Sunday, August 8, 2010

Metropolitan Jonah on Stillness, etc.

I sent these notes from a Lenten Retreat Given by Metropolitan Jonah in the form of text messages to my wife. I realize now more than ever that I need them. Presenting them unedited, for better or for worse. Each new paragraph is a new text message:

Dispassion is a major goal of the spiritual life by that non reaction we take control of ourselves.

Resentment gives the ones we resent the power over our lives.

Choosing not to react is on many levels. Not just inaction but keeping quiet but not even thinking negatively about someone. We can choose how to react. It's a matter of having the will to stop those reactions.

Sobriety is not just not being drunk, it's being in control of ourselves so we can be completely present to ourselves and to God.

You know you have resentment when you hear someone's name and feel angry. You have to go to that person and forgive them, to overlook and see the person inside. It is not absolution.

The goal of stillness is the loss of distractions, the loss of our ego to forget ourselves.

If you can sit for twenty minutes in stillness I guarantee you can not respond.

Passions are like the weather and stillness is like a mountain. Just sit down and be quiet remembering that God is present. Start with just one minute without thinking.

More stillness means more mastery of self and the true person will emerge.

The word passion and passive are connected. There is a sense in which they happen to us. But we have the choice to let things pass by or to focus on them.

Provocation, examination, assent. The steps from passion to agreement.

But from agreement one goes to action which has a string of its own to actually sin. His example is seeing a McDonald's ad for a big mac during lent.

You can stop at many points in this chain.

The best practice is to recognize the thought and to say no from the beginning.

Being sober and still allows you to dismiss the thought.

Example--annoying person at the parish. You start thinking about how they bother you.

Chain of judgmental thoughts starting with them offending. You don't have to react to their offense.

Doing this gives peace. You won't miss the service by thinking about this person and you can then love them.

Stillness means no thoughts. No distractions-contemplation vs. mediation. Meditation is thinking but contemplation is silent focused awareness of God.

Best way to prepare for confession. This reflects our maturity. Starts as a laundry list.

Important is not to look at particular instances. Those are usually symptoms. Look for underlying motivations.

Thinking about resentment to objectifying to hate to slander to self justifying. Be as honest with yourself as possible. Priests are tempted to judge people based on them thinking you are hiding, not based on saying things. False shame is an indication you are not willing to let go. Naming it puts you at war with it.

Monasteries have daily confession and thoughts are mentioned. Obsessive thoughts should be confessed even at a non-confession setting.

But thought confession takes too much time for non-monastics.

St. Isaac the Syrian-Salvation is consciousness in God.

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