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Our Daily Life (ODL) - Mark Fletcher - 19-02-2007 10:14 AM

For what it's worth, I would like to make the following comments on the British Orthodox Fellowship Handbook, having used it over the past month and gained a familiarity with its contents.

Firstly, I think that ODL is a very valuable resource for a beginner like me. It is simple, clear, and contains excellent advice on developing one's spiritual life. It enables someone like myself to not keep "missing the point". It helps us to "see the wood for the trees". In some ways, I believe that there are far too many authors offering 'advice' on spiritual matters, when they should really keep silent and leave it to those who have real wisdom and spiritual understanding, instead of 'muddying the waters'. ODL is an invaluable tool, I reckon.

I shall now read each day's reading on the appropriate day of each calendar month (Day One on the first day of the month etc.). I am so thick that it didn't dawn on me that this was the intended way of using it until someone posted something about it!

Secondly, reading through Mark's Gospel in this way is illuminating and moving. This particular translation allows the Holy Spirit space to enter one's awareness in a way that others seem not to somehow.

Thirdly, the daily quotations from Desert Fathers and the Lives of the Saints are valuable. When I read the excerpt from a Homily by St. Jacob of Serugh (page 11) on Day One, I thought that his remark:

Quote:'bring the tears of your repentance and sprinkle His doorstep with them'

was pure sentimentality. However, having attended Divine Liturgy on Day 23 and sensed His Presence, I think I am beginning to appreciate what he means.

I liked the way that lines 8-11 of page 19 are repeated on page 29 (lines 10-13). I think that this observation about Abba Macarius could perhaps be repeated every day as it says so much about theosis and the kindness of those who are drawing near to Kindness Itself.

The only reading I had a problem understanding is the extract from a homily of Father Serge Bulgakov (page 37). I'm sure that I'll get the gist of it eventually with repeated reading, reflection and prayer.

The Calendar of Saints (pages 129-150) I feel to be of particular importance. His Holiness Pope Shenouda III's comment on page 122 is apposite here. These Saints were lights to their generations and "other Christs". The Protestant refusal to venerate and treasure the memories of these individuals (not worship them) strikes me as unkind indeed, evidencing a lack of love and understanding on their part. In fact it demonstrates (in my opinion) a lack of respect for Christ, His promises, and the path of theosis itself. I am quite at a loss to understand the position of people who approve of defacing icons and destroying sacred relics in the name of Christ Himself and His Truth.

That's all I wanted to write. Thank you for making ODL available. I appreciate it.


- admin - 20-02-2007 12:37 PM

Dear Mark

I am glad that you are enjoying Our Daily Life as much as I am.

Even though I compiled and wrote much of it I still find myself surprised every day by the verse at the top of the readings, or some aspect of the Gospel of St Mark, or a thought from one of the spiritual writers.

There seems to be an almost infinite variation of sentences, thoughts and ideas which come together in different ways each time I read the text for the day. And there are many things I have no recollection of including.

I have to say that this is the first set of daily readings I have been able to settle into in my whole life - what a confession! So if it is helping me as well as you then I am very pleased indeed with the outcome.

It seemed important to me that I and others, especially enquirers, focus on Christ Himself rather than on various exotic elements of Orthodoxy. So I wanted us just to read a Gospel over and over again, whatever else we read. And I wanted us to keep being reminded of various inspirational verses. I am very grateful to God for the blessing it has been in my own life. I read the passages for the day after I have prayed Morning Prayer on my way to work.

I might prayerfully consider producing another volume later in the year, with perhaps two or three months of additional readings. Would you think that had value? I am commited to the thought that we must know the Bible well, not in an academic sense, but in the sense of having our lives informed by the Gospel message and the teaching of the Apostles.

Thank you again for your encouragement, and gratitude is due to all those others who contributed texts and time in proof-reading, and comments about how the book could be improved.

Peter


But... - Mark Fletcher - 20-02-2007 06:58 PM

On the other hand, I do think that your translation of the Bible passages is very thought provoking, and I have found it helpful as I said. I suppose the only thing to do is what the Holy Spirit wants!


- admin - 20-02-2007 07:15 PM

Thanks for the comments Mark.

I am in no hurry to do anything that doesn't seem to have any sort of Divine leading from others. And there are plenty of other things to do. I think that you are right that it is better not to dilute things so that we are always looking for something new instead of really getting to know this smaller collection and being transformed by it.

Peter


ODL - Solly - 27-04-2007 12:33 PM

I have got my copy now, thanks Peter.

Thoughts:

Daily Readings. Great stuff. There is something to be said for repeating the same readings over. And I have an interesting observation to keep to the end.
OTOH, my mother used to use something called the Northumbria Office, which came in a filofax format, and had new issues every quarter or something. Each new series took a theme, and developed it through the time. With greater resources, I think I would prefer a smaller sized, loose leaf book, to fit in one's pocket; but that is not to detract from what has been produced, which i will carry with me everywhere.

The helps. This will be my biggest challenge. Liking Orthodoxy because of the theology is one thing; putting it into practice is another. But like it says, easy does it. I haven't prostrated since I was into Buddhism many moons ago; ditto venerating an object. But in between that time I have been a hot prot, and so that will take a little time to overcome. After all, Baptists don't even kneel in prayer, we slouch in our chairs!

The Prayers. Thanks for having a shorter and longer series; that's very useful, and they read easily too. My only qualm: Kyrie Eleison 41 times!?!?

The Saints. Wow, so many, and so few I have heard of, even with my wider interests, especially the British saints.

Reading list. I think I will follow it up, since it gives a baseline for anyone I am talking to.

And the interesting bit? With a name like Antony, it isn't surprising that I took an interest in St Antony when I found out about Orthodoxy. Even more so, when i find out about the Coptic church, and Antony is Egyptian. And my copy of ODL arrived yesterday, the 26th, and the reading for that day was from...St Antony. The only one in the book too.


- admin - 27-04-2007 01:49 PM

Hi Antony

Since I have already posted some long posts I will be brief!

I am glad it arrived safely. I have given thought to series of readings, and I think that in due course that will probably happen, but for the short term I am myself enjoying reading the same things in a monthly cycle and each day seems to come as a suprise, even though I have now read the materials 5 or 6 times.

I have, personally, been finding it very helpful to read through the Gospel over and over again. I have a sense that our Orthodox evangelism must be rooted in Christ, 'I preach Christ, and Him crucified.' It is very easy for Orthodox mission to preach the Church, but I want people from all backgrounds to find Christ, and then discover that the Church is the place where we grow in Him. Of course there is much about the Church which is of great interest, but without a relationship with our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ an interest in the culture of Orthodoxy cannot sustain very much.

I am glad that the two versions of the Prayers are useful. I pray the Morning Prayer almost everyday, and over time I have come to know most of it by heart. That is a real help as it means you can pray according to your rule wherever you are. The forty one Kyrie Eleisons are in commemoration of the strokes of the whip and the crown of thorns and the spear in his side. I would suggest, though this is only an opinion, that the forty-one kyries, or Lord have mercy be prayed slowly and rather reflectively, or abbreviated, for it is better to pray a few with attention than many without attention - and I say that to myself.

Yes, there are many saints, and many British saints. And this is only a very abbreviated list and could contain countless more. They are truly a 'cloud of witnesses'.

The reading list is very short, and educational material is a priority for us at the moment, but it is a useful start.

How wonderful that God should arrange things in such a way that you receive the book on the day when there was a reading for St Antony. We may well believe that he is truly your patron, and who can doubt the reality and presence of God in the world and in our lives when there are so many happy co-incidences.

Peter


Our Daily Life - John Charmley - 27-04-2007 03:04 PM

Dear Solly,

Useful suggestions. I am glad that you like ODL - it has come to be an indispensable companion to me, and I am most grateful to Peter for producing it.

In Christ,

John


- Solly - 27-04-2007 03:41 PM

It says in the book that there is a pdf file of British saints on the main site, but I can't find it.