FALL ADULT CLASS 2023
Sacraments of Healing
by Metropolitan Kallistos Ware
Six Monday evenings,
beginning October 30
Dear Parish Faithful,
Our traditional Fall Adult Education Class will begin this year on Monday, October 30. As usual, it will run for six sessions, the last session being on Monday, December 4. This class will meet for its sessions in the church and also via zoom.
This is a more "advanced" class than our Inquirers Class, presupposing a basic knowledge of Orthodox belief and practice, that is meant for any and all of the parish faithful and for catechumens who want to go further in their exploration of the Orthodox Faith. Visitors or friends are more than welcome.
Fr. Steven will be leading this class.
We will be reading the late Metropolitan Kallistos Ware's new publication, The Sacraments of Healing. We ordered 20 copies of this book for the parish, and there are only 3 copies left! That is great, and a wonderful sign that many of the parish faithful desire to continue to explore the depth and riches of Orthodox theology and spirituality on an ongoing basis.
As available copies run out, you like, you may order a copy directly from SVS Press: https://svspress.com/sacraments-of-healing/
- Fr. Steven
BOOK DESCRIPTION FROM SVS PRESS:
These six reflections, which meditate upon the sacraments as sources of healing, reveal the wisdom, insight, and wit of Met. Kallistos Ware.
He explores the human condition in light of the Orthodox Tradition from many angles: the deep meaning and mystery of the human body and its healing; the somewhat ambiguous role of the passions in our life; the therapeutic vision of the Church expressed in the Mysteries of Confession and Anointing; our experience of healing both in the Divine Liturgy and in the wider world, and, finally, in the great mystery of death itself.
It is often said that the Orthodox Church is a hospital and that our understanding of salvation is therapeutic. Here Met. Kallistos explores what this means in many different ways, and helps us to understand more deeply our relationship with Christ the Physician of souls and bodies, who came to save and to heal both us and the world.
Met. Kallistos Ware was Spalding Lecturer in Eastern Orthodox Studies at the University of Oxford. World-renowned for his writings and lectures, his books include The Orthodox Church (Penguin) and The Orthodox Way (SVS Press).
NOTES FOR SESSION 2, MONDAY, NOVEMBER 6:
Dear Parish Faithful,
For those who plan on attending the class this evening, either in person or on zoom, here are some preparatory questions that will hopefully lead to as good a discussion as we had last Monday evening:
These questions are based on Ch. 2 of Sacraments of Healing:
+ The chapter begins with Met. Kallistos speaking of cultivating a sense of wonder in our daily lives. He writes: "We need to be sensitive to the closeness of the invisible world. We need a sense of wonder. "The beginning of the truth is to wonder at things," said Plato. That's not just Plato - it is good Christianity as well." (p. 18)
Can anyone speak to being sensitive to the invisible world in your daily life? How can we cultivate such a sensitivity without some artifical means?
+ Met. Kallistos writes: "If we are to be peacemakers, we need to rediscover our inner unity. ... I cannot unify myself unless I am inwardly at one. As Saint Isaac the Syrian said, "Be peaceful yourself, and heaven and earth will be at peace with you"." (p. 20)
How do we work at this in a world of turmoil, in which we are seemingly pulled in many directions at once? What prevents us from discovering "inner peace?"
+ What is meant by the heart in our spiritual Tradition? Is there more to the heart than our emotional life? Is there a specific passage in the book about the heart that you would want us to explore in more depth? (p. 20-23).
+ What is meant by the word "passion" (or "the passions") as presented by Met. Kallistos? What is implied in their negative definition? And what is positive about passion or the passions?
+ What is meant by this passage: "Eros is not to be eliminated but redirected, transformed. Without desire, epithymia,without eros, there is no proper love for God." (p. 28)
+ How does Abba Isaiah treat such seemingly negative passions as "jealousy," "anger," "hatred" and, finally, "pride?" ((p.28-31) All of this leads to Met. Kallistos referring to St. Augustine who claimed that there is "a good self-love." How can we appreciate that in our lives without it becoming a source of "bad pride?"
+ Here is a good passage to perhaps end on: "Our ascetic strategy is not to mortify but redirect, not eradicate but educate, not eliminate but transfigure." (p. 32)
- Fr Steven
Dear Parish Faithful
NOTES FOR SESSION 1, MONDAY, OCTOBER 30:
- Vespers will be served at 7:00 p.m. followed by the class.
- We will most likely need to hold the class in the nave of the church, as the church hall is still without electricity, and we may not have enough room in the Education Center.
- The class will also be available via zoom.
- Please read the Preface of Sacraments of Healing by Fr. Andrew Louth and Ch. 1 of the book by Metropolitan Kallistos Ware.
COMMENTS ON SESSION 1
from Fr. Steven:
Dear Parish Faithful,
" Our human personhood is a mystery. We do not fully understand our own selves. Sophocles observed in Antigone: There are many strange things and none stranger than the human person." Not just in our theology do we need an apophatic dimension, but we need it also in our anthropology.
St. Gregory of Nyssa gives a specific reason for the fact that we do not understand ourselves. He connects it with the truth that the human being is made in the image and likeness of God, and the image, he says, is only truly such insofar as it expresses the attributes of the archetype. One of the characteristics of the Godhead is to be in its essence beyond our understanding. The human person is a created icon of the uncreated God, and since God is incomprehensible, so is the human person."
These two short paragraphs are found at the conclusion of Ch. 1 of the book of choice for this year's Fall Adult Education Class, by Metropolitan Kallistos Ware - Sacraments of Healing. As to the class, there was a combined presence of 45 - 50 participants in yesterday evening's initial session (in person and zoom)! That was rather amazing, and always a sign, I strongly believe, of a genuine thirst for God and for fellowship together as we discuss these "eternal questions" as a body. I am looking forward to everyone's return - and the addition of still others - as we push forward into this small, but remarkable book, under the guidance of a great teacher and pastor, Metropolitan Kallistos Ware of blessed memory.
As to the passages above, they tell me that we should not "sell ourselves short," by accepting a very reduced vision of humanity that simplistically rejects all "mystery" from human personhood. Each and every one of us is more than meets the eye. Through renewed repentance and renewed commitment to the Gospel of Christ, we can rediscover our own depths, as we simultaneously seek to discover the mystery of human personhood in our neighbor. (I recall that the young Dostoevsky said that he wanted to spend his life discovering the mystery of man). Sacraments of Healing will introduce us, in a style both simple and profound, into the reintegration of our human nature in Christ through the "mysteries" that we continue to experience in the life of the Church - anointing, confession, and the Eucharist.
Please join us next week at 7:30 p.m. as we discuss Ch. 2, "The Passions: Enemy or Friend?