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Author Topic: Being Faithful Despite Spiritual Dryness  (Read 1367 times) Average Rating: 0
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stjustinmartyrorthodox
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« on: January 21, 2011, 06:33:09 AM »

Hello:
I am new to the forum and a convert to Orthodox Christianity from Roman Catholicism. Ever so often, I go through bouts of spiritual dryness. As a Roman Catholic I read St. John of the Cross and his "Dark Night of the Soul." John of the Cross argued that one had to overcome and withstand spiritual dryness in order to grow spiritually. I have translated his dictums into my Orthodox lifestyle. Sometimes I look at other denominations such as various so called non denominational Protestant churches and see certain activity there that appears joyous or even more convenient. Yet, I do not stray to the other side merely thinking the grass is greener there. During my bouts of dryness I concentrate on God more and the Church He founded, the Orthodox Church. I think about the long line of Church Fathers that connect today with the Apostles. And I know faith is more than a feeling. I figure that if I keep on picking at my spirituality, one day to use a Texas metaphor (as I am from Texas) that joyful spirituality will gush out from my heart like the oil did at Spindletop oil field in Texas at its derrick. I ask that you my brothers and sisters pray for me. I was wondering, if any other converts to Orthodoxy had felt the same way and had the same expectation that after dryness joyful outpourings followed?
« Last Edit: January 21, 2011, 06:33:29 AM by stjustinmartyrorthodox » Logged
soufliotiki
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« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2011, 10:47:08 AM »

Welcome to Orthodoxy!

... why is your question limited to "converts" alone?

My advise for you and for me is to not dwell on this matter too much since we can perhaps presume certain things about "joyfull" out pourings that may lead our soul into temptation and also the same goes with dry periods ... so, merely enjoy and persevere through all that God permits, in gratitude and without fear ... since, the journey starts the moment that Christ knocks on the door of our hearts ... and He is always there for all eternity!
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Guide my heart, O Blessed Wisdom, and my tongue will also be guided ...
katherineofdixie
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« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2011, 11:10:56 AM »

Welcome to Orthodoxy!

... why is your question limited to "converts" alone?

My advise for you and for me is to not dwell on this matter too much since we can perhaps presume certain things about "joyfull" out pourings that may lead our soul into temptation and also the same goes with dry periods ... so, merely enjoy and persevere through all that God permits, in gratitude and without fear ... since, the journey starts the moment that Christ knocks on the door of our hearts ... and He is always there for all eternity!

Amen!
One of the things that I love about Orthodoxy is that my personal highs and lows don't matter all that much. The Divine Liturgy, the Body and Blood of our Lord, the prayers, feasts and fasts will sustain us through anything. Rather than fearing or dreading "spiritual dryness" or anticipating the rewards, we should strive to "In every thing give thanks." "Glory to God for all things!"
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"If but ten of us lead a holy life, we shall kindle a fire which shall light up the entire city."

 St. John Chrysostom
Shiranui117
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« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2011, 01:34:01 PM »

As it says in the Gospel of Mark, "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief." Even when it feels like our spiritual lives are incredibly dry, they're not gonna enliven themselves again; we have to stir 'em up with a lot of figurative sweat and tears. Smiley Best way to do that? Pray, read Scripture, read the Fathers, go to church.
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KBN1
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« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2011, 02:12:07 PM »

Being a fairly recent convert myself, I am still impressed with how honest Orthodox folks are about this kind of stuff.  Towards the end of last Lent I was talking to a guy at church and I asked him how he was doing and he looked at me and said, "Not good.  I hate Lent.  I need it, but I hate it with a passion."  And everyone that was standing there just nodded.  He didn't have to explain it any further than that or pretend that he was having the time of his life.  In my protestant past things like doubt, anger, spiritual dryness, and just plain not liking it would have been a problem, perhaps a lack of faith type problem.  In Orthodoxy I don't see that.  I see a perseverance and an understanding that God is in the business of perfecting us and that might not always be thrilling time.  That's my two cents at least...
« Last Edit: January 21, 2011, 02:13:07 PM by KBN1 » Logged
sainthieu
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« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2011, 04:18:24 PM »

Dear stjustinmartyrorthodo:

I'm going through a period of "dryness" now as well. Indeed, I need it; the previous 3 months were more intense than anything I've ever experienced in my life. I need respite, but I am looking forward to the future. These are my impressions:

In my periods of dryness, I used to think that God had abandoned me, or that I was somehow drifting away from Him, but I realize now that these "dry" periods are necessary periods between spurts of growth. He does not change us in any way that circumvents our free will; we are, of our own volition, undergoing internal change to live in imitation of Him. Therefore, the emotional intensity of our experience with God is in proportion to our desire to experience it. If we truly want to be closer to God, there is no way He will abandon us. But because this relationship requires understanding on our part, He waits until we are ready to proceed before He leads us on the next leg of our journey to Him.

I have come to believe that our most ardent periods--those in which we feel closest to Him--are the periods of manifestation, when we receive the grace for which we have been praying. These periods can be filled with insight, love, warmth, fellowship and, often, incredible joy. The periods in between--the so-called "dry" periods--are those in which we prepare for the next period of manifestation, or obvious grace.

When we are in a "dry" period, our prayers, and the intentions and desires guiding them, subtly change, based on the new insights and experiences with which He blesses us. He gives us all the time we need to meditate on these changes and to decide what they mean to us, and to figure out how we want Him to manifest them in our lives. When we are ready, He graces us with a period of spiritual flowering, and our spiritual life is no longer "dry": we take another step forward.

God is never farther away from us than our own hearts. He answers all our prayers for spiritual growth.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2011, 04:23:05 PM by sainthieu » Logged
soufliotiki
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« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2011, 06:13:26 PM »

God is never farther away from us than our own hearts. He answers all our prayers for spiritual growth.


Amen!!
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deusveritasest
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« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2011, 06:23:26 PM »

I totally sympathize with your situation! Perhaps I am that way even more so. Quite frequently when I pray it seems like it is a monologue with no responsive interaction from God, as if He may or may not even be there, as if I may just be speaking to the void. This can be so strong that sometimes I actually feel like an atheist, at least on a spiritual level. In these times, it is only my belief that Christianity is the most reasonable worldview and my trust in the interactions of others with God that keep me in the faith.
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maryofegypt
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« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2011, 06:28:55 PM »

Hi - I am brand new here.  I just found this site yesterday, I didn't know it existed.  I'm so thrilled.   Grin

Anyway... even though I converted many years ago, I wanted to say yes, those periods of dryness absolutely come.  I've been in one myself the last few months, and am slowly coming out of it.  For me personally, the periods of dryness come when I allow myself to get too caught up in "worldly" life (everyday stuff) and let my spiritual reading slip, etc.  Also because of geographical distance and my work schedule, we're usually only able to attend Liturgy every other week, if that.  We can't go to Wednesday or Saturday night services right now. 

Along the lines of the previous post's story about the comment on Lent...many years ago, a couple years after we converted, my husband was in a parish meeting, and while difficulties were being discussed, he said "I'm not Orthodox because I LIKE it."  Everyone kind of smiled and nodded in agreement.  Being Orthodox in 21st century America is not easy, for sure.

There is a line at the end of the Canon of Repentance in the Jordanville Prayer book that always pierces my heart..."Lord, I have forsaken thee....do thou not forsake me."  What gets me through the dry periods is the grace that I know will come if I press on.  He is always faithful.  : )

Mary 

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soufliotiki
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« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2011, 07:03:14 PM »

Hi - I am brand new here.  I just found this site yesterday, I didn't know it existed.  I'm so thrilled.   Grin

Anyway... even though I converted many years ago, I wanted to say yes, those periods of dryness absolutely come. 

Welcome Mary  Grin

Again, I wanted to put a little point out there ... why "converts"?

Dryness is not an exclusive period to "converts" alone ... actually, that word "converts" is slightly annoying and wrong ... once we are baptised we are ALL Orthodox Christians who experience the SAME things ...

Dryness is a natural part of the Spiritual Progress ... embrace and thank God because there is something to be learnt in that period of time.

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