Through a Monk's Eyes
Summary: Looking at the World from the Celtic Shores of Scotland—and Elsewhere - Have you ever wondered what the world looks like through a monk's eyes? Priest-monk Seraphim shares his stories of the places he visits and the people he meets as he travels the world to found the first Orthodox monastery in the Celtic Isles of Scotland in a thousand years.
What has happened in the last year and a half at the Orthodox Monastery of All Saints?
Fr. Seraphim Aldea explains the hiatus from recording the podcast for 18 months.
This battle is now way above our heads. We need to humbly wait in the loving palm of Christ.
Why can't we just focus on the spiritual side of life and live as spiritual beings? Why is the Church so keen that we should learn to control our bodies and their passions? Does God even care what we do with our bodies?
We often gather our forces to fight our spiritual enemies at the wrong 'gate' of our being. Most frequently, evil enters our life through the gates of our mind and heart, not that of the body. We need to pay attention and learn the behaviour of the evil one, so we may guard well the fortress of our being. Once we learn to decode his behaviour, we can finally begin to plan a strategy to fight back.
The world attaches no value to our bodies and it often feels as if the Church shares the same vision: the body is evil, worthless, a sort of dark gate through which demons, passions and sins enter our being. But is this the revealed truth and is this really what the Church confesses? We need to escape this confusion, we need to rediscover the worth of our bodies before we start preparing our fight against the passions which control them. If we do not know the value of our bodies, how are we expected to fight for them?
Why is God so interested in what we do in the bedroom? Why is the Church so keen that we should learn to control our bodies and their passions? Why can't we just focus on the spiritual side of life and live as spiritual beings?
Some things are to be discerned with one's mind, but others - the most important ones - should be approached based on faith and love alone. One cannot 'discern' one's vocation for married or monastic life; this is not a choice to be made based on logical assessment, but on the love one feels in one's heart.
My will or God's will? The will of the world and that of our families have become components of our own will. To discern and follow the will of God, we must free ourselves from the dominion of these three: the will of the world, the will of our immediate circle of family and friends, and our personal will. The best teacher for this is the wonderful St John of the Ladder (of Sinai).
Back in March 2020, when I promised that I'd be recording these videos to keep each other company through the pandemic, I definitely had no idea I would still be doing this a whole year later. One year of the pandemic, one year with the virus, and we are still here, helping each other on our way. I have learnt enormously from you during this past year and I want to thank you all, on behalf of the Monastery, for the love and encouragement you have offered us. May God, Who brought all of us together, continue to bless us every day, every hour of our portion in this world, my dear ones.
If your aim is to be 100% happy, 100% of the time, you can be 100% certain that you will fail into utter misery. We are constantly being fed ready-made recipes for happiness, impersonal visions of what happiness looks like, false idols of who we should be in order to be happy. We can grow from the darkness in our lives, as much as we grown from its light. Happiness comes from unexpected places and we should always be ready to embrace it. If we are blinded by these unreal visions of happiness, we might just let true happiness pass by unnoticed.
What is the Orthodox practice of total fasting? How do you keep it and why would you? What are the spiritual benefits of fasting for a period from all food and water for the love of Christ?
As we begin our Lenten journey, Fr. Seraphim Aldea reminds us of the importance of repentance for our salvation.
Some people thrive and others collapse fought by the same temptations, in the same context, surrounded by the same people. St Paisius the Agiorite (St Paisius of the Holy Mountain) and St John of the Ladder teach us that a joyful disposition of the heart and the determination to see goodness in everyone can make the difference between spiritual life and death. We need to train our thoughts to always 'translate' the situations we face into good examples, into sources of strength, virtue and beauty. Depending on whether we decode this world through a lens of love or one of condemnation, the same temptations can feed the Divine Image in us or the nothingness in us.
When we judge our brother we become anti-Christs, because we rob the True Judge - Jesus Christ - of the authority given to Him Alone by the Father. We envy His place on His Throne of Judgement and we sit on His Throne in our mind, making ourselves to be judges, although God did not give us this authority. We are not the Judge, but the ones who will be judged, with the rest of humanity. We must always remember that the Same One Who said: 'do not kill' also said: 'do not Judge'.