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Knytshade
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Beloved Michael: my patron--I thank God for you!


« on: November 22, 2010, 12:10:38 AM »

Ok, I don't know how to approach this really, but there is a great  deal going on, and I would like to humbly ask for prayers, and  instead of making multiple threads, I'll put it all here, so  apologies if this makes for a long post.

1--Glory to God for answering our-long awaited prayer for an  associate pastor!  He and his wife have been here all the way from  New Zealand (he was born and raised in Australia, and she in  Seattle and both in their late-20s) since September, so they are  still very much settling in.  He is also what I call a  'newly-minted priest' having been ordained in December of last  year, so he is very new to his position as well as his ministry.  Aside from helping our pastor, he is also assisting two gentlemen  in our parish who are working towards possibly being readers, as  well as in charge of our youth.  So needless to say, these are  quite a lot of important responsibilities that he's been entrusted  with.  If you would be willing to pray for both him and his wife  that God blesses them and helps his servant grow in the ministry in  which He has given him, as well as to help him gain the confidence  he needs to be what the Lord wishes him to be and day-by-day.   Their names are Fr. Daniil and Anastasia (oh yes one other thing,  they are also hoping and praying to have a large family).

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2--A long-time and much-loved parishioner of ours fell asleep  earlier this month.  Her husband reposed over the summer.  They  were both well into their 80s to my understanding.  We had her  9-day pannyhida this past Monday (the 15th).  Please pray that God  has mercy on her and forgives her sins, and reunites her with all  of her loved ones and her husband.  Also please pray for their  family, as they have lost both of their parents (grandparents,  etc.)--it's been a rough year for them given all this--pray that  our Lord surrounds them with His love and warmth, peace and  comfort.  Their names are Dr. John & Maritsa (Mary) Johnstone.

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3--My catechumenate is beginning to wind down, and my priest told  me that my baptism will be January 1, 2011 (what a way to start off  a new year eh?). I thank God, the Theotokos, and the saints  (especially the Archangel Michael (my patron) and John the Russian)  for ensuring that I have gotten this far, as well as putting those  amazing people in my life that are too many to name to help me  along the way.  However, please permit me to explain:

I have had a lot of RL stuff going on (and some still are): 1)my  divorce closer to being done, 2) medication issues and hence  increasing mania (ie. increased and quicker to anger, increased  anxiety and paranoia, etc.), 3) fiancial and fluctuating hours at  work and keeping bills paid, and 4) fufilling my responsibilities  that I have been entrusted with at church.

Now Father said that the closer I get to my baptism, the stronger  Satan will push and try to force me back and away, and he isn't  kidding--lately it's nothing short of insane:

1--I have been having a heck of a hard time focusing on prayer  (which I do every night as well as my psalm) and lately, even as  much as being able to find -words- in which to pray, almost as if I  am forgetting how (now -that- scares me).  A recent thing when I  started feeling some of these things I'm describing, I wanted to  ask for prayers, but was afraid to b/c I didn't want to come across  as selfish in my wording or even asking.  I -did- bring this up to  Father, and he told me that the Lord commanded us to pray for one  another.  That, thank God, brought me out of it and I did ask and  as a result, my sponsors have talked to me and been helping me a  lot.

2--Certain thoughts (I'll term them as 'intimate') have increased a  lot as well (which is also a symptom of mania is increased sexual  thoughts), and it has made me want and long for things that I  shouldn't but still want to for some reason.  Fortunately, I  haven't acted out on any of it by God's grace, although I've come  close to doing so several times.

3--Am having trouble remembering that I am not alone (ie. the great  cloud of witnesses and my church family etc.), and these were  things that earlier in the year I had no problems with. 

4--I also have been having terrible feelings of guilt towards my  two special saints (St. Michael and St. John), feeling as if I've  ignored them or done something they've been trying to get across to  me and might have forgotten.  I do ask for their forgiveness every  night and this is something that brings me great sorrow, but I've  been trying to fix this (I do believe that the saints forgive if  you -really- mean it, which I do believe me).  I love them so much  and I know they know this but I still feel bad.

5--I feel like I'm doing nothing but falling.  Most of my prayers  at night consist of asking for help and strength.  Heck even at  church (most especially today), I've actually, physically cried   b/c this is so intense and I feel like I'm desperately trying to  hang on tight (I think this is also a reason why I have a hard time  when I pray and not being able to find words).

Despite all of this, I will say that one thing that has -not-  dissipated and has remained constant is my longing and desire for  Holy Communion (I've cried right before everyone goes up).  I thank  God every single night for giving me this beautiful longing for the  Body and Blood of His Son, as well as everything that's come with  it.  I also have prayed with a strong and sincere desire that  everytime I receive it, it'll be like the very 1st time.  I also  thank Him for all the wonderful love and support I've receieved  from everyone at church (most especially my priest and sponsors).

So *breathes*, if you would be willing to please pray for me--in a  way I'm very excited and also very scared and sometimes closed in.   I guess you could call this as my 'cry for help'.

Thank you all very much for listening to me ramble (yet AGAIN) and  for being long-winded and any and all prayers I will cherish and  appreciate always.
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"If you leave me free in my religion, I will be very eager to carry out your commands. But if you try to force me to change my faith, I will first surrender my head. I was born a Christian and a Christian I shall die."

--St. John the Russian to his Turkish master
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« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2010, 01:05:20 AM »

Lord, have mercy.
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« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2010, 01:12:50 AM »

When you are trying to not sin and feel depress and unworthy it is often Satan trying to prevent you to do your duties ( "I am not good enough to go to Church and confess my sins, repent and get communion, etc." that is Satan) I think the desert fathers had a name for it..."Askesis" I think it was, someone say ? Much better to be in this depressive state and continue with duties than give up and never feel bad. They told this to me.

A great Desert Father once when finding out that his best friend the great Father of the Desert Arsenius had a small hole in his chest after death because of the number of tears he had from working and praying said "Blessed are you Father Arsenius For you wept in this Life. For those who do not weep in this life shall weep in the next, so there is no way not to weep".
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« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2010, 01:30:17 AM »

May their Memory be Eternal.

Lord have Mercy.
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« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2010, 01:42:18 AM »

Dearest Knyteshade:

Be of good cheer. Your priest is correct. The very reason you're having these problems is because your baptism is approaching. As an Orthodox Christian, you will notice that, every time you are in a fertile stage of spiritual growth, the devil shows his face: your thoughts stray, your discipline fails, you doubt, you slip, you despair. You have only to open a Bible, and your mind wizzes away to an old desire or the memory of a bad habit. It's inevitable, and normal.

By all means ask for other peoples' prayers; that's what we're all here for. You're no longer alone; you're part of the body of Christ. Despite all your previous conditioning, it's not selfishness. Think of it: if someone asked you for a prayer you would never refuse them? No. Why deny prayers directed toward your self? (You'll come to learn that being too self-effacing is actually a bit self-centered. Just get in there, and be one with everyone else.)

Also, you don't have to find words to pray. Take the pressure off yourself, and use a prayer book. The church fathers usually recommend praying standard prayers for a while before trying to pray in your own words.

And if you slip, forgive yourself. God will be the first to forgive you. All of this is normal.
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« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2010, 01:56:25 AM »

Another tip: pray pray pray! Often Satan will try to deceive you into wasting time thinking abou supposedly spiritual subjects which keep you out of prayer, or worldly things, or to make you wander into sin outright. it is a favorite trick of his. Keep praying.
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« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2010, 08:40:32 AM »

Lord, have mercy.

You do indeed sound like a very depressed person, Knyteshade. As the father of a daughter who went through terrible depression and who takes andti-depressants, and as a person who takes these medications himself, I would advise you to seek a professional help and maybe take these pills - they can be amazingly efficient. Depression is not a "spiritual condition," just a chemical imbalance in the brain, and it can be corrected or at the very least softened.
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« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2010, 10:36:35 AM »


Lord, have mercy!

Just like Sainthieu said, we are all in this together.  Be strong.  Don't give up.

Remember, God is always with you!

...and relax.  I think you are too hard on yourself.  Yes, always be vigilant and try your best, but, not to the degree that you dim your spirit and feel completely at a loss.  Humility and meekness are always called for, but again, not to the degree that they keep you from church and the sacraments. 

I don't think your saints are "angry" with you.  Remember, they were once mere humans!  They've been here and lived it.  They are more understanding than you think....and are their, just as we are, to support you.

May the Lord have mercy and may His will be done!

Hang in there!

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Knytshade
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Beloved Michael: my patron--I thank God for you!


« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2010, 10:20:31 AM »

My heartfelt and sincerest thanks to everyone for their prayers, love and advice:  it means so very much.

I've been doing a -lot- better when it comes to talking to my priest about certain things--for a time, I'd feel something then I'd feel okay by the time I got to class, so I never brought it up and then felt worse later.  Now, regardless if I feel better, I -still- bring it up and thank God I do:  it -really- makes a difference!

He and I had a good chat about all of this last night at class and he was -very- serious with me and I'm so happy he was.  What truly amazes me is how my sponsors (amazing people they are!) have been seeming to stick very close to me and I'm so very thankful to God for that and them. 

I think something else that kind of is hard for me to truly understand is being a part of the Body of Christ:  I mean, I understand the mechanics of it, but the grasping of it and integrating to where I -can- truly understand it has been a bit difficult (I know what I am trying to say
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"If you leave me free in my religion, I will be very eager to carry out your commands. But if you try to force me to change my faith, I will first surrender my head. I was born a Christian and a Christian I shall die."

--St. John the Russian to his Turkish master
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