Spiritual direction (Anamchara) is a contemplative process of accompanying someone along the spiritual journey. It is not counseling, nor teaching. Rather, in the spirit of Celtic spirituality, the word “anamchara” (soul friend) comes to mind.
The spiritual director and the directee come together, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, so that one may grow closer to God, and to discern how the Holy Spirit can lead in one’s life. You can call it a “collaborative discovery of God”, as a friend. Unlike an instructor or a life coach, a spiritual director will ask you questions, and propose some spiritual challenges, and help you uncover the spirituality in your own daily walk.
Role of the spiritual director
Some of the things a spiritual director can do together with you include:
- Finding God’s presence in all things and events
- Finding your self in a contemporary life
- Learning new spiritual disciplines, prayer, and contemplation
- Discerning God’s will in your life and decisions
- Renewal of faith and purpose
- Encouraging and motivating you in your spiritual struggles
- Helping you learn the beauty of silence and solitude in contemplation
Our priests will be more than glad to walk with you in this spiritual journey together. Spiritual direction is for professed baptized Christian family members and close friends only (unless referred to us by our hierarchs), and our priests will have discernment if they can be at your service. We can also serve you online through social networks. Prior arrangements must be made through email so that even if your time zone differs from ours, a mutually workable time can be arranged. A typical spiritual direction online with our clergy would be around 15 minutes or less, followed by contemplative prayer on your behalf. We can pray the Prayer of the Heart (Jesus Prayer) together.
Our communion is self-funding and serves pro-bono (our clergy are bi-vocational) and will not require any donation from you for the ministry.
Passages to reflect
When we face adversity, perhaps some of the best passages to remember can be found in St Matthew 5:3-12 (DRC), as said by our redeemer and Lord Jesus, on His sermon on the Mount. As disciples of Christ on a lifelong journey of sanctification, we can look at these aspirational goals and find comfort in them.
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called children of God. Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for my sake: Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven. For so they persecuted the prophets that were before you.
Blessings and peace of our Lord be with you always.
Hesychasm in brief
Contemplative prayer is one of the oldest forms of prayer, which can be traced to the Desert Fathers of early Christianity and monasticism. It can be found in the Church as Hesychasm (which is derived from the Greek hesychia, “stillness, rest, quiet, silence). The Roman Catholics are also familiar with contemplative prayer, such as the use of lectio divina, or Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises.
The concept of Hesychasm rose from Jesus Christ’s injunction in St Matthew 6:5-6 to “go into your closet to pray”, which can be said to be a process of looking inward by ignoring the distractions of the senses, to achieve a closer walk with God.
The important thing to know is that as Psalm 46:10 mentioned, stillness is an important condition, one which presents an encouraging environment to know God. Often, in a busy, hurried existence, we are trapped by life’s many distractions, temptations, noises, colors, tastes, and other sensory bombardments, that we ignore the notion of going inward in stillness and silence and reflect on the Word of God.
For daily prayer and contemplation, we tend to use the Orthodox Study Bible (preferred), translations of the Septuagint, the King James Version with Apocrypha, or the Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible (DRC, since it is public domain). We also frequently refer to, and contemplate on, the Didache (writings of the 12 Apostles of Christ), the early Church Fathers, Desert Fathers, Apostolic Fathers, and Eastern and Oriental Orthodox saints and their writings, such as the Philokalia and The Way of a Pilgrim. For daily prayer, we use the common Eastern Orthodox daily family prayer, or the Prayer of the Heart (Jesus Prayer).
Jesus Prayer briefly
As Saint Paul said to all, “pray unceasingly” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), we frequently pray this simple and yet profound Prayer of the Heart:
“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
This prayer is profound, and is said by the Holy Fathers to be the “abbreviation of the Holy Bible”. In it, the anonymous pilgrim of the classic “The Way of the Pilgrim”, found the great solace and illumination of his search for God. If there is just ONE book other than the Bible you should read, this is it, in our humble opinion.
We aim to embrace and draw inspiration from the early Church fathers’ writings in relation to the reading of the Word – “Be still and see that I am God.” – Psalm 46:10 (DRC)
We hope to study and contemplate together, thoughts of the early Church fathers (pre-Nicene or Ante-Nicene) (St John 4:23-24, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, Acts 17:22-24).
Pre-Nicene (or Ante-Nicene) period of Christianity is the period of Christian practice and thought right up to 325 AD. During this period, the early Church fathers (Ante-Nicene Fathers), wrote many things, which were compiled into 10 volumes (the last volume being indexes). You can download and read them at Christian Classics Ethereal Library. Some of the books include:
- V1 – Apostolic fathers, including Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp, Barnabas, Hermas, Epistle to Diognetus, Papias, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and the Didache.
- V2 – 2nd century fathers, including Tatian, Theophilus of Antioch, Athenagoras of Athens, and Clement of Alexandria.
- V3 – Latin Christianity with Tertullian.
- V4, 5 & 6 – 3rd century fathers, including Minucius Felix, Commodian, Origen, Hippolytus, Cyprian, Caius, Novatian, Gregory Thaumaturgus, Dionysius the Great, Sextus Julius Africanus, Anatolius, Methodius of Olympus, and Arnobius.
- V7 & 8 – 3rd & 4th century fathers, including Lactantius, Venantius, Asterius, Victorinus of Pettau, Dionysius of Corinth, Apostolic Constitutions, Homily, Liturgies, Liturgy of Saint James, Testaments of the 12 Patriarches, The Clementia, Memoirs of Edessa and Syriac Documents, Remnants of First Ages, Decretals, and Apocrypha (Gospel of Thomas), Pseudo-Clementine literature (Recognition of Clement, Clementine Homilies, Epistle of Peter to James).
- V9 – Origen and more, including Gospel of Peter, Diatessaron of Tatian, Apocalypse of Peter, Visio Pauli, Apocalypse of the Virgin and Sedrach, Testament of Abraham, Acts of Xanthippe and Polyxena, Narrative of Zosimus, Apology of Aristides, Epistles of Clement, Origen’s commentary on John and Matthew.
- V10 – Indexes.
Other Christian Reading
We will be adding Orthodox writings, of the early church fathers, and other patristic texts, and modern Orthodox authors, here.
- Orthodox Study Bible, St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology, Thomas Nelson.
- My Daily Orthodox Prayer Book, edited by Anthony Coniaris, Light & Life.
- The Orthodox Way, Bishop Kallistos Ware, St Vladimir’s Seminary Press.
- Encountering the Mystery, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Doubleday.
- The Art of Prayer – An Orthodox Anthology, compiled by Igumen Chariton of Valamo, Faber & Faber.
- A Manual of Eastern Orthodox Prayers, St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press.
- Theosis: Partaking of the Divine Nature, Mark Shuttleworth, Conciliar Press.
- The Dark Night of the Soul, St John of the Cross, Christian Classic.
- Listening for the Heartbeat of God – A Celtic Spirituality, J. Philip Newell, Paulist Press.
- Exploring the Book of Kells, George Otto Simms, O’Brien.
- The Celtic Way of Prayer – The Recovery of the Religious Imagination, Esther De Waal, Doubleday.
- The Open Door – Entering the Sanctuary of Icons and Prayer, Frederica Mathewes-Green, Paraclete Press.
- Philokalia – The Eastern Christian Spiritual Texts, Annotation by Allyne Smith, SkyLight Illuminations.
- The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church, Vladimir Lossky, St Vladimir’s Seminary Press.
- On the Prayer of Jesus (the classic guide to the practice of unceasing prayer as found in The Way of a Pilgrim, Ignatius Brianchaninov, New Seeds.
- The Way of a Pilgrim and The Pilgrim Continues His Way, translated by Olga Savin, Shambala Classics.
- Prayer of the Heart – The Contemplative Tradition of the Christian East, George Maloney SJ, Ave Maria Press.
- Raising Lazarus – Integral Healing in Orthodox Christianity, edited by Stephen Muse, Holy Cross Orthodox Press.
- Orthodox Spirituality – A Brief Introduction, Metropolitan of Nafpaktos Hierotheos, Birth of the Theotokos Monastery.