October 18

…when the intellect remains free from fantasy and image, not permitting itself to be shaped or stamped either by the taints of sensual pleasure or by thoughts full of desire, then it is in a state of simplicity; and transcending all sensory and intelligible realities, it concentrates its vision on God.

Its sole activity is to invoke the Lord’s name in the depth of itself with continuous recollectedness…so the intellect molded by the virtues and repeatedly invoking the Lord with a pure mind and an ardent spirit, is divinely transformed, quickened and deified through knowing and loving God.

~Theoliptos, Metropolitan of Philadelphia

October 17

When the intellect turns away from external things and concentrates on what is within, it is restored to itself; it is united, that is to say, to the principle of its own consciousness, and through this principle naturally inherent in its own substance it devotes itself entirely to prayer.

By means of prayer it ascends with all its loving power and affection to the knowledge of God….it pursues the beauty of Christ, engaging in works of devotion…it cleaves to Christ with love…it continually contemplates Christ….discoursing with Christ in pure prayer it is filled with delight and joy…

For God welcomes the discourse born of prayer, and when He is lovingly invoked and called to our aid, He bestows inexpressible joy on the beseeching soul. For when the soul brings God to mind in the discourse of prayer, it is gladdened by the Lord…

~Theoliptos, Metropolitan of Philadelphia

The Evergreens & Me

Glorious evergreen trees—

describers of beauty,

and illustrators of God’s Love,

dignified and wise sentinels—

you stand watch in the awakening dawn,

your upturned faces aglow;

and you crown the twilight skies,

your silhouettes stark against the waning light.

 

Alone or en masse you inspire me—

by your serene patience and constancy,

always at attention,

alert and perceiving,

quietly, silently, exuding your wisdom.

 

Thank you for standing watch over me,

and all of my brothers and sisters.

 

You are always here among us,

as a testament to our Heavenly Father’s enduring love.

You are living examples of life eternal,

for by comparison with our short human sojourns,

your arboreal longevity seems infinite.

 

You stand unmovable like rock,

but you are alive like flesh.

Deep within your furrows,

and under your barky skin,

there is life, alive and vibrant, and energetic.

 

Though you stand so still and stoically,

you teem with vitality, and are active beyond measure.

A never ending river of life courses through you,

as you make food from light,

and shower us with oxygen and water.

 

In so many ways I depend on you,

and not least of all you show me how to worship.

I always see you standing in constant prayer—

Never failing.

 

Like arrows, your bodies, they direct my thoughts to heaven,

and your many arms, outstretched and swaying, call upon the Lord all day and night.

 

As I gaze up into your massive structures, I am in awe of you—

and your slow, yet inexorable,

and indefatigable climb upwards into the Heavens—

I hope and pray that I may seek that same Kingdom

with a fraction of the dedication I perceive in you.

 

Glorious evergreen trees,

thank you for all of these things,

and thank you God,

for giving us one another.

 

~FS

October 16

Reject completely every suspicion about someone else that rises in your heart, because it destroys love and peace. But accept with courage any calamity that comes from without, since it provides an opportunity for exercising the patience that leads to salvation, the patience that bestows an abiding-place and repose in heaven.
                                                            ~Theoliptos, Metropolitan of Philadephia

October 15

Do not neglect prostration. It provides an image of man’s fall into sin and expresses the confession of our sinfulness. Getting up, on the other hand, signifies repentance and the promise to lead a life of virtue. Let each prostration be accompanied by a noetic invocation of Christ, so that by falling before the Lord in soul and body you may gain the grace of the God of souls and bodies.

~Theoliptos, Metropolitan of Philadelphia

The Humus-Man

Some are made to scale great heights,

some are made for grandeur.

Yet I have found a simpler place—

a life akin to manure.

 

Let others steal their place in the limelight,

only to come away burned.

A spotlight is too harsh for me,

though I’ve sought it many times.

 

Some can thrive in that bright light;

I thought that I could bear it.

Its heat and pressure is unpleasant;

I’m blinded by its brilliance.

 

My place is in the earth,

not upon the stage.

I wasn’t made to reach the stars,

or be the best there ever was.

I was made for simpler things—

a humble life, like humus.

 

I am a humus-man,

an anti-modern,

counter-culture man.

 

I am not a company—

I will not market myself,

nor charge a fee.

 

I’m not a brand,

but just a man.

 

I’m casting off the social medias,

the pressures to be relevant,

I’m finding freedom within the earth,

hidden peace shrouded in the dirt.

 

I do not matter—

not in the ways of this modern place.

I am matter—

hoping to nourish you with a humble grace.

 

~FS

October 14

When chanting psalms, do this in a low voice, with your intellect fully attentive: do not allow any phrase to go uncomprehended. Should anything escape your understanding, begin the verse again, and repeat this as many times as necessary, until your intellect grasps what is being said. For the intellect can attend to the chanting and simultaneously can recollect God. You may learn this from everyday experience: you can meet and speak with someone and also focus your eyes on him. Similarly, you can chant psalms and focus on God through recollectedness.

~Theoliptos, Metropolitan of Philadelphia