Out of the Silent Blog

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[Our Lady of Walsingham, transferred]

The last time I put fingers to keyboard for this blog I was a betrothed man waiting out a painful illness that had forced us to reschedule the wedding at the last minute.  Today I am a married husband celebrating 428 wonderful days of marriage to an equally  wonderful wife, and I write to praise, to pray and to petition.

In the intervening months, we have been settling into life as “man and wife”.  This includes all the issues, conflicts, challenges and opportunities that come from blending two lives and two households together. Needless to say there has not been opportunity nor a sense of the appropriateness for continuing the Walsingham Way (or my other blogs), and readers will have noticed the lengthy silence that ensued. I suppose this  disruption should have been expected, and welcomed even. What I should have done is relish that time to be fully present to my new bride and put in place habits of mind, body and heart that will see us through the rest of our lives together.

Unfortunately for my (and our) peace of mind, I didn’t, and so I spent lots of time and energy worrying back and forth about my lack of time to sit, read, and write; and even went through times of doubting whether I even should try to continue. I tried, and failed to juggle my own wants with the actual needs of my new family.

In fact, this represents one of the internal and inter-personal conflicts that plagued our early days (and continues to, truth be told).

This time of intellectual silence on my part has not been soley a bad thing however. It has provided me opportunity for reflection on the intellectual process, on the nature of my goals and how they relate to my married life , and time to set my spiritual house in order. I have come out of it with a renewed commitment to sharing the good news of Jesus, as mediated through a Marian Heart, a Patristic Practice, and a Hebrew Understanding, and the bond of a loving marriage.

For reasons I will not go into here, we have since sought out faithful marital counseling to strengthen our bond and work out  personal issues that we brought into the marriage.  Counseling though, is not some degrading, last-minute patch-up job that couples on the brink of divorce seek out.  For one thing, divorce is not a word that will ever pass through our lips except to shake our verbal fists at the “Undo “I do!”” divorce lawyer billboards that have been cropping up in the metro area. For another, I personally, have found marital counseling to be uplifting.  It takes me out of myself and puts me in the place of my wife, seeing her needs, fears, and wants, and empowers me to become the husband she needs. It can be wonderfully (there’s that word again!) affirming, providing a safe space for couples to speak to one another about behaviors and attitudes that trouble them in the presence of a trusted ‘referee’.

Another safe place for this kind of conversation is -or should be- within the pastoral context of meeting with parish priest or other minister, but I recognize that not everyone feels comfortable bringing their problems to their pastor (or anyone else).  My prayer for other couples is that you too, would seek out marital counseling or mentorship.

My time with our counselor has opened up the way for me to begin seeing things through my wife’s eyes, to understand things from her perspective, and I am thankful for that.  I, for one, plan to continue meeting with our counselor for as long as she at least, thinks she is needed, and to seek out other forms of marriage enrichment thereafter.

I fully believe marriage to be a vocation and a covenant involving three parties: the husband, the wife, and the indwelling Holy Spirit of God. And a successful marriage involves, among other elements, a spirit and an attitude of  waiting: waiting upon my wife, waiting upon the Lord, waiting upon the opportunity of serving others. And what’s more, I believe marriage to be an equal path of holiness with monasticism that teaches us as couple the virtue of self-denial for the sake of Christ, and I hope to be able to share those reflections here as well.

So I ask your prayers as I return to the task of committing thoughts to screen, to discerning and living into my vocation of husband, and seeing what else God has in store for us.  One of those things is drawing up goals as a couple, and stating a shared vision of our marriage.  Another is discerning possible vocations into ministry, or intellectual work through further education And we won’t even talk about bi-vocational living at this point. And yet a third is the continual celebration of our life together in the presence of God and the community. and then there is the service that our marriage enables us to give.

I hope to bring back both “A Word for the Way”,  and  “Words Fitly Spoken”, to begin other long-term projects including “The Road From Cana” about my marriage and, through my words to become a more faithful witness of God in Jesus Christ. And so I look forward to continuing this journey of faith with you.


Our Lady of Walsingham, whose fruitful silence won for us the joy of salvation in the Person of your Son, Jesus  Christ, the very Word of God, pray for us.

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God Catches Every Tear

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This week has been an unusual week of experiencing God through pain, anxiety, fear, and more pain, and it is not over yet. It began “normally” (for us) with an out-patient medical procedure for my wife to correct an atrial flutter, after which we were allowed to bring her home. The next morning, however, found us headed back to the same hospital in downtown Atlanta , a two hour drive in rush hour traffic (because this particular hospital has all of her previous medical history on file, which is important for securing continuity of care), because she woke up complaining of severe pain in her neck, upper back and sternum. Nearly twelve hours after our arrival (and only four hours in an actual hospital room on the fourth floor in Cardiology and Telemetry) I managed to leave her side long enough to see to our dogs, gather a few necessary items, dress for work, and then return to her side so I catch a little nap, before heading off to work. (If any of this sounds familiar, as if it’s a repeat of earlier visits to the hospital, you’re correct. In fact similar circumstances interrupted our wedding day.) My dearest has a longstanding “relationship” with this hospital system stemming from a host of chronic conditions that have framed her life, most of which leave her in more or less constant pain of one type or another. A pain I have only lately become aware of.

Now, I cannot imagine the pains that my ever-blushing Saralyn goes through on a daily basis. What little I do know about, the little that I am invited to experience  -even second-hand-  through nights of weeping, excruciating waits in Emergency Departments  (mostly at Emory), watching nurses attempt to draw blood from, or begin IVs in veins that have seen far too many invasions of their integrity already, each tortured jab of needle- is enough to bring tears  to my eyes and my heart. Every time i find myself at some point begging the Lord to alleviate her pain  by even the smallest amount by  passing her burden to me, and yet i know how impossible and even inappropriate such a request is. And yet I ask anyway (one day the Lord may just grab the my request,  and I will truly see what suffering love is) But I know I would take her pain gladly, for I love her.

She cries when she can no longer hold the pain in, or when too many medical personnel are crowding around her , and so many times I cannot even reach over to wipe away the tears. Yet, even through the pains, known and unknown, she still reaches for Jesus. And that is miracle enough. Healing in this life is secondary, because in the ways that really matter she is on her way to fulness of healing. And for that I can only say Baruch HaShem! Praise God!

I am sure that knowing what I am writing here makes her uncomfortable, but for us it is a witness to the power of Messiah working in us. what she really goes through was brought forcefully home to me today (June 16th) the nature and purpose of those tears, by the visit of the on-call chaplain, Larhondra Little (blessings upon her), when Saralyn was in tears from all the strangers crowding her room. She stood and prayed over us and for us, (or did she sit and pray over us?) And her prayer brought tears to my eyes. In the best Herotodian tradition, this is the sense of her prayer:

God surrounds us in our suffering so that He may catch every tear that falls. In the midst of our pain He is there, suffering beside us, standing before us to steady us. Think not that God is ignoring you when pain and suffering overwhelm you, when you feel you are beyond your breaking point and relief is nowhere in sight, that He doesn’t hear you. Jesus hears you, but He may not speak because He too is crying in pain, crying to the Father as He did on the Cross. He is there inside every cut, every tear, every scrape, every puncture, every ache, every sharp pain and internal twisting, every scream of agony, at every chronic pain-filled moment of every unreasonable illness; He beholds them all and does not hide His face from them.

Moreover, Jesus is there behind us, stretching His Hands out over us to catch all our tears as they fall. He collects them more, stores them against the day when He can return them to us as the glittering gems in the crowns we cast before Him in worship. He stands next to us and bleeds as we bleed, hurts as we burt, cries as we cry, screams as we cry and in all other ways participates fully in our pain, tasting the very dregs of our suffering as He once did for us on Gethsemane, so that we may participate through our suffering with His (though we suffer through sin, and He suffered to remove sin) so that we may likewise participate in His joy, and receive that double portion of joy laid up for every portion of shame, sorrow, and suffering (Isa. 61:7). So Jesus stand up in your daughter when she cries, whimpers, and daily calls out in her pain and strengthen her in her pain. Stand in her that she may stand upon You.

Chaplain Little’s comforting words also provides response enough for me to those who use the existence of suffering to attack and/or belittle belief in God and believers in God.

One of the loudest, and most vocally registered complaints and accusations against God, against His goodness, or against His existence is just this, the presence and continued existence of ‘unwarranted suffering’ in the world. (in fact there’s an entire ebook, yahoo group, and Web course on “Why Won’t God Heal Amputees?”) This is known in (classical) theology and in the philosophy of religion as theodicy, the problem of evil, and much ink has been spilled over it, for it is in fact one of the intractable problems of mankind, which is why we collectively take such umbrage when a man or woman comes forward claiming to have “the” Answer to evil.

There is, of course, no final humam answer to the problem of the origin and cause of pain and evil, but that doesn’t keep us from trying to find one that agrees with our modern sensibilities. In the twentieth century such literary (and possibly theological) lights as Dorothy Sayers in her book The Mind of the Maker, C.S. Lewis in The Problem of Pain and A Grief Observed (and even addressed the subject in Mere Christianity) take up the problem, but even they accept that theirs is but a provisional answer. Admittedly it is difficult to see loved ones suffering from injury or illness and then turn around and proclaim faith in a loving God. But it’s not our job as believers to isolate evil and analyze suffering, but to accept it as part of the human condition, embrace it, and transform (not overcome) it through relationship. This though, is in opposition to how the world sees, understands, and relates to suffering of any kind. For what the believer can take as transformative nature of suffering in mind , body, or spirit, the world can only see as pointless, unnecessary, and without meaning.

It is not a problem that admits of easy or easily graspable answers, answers agreeable to our intellect, and sense of fair-play; no clear-cut methodologies exist that we can use to make sense of evil and suffering. Answering it involves looking at the nature and purpose of Creation, the Creator-creature relationship, free will and determinism, and probably a host of other relationships that non-believers (agnostic, skeptics, atheists, non-theists) don’t accept, and anyway would make this post unconscionablely long. To speak of God in this sense is to talk of spaghetti, not waffles (to lift an analogy about female-male thinking by Bill and Pam Farrell). It is a fact of human existence. Evil -whether physical and natural, metaphysical, or moral- is conceived of theologically as a privation, the absence or lack of perfection or some goodness in something which exists (to go all Thomistic). Evil is inherently possible in any thing just because it has limits. Illness with its consequent suffering is a “natural evil” because we are beings with limits, and what is Creation if not the self-limiting of God for the sake of “others”? Having limits means we have the capacity to change from one thing to another, and sometimes that change is for thecwirse, not the better. Scripture itself does not seek to explain why God allows evil and suffering, instead it describes suffering as the result of a collective turning from God by Creation in disobedience.

Do I think that Saralyn -or anyone who suffers pain, illness, or death at the hands of others- was disobedient to God and this is why her body betrays her so? Absolutely not, if for no other reason than her medical issues long predate any choices of her own, and I have no need to speculate on counter-factuals. Is it possible that her suffering is because of choices made by her parents knowingly or unknowingly? Again, I see no need to speculate, because it will not change anything. The Disciples of Jesus asked Him of a man who was blind who had sinned to bring this situation about, the man or his parents, and Jesus refused to play the blame game (John 9:1-7).

I think Job will have the last word here “though He slay me yet will I trust Him (13:15) … I know that my Redeemer lives (19:25)”

In Silence and in Speech

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As you may have noticed, there has been a slight lapse in Words for the Way. That was because early last Friday afternoon, a contractor for one of the major cable-phone-internet conglomerates apparently cut the landline leading to our house, leaving us “in the dark” so to speak in terms of our ability to connect to the Internet. And believe you me, in a world of interconnected friends, family, entertainment, and intellectual endeavors, being in the dark can seem scary. This is a very tangible feeling, not being able to communicate or, rather, interact, in our accustomed way. Okay, we still had celluar and data access through cells, but it’s not the same thing, if for no other reason than data limits. We’re back “in the light” now, as it were, thanks to a dispatched technician who diagnosed our trouble and gave us a temporary patch: a surface cable connecting house to the network; with the promise that a crew will come out ‘later’ to rebury the cable.

Something like this happens to us in the spiritual realm, for those who are accustomed to an active contemplative prayer life with God 1   who suddenly find  a veil, as it were, descending upon them. This is the “infamous” Dark Night of the Soul of St. John of the Cross.  Essentially, it is a way to God through which God teaches us to rely on Him, and on Him alone, and not even on our prayer, by withdrawing His presence from our prayer and causing it to become “dry”, unfruitful, causing doubts in our mind about the sincerity of our prayer. At the same time it takes careful discernment and the aegis of a spiritual director or father confessor to recognize this particular gift of the Father of Lights, and to distinguish it from spiritual acedia -or sloth.

Just as suddenly though, the connection will be returned (through no power of ourselves), and the love of God will flood into our prayer. This is the temporary patch, and later the Spirit will rebury the cable of prayer through the instrumentality of the sacraments and other visible means of grace.

This leads me to my point, God leads us, and directs us, and yes, even teaches us, in saying no as well as in saying yes, or in saying wait;  He shows us through failures as much, if not more so than successes ,what it is to serve Him;  He allows temptations to befall us as reminders of our need for His Grace as well as our inability to come to Him on our own, as much as He allows moments of theosis –spiritual transformative unification to clarify our relationship with Him- ;  and yes,  He leads us to His will in silence as well as speech, urging us to keep listening, to strain the ears of our heart, even when that still small voice has grown silent, so that when we do finally hear His voice again, it is as the roar of mighty lions.

Incidentally, the title of this post is also a play on words on a title of Jewish spirituality In Speech and In Silence : The Jewish Quest for God by R.  David J Wolpe.  I haven’t finished it yet, but I’ve made a start, and what it has to say about the power of words, and of language to bring us closer to God and to lead us astray from Him creates such a resonance in my heart that I want to shout, “Yes, this is it” (But that might worry the neighbors, if they bothered to care in the first place. But that, again, is another post, for later on and further in).


note:

Full Disclosure: I am not (yet) one of those. I can go days without talking to God in prayer and not realize that I’ve been missing out on anything, where “talking to God” is more than blessing food, or offering up ejaculatory prayers during the day but the capacity of just being still and silent before Him. My ever-blushing Saralyn on the other hand is on a constant conference-call with God and has Him on speed dial (her words). Then again, she finds it hard to accept or believe that I don’t talk to God that way every day; to her I’ve done it so long that it’s ingrained and I don’t event think about it I just do it, and whatever doubts I have come from my tendency to over-think. She could be right. On the other hand, it doesn’t stop me from feeling a though my prayer life is not as it should -or could- be. On the other hand, the day when we stop worrying about whether we’re praying as we should is the day we need to start worrying.)


Holy Mary, Our Lady of Walsingham, whose Dark Night won for us countless blessings, and through whose silence the example of Christian prayer was born, pray for us

Word for the Way for 11 June 2016

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From our Father in God among the saints, Mar Isaac of Nineveh

Do not approach the mystery-filled words of the Scriptures without  prayer and a request for assistance from God. Say ‘Lord, grant me to become aware of the power in the words.’  Consider prayer to be the key to insights into Truth in the Scriptures.

Hom 45, B329 as translated by Sebastian Brock in The Wisdom of Saint Isaac the Syrian, published by SLG Press, 1997.

A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Internet

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I’ve been without Internet access at home (as of the time of this writing, and putting aside cellular data access) from this past Friday afternoon until just a few minutes ago. In that time, I was unable to schedule posts because I had no reliable way to move files from my PC to my smartphone, and was thrown back on writing out my posts on Notepad, or on scrap paper.  During this time I realized that I had nearly forgotten the re-purposed nature of my blog, and was increasingly turning to impersonal reflections on faith even if I tried to insert personal insights into my few glossing comments on the Words For the Way that I have posted, and in considering what features to roll out next. I was forgetting an essential part of following Christ: Submitting my behaviors, decisions, and actions to the self-criticism of faith; I was forgetting the struggle, forgetting that to stand up for God I must first submit to God. (Okay, I still struggle with that struggle -the struggle for submission- and I feel I will be struggling with it for the remainder of my life.

We are called by Torah and by Christ to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mat 22:39); at Baptism in the Anglican tradition, we are also called to seek and serve all persons in Christ (Book of Common Prayer, p. 292 [Episcopal Church in the United States, 1979 edition]).  I find that hard to do  “all persons”, especially the man who stopped and flipped me off from his truck Saturday because I honked at him as I was beginning to make a left turn at a three-way stop in a store parking lot, while he drove right through the stop (granted the sign on his side was missing, but the stopping point was clearly marked out, as it was on the other two sides, and they were paving the parking lot that day). That right there tells me that I have not yet arrived at that “perfect love” which “casts out fear” (I John 4:18), (yet acknowledging that I think brings me one step closer to that perfect love), because it shows that I undoubtedly have areas in my life that are un-submitted to the Lord’s will.  In the words of the pleading father: “Lord I believe, help my unbelief (Mark 9:23-25), I cry unto the Lord because of this

This further tells me that Christian life, Salvation, life in the Lord as both a New Man and a New Creation in the Kingdom of Light to which the Son has transferred us into from the Kingdom of Darkness (Col. 1:13) is not as simple as a one-time “Altar Call” as certain ‘flavors’ of evangelical Christian theology would have it, but one which we are to work out in fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12), for all that it is the Free Gift of God (Eph. 2:8), our New Birth is not yet a fully formed Man of God.  There is struggle ahead, just like my struggle with loving the man who flips me off, thinking I was in the wrong, or like my personal struggle with my neighbors over things like cutting grass, and the behavior of my dog. (But that’s a for another post, later on and further in)

Constant struggle awaits the man or woman who would come closer to God.  That is why the earliest Christian monks abandoned possessions and went into the desert -for such was their Arena of the Spirit- and engaged in all sorts of askesis -“exercise”-:  to be closer to the struggle, to face it more directly, to submit themselves more fully to the Grace of God (albeit, after exhausting their human capacities for drawing near to God).  So much truth is in this, that I wager that the man or woman who lives his Christian life without struggle  can be seen to lack trust -pistis-, fides – “faith” in God, or be said to lack the “zeal of Phineas” for the honor of the Lord (Num. 25:11). In a word they are complacent, and that is one of the most damning judgements to be leveled against any man, or any Church (Rev. 3:16). The Israelites were constantly struggling with God, or their fellow inhabitants of the Land of Promise (see Numbers, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, and even Samuel), or each other in the case of the Divided Kingdoms. When they did not strive for holiness, they sank to the level of the surrounding nations. When David ceased from struggle after his wars, he fell into adultery with the wife of Uriah.  Martyrs are those who have struggled for God, who have so submitted themselves to Christ that they gave their very blood as witness, and so they stand round the Throne for service to the Most High (Rev. 7:13-15).

One last thing.  That Saturday, as I was flipped off, I was on my way with my beloved (incidentally, our new wedding date is set for July 24th, y’all come now) to a charity dance at St. John the Wonder-Worker Orthodox Church (OCA) which also happened to be  her former high school (St. Nicholas Orthodox Academy). Let’s just say I tried my best to be the wall-flower that I know myself to be, but she over and over again urged me to come out with her to the dance floor (this despite her own proclivities for being an active member of the  Worshipful Company of Wallfowers). I admit, I was scared,  I suffered from “performance anxiety”, knowing that all eyes would be on  me (us) , and knowing that the same eyes would be on everybody else at the same time did nothing to soothe me in my state of self-consciousness. (In the event, she assured me that I was considered quite the “belle of the dance”, especially with those last two songs “Happy” and “Oppa Gangnam Style”.) This is important because, like loving our neighbor as ourselves -which apparently I honor more in the breach than the observance- we are called daily to die to self if we are to rise to new life in Christ -and it’s hard to die to self when you’re feeling extremely self-conscious of what  you’re doing. This, then is my struggle, which it appears is the struggle of every Christian worth his or her salt, struggling against self-love and its covalent struggle to reach that perfect love which Christ has for us.


 

Holy Mary, Our Lady of Walsingham

The Twin Pillars of the Christian Life

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 So, at the end of things we see that the Christian life is built upon the twin pillars of love of God and love of man.

Peruse the book section of any local supermarket or department store and you are bound to find a revolving kiosk offering Choice books about Christian living or spirituality.These books are written to help people live godly, Christ-filled lives. But, you may ask, what defines a Christ-filled life?  If we go to one of the earliest sources for Christian life, The Gospel According to St. John (13:25)  we are told: “They shall know you are my disciples by the love you bear one another.”  Seems simple enough, even the Beatles get it: “All you need is love”. prepares to be strung up in effigy over this  But is that all?

Not exactly, it turns out. Or, rather it is, and it isn’t, because as soon as we say “love”, we come face to face with a quandary. Ancient  Greek, after all, uses anywhere from 4 to 7 words (“eros” – needs based and physical love, “philia” -friendship love, “storge” -family affection, “agape” -disinterested or self-less love,  which pop up in Scripture, and then we have “pragma” -love that endures, “philautia” -love from shared experience, and “ludus” -playful flirtatious affection 1,2  for concepts that  English covers over in one word “love” (putting aside “like” and “affection”). Which of these is the most important for living the Christ filled life?

According to Rev Dr William Barclay of blessed memory,  author of The Daily Study Bible series (admittedly written out of desperation after the death of his wife and son) and one of my favorite contemporary commentaries what we really need is not one, but two loves: “[S]o, at the end of things we see that the Christian life is built upon the twin pillars of love of God and love of man. 3 Such is the conclusion of the first entry in his New Testament Words,  a Greek word study companion to the DSB, which is suitably enough, “Agape and  Agapan”. 4

Love of God and Love of Man, such is the essence of the Christian life, and indeed of the Christian Faith, according to Barclay. To see how true this is, let me turn to another way of putting it found in the Scriptures (and in the Liturgy):

  Hear what our Lord Jesus Christ saith: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the prophets.”5

All of Torah, from Moses and Joshua, through the Judges and the Prophets  to the Men of the Great Sanhedrin, down to the days of Second Temple and the foot of Calvary is contained here.  All else, as Hillel said, “is commentary.” (Bavli Talmud, Shabbat 31a)  To which he added to the potential convert: “Now go and learn it.” We’re still learning it, btw

So what is this “Love of God and Love of Man” that Barclay says are the pillars of the authentic Christian life? Much ink (not to say blood) has been spilled over the years and centuries since Christ walked the earth to answer this question, and still we can cynically ask, as does the indomitable Tina Turner, “What’s love got to do with it?”  That’s the rub as it turns out. One post is not enough to spell it out. One blog is not enough to contain the answer; if everything was written down that could be said of this two-fold love, as St. John’s Gospel says, “the world itself could not contain it all” (John 20:30). In a very real sense, though, that is exactly what this blog is , exploring what it means to love God and to love Man, the two halves of the scale of faith, the two pillars that hold up this Christian life.

I chose this quote to begin my Words for the Way because it is a succinct explanation of faith and life in Christ.  It lays out before us moderns the absolute essentials.  Two pillars, and they must be even if we are to have a balanced life.  Make one pillar too tall or the other too short, and our life in Christ falls down.  You can’t just love God and forget man because life is social, and James (not to mention Amos, Hosea, and the whole trajectory of Old Testament prophecy)  has harsh words to say to the person who forgets this:  “your faith is dead” (James 1:22-7;  2: 14-17). And you can’t just love man and forget God, otherwise you are living only for the body, only for an(other) abstract concept, and you have no life: you have no “zoe”, only “bios” (to use two of the Koine Greek words for “life”)  because you forget your common source in the Father.

Yet another way of putting it is to say life in Christ requires “Knowing and Doing”, as in “be not hearers of the word only, but doers” (James 1:22) -my preferred shorthand script for faith (which, yes, I will discuss later on, and further in)- through which the mystery of salvation is lived out.  And the rest of the blog is an attempt to explain this Mystery.


 

 Holy Mary, Our Lady of Walsingham, who loved mankind by loving God, pray for us.

 


Selected Sources:

1 http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whatson/festivals-series/festival-of-love/the-seven-kinds-of-love  Accessed on May 26, 2016

2 http://www.yesmagazine.org/happiness/the-ancient-greeks-6-words-for-love-and-why-knowing-them-can-change-your-life  Accessed on May 26, 2016

3 “Agape and Agapan” in New Testament Words by William Barclay (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press. 1974. 1962.) p30.

4 “Agape and Agapan” in New Testament Words by William Barclay (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press. 1974. 1962.) p17-30.

5 Matthew. 22:37-40, cited in Book of Common Prayer, Holy Eucharist Rite One. Penitential Rite. p319

 

Word for the way for 26 May 2016

From our Father in God among the saints, Mar Isaac of Nineveh

Faith is the gate to the mysteries. What the body’s eyes are in relation to perceptible objects, so it is with faith in the case of  treasures that lie hidden to the eyes of the mind.

Hom. 43, B315 as translated by Sebastian Brock in The Wisdom of Saint Isaac the Syrian, published by SLG Press, 1997.