Boundaries, Borders, and the True God

Years ago, as a young seminarian, I wanted to paint icons. I knew nothing about icons, only that I liked them and that they were holy. The vast wealth of books and materials on their meaning and even on the technique of painting them simply did not exist. My knowledge of painting was also non-existent. But rushing in like a fool, I bought materials (none of which were correct) and stretched a large canvas on the inner front door of my apartment. There I began painting an icon of Christ Pantocrator. I had no training and I used no model. I just painted. The effort lasted for better than a month. When I finally reached a point that I called “finished,” I asked a friend, a fellow seminarian who was an artist, to come see my work. He did. And he laughed.

“You know who it looks like?” he asked.

“Christ?” I said hopefully.

“No. It looks like you!” And he explained to me something known to artists. If you paint without a model, there is a very good chance that you’ll unconsciously paint yourself. The Icon as “selfie.”

I have often thought about this incident (and written about it previously). There is a spiritual lesson hidden within it. To paint without a model, directly from the imagination, is to paint without boundaries. And the only thing that exists without boundaries is my ego, my imagined self. My “icon” of Christ represented the ideal representation of sin: the ego as God.

How do we distinguish the ego from the Other? The only means is to recognize boundaries – that there is a line, a place, a fence, that separates me from the Other. Love does not cross the boundary nor seek to blur it. Love requires a limitation on the self and the projected ego. Your life is not about me. An old friend once said, “The only thing you need to know about God is that you’re not Him.”

Boundaries take many forms. They may be the concerns, point-of-view, needs, fears of another person. Those psychological characteristics do not have to be absolute in order to be boundaries. As the borders of another life, they are simply not me. I stop where you begin.

Our egos, which I am distinguishing from the true self, often have difficulties with boundaries. The ego is a narrative of our lives that is our own creation. It is the story we tell ourselves about ourselves. It is often how we make sense of things and sort things out. This is a process that is under constant revision. It pushes us to criticize and judge, to weigh and compare. The ego is me-watching-me.

Strangely, this process creates false boundaries – borders that mark the ego’s own definitions. As such, it is an inherently narcissistic view of the world – the world according to me. In our encounter of true boundaries we find the limits of the self, and therefore begin to find the true self. True boundaries demarcate where we cannot, even must not go. They delineate what we do not know, and we must acknowledge that we do not know. The world devoid of mystery is the world of a boundless ego.

The ego’s search for God is deeply frustrated by His silence. The boundaries of silence, darkness and hiddenness with which God most often surrounds Himself are met with frustration, argument, anger, or even rejection. The ego frequently substitutes the products of the mind for the truth of God. God-as-idea is the God who is most suited to the needs of the ego. Such a God will, in the end, be an icon of the ego itself. We inevitably become like that which we worship.

When I was in the years of my serious inquiry into Orthodoxy, I was drawn to the God I could not have. I understood the eucharistic discipline of Orthodoxy and that there were things I was not yet able to eat or drink and places I could not go. My spiritual journey outside of Orthodoxy had presented very few boundaries – I could go anywhere, say anything, eat or drink, commune at will. And with every effort of the ego, I was confronted only with my own ego. The Sunday services I conducted as an Anglican priest were the product of massive negotiations (my ego versus the egos of others who wanted something else). Worship was an uncomfortable peace, this week’s exercise in partisan warfare. My last parish had three masses each Sunday, the work of three distinct communities – that often did not like each other.

The modern cultus of seeker-friendly Church is the logical end of a market-oriented life. But it can never heal the sickness that most infects us. Jesus did not die in order to rescue the ego: He died in order to put the ego to death. When I converted to Orthodoxy, a friend, nurtured in modern liberalism, opined, “Stephen became Orthodox because he was afraid of change.” In truth, I became Orthodox because I was afraid there would be no change – just more of the same negotiations year after year. A life defined only by the success and failures of a boundless ego.

The ego constructs a gray city, populated with negotiated buildings and ever-shifting streets. There can be no value there because there is no reality. Only the borders of our lives reveal who we are. I am not God.

But this is not the end of the story. Christ, praying to the Father, says:

I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. (Joh 17:20-24)

This “High Priestly Prayer” of Christ can sound dangerously like the end of boundaries. It is, instead a life of coinherence. The Son is not the Father, but neither is He the Son apart from the Father, nor is the Father to be seen apart from the Son. Their very names, given to us by Christ: “Father,” “Son,” are names that only have meaning as they relate to the other. This is a mystery revealed to us in the Trinity, an existence in which there is commonality and a shared life, but where the one does not destroy or obliterate the other. That is His prayer: “That they may be one, in the same way [even] as we are one.”

And this true existence requires boundaries: it requires that I not know some things. It requires that there be places I cannot go. And this mystery is given to us in a myriad of ways within the Tradition.

Fasting is learning to eat with boundaries. There must be some times when I cannot eat some things so that I might learn how to rightly eat anything. The calendar is time with boundaries. There must be some days that are different from other days so that I might learn how to rightly live each day. The rules do not exist to protect certain foods or because one day differs from another. The rules are only for us as a medicine for our boundless egos. It is a very good thing to learn that you are not God. It is only there that we will learn what it means to truly exist.

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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58 responses to “Boundaries, Borders, and the True God”

  1. Kenneth Avatar
    Kenneth

    Thank you, Father, for these illuminating thoughts on boundaries. Orthodoxy gives us the medicine we need to be healed and become truly human. I’m grateful for the boundaries it teaches.

  2. Sam Avatar
    Sam

    Dear Fr Stephen

    Thank you for another helpful post. Interestingly, a philosophy teacher steeped in Hindu pantheistic thinking visited my parish yesterday (only because a friend invited him) and we debated this very topic. For him, there is no boundary between himself, others, and God; they are all the same thing. Love therefore is me as “god” loving myself (“god”) in others. I tried to explain that love involves self gift to another but this concept seemed foreign and unnecessary to him (as did the idea of the Trinity). Would you be able to add another on the idea that the “other” and “self gift” are necessary for love?

    Sam

  3. Matthew Avatar
    Matthew

    Thanks so much Fr. Stephen.

    You said: “In our encounter of true boundaries we find the limits of the self, and therefore begin to find the true self.”

    I immediately thought of modern psychology when I read this. For most psychologists I assume the goal is for the patient to understand that there are no boundaries; no limits on the self and that by embracing this idea they will find true freedom. Your article clearly illustrates a different point of view.

    When my current psychologist asked me the difference between what I am hearing from her and what I might hear from a priest about my situation, I could only say that the priest places my problems within a theological context. This article offers me something more comprehensive (and true) to share with her if the question ever comes up again.

  4. Matthew Avatar
    Matthew

    I suppose, too, if and when we get too caught up in our egos we can easily make God into an image of our egos. I don´t think that ever ends well.

  5. Jennifer (Nina) Avatar
    Jennifer (Nina)

    Lord have mercy. Thank you for sharing. It’s my first read of your blog and I am grateful to have found it. As I was reading I stopped to pray for our American protestant churches. I thought of the ancient evangelists proclaiming the truth in pagan communities and temples. I thought, am I even worthy to pray such a big prayer that our protestant churches could be transformed with the truth and become Orthodox parishes? I prayed it anyway. As a catechumen with no parish nearby, my husband and I are driving within a 3 hour radius to find a place to be baptised and charismated. We want to be fully in the True Church. We pass hundreds of other churches. From feast to famine is conversion our experience right now. I pray for those without Orthodox parishes nearby, that God would plant His Truth and build His Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven. Christ is Risen!

  6. Drewster2000 Avatar
    Drewster2000

    Sam,

    If I may, I think it is impossible for one human being to capture the entire understanding of God and His world. Accordingly those attracted to something like pantheism “get” the angle that we are all one in God and belong to each other. They often get it to a fault.

    I suspect at the end of the day he gets that there is a place where he stops and you begin, but his emphasis in more on how you are consubstantial rather than unique. In other words I don’t think it’s important to win this argument.

    Drawing from Fr. Stephen’s tools for remaining in the heart:

    3. Resist the effort to defend yourself.
    4. It is not important to be right.
    5. Do not argue. Your effect on someone else’s ego will come to nothing.
    6. Tell your anxieties that everything will be okay.

  7. Leah Avatar
    Leah

    Thank you, Father. I think I understand that coinherence requires boundaries, but I don’t understand why “the boundaries of silence, darkness and hiddenness with which God most often surrounds Himself” should be to such a high degree that, at least in our age, it causes rampant unbelief. And, from first-hand experience, I don’t think that all this unbelief is willful blindness.

    He must want us to believe in Him, and He must know how difficult it is for so many of us moderns to believe in Him with such silence and hiddenness. Even my eight-year-old son, in a child’s state of innocence, seems to struggle with belief and asks me why God won’t let us hear Him or see Him.

  8. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    Leah, good question. There is a partial idea floating around in my poor ol’ brain but I do not have any confidence in it other than to suggest the secular ideas of “progress” tend to work against humility and repentance. It will be to good to read Father’s answer.

  9. Kathy Benton Avatar
    Kathy Benton

    I so wish the timing of this was different…
    Maybe if I could have shared this with my son 2 years ago, and talked with him about it…
    This is so true and well written…

  10. Dee of St Herman Avatar
    Dee of St Herman

    Leah,
    Perhaps I should be as cautious as Michael, but I’ve decided go out on a limb to say the following:

    We can see God, and naturally so. However, in the modern world, we are looking for certain kinds of objects with our eyes. If we look for God in the same manner as we look for objects, then we treat God as an object. And God is not an object although God is more substantive than we are.

    We are taught a way of seeing ‘things’ as objects exclusively from ourselves ie no inherent relationship unless “I make” a relationship–i.e. an idea in my mind. We are taught this way of perceiving almost from the very beginning of our lives because we are born into this culture as much as our parents and those before them, who similarly see things. However, speaking a little bit from personal experience and speaking even more so from the experience of others who have “soul’s eyes” (a term used in Orthodoxy), there are people who, because of their perceptual orientation that arises from a different culture, they can see what we in the Western world typically do not see.

    This is just the beginning of an explanation. There is a difference between looking and perceiving. I remember an experiment where people were told to watch some event in a video. While they did that, many didn’t see a faux gorilla walking through the video. The experiment has been repeated, and now the test subjects are told to look for the gorilla (and they see it) but miss the change of colors in the background curtains.

    I hope it’s ok that I place a link to the Smithsonian Magazine that mentions this phenomenon.
    https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/but-did-you-see-the-gorilla-the-problem-with-inattentional-blindness-17339778/

  11. Matthew Avatar
    Matthew

    Hello Leah and Dee.

    My wife has long lamented that she seldom experiences God in a way that she can sense. This creates great frustration in her spirit I think. What advice can you offer her?

  12. Fr. Stephen Avatar

    Leah,
    The boundaries of “silence, darkness, and hiddenness,” I believe (and have this both by experience and by reading in the Fathers, etc.) is not to make God inaccessible, but to make Him accessible in the proper manner. I.e., God hides in order to be found. Consistently, however, we see that an encounter with God is an event that changes us. As such, it is not a casual thing. He is not an “object among objects.”

    Your son’s experience is an opportunity for profound learning, though we’re often not very good at doing that kind of learning. It is an opportunity for our own learning as well.

    I’ll work on saying more.

  13. Fr. Stephen Avatar

    Matthew,
    In brief – the “sense” of God is noetic (most often). The nous, however, is often a stranger to us. So, it is that form of knowledge that needs to be nourished.

  14. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    Matthew, I fall back on Mt 4:17: “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”

    Honest repentance allows the Persons of the Godhead to “come through”

    I understand that it is process and that it is frequently a struggle. Jesus is both fully human and fully Divine. We are not so even the knowing of God’s real presence does not wipe away everything. Our flesh, the world fight back.

  15. Mark Spurlock Avatar
    Mark Spurlock

    Dee,

    I was a participant in a group subjected to the gorilla video many years ago. I did spot the gorilla, but felt a little absurd and doubtful saying so, when no one else in our group admitted to it. The man who showed the video acted incredulous at first when I asked whether it had actually happened before letting us all in that, yep, it had.

    Beforehand, we were told to count the number of times the basketball changed hands during the clip, meaning everyone’s focus was on the ball. Two lessons: 1) being in the seeming minority does *not* mean you see incorrectly; 2) often we don’t see correctly because we’re focused on the wrong distraction.

  16. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    Leah, I think Dee is on to something. The intellectual history of the West is such that knowing God is intentionally made difficult. Bp. Anthony (Antiochian) is writing a book on the topic and doing symposia as well. The title of the book and symposia is: Between Utopia and Despair(and then a really long subtitle). But the intellectual climate is such that we seem to swing back and forth between utopian ideas that exclude God and the despair that happens when those ideas fail. That atmosphere makes it quite difficult to trust anything.

  17. Matthew Avatar
    Matthew

    Thanks Fr. Stephen and Michael.

    How can we nourish the nous?

  18. Fr. Stephen Avatar

    Matthew,
    Very good question…I asked myself the same thing just as I finished my last response to your earlier comment. First, I would say “with patience.” Alongside that, is the slow acquisition of virtue as we practice the commandments and live into the sacramental life of the Church (in whatever capacity that is available to us). I’m actually working on a follow-up article on this topic…

    But, noetic experience is not passive. The Fathers describe the nous as an “organ of perception.” A small but important example can be seen in how we perceive the nqtural world around us. There is an objective perception – which is pretty passive. There is a subjective perception – more or less, how I feel about it. The noetic perception would be better described as seeing creation but being aware (keenly and at the same time) of the goodness and providence of God at work in nature, providing, guarding, nurturing, etc., working all things towards the good.

    I generally suspect that what we substitute for this noetic perception is rational reflection – we “think” about providence, goodness, etc.

    I often counsel people to practice the giving of thanks – it helps to nurture our noetic perception – again, not as a set of thoughts “about” something, but as a perception of what is.

    This distinction is important. Vladimir Lossky described this under the heading of “faith,” defining it as a “participatory adherence to the presence of Him Who reveals Himself.” It’s a very thick, rich expression. Again – it’s not passive – but “participatory adherence.” It is an extending of the self towards God, or towards creation, or even another person, but in the context of the love of God and His good providence, etc.

    I should add – that, as faith, it works by love. Who is more likely to know you? Someone who views you “objectively” or someone who loves you?

  19. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    Matthew as comprehensive as Father’s words are, I would add the participation actively seeking, accepting and living in His Mercy.
    Many people think of repentance negatively, but it is actively seeking, accepting and sharing His Mercy.

    All thanksgiving is an expression of Mercy.

  20. Laura Avatar
    Laura

    Fr. Stephen,
    How do we move from seeing God “objectively” to truly “loving” Him?
    I think this might be one of my struggles. I believe, Lord, help my unbelief!

  21. Matthew Avatar
    Matthew

    Thanks so much Fr. Stephen. By way of summary:

    Nourishing the Nous

    1. Have patience
    2. Partake of the sacraments
    3. Cultivate virtue
    4. Practice perception
    5. Express thanks to God

    Thanks so much to Michael. Man Michael … you really do hammer away at the need for repentance! 🙂 🙂

  22. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    Matthew, if I do hammer away it is because I have found it “works” plus I have a lot for which to repent….and I am interested in the second half of Mt 4:17 …for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand. But I will shut up now and pray.

  23. Matthew Avatar
    Matthew

    Dear Michael,

    🙂 🙂 🙂

  24. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    Matthew, thank you.

  25. Dee of St Herman Avatar
    Dee of St Herman

    Matthew,
    I would add love thy God and neighbor to the list and put it first. I think having love provides a way to be patient.

    As St Paul says, if we have not love…

  26. Dee of St Herman Avatar
    Dee of St Herman

    Having a hard heart I know that having love is a grace from the Holy Spirit. This is what I pray for and what I often need in my heart.

  27. Matthew Avatar
    Matthew

    Good words of advice Dee. Thanks so much. I so appreciate your comments!

  28. Matthew Avatar
    Matthew

    Nourishing the Nous:

    1. Love God and love neighbor
    2. Have patience
    3. Partake of the sacraments
    4. Cultivate virtue
    5. Practice perception
    6. Express thanks to God

  29. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    Matthew there is always Portia’s speech from ‘Merchant of Venice’ that describes beautifully what is necessary in our prayers. At least it does for me. Always had a great impact on me and my acceptance of Jesus.

  30. Matthew Avatar
    Matthew

    Dear Fr. Stephen,

    How does the conscience relate to the nous? Is it the same thing?

  31. Matthew Avatar
    Matthew

    Hello Michael.

    “The quality of mercy is not strained,
    It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
    Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
    It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.”

    Beautiful. The whole speech is beautiful.

    Shakespeare always proved difficult for me to really comprehend, but Portia´s speech simply flowed for me. Also, I think it is a wonderful testimony that Shakespeare had an influence on your acceptance of Jesus Christ. Thank you.

  32. Dee of St Herman Avatar
    Dee of St Herman

    Matthew,
    I’m going on another limb to answer your question about the conscience and nous. From doing this, I may also learn if I should be off track. The conscience to me is our capacity to reflect upon our behavior, and I believe it has a deliberative quality. And if it has the quality of goodness, it reveals itself as humble. The nous is more of a perceptual ‘organ’ particularly oriented to seeing through communion and co-inherence with God. It has a hypostatic quality. I believe that having a humble conscience supports the development of the nous but it is not the nous itself.

  33. Dee of St Herman Avatar
    Dee of St Herman

    I would add one more thought to your list, Matthew.
    You mention “practice perception” in your list. Have you have looked at pictures that have optical illusions or “ambiguous pictures” that have more than one way that it can be viewed/perceived? When we look at such pictures without preparation, we might only see one image. Then if we are told that there is more than one way to view the image, we might struggle to see another image, but after a time, we might then see it.

    The nous is an ‘organ’ that is enabled to see in a hypostatic manner. The nous reveals our Lord and God, but it also reveals our neighbor and all creation through that sight.

    I need to also say that as far as I know, such sight almost reveals all things, because St Paul says that all is revealed only in the eschaton. That is when we see God “face to face”. Notice that I quote the Bible, in this regard. I believe the saints have highly developed nous.

  34. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    Dee, I agree with you. It is an organ that does not show up on anatomy charts but as an organ is how it is described. As I read the Fathers (forgive my blather) repentance is the way to discover one’s nous by the Holy Spirit.

  35. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    …and I might add under the guidance of a experienced guide. Not everything that seems a “noetic experience” is one. Plus there are counterfeits who pedal “spiritual advancement” who are dangerous.

  36. Dee of St Herman Avatar
    Dee of St Herman

    Michael,
    As I reflect on repentance, I am reminded of a saint at the end of his life on his deathbed being asked if he has repented, and he answers that he doesn’t even know whether he has even begun.

    For me metanoia is a grace, one that brings tears–not so much of regret (and of course it can be that) but of deep and holy thanksgiving.

  37. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    Dee, for what it is worth I agree with you.

  38. juliania Avatar
    juliania

    I tried to post earlier, could not follow capcha, apologies. It was a good post I think. My point was that I found it helpful to think that while I am not God, God is not me. In other words, He is not bound by my limited mortal intellect, and so I cannot disprove His existence. Eternity is not so bound, and the ancients knew this because even creation was more visible to them than it is to us moderns. I can’t even grasp the enormity of the heavens, so how could I contain the Being of its Creator in my limited concepts of good and evil, which so often are used to ‘prove’ there can be no God?

    If captcha rejects this it is not a good system. Sorry.

  39. juliania Avatar
    juliania

    The other part of my recent lost comment had to do with my personal sense of wonder that such an unfathomable Being as the Creator of all still loves us, small as we are.

    I said it better before.

  40. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    Juliana, since we are made in the Image and Likeness of God that seemingly boundless creation is accessible to us. I think Mt 4:17 also speaks to that reality. We have to humble ourselves before God (repent) to be able to participate in the glory and wonder.

  41. Fr. Stephen Avatar

    Juliana,
    Sorry about the captcha problems. May God preserve the sense of wonder in us – it is utterly essential!

  42. Nicole from VA Avatar
    Nicole from VA

    Fr. Stephen and dear fellow readers,

    Please pray for my sister Monique who has passed away. If possible, please add her to the prayer lists at you parishes.

    Please also keep my children in your prayers as this will be very difficult for them, the sudden change. She has loved them and filled their lives with surprise activities and adventures for many years. She was the Godmother of each of them.

    She heard me crying over my Math at 14 and found me tutors (both my dad and her favorite teacher, who I did not know). Here I am years later a Math teacher, lead through that wilderness by Christ and seeing His love in her. These are memories I cherish. May she rest in God’s love. I do believe Christ is Risen and have a small sense of peace, but this will be so hard not to see her

  43. Dee of St Herman Avatar
    Dee of St Herman

    Dear Nicole,
    You, your children, and Monique are in my prayers. May her memory be eternal.

  44. Nicole from VA Avatar
    Nicole from VA

    Thank you so much, Dee. Your note is a real comfort

  45. Fr. Stephen Avatar

    Nicole,
    I’m am so deeply sorry to hear this. I will add her to my prayers and remember her in my Liturgy this weekend – May her memory be eternal!

  46. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    Nicole, may her Guardian Angel be with her to guide her home.

  47. Matthew Avatar
    Matthew

    Thanks so much Dee and Michael for your thoughts on conscience/nous.

  48. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    Matthew, a key point to remember is that while we can work to soften our hearts, the perception of the nous is always a gift of which we are unworthy but gifted it is.

  49. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    Dee, I want to thank you because reading what you said about metanoia clicked a switch that clarified how to approach the “noetic” that had not solidified for me yet. It is a big help

  50. Nicole from Va Avatar
    Nicole from Va

    Thank you, Fr. Stephen, immensely. Thank you also Michael, my brother in Christ. I am hopeful and my sense of peace is growing.

    One of the local priests at St. Katherine in Falls Church had a clarifying point in his November newsletter essay. He said gratefulness is great-fullness, that in Christ we can experience the presence of others, even those distant, because they are alive in Christ. He was speaking in the context of his experience as a newly wed decades before, being just with his wife on Thanksgiving yet also being able to sense the presence of his extended family at the large celebration. It really gives me hope

    I appreciate also the point in these comments, that rational reflection on a topic is not the same as noetic perception.

    I believe that Christ is Risen

  51. Matthew Avatar
    Matthew

    Nicole from Va said:

    “rational reflection on a topic is not the same as noetic perception.”

    Sometimes I feel like I will never move forward from rational reflection into noetic
    perception. Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy.

  52. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    Matthew, just remember, noetic perception is a gift. One can prepare through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving but it is a gift.

    BTW, my brother, who is an Orthodox priest, spent several years in Germany before he became Orthodox but he has Orthodox contacts there. No one close to you but the people he knows might know someone. If you would like I can find a way to get the info to you.

  53. Matthew Avatar
    Matthew

    Thanks SO much Michael. At this point though, I believe the Orthodox door has closed for me. In time, I will share more about what has transpired over the last few months. For now:

    It is a gift I hope to receive Michael. Pray for me please.

  54. Fr. Stephen Avatar

    Matthew,
    May God grant you His good gifts in all things. You are daily in my prayers. Be blessed!

  55. Matthew Avatar
    Matthew

    Thanks so much Fr. Stephen. We will be praying for you as well.

    It is such a pleasure to be part of this space daily. It has been a blessing to me and my family since last September or so.

    Be blessed Fr. Stephen and everyone!

  56. Matthew Avatar
    Matthew

    Hello everyone.

    I want to begin by saying that the comments, the prayers, the interaction, the love, etc. all found in this space has done my soul very good. I have learned so much and have become so much more aware of myself, my relation to God, and what I need to tend to in order for that relationship, that communion, that union to grow and deepen. Orthodoxy is very much part of who I am in large part because of this blog and all of its participants. In short, I have never experienced such loving, kind and intellectually/spiritually stimulating interaction anywhere else online.

    That said, it has been a wonderfully transformative, yet very strange few months for me. For a variety of reasons (some of which some of you are aware of) the door to becoming Orthodox has closed for me. It may not be closed forever, but I don´t see myself becoming Orthodox in the near future.

    My wife has been attending the Roman Catholic Church since about last November regularly and has been meeting with the priest for some months now pretty regularly. I also started meeting with the priest too. I started attending Mass pretty regularly and I have had some very good conversations with the priest. He is a kind man who is very open, very loving, and very helpful.

    As a result, my wife and I are now Catholic. Full stop. 🙂

    It would take too much time and energy to really unpack everything I am going through emotionally, spiritually, theologically, and intellectually as I enter this new phase of my life … but partaking of the Eucharist has been wonderfully transformative and I am so glad that this sacramental door has been open to me again after so many years of absence.

    Please pray for me and my wife as we continue walking with Christ. Thanks again everyone. I will still be around here … sharing, listening, learning and loving.

    Peace in Christ. He is Risen indeed!

  57. Job Avatar
    Job

    Matthew,

    Although we have never corresponded before, I have seen your comments here and on Fr. Aidan Kimel’s “Eclectic Orthodoxy” blog. I simply wanted to wish you and your wife all the best as Christ draws you both closer to Him through the Catholic Church. I know a few people who have converted to Catholicism in recent years and found a very welcoming home there.

    In the spirit of Fr. Stephen’s blog, “In every thing give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

    With love in Christ,

    Job

  58. Matthew Avatar
    Matthew

    Thanks so much Job. I so appreciate the encouraging comment.

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