Curated Discussion : Time & Eternity

Curated Discussion : Time & Eternity

Start your meeting by listening together to the episode “Why Time” of the podcast Time Eternal by Dr. Nicole Roccas

Then, as a group or in smaller groups, discuss the following questions:

  1. How do you experience time? Does time seem like a blessing? An opportunity? An access point to God? Or does it feel stressful? Nagging? Like a burden?
  2. Does time feel sacred? How have you experienced time as something sacred?
  3. How can our awareness of time make a real difference in our spiritual lives?
  4. “So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12
    • As we begin this school year, what are some practical steps we can take to take advantage of time? What are some ways we can more regularly perceive time as sacred?

Conclude today’s meeting by praying the Prayer of the Hours

Thou who at every season and every hour, in Heaven and on earth art worshipped and glorified, O Christ God; long-suffering, merciful and compassionate; Who lovest the just and showest mercy upon the sinner; Who callest all to salvation through the promise of blessings to come. O Lord, in this hour receive our supplications, and direct our lives according to Thy commandments.

Sanctify our souls. Purify our bodies. Correct our minds; cleanse our thoughts; and deliver us from all tribulations, evil, and distress. Surround us with Thy holy angels; that, guided and guarded by them, we may attain to the unity of the faith, and unto the knowledge of Thine unapproachable glory. For Thou art blessed unto ages of ages. Amen.

Prayer taken from oca.org

Guided Discussion : Time & Eternity

Guided Discussion : Time & Eternity

We live in a reality where we are caught between the eternal and the temporal. We live

lives within the temporal: we mark the years, seasons, and feasts, and yet, we look to

the eternal “and the life of the age to come.”

At times, because we live in this tension, we lose sight of the blessings that come with

each “type” of time. We may also miss out on how the two types of time compliment

one another within the Christian life.

Living in the now

Time flies without us noticing! What practices do you use to mark chronological time

passing? How have you found this practice to be beneficial?

Describe a period in your life where you wish you had been more more aware of time

passing.

We must be intentional about living in the present moment. How can we use the

beginning of this new school year to more intentionally live in the present and treat our

time as a sacred gift?

Living in light of eternity

God offers us windows into the eternal; glimpses at the coming age through the work

and prayers of the Church. How do we prepare for the eternal? What practices have you

found helpful to make the most of these “eternal” events.

Who among us doesn’t get distracted with the temporal when we’re supposed to be

focused on the eternal? Physically we’re in liturgy, but our mind is with our assignments,

our to-dos, our problems, our plans. Why is this the case? How can we combat this?

Time meets the eternal

Christ comes to meet each one of us at the intersection of the temporal and the eternal.

As temporal beings, we are transported during the Divine Liturgy to the eternal Liturgy

partaken of by all the saints. Sadly, once we walk out of Liturgy, we tend to leave this

behind and return to our “normal lives.”

Why is that? What has been your experience in the past?

What can we each do to change that? How can we live more of our lives at the meeting

point between the temporal and the eternal?

Why is this meeting point important? Will this make any real difference in our lives?

Staff Pick : The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

Staff Pick : The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

Recommended by Fr. Panagiotis Boznos,
Spiritual Advisor to the Student Leadership Board

Imagine getting your hands on the other team’s playbook. That is what The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis is like. This book is a satirical collection of letters from a senior demon to a junior demon about how best to pull humans away from God. Every page is filled with devilish advice and brings to light all the tactics used against us. Once you know the other side’s plays, and spoiler: they are not that complicated, it becomes easier to defend against them.

St. John of the Ladder | There’s a Saint for That

St. John of the Ladder | There’s a Saint for That

St. John of the Ladder

St. John of the Ladder

The Life of St. John

St. John of the Ladder is honored by the church as a great ascetic and the author of the renowned spiritual book called The Ladder of Divine Ascent, for which he is named. (St. John Climacus in Greek)

There is almost no information about St. John’s origins. One tradition suggests he was born in Constantinople around the year 570, and was the son of Ss. Xenophon and Maria.

John went to Sinai when he was sixteen, submitting to Abba Martyrios as his instructor and guide. After four years, St. John was tonsured as a monk. Abba Strategios, who was present at St. John’s tonsure, predicted that he would become a great luminary in the Church of Christ.

For nineteen years, St. John progressed in monasticism in obedience to his spiritual Father. After the death of Abba Martyrios, St. John embarked on a solitary life, settling in a wild place called Thola, where he spent forty years laboring in silence, fasting, prayer, and tears of penitence.

St. John had a disciple named Moses. Once, the saint ordered his disciple to bring dung to fertilize the vegetable garden. When he had fulfilled the obedience, Moses lay down to rest under the shade of a large rock because of the scorching heat of summer. St. John was in his cell in a light sleep. Suddenly, a man of remarkable appearance appeared to him and awakened the holy ascetic, reproaching him, “John, why do you sleep so heedlessly, when Moses is in danger?”

St. John immediately woke up and began to pray for his disciple. When Moses returned in the evening, St. John asked whether any sort of misfortune had befallen him.

The monk replied, “A large rock would have fallen on me as I slept beneath it at noon, but I left that place because I thought I heard you calling me.” St. John did not tell his disciple of his vision but gave thanks to God.

St. John ate the food which is permitted by the monastic rule but only in moderation. He did not sleep very much, only enough to keep up his strength so that he would not ruin his mind by unceasing vigil. “I do not fast excessively,” he said of himself, “nor do I give myself over to intense all-night vigil, nor lay upon the ground, but I restrain myself.”

The following example of St John’s humility is noteworthy. Gifted with discernment and attaining wisdom through spiritual experience, he lovingly received all who came to him and guided them to salvation. One day, some envious monks reproached him for being too talkative, and so St John kept silent for a whole year. The monks realized their error, and they went to the ascetic and begged him not to deprive them of the spiritual profit of his conversation.

Concealing his ascetic deeds from others, St. John sometimes withdrew into a cave, but reports of his holiness spread far beyond the vicinity. Visitors from all walks of life came to him, desiring to hear his words of edification and salvation. After forty years of solitary asceticism, he was chosen as abbot of Sinai’s St. Catherine’s Monastery when he was seventy-five. St. John governed the holy monastery for four years.

At the request of the abbot of the Raithu monastery, St. John wrote the incomparable Ladder, a book of instruction for monks who wished to attain spiritual perfection.

Knowing his wisdom and spiritual gifts, the abbot requested St. John to write down whatever was necessary for the salvation of those in the monastic life. St. John felt that such a task was beyond his ability, yet out of obedience he fulfilled the request. The saint called his work The Ladder, for the book is “a fixed ladder leading from earthly things to the Holy of Holies” (Gen. 28:12).

The Ladder begins with renunciation of worldliness and ends with God, who is Love (1 Jn 4:8). Although the book was written for monks, any Christian living in the world will find it an unerring guide for ascending to God and a support in the spiritual life.

In The Ladder is a written account of his thoughts, based on the collected wisdom of many wise ascetics and on his own spiritual experience. The book is a great help on the path to truth and virtue. With the exception of the Scriptures themselves and St. Athanasius’ Life of Anthony, it is the most copied and influential book in Christian history.

Learn more about the life of St. John of the ladder here.

Feast Day: March 30th and 4th Sunday in Great Lent

How can St. John intercede for us?

St. John is known for being a great ascetic and monastic. Pray to him for help with spiritual matters: putting down demonic thoughts, strength keeping the fasts, and guidance for prayer.

Discussion around St. John of the Ladder

 

  1. St. John talks a lot about tears of repentance. How can we practice repentance in our own lives?
  2. Early in The Ladder, St. John suggests that we begin our path towards Christ with the foundation of innocence, abstinence (fasting), and temperance. What can we do to cultivate those virtues while in college?
  3. In Step 4 of The Ladder, St. John gives this advice to people in the world, “‘Do all the good you can; do not speak evil of anyone; do not steal from anyone; do not lie to anyone; do not be arrogant towards anyone; do not hate any one; be sure you go to church; be compassionate to the needy; do not offend anyone; do not wreck another man’s domestic happiness;3 and be content with what your own wives can give you. If you behave in this way you will not be far from the Kingdom of Heaven.”
    What are your thoughts on this passage? Is there one area you’d like to focus on in the coming weeks?
  4. His most famous book, The Ladder of Divine Ascent, is still read in monasteries every year during Great Lent to this day. Read a couple of the steps and discuss them with your chapter!
    http://www.prudencetrue.com/images/TheLadderofDivineAscent.pdf

Learn his Troparion

Tone 8

With the rivers of your tears, you have made the barren desert fertile. Through sighs of sorrow from deep within you, your labors have borne fruit a hundred-fold. By your miracles you have become a light, shining upon the world. O John, our Holy Father, pray to Christ our God, to save our souls.

Listen to a recording of St. John of the Ladder’s Troparion

Pray to him

With the streams of your tears, you made the barren desert fertile. Instill in us also, tears of repentance that our hearts too may be made fertile to bear the gifts of the Spirit. Help us to improve our prayer and fasting so that we can grow closer to God. Give us the strength to climb the ladder of divine ascent that we may be counted among the saints. Amen.

Go Back to the Full List