The Erotic Language of Prayer


The very heart of true prayer is desire, love. In the language of the Fathers this desire is called eros. Modern usage has corrupted the meaning of “erotic” to only mean sexual desire – but it is a profound word, without substitute in the language of the Church.

I offer a quote from Dr. Timothy Patitsas of Holy Cross in Brookline:

By eros we mean the love that makes us forget ourselves entirely and run towards the other without any regard for ourselves. Allan Bloom described eros as “love’s mad self-forgetting.” (from Road to Emmaus, Vol. XV, No. 2, Spring, 2014). 

Patitsas, in the same interview, offers this observation on St. Maximus’ thought:

St. Maximus says that God was so good that His goodness could not be contained within Himself. It poured forth “outside” Himself in a cosmic Theophany over against the face of darkness [nothingness]. The appearing of this ultimate Beauty caused non-being itself to forget itself, to renounce itself, to leave behind its own “self” – non-being – and come to be. All of creation is thus marked by this eros, this movement of doxology, liturgy, love, and repentance out of chaos and into the light of existence. Creation is repenting from its first moment, for repentance does not require the perquisite of sin. It simply means to put our attention still more deeply upon Christ to love Him much, much more than we have before. Of course, compared to that “more deeply,” the prior state looks like sin – but this is partly relative for us.

This is a profound summary of the work of creation, particularly in its use of Maximus’ imagery and thought. But this account of creation, almost scandalous in its “erotic” content, goes to the heart of worship, prayer and repentance. The language of prayer in Orthodoxy is frequently deeply “penitential” and filled with extreme expressions. We describe ourselves as the “worst of sinners,” etc. St. Basil’s language is typical:

Although I have completely subjected myself to sin and am unworthy of heaven, of earth and of this passing life, even though I am a slave to delights and have disgraced Your image, yet I still do not lose hope in salvation, wretched as I am, for You have made and fashioned me. I place my hope in Your boundless mercy and approach You…

We pray with such extreme language, reflecting not a vision of legal condemnation: rather, it is the recognition of Beauty itself, in Whose Presence we appear broken, soiled, with nothing to recommend us. It is the language of repentance – but not of morbid self-hatred. It is the language of self-forgetting of leaving the self behind, of finding nothing within the self to cling to.

There is another word for this self-forgetting: ecstasy. Again, this word has been abused in modern language and now means an extreme emotional state. But its Greek root means to “stand outside of oneself.” Thus the Fathers will speak of God’s ecstasy – His going forth to us. But there is also our ecstasy, as we forget ourselves and rush towards Him.

It could be argued that the language of self-deprecation in liturgical prayers is very much a “remembering” and “dwelling” on the self. Within a legal metaphor this might be quite true. But we must listen to the whole of the prayers.

O Lord, I know that my transgressions have mounted higher than my head, but the greatness of Your compassion is incomparable and the mercy of Your bounty is indescribable and free of malice. There is no sin which surpasses Your love for mankind. Therefore, wondrous King and all gracious Lord, show Your wondrous mercy to me a sinner; show me the power of Your goodness; show me the strength of Your long-suffering mercy, and receive me a sinner as I turn to You. (St. Simeon the Translator)

We see that our sins have driven us back towards non-being and nothingness. But God in His great mercy continues to call us into existence and to raise us up from the emptiness of our sin. 

I want to say a few words about evil and non-being. Non-being is not evil. It is not anything. We cannot say it is good nor can we say it is neutral. It is nothing. The Fathers recognized a trinity of existence: Being, Well-Being, Eternal Being. They also recognized another trinity: Beauty, Goodness, Truth. 

It is the teaching of the Fathers that being, existence, is inherently good. It is the gift of the good God, who alone has true Being (“Being Beyond All Being”). But we are created with a direction or movement (kinesis). That movement is from being towards well-being and eternal being. Eternal Being is true union with Christ (theosis). 

Our call into existence is brought forth as we behold the Beauty of God. Drawn towards Him, we see that He is not only Beautiful, but that He is loving, self-emptying for the sake of all – that is – we see that He is Good. As we pursue His Goodness we move ever towards our End in Christ who is the Truth. 

I have taken a few moments to set these things in their proper perspective and order because we use these words casually, without care for their proper meaning. Only in this context do we understand sin as an “ontological” problem (having to do with being).

Sin is a movement away from being, well-being, and eternal being. It is a distorted direction (hamartia: “missing the mark”). It is equally the refusal of Beauty and Goodness, without participation in the Truth. 

I will try to put this into practical terms. A man sees someone else in genuine need and has plenty to spare. But he considers the matter and turns away. He has “increased” or “preserved” his wealth, but he has impoverished his soul, diminished his own existence since his existence depends utterly on his movement towards well-being and eternal-being. This he could pursue by following the commandments and the example of Christ (which is already the movement of grace within him). Christ’s self-emptying towards all of creation is the perfection of generosity. To act on generosity is union with Christ, a movement towards well-being. 

When someone asks: “Is it a sin to withhold help from someone in need?” The answer is yes – but not in a merely legal sense. It is a sin – a movement towards non-existence – a movement away from the proper direction of our lives.

And it is from the depths of our non-existence that we cry out to God for mercy. Seeing His Beauty we forget ourselves (and our money, etc.) and we call out to the One who has called out to us. In our longing for His Beauty we love Him and are drawn to His Goodness. We give to the one who has need: “my brother is my life.” 

I would add, in light of an earlier comment, that this forgetting of ourselves in the face of His beauty is true shame (not the toxic form). It is the confessing of our emptiness, our non-existence, in the face of true existence (which is Beautiful). Such a pure-hearted confession is ecstatic, a movement out of the self towards the Other. 

I will also add as an aside that all of this should shed much light on the importance of beauty in Orthodox liturgy and Churches, iconography, etc. It is essential – not a decoration or an afterthought. Much of the modern world sees beauty as a luxury (which it so rarely affords). I grieve deeply when I hear the modern sentiment directed towards a beautiful Church “that money should have been given to the poor.” These are the words of Judas. And those who say such things rarely give anything themselves. Beauty is not a contradiction of generosity. The movement towards Beauty is a movement towards Goodness (which contains generosity at its core). 

The apprehension of Beauty is at the very heart of the preaching of the gospel. It is that which first touches the heart and draws us towards Truth. In our over-rationalized world we tend to think that it is reasoning and arguments that draw people to Christ. But this is something that comes much later. First the heart must be drawn – and this happens primarily through Beauty in its broadest sense. Many things serve this role. For C.S.Lewis it was a picture in a book of Norse Mythology and the line, “Balder the Beautiful is Dead.” Mysteriously, it pierced his young heart and remained with him until he much later perceived Christ. I have always treasured Muggeridge’s book on Mother Teresa titled, Something Beautiful for God. If you cannot share the beauty of the gospel, then you have likely not understood it and clearly lack the requisite gifts as of yet. This is why St. Porphyrios said, “Whoever wants to become a Christian must first become a poet.”

These are the thoughts of the Fathers, and the doorways into greater perception of the mystery of the gospel. It is the absence of such depth that reveals the poverty of legal imagery – as well as its lack of beauty. 

About Fr. Stephen Freeman

Fr. Stephen is a retired Archpriest of the Orthodox Church in America, Pastor Emeritus of St. Anne Orthodox Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is also author of Everywhere Present: Christianity in a One-Storey Universe, and Face to Face: Knowing God Beyond Our Shame, as well as the Glory to God podcast series on Ancient Faith Radio.



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49 responses to “The Erotic Language of Prayer”

  1. Dee of St Herman Avatar
    Dee of St Herman

    Beautiful, Father! Thank you for these words.

  2. Mark Spurlock Avatar
    Mark Spurlock

    Father Stephen,

    I read a lot of Malcolm Muggeridge years ago (I have a copy of his “Jesus, The Man Who Lives” on my book shelf)…and have sometimes wondered what you might think of him. Like Tolstoy, he often seems (as I recall) to want to separate everything supernatural out of the story of Christ, and he and Tolstoy pushed me in that direction in my twenties. Your own writings are much at odds with that, and I would say that trying to regain the miraculous has been one of the two or three most significant effects of my conversion to Orthodoxy. Do you think I have misread Muggeridge?

    Also, regarding the current post, I have finally finished “From Object to Icon” (Andrew Williams) and in the contemporary culture and world, it’s a pretty important book. It probably could be more concise, but it is a thought-provoking elaboration –and reclamation–of some of the themes you write about here.

  3. Randall Avatar

    Beauty! Yes, this is what kept me in liturgical religion, and eventually drew me into the Orthodox Church. For me, the beauty was first glimpsed in ‘Jesus, Son of Man’, by Kahlil Gibran.

  4. Matthew Avatar

    Fr. Stephen said:

    “We pray with such extreme language, reflecting not a vision of legal condemnation: rather, it is the recognition of Beauty itself, in Whose Presence we appear broken, soiled, with nothing to recommend us. It is the language of repentance – but not of morbid self-hatred. It is the language of self-forgetting of leaving the self behind, of finding nothing within the self to cling to.”

    I think this short paragraph alone has helped me finally understand what repentance truly is. I don´t have to be afraid of it anymore. I mean … when confronted with absolute Divine beauty what else should even the most perfect person do except leave the self behind and fall into Love´s open arms.

    Beauty truly does save the world.

  5. David Gilchrist Avatar
    David Gilchrist

    Great to learn the true meaning of ‘eros’.
    It has been hijacked – like another nice word we used to use: ‘gay’ … 😳

  6. Francine Avatar

    Thank you for this deeply moving essay. Your ability to express distinction in why we pray is enormously beneficial to me.

  7. Matthew Avatar

    I think for those who are really, really attached to the self (like many in the secular world are) they find it difficult, if not impossible, to let go of self in order to be closer to the Divine. How much self are we allowed to keep to ourselves I think some of them are asking?? …

  8. Janine Avatar

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. Beauty is so much (maybe everything!) and my mind is drawn to the Theotokos in that mystery!

  9. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    The first time I was faced with beauty being at the center of being was when my mother sat me down not long after my 18th birthday and told me: “God is real! You need to find Him!”
    She gave me three aids: Huston Smith’s “Religions of Man”; a small handmade silver cross that was made for her 45 years prior; and her explanation of the principles of the Graham Dance Technique which she had learned from Miss Graham herself: The Dynamic Spiral. The Dynamic Spiral has a ancient Greek origin and is fundamentally erotic as it describes God’s calling us toward Him out of love. Beauty has always been central to my approach to our God.

    Thus 20 years later when I first set foot in an Orthodox Church and looked at the icon “More Spacious Than the Heavens”. Saw her arms wide open, welcoming me to worship of her son—I was gob-smacked by the love and
    beauty and openness. I knew I was home. I became even more convinced as the Divine Liturgy unfolded. Such beauty and mystery unfolding both before me, around me and (to a certain extent) within me. Holy eroticism was born in my heart.*

    For those who do not know the icon it is of the Theotokos with Jesus, the Christ in her womb “containing the uncontainable God”

    “This is the day the Lord has made! Let us rejoice and be glad in it!”

    *It has taken 36 years of prayer and participation to begin to articulate what I experienced–going higher up and further in.

    I knew next to nothing about the Orthodox Church but my fi

  10. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    Matthew, I get people asking the “How much?” question, yet it is moot at one level because one does not really “give up” so much as one embraces a greater wholeness. People become transformed and transfigured.

  11. Fr. Stephen Avatar

    I think of St. Augustine: “Lord save me, but not yet.”

  12. Lewis Hodge Avatar
    Lewis Hodge

    You often write of beauty, Fr. Stephen, and each time, my own understanding and embrace rises a little. Thank you.

    Our culture is driven and distracted by “Amusing ourselves to death” (title of a Neil Postman book). Considering the purpose, the strategies and the pervasiveness of amusement, has this not overwhelmed our sensibilities and blinded us from beauty? Is not the beauty of am ocean sunset superior to a dazzling light show?

    Back to the subject of this blog — there’s nothing amusing about prayer. But in the solemnity of a candle-lit, liturgical prayer, the beauty is there for everyone willing to look past himself.

  13. Valerie Avatar

    Wow. Beauty has been on my mind a lot lately. Your words, Fr. Stephen, and those of St. Maximus blew my mind and gave me much to ponder about love, creation, and repentance. Thank you so much. Michael Bauman, thank you for sharing your experience of beauty. Very inspiring. I think that those of us who were baptized in the Church as infants probably have had that moment in our lives (I hope!) when we first really saw and heard the beauty in the Church that we had taken for granted for many years–that “Aha” moment, a sort of conversion of a different kind. When we grow up with it, it is easier to take it for granted.

  14. Fr. Stephen Avatar

    I draw us back to the article (and the passage from Timothy Patitsas). No doubt we are frequently caught up in ourselves. God “woo’s” us with His beauty. He draws us towards Himself and our wholeness. I think it can be a gradual thing.

    Remember, God has given us many examples of His love – that goes beyond. I was listening to Fr. Thomas Hopko on a video today, and he reminded his listeners that “God has married us…and we are an adulterous whore.” He is utterly faithful and will not turn away. “Come back to me,” He pleads with Israel (and us).

  15. Fr. Stephen Avatar

    The beauty of an Orthodox Church, even the least of them, is simply overwhelming. I was raised in a very bare-walled Baptist Church, where there was no concern for beauty. Even the music was bad. When, at 15 years old, I first saw a traditional Anglican service in a stunning American Gothic building, I was deeply aware of the beauty – and of God. It was in that context that I first thought: I want to be a priest. I have been privileged to serve in some very beautiful places (as well as living rooms, warehouses, and storefront). But the Liturgy itself carries all the beauty of heaven.

    “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it entered into the mind of man the good things [beautiful things] God has prepared for those who love Him.”

  16. Matthew Avatar

    A comment from my wife this morning:

    “I believe the self is the core of my being; the woman that God made me to be and the thought He had in mind when he created me. This cannot be denied and it`s where Jesus Christ and I are unified. Repentance means for me always returning to that point.”

    Is she on the right track?

  17. Matthew Avatar

    I should say are WE on the right track since I think I agree with her comment?

  18. Fr. Stephen Avatar

    I think she’s on the right track. I would add to it the understanding that the “self” is revealed to us in Christ. “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” (Colossians 3:2–4)

  19. Janine Avatar

    Michael, thank you so much for explaining your experience. I absolutely love that your mother taught you about Miss Graham’s dance technique and that spiral that is our journey with faith and God! I believe I have intuited that spiral. And yes, for me the Theotokos is just *there* in so many ways. That could be a long conversation.

    Valerie, you speak for me. I am cradle Orthodox (brought up Oriental Orthodox, baptized as an infant, married to Greek Orthodox) and that is precisely my experience — and I do absolutely consider the ongoing “conversion” the fulfillment of my baptism and receiving the things I didn’t receive as a girl that were always there.

    Matthew I agree with Fr Stephen your wife (and you) are on that right track

  20. Matthew Avatar

    Thanks so much Fr. Stephen and Janine. I feel like this “self” talk/issue is so very important to the understanding of faith … specifically Orthodoxy. I feel like we cannot deny self, nor should we, but at the same time we cannot be completely absorbed in self. It seems that the only way one can truly and rightly know and understand the self is when one is growing in union with God. I appreciate the help, the comments, and the encouragement.

    Here is another quote from my wife about repentance, sin, and self:

    “When it comes to repentance, I think it does not work if we say “I must move away from my sin.” Because that is like saying “Don´t think of a pink elephant.” (then you will for sure think of a pink elephant!). Through the focus on the sin I kind of force myself to stay in the sin. So I think the only way that it works is if we focus on God and the virtues and that way move closer to God, and then we will automatically let go of the sin. The true self is always found in and with God, and never with sin.”

  21. Matthew Avatar

    P.S. I am sharing my wife´s thoughts with her permission of course 🙂 🙂

  22. Matthew Avatar

    Fr. Stephen, have you ever written an article about problems with submission in our culture; specifically to God and also to God´s Church?

  23. Fr. Stephen Avatar

    I have not specifically.

  24. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    Matthew, the word ‘obey’ in English has a root meaning to hear and to do in submission. “Let us attend” that we hear right before the reading of the Gospel means much the same: listen, hear and follow the Holy Spirit…

    The cacophony of modernity makes really hearing quite difficult.

    One such difficulty is that modernity laughs at and ridicules obedience. Implying that to obey is a great weakness.

    If one attends to the truth, not the lies that lead us as try, it is freeing.

  25. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    If you ever shot archery, obey means to attend to the target and let the bow shoot the arrow.

  26. Matthew Avatar

    Michael said:

    “One such difficulty is that modernity laughs at and ridicules obedience. Implying that to obey is a great weakness.”

    I think you are right. Your comment leads me to thoughts about submission and obedience in general, but specifically the submission of conscience to Christ and His Church and obedience to His Church´s teachings. For years as a non-Orthodox Christian I didn´t really have to submit to anyone in matters of spirituality and faith. Sure, I read the Bible and tried to tow the party line at whatever church I happened to be frequenting, but at the end of the day I really could believe what I wanted to believe. As I began to warm up to the idea of the Church being more than simply something invisible filled with believers in Jesus Christ, I also began warming up to the idea of the Church being something very, very specific … and if it was very, very specific … it also has a very specific role. That role for me, among other things, is that of a faithful teacher. I no longer get to be the arbiter of spiritual truth, rather the Church is the arbiter. This requires a MAJOR shift in thinking and feeling, especially for someone like me who grew up in the free west and then lived Reformation Christianity for nearly 30 years. It requires submission. It requires obedience. These are things that the modern mind in a modern (or postmodern??) world have BIG problems with … submission and obedience, not just to Christ, but also to His Church . Truth always being told … these are things I still struggle with, but I am trusting Christ with what I don´t understand even as I am critized for blindly following the Church while basically giving up my freedom of spiritual conscience and its formation as I see fit.

  27. Dee of St Herman Avatar
    Dee of St Herman

    We are all shaped by our context (especially in our earliest years), regardless of the modern perspective suggesting that we can be self-made. We receive more ideas, concepts, modes of thinking, etc than we give credit to those who deliver such to us. We want to believe ourselves (in my neck of the woods) to be highly intelligent or “high functioning” (the newest buzzword). Allowing the blinders to be on where we really are and how we think in connection to our culture and life circumstances. Humility, as far as I have ever seen it in the science world, brings about a capacity of openness and receptivity to learning than any such sliver of pride and vanity concerning our intelligence and self-perception of freedom might provide us.

    These are just my thoughts for today. As for my own context, I bear a workload that makes thinking rather laborious sometimes. But God willing, I do my best to help others to the table of what our educational systems might provide, that might still be good for the soul.

  28. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    Matthew, just a thought: Protestant faith seems to me to be primarily of the mind whereas the Orthodox faith is of the Heart. It is tough to make the transition.
    Being “of the Heart” does not mean it is less rigorous but it does mean, IMO, that obedience is easier in some respects.

    The ‘Jesus Prayer’ is a case in point. Father’s explication of shame another. Icons, Sacraments everything is different–more full and rich. Repentance is an act that transforms one’s heart–not about guilt and self flagellation.

    I am blessed to give tours of my home parish which is a Cathedral during our annual Big Lebanese Dinner. Hundreds of non- Orthodox come. Last year my boss before I retired and his wife came for the first time. They are devout Catholics.

    In looking at our icons, the wife was overwhelmed by their beauty. She kept remarking on that as we progressed. As we were looking at our Iconostasis she said: “This reminds me of the Sistine Chapel in Rome except your icons are more alive and have more depth.”

    A moment of the heart.

    God is good.

  29. Matthew Avatar

    Thanks so much Dee. Are you saying that the more humble we are the more we are actually able to learn?

    Are we really self-made? I don´t think so anymore.

  30. Matthew Avatar

    Thank you Michael. Yes … it is not easy making the transition, but it (Orthodoxy) being of the heart makes the transitioning all the more worthwhile.

  31. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    Dee, I really like your description of the effects of humility. The description helps me understand humility better. Thank you.

  32. Dee of St Herman Avatar
    Dee of St Herman

    Just to confirm, I’m not suggesting we are self-made. I hope I didn’t make that impression. And yes, I do believe the more humble we are the better learners or the more receptive we might be to new understandings, trainings and practices. If we think we know it all already, what’s to learn? One of my favorite experiences is for a student to ask me a question I hadn’t considered. It opens my eyes to new vistas.

    Michael, I really don’t know if I understand humility as well as I would like, myself. I’m working on it!

  33. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    Dee, as am I. May the Holy Spirit be with you.

  34. Fr. Stephen Avatar

    Generally speaking, in Orthodoxy, when we speak of “obedience” (I don’t know anyone who speaks of “submission”), we are speaking about a specific monastic discipline. There’s a famous story about Bishop Basil Rodzianko of blessed memory. He was a widower-priest who was approached by Met. Anthony of Sourozh about being willing to be made a bishop. First, of course, you have to be a monk in order to be a bishop (in Orthodoxy). He said, “Well, there are vows for a monk. Celibacy is not a problem. Poverty is not a problem. But, if I become a bishop, who will I obey?” Met. Anthony told him, “Your obedience will be to do whatever is asked of you.” He thought about it and said, “Yes, I can do that.” Rather famously, he was almost a “holy fool” in this matter, readily agreeing almost absurd things that were asked of him (and miracles seem to follow). Such a delight!

    There is generally no “coercive” mechanisms in the Orthodox life. When a local priest starts treating parishioners as though they were monks and he’s the abbot, then there’s something problematic taking place. There are disciplines that are “requirements,” depending on the jurisdiction. For example, in the OCA, we require going to confession at least once per year to remain in good standing as a communicant. But I’ve known people in other jurisdictions who’ve never been to confession in their lives (and that’s a long historical story as to why that might be so). Fasting rules are given to us as a “guide” – but not as a legal requirement. Generally, a person works out with their confessor how strictly they will keep the fast.

    As to doctrine: it’s just Orthodox Christianity. Generally speaking, we believe what all Christians believed until they began departing from the early consensus of the Church. But, even that is not “mind control” (at least it should not be treated that way). Frankly, there are areas of doctrine that are just as well left alone inasmuch as they don’t affect what’s going on in your life. I’ve seen people on websites wasting energy arguing over fine points of the divine energies. That’s just silliness and pride. Fr. Thomas Hopkos said, “Be simple.”

  35. Byron Avatar

    It is the language of repentance – but not of morbid self-hatred. It is the language of self-forgetting of leaving the self behind, of finding nothing within the self to cling to.

    Thoughts on self and repentance. Remembering that our salvation is not a progression but a communion, it makes a certain sense to recognize that we are incomplete in our own “self”. Much of sin is simply lies that we hold to about our self and others. Repentance then, is the movement out of our self-lies and into communion with God. It is the shedding of the lies that we hold about ourselves and the embrace of God’s beauty, not as a separate entity/object but as the Image in which we are created.

    Both truth and beauty only come to define our self when we are in communion with God. We cannot define ourselves by our self and be as we were created to be; we are only made complete in Communion with God. Without Him, we tend to primarily define ourselves (our “self”) by the lies we embrace. I am reminded of the person who returned to the bus to Hell because heaven “is too real” (C.S. Lewis). Just some thoughts.

  36. Matthew Avatar

    Thanks so much Fr. Stephen for the corrections about submission and obedience as they pertain to Orthodoxy.

  37. Matthew Avatar

    Hello Byron. Do you have some examples of the kinds of lies we tell ourselves?

  38. Janine Avatar

    Dee, thank you for your thoughts on humility as a gateway to learning and growing!

    Michael, thanks for the story about your former boss and his wife and the impression of the icons.

    Father Stephen, thanks for the quotation from Fr. Hopko, “Be simple!” That is a keeper. Recently, I was feeling entirely overwhelmed as to a sort of new phase of my life I feel is beginning, like a great big empty slate that I seemingly need to fill up with a whole world. But I realized the only way to function properly was just to put my hand at the tiniest immediate thing in front of me to do. God (and life) will provide the rest. I really had to just narrow it way down. I wrote down a note to stay on my desk: “START SMALL.” But I’m going to add Fr. Hopko’s to that now.

  39. Matthew Avatar

    No Dee … you didn´t make that impression. I think we would both agree that no one is completely self-made.

  40. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    Matthew, I am looking forward to Bryon’s response but my experience is that the lies are born of my passions. While we each have them, the mix is unique to each person. It takes prayer and working with one’s confessor to bring them into the light and surrender them to the Mercy of Jesus, His Mother and the Saints.

  41. Connie Avatar

    Janine, your experience reminds me of what George MacDonald said about doing the task set before us. I can’t find the direct quote but this is a vague paraphrase: If we concentrate on doing the task set before us (I always think of the dishes in the sink) we will be surprised to find that as one task leads to another, it will turn out that about 90% of the major issues we face or decisions we have to make will find themselves resolved without us having to stew over them.

  42. Janine Avatar

    Connie, thank you so very much. And, I should possibly say as one woman to another (hoping not to be accused of gender stereotyping) right after I posted my comment — I noted there the dishes were in the sink ready to be washed!! haha

  43. Matthew Avatar

    Thanks Michael.

  44. Matthew Avatar

    Fr. Stephen … I want to better understand the kingdom of God … what exactly it is, has it already come?, if not, how to bring it, etc.

    Can you provide a link to an article if you have indeed written one about this topic?

    Thanks so much.

  45. Dee of St Herman Avatar
    Dee of St Herman

    Christ said, “…For indeed the kingdom of God is within you”. (Luke 17:21
    We don’t bring it on. We wait and watch, we pray and listen. We are the living tabernacle of the kingdom of God and of the age to come because the Holy Spirit of God is in us, received by us in Baptism. We have put on Christ, and He is in our midst.

    We don’t make the coming of the eschaton. It comes at the bidding of God the Father. And yet He has sent His Son to us, slain before the world ever was, to make us sons of God, here and now.

  46. Matthew Avatar

    So the kingdom is already here …

  47. Matthew Avatar

    Thy kingdom come
    Thy will be done
    On earth as it is in heaven

    What does this mean?

  48. Fr. Stephen Avatar

    I’ve posted an article that will provide grist for a profitable conversation (I hope).

  49. Byron Avatar


    My apologies for the late reply–such a busy last few days (and another, very wonderful, article posted)! Michael is correct: the lies we tell ourselves are rooted in our passions. That we are unlovable, that we are glorious (in a prideful sense), etc. They are often both shameful and painful–and yet we hold fast to them! It is an odd thing in my life that I cling and even run after such ugliness as my sins, yet I do. Indeed they are so ugly that I cannot look away at times (“train wreck”). But when I am able to cast myself and my “gaze” to Christ, they evaporate and their burdens are lifted. I hope this is helpful.

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  1. Greetings, Father Stephen, Thank you so much for this reflection and all of the tremendous amount of work you have…

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