The Illuminated Heart

CHRISTIAN WISDOM: Dealing With Others—The Smaller Circle by Frederica Mathewes-Green

August 17, 2017

From: The Illuminated Heart Illumine our hearts, O Master who lovest mankind with the pure light of thy divine knowledge, and open the eyes of our minds to the understanding of thy Gospel teachings, for thou art the illumination of our souls and bodies, O Christ our God. (Prayer before the reading of the Gospel Liturgy of St. James, Fourth Century) Anna misses her brother, the monk Timothy, every day, but some days she envies him.  On days like today she would rather sleep on the ground and eat dry bread than go to dinner at her mother-in-law’s house. Irene is a beautiful woman, accomplished, musically talented, and intelligent.  Even her hair is perfect.  In her presence Anna feels like a country mouse.  In Irene’s house, [...]

CHRISTIAN WISDOM: The Jesus Prayer by Frederica Mathewes-Green

August 10, 2017

From: The Illuminated Heart Illumine our hearts, O Master who lovest mankind with the pure light of thy divine knowledge, and open the eyes of our minds to the understanding of thy Gospel teachings, for thou art the illumination of our souls and bodies, O Christ our God. (Prayer before the reading of the Gospel Liturgy of St. James, Fourth Century) Theodore keeps reading over a letter he and Anna received last year from Anna’s brother, Timothy, who joined a group of monks on Mr. Sinai a few years ago.  Timothy wrote that he was being taught to abide in prayer by repeating a short verse from scripture over and over, whenever his mind would otherwise be idle – or not idle, since we all know how the restless nous seeks trouble.  He [...]

CHRISTIAN WISDOM: More About The Passions, And Disciplines Of The Mind by Frederica Mathewes-Green

August 3, 2017

From: The Illuminated Heart Illumine our hearts, O Master who lovest mankind with the pure light of thy divine knowledge, and open the eyes of our minds to the understanding of thy Gospel teachings, for thou art the illumination of our souls and bodies, O Christ our God. (Prayer before the reading of the Gospel Liturgy of St. James, Fourth Century) “Pray constantly” is another very good piece of advice.  But how do you ever do it?  Not just saying prayers or interceding for others – how can you abide in a state of prayer, so that your every heartbeat, your very breath, is united with Christ? Some of us are familiar with customs like holding oneself mindful of the presence of God, or of asking what Jesus would do.  These [...]

CHRISTIAN WISDOM: Introduction To The Passions, And Disciplines Of The Body by Frederica Mathewes-Green

July 27, 2017

From: The Illuminated Heart Illumine our hearts, O Master who lovest mankind with the pure light of thy divine knowledge, and open the eyes of our minds to the understanding of thy Gospel teachings, for thou art the illumination of our souls and bodies, O Christ our God. (Prayer before the reading of the Gospel Liturgy of St. James, Fourth Century) In the last chapter we heard Saint Paul say, “Be transformed by the renewal of your mind.”  That sounds like a fine prescription, but perhaps a little vague.  How would a person begin to grapple with his own mind?  Wouldn’t it be that same fallen mind that was doing the grappling? And, hey, what about this body that’s always hanging around?  Wherever the mind goes, [...]

CHRISTIAN WISDOM: Repentance, Both Door And Path by Frederica Mathewes-Green

July 20, 2017

From: The Illuminated Heart Illumine our hearts, O Master who lovest mankind with the pure light of thy divine knowledge, and open the eyes of our minds to the understanding of thy Gospel teachings, for thou art the illumination of our souls and bodies, O Christ our God. (Prayer before the reading of the Gospel Liturgy of St. James, Fourth Century) The first time Jesus appears, in the first gospel, the first instruction he gives is “Repent.” From then on, it’s his most consistent message.  In all times and every situation, his advice is to repent.  Not just the scribes and Pharisees, not just the powerful – he tells even the poor and oppressed that repentance is the key to eternal life.  In an incident that would [...]

CHRISTIAN WISDOM: Why We Don’t Like Repentance by Frederica Mathewes-Green

July 13, 2017

From: The Illuminated Heart Illumine our hearts, O Master who lovest mankind with the pure light of thy divine knowledge, and open the eyes of our minds to the understanding of thy Gospel teachings, for thou art the illumination of our souls and bodies, O Christ our God. (Prayer before the reading of the Gospel Liturgy of St. James, Fourth Century) When I began writing this book I ran into a road bump.  I said to my husband, “I’m having a hard time figuring out how to make repentance appealing.”  And I realized that that statement summarized the whole problem.  We’re a nation of shoppers.  Everything has to be appealing. Before we begin to learn about Anna’s understanding of repentance, we need to find out [...]

CHRISTIAN WISDOM: Where We’re Going by Frederica Mathewes-Green

July 6, 2017

From: The Illuminated Heart Illumine our hearts, O Master who lovest mankind with the pure light of thy divine knowledge, and open the eyes of our minds to the understanding of thy Gospel teachings, for thou art the illumination of our souls and bodies, O Christ our God. (Prayer before the reading of the Gospel Liturgy of St. James, Fourth Century) Let’s start with a basic question.  Where are we trying to go, anyway?  Is our goal the same as Anna’s? A modern Christian might say that the point of this Earthly life is to be like Jesus.  We want to cultivate the virtues that Christ had, we want to have a loving heart like the Father’s, we ask what Jesus would do.  We have decided to follow Jesus – and that’s [...]

CHRISTIAN WISDOM: So Who Cares? by Frederica Mathewes-Green

June 29, 2017

From: The Illuminated Heart Illumine our hearts, O Master who lovest mankind with the pure light of thy divine knowledge, and open the eyes of our minds to the understanding of thy Gospel teachings, for thou art the illumination of our souls and bodies, O Christ our God. (Prayer before the reading of the Gospel Liturgy of St. James, Fourth Century) Sounds nice, but why should we be interested in Anna’s approach?  Christians today experience and express their faith in many ways.  Isn’t this just one more?  Why should we care how Anna and Theodore lived, prayed, and understood the scriptures?  They lived a long time ago, after all; don’t times change? It’s because times change that we should especially take notice [...]

CHRISTIAN WISDOM: A Challenging Answer by Frederica Mathewes-Green

June 24, 2017

From: The Illuminated Heart Illumine our hearts, O Master who lovest mankind with the pure light of thy divine knowledge, and open the eyes of our minds to the understanding of thy Gospel teachings, for thou art the illumination of our souls and bodies, O Christ our God. (Prayer before the reading of the Gospel Liturgy of St. James, Fourth Century) A modern Christian may well feel perplexed by the questions at the end of the last chapter.  We think, “But we know what the answer has to be: Jesus is the answer.”  So we try each day better to love and follow him, and yet the life we lead would not readily be described as “victorious.”  To tell the truth, we don’t even attempt anything that strenuous.  We know [...]

CHRISTIAN WISDOM: The Central Question by Frederica Mathewes-Green

June 15, 2017

From: The Illuminated Heart Illumine our hearts, O Master who lovest mankind with the pure light of thy divine knowledge, and open the eyes of our minds to the understanding of thy Gospel teachings, for thou art the illumination of our souls and bodies, O Christ our God. (Prayer before the reading of the Gospel Liturgy of St. James, Fourth Century) You are holding a small book with an old-fashioned title. It might seem like a messenger from the past, or from no time at all, like one of those books you pull off the shelf at a musty old retreat house. That’s pretty much what I’m aiming for.  The shelves at your local bookstore are bulging with titles addressing urgent, transitory concerns, but this book intends a different [...]