look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the age to come.

Amen.

To view this class visit our Adult Education Video Page

Continuing to Climb Toward Theosis – The Eucharistic Life

Fr. John Codis
March 31, 2013

Book Reference
With Burning Hearts
A Meditation on the Eucharistic Life
By Henri J. M. Nouwen

Opening thoughts and basis for discussion

Do you think about the meaning of this sacrament when you participate in it?

What does it mean to you?

Has its meaning evolved during your life?

How can all of my life be Eucharistic…? What does this mean?

The daily celebration of the Eucharist and our daily human experience are one in the same. What we celebrate i.e., The Eucharist, and what we are called to live i.e., the Eucharistic life, are one in the same.

Understanding our Losses

When have you felt like the two people on the Road to Emmaus?

When have you felt lost, that your life holds no purpose or that there is no ending in sight?

In many ways we are like the two on the Road to Emmaus. We are lost! We have forgotten the new reality that was reviled to us Christ through his Death and ultimate Resurrection. The reality of forgiveness, healing and love live within the very core of our humanity.

We have lost so much! Sometimes it even seems that life is just one long series of losses.

“Loss is a part of ordinary life. The losses that settle themselves deeply in our hearts and minds are the loss of intimacy, through separations, the loss of safety through violence, the loss of innocence through abuse, the loss of friends through betrayal…” and the list goes on. Pg. 25

No one can escape the agonizing losses that are part of our everyday lives. Beyond all of these losses there is the loss of faith – the loss of the conviction that our life has meaning.

What do we do with our losses?

Mourning our Losses

Our grief makes us experience the abyss of our own life in which nothing is settled, clear, or obvious, but everything constantly shifting and changing.

“Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.” Matt. 5:5

There is a blessing hidden in our grief!

Mourning our losses is the first step away from resentment and toward gratitude.

The Eucharist and Gratitude

“To celebrate the Eucharist and to live a Eucharistic life has everything to do with gratitude.” Pg. 34

“Ευχαρησία” is the act of thanksgiving. To celebrate the Eucharist and to live a Eucharistic life has everything to do with gratitude.

When we celebrate the Eucharist and live a Eucharistic life, we begin to mourn our losses and through this mourning we understand life as a gift.

The Eucharist begins with a cry for God’s mercy. “Lord have Mercy.”

Conclusion

Celebrating the Eucharist requires that we stand in this world accepting our co-responsibility for the evil that surrounds and pervades us. As long as we remain stuck in our complaints about the terrible times in which we live and the terrible situations we have to bear and the terrible fate we have to suffer, we can never come to contrition. And contrition can grow only out of a contrite heart. A contrite heart does not blame but acknowledges its own part in the sinfulness of the world and so has been made ready to receive God’s mercy.

To view this class visit our Adult Education Video Page

Theosis – What is Prayer?

Fr. John Codis
September 23, 2012

Book Reference
Making All Things New
An Invitation to the Spiritual Life
By Henri J. M. Nouwen

Opening thoughts and basis for discussion

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me.”

Matthew 6:5-13
“And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.  And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.”
Prayer is not magic rather a relationship between two begins.

Three Stages of Prayer

Purification –  Praktiki – The practice of the virtues
Illumination –  Physiki – The contemplation of nature in God
Union – Theologia – The contemplation of God

No one can ever claim in this life to have passed beyond the first stage.  The three stages are not so much successive as simultaneous.  Three deepening levels, interdependent, coexisting with each other.

Prayer as Discipline – Repentance, metanoia
Prayer as Nature – Contemplating the things which God has made, present time
Prayer as God – The realization of God beyond nature and in all things

Prayer in Solitude

Prayer is a time for solitude.  What is solitude?

Solitude is a discipline by which it enables us to live active lives in the world while living in the active presence of God.

Solitude is not time for talking rather a time for listening.

Solitude is essential for the Spiritual Life.

How will solitude benefit us?

Prayer in Community

What is communal prayer?

“It is a free and empty space among people where together we can practice true obedience.”

Through corporate worship we prevent ourselves from clinging to each other in fear and loneliness, and clear free space to listen to the liberating voice of God.

The sacramental life in which we participate within the Church, is what constitutes our life in Christ.  Personal prayer and corporate prayer form a single unity.

Conclusion

“There is no other virtue that is either higher or more necessary than sacred prayer, because all other virtues – I mean fasting, vigils, sleeping on the ground, ascesis, chastity, alms-giving, and all the rest – even though they are ways of imitating God, even though they cannot be taken away from us and constitute in the immortal ornaments of the soul – do not unite man with God but only render him fit to be united.  Sacred prayer, and it alone, unites.  It alone joins God with man and makes the two one spirit.”

St. Nicodemos the Hagiorite.

Theosis – Becoming One with God

Fr. Christopher Metropulos
September 9, 2012

Book Reference
Making All Things New
An Invitation to the Spiritual Life
By Henri J. M. Nouwen
Anaphora of St. Basil, writings of the fathers; Athansios. Ireanaus, Dionysios, Justin Martyr, Theophilus and many others

 

Opening thoughts and basis for discussion

Psalm 82:6:
“You are gods, And all of you are children of the Most High.  But you shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes”…using the metaphor of life and death…Theosis becoming once again with God.

Stages of Theosis

Came about or developed by Evagrious of Pontus, Dionysios the Aeropagite, St Maximus the Confessor.
Purification
Illumination
Union

Not a three step process but rather a process of dynamic growth.
How do we work our way towards Theosis?

INNER PEACE and Worrying

The authentic spiritual life finds its basis in the human condition which all people whether they are Christians or not find themselves.

Scripture Reference:

Let us make the human being according to our image and likeness Gen 1:26 And let them rule the fish.

What must we do to achieve inner peace?

The authentic spiritual life finds its basis in the human condition which all people whether they are Christian and not have in common. Spiritual life is a real when it is lived in the midst of pain and joys of the here and now.

Occupation or preoccupation

On top of our everyday lives is all of the bad news in the avalanche of ads-unrelenting insistence that we will miss out on something very important if we do not do something specific they advertise.

How do you feel about your present life?

What do you long for spiritually?

What are your priorities?

Unfulfilled

Henri reflects that boredom, resentment, and depression are the result of being unfulfilled. What role have these feelings played in your life? Henri describes boredom, resentment and depression, all of which are signs of disconnectedness.

Conclusion

“Jesus responds to this condition of being filled yet unfulfilled…” (p. 37).

Jesus says in Matthew 6:33-34 on page 21 in your bibles..

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, all these things shall be added to you.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”