2014-2015 Renovaré Christian Book Club discussion

Week 2, The Way of a Pilgrim

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message 1: by Brenda (new)

Brenda Quinn | 106 comments Mod
As we begin Week 2 with our book, the first podcast conversation is available to listen. It is between Gary Moon and Father Nicholas Speier. Those who are Renovare Book Club Members can find this conversation at the Members page of the Renovare website.

This week we will continue reading at our own pace, devotionally and experiencially.The discussion here at Goodreads has been rich. The podcast is sure to guide us into more of the same. Thank you, one and all.

message 2: by Louise (new)

Louise | 26 comments I wrestled with the Pilgrim all week. Over the week-end, I listened to the podcast and did some research to help me understand things like the place of the Jesus Prayer in Orthodox practice and the differences between Christians of East and West in understanding sin and salvation. I have had such a change of heart as I have come to see the prayer in a whole different light -not as a meaningless mantra, as Kara also mentioned in her recent post, but as a real and concious invocation of the most powerful name of Christ. I originally saw it as a mental flagellation for sins already covered by grace, but now understand it to be walking into to a loving and merciful relationship with Christ and therefore with the Triune God. And finally, I no longer see it as an end unto itself ("if I can say it 3000 times a day, I am praying without ceasing ") but as a means to the end of the prayer of the heart when words fall away altogether. As Fr. Speier makes clear, the practice of the prayer as the Pilgrim describes it is so precious that it is only done in the Church with guidance. Let us all beware, therefore, that we proceed with all reverence. What is more powerful, after all, than the name of Jesus Christ? Thanks to Gary, Fr. Speier and all my fellow pilgrims who have helped me get over myself this past week and to be newly open to the Pilgrim's Way.

message 3: by Kyle (new)

Kyle Norman | 16 comments In my tradition we have a wonderful saying regarding the holy scriptures - that we are challenged to "read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them." I don't have a problem with the Jesus prayer, because I see it in this light. It is a deep chewing on Christ's presence, and the truths of scripture that are to inform our life.

message 4: by Diane (new)

Diane Seager | 54 comments Last week I was focusing too much on reciting the prayer when I thought of it but after listening to Fr. Speier I feel I am refocused on "the end" and not the "means", which is Christs's desire for us in John 17:20 "... that just as you are in me and I am in you, so they will be in us" My desire is a deeper union with God. I know now that this will take time and needs someone to shepherd me in the process. I am praying now for the Lord to lead me to a Spiritual Director.

message 5: by ChaCha (new)

ChaCha | 7 comments Several years ago, I met a colleague at work who became a spiritual guide for me. At that time, he was working on praying continuously. I remember thinking that I can't even pray comfortably, how was I supposed to be in communion with God, let alone continuously in communion with God throughout a work day? Now, 4 years later, prayer is not so alien to me anymore, so I was excited to read this book and learn about one way of abiding in Christ always. I learn very experientially, and therefore, the example of the pilgrim learning to repeat the Jesus prayer was very helpful to me. I work with the body a lot, so it does not surprise me that the pilgrim talks about training the body with repetition of the Jesus prayer, which then can lead the mind to focus and subsequently allow one to expand into a spiritual connection with God. That's the mind-body-spirit connection that many are lacking and sorely need in today's world.

message 6: by Diane (new)

Diane Seager | 54 comments ChaCha wrote: "Several years ago, I met a colleague at work who became a spiritual guide for me. At that time, he was working on praying continuously. I remember thinking that I can't even pray comfortably, how..."
Thank you ChaCha, I really needed your insight! I cannot look at this as a mind exercise alone! The spiritual road certainly does require discipline for progress!

message 7: by Dave (new)

Dave | 1 comments Hello to everyone. I just joined the group over the weekend and after listening to the podcast and finding out about the need for a spiritual director I have a couple of questions:

1. How do we find a good spiritual director regarding the use of the Jesus prayer?

2. Would an Orthodox priest be willing to work with a non-Orthodox Christian or would that be asking too much?

3. If we don't find a spiritual director, how far down this path should we go?

Bill from Florida | 50 comments Dave, Evangelical Spiritual Directors Association (ESDA) has a listing for more evangelical directors. Spiritual Directors International (SDI) has listings for all kinds of directors. If you use SDI make sure you are comfortable with the director's theology. There are also several good training schools who might be able to refer you.

message 9: by Brenda (new)

Brenda Quinn | 106 comments Mod
Gary Moon will be speaking to this issue of spiritual direction in future weeks, so please be reading and listening for more addressing Dave's and others' questions.

On another note, the thought occurred to me this morning as I was praying the Jesus prayer, that as we humbly beseech Jesus for mercy in an ongoing way, it seems natural that in the process we will become more mercy-filled people as we interact with those around us. This seemed true in the Pilgrim's life. I was praying this morning with my kids about the fruits of the Spirit, and this prayer seems to blend so well with the Jesus prayer and the way that the characteristics of God--the very life of God--is deepened in us as we use it.

message 10: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia (scinders) | 3 comments I am getting so much out of this book as I sip my way through it. What I find myself pondering is how Pilgrim steadfastly turns down offers to stay at a place, even though he desires a more permanent place to stay because he does not want to be distracted by others as they are drawn to him. The reasons to remain are very compelling as he is in a position to minister to people which was pointed out to him, yet he feels the need for solitude and uses the desert fathers as an example. What about today, people consider the need for solitude a strange thing and if you are not out serving other people then....
Makes me think, how often do we get caught up in doing something because it serves others needs/wants and not what we hear God calling us to do even if it doesn't look or sound as good? Is there something more that God wants for all of us that can be shared down the road as we go deeper in Him than as we are at that moment as shown by the example of the desert fathers? I look forward to reading more about Pilgrim's journey, to see how all this unfolds and what it could mean in my life.

message 11: by Melissa (new)

Melissa | 27 comments My question regards the imagination and imageless prayer, much like the professor’s question on p. 160. “I do not understand how it is possible to place oneself in the presence of God and safeguard imageless prayer absolutely. This is not natural, because our soul or mind cannot present anything in the imagination without a form…” The very instruction to “bring your mind from the head into the heart and hold it there” seems to demand the use of the imagination, doesn’t it? Also, I share his question that “when one’s mind is immersed in God cannot one imagine or visualize Jesus Christ, the Blessed Trinity, etc?” To cease to use our imagination because it is susceptible to deception seems unnecessarily restrictive. Aren’t we also susceptible to deception in our thoughts and feelings? Obviously, we can’t avoid thinking and feeling in our prayer and worship.

message 12: by Roger (new)

Roger P | 5 comments What a wonderful week. The podcast was just what I needed to supplement the reading. I realized that when I first read the Way, about 15 years ago, that I was probably approaching it from a "romantic" standpoint. At this point, I think I need to be content to use the Jesus Prayer as a daily reminder of my dependence on Christ rather than try to use it to "descend from the mind into the heart." At least until I have more formal spiritual direction. To respond somewhat to Melissa's question about that kind of prayer, my understanding is that what we think of the mind--the rational facility--was not what the Desert Fathers and writers of the Philokalia thought of the mind, or "nous," in Greek. Rather it was a kind of intuition, a direct understanding free of rational steps or imagination. Since the "heart" was seen at the seat of the soul, where the divine spark within each of us dwells, the idea of dwelling with the mind in the heart at least to me, could be a wordless, imageless sense of awe in the presence of the Almighty. I could be totally off base with this as I am approaching this from a non-Orthodox standpoint, just from further reading. Hope this is helpful for the most recent question from Melissa.

message 13: by Darlene (new)

Darlene Hixon | 18 comments I have been blessed by the podcast between Gary Moon and Father Speiers and appreciated the constant and repeated focus of Father Speiers that the Jesus Prayer is a "means to be with Christ". It's a way of stilling my soul and setting my heart apart to say "yes" to the invitation to "abide" with Christ.

I loved the promise and reminder that Gary spoke about in the podcast:

"salvation is healing, that there's healing in the abiding, there's healing in the journey toward union."

Oh my, what a profound statement. It's a profound reminder that every moment of my life is a "salvation moment of invitation from Christ to be with Him and to be healed!

I'm living very thankful for the book and the additional discussion from the podcast...and I have appreciated the community discussion greatly, as well.

Bill from Florida | 50 comments Like some of the others posting I am being challenged getting my understanding, theology and practice around this material. However, this morning I had a very practical application. A guest preacher was speaking who I didn't particularly care for. So I spent the time with the Jesus Prayer and felt so gracious towards the speaker and had a sense of meeting with God during the service.

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