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A Program of Spiritual Formation for Candidates to the Priesthood

The Lay Monastic Community of Caryana







"May the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another and toward all men. . .as we also do toward you."  St. Paul shows God's excessive love for us and his excessive love for the Thessalonians; and so he exhorts us to have excessive love "for one another and toward all men."  

Excessive love comes from a fervent soul:  "May your love increase and abound. . ." not just grow.  

"As we also do toward you. . .":  I, Paul, have loved you with an excessive love.  Now, it is your turn to do likewise.  

This is the nature of Christian or Divine love. . .it is excessive; it encompasses all.  If you love someone but do not love another surely your love is human. . .and like everything human, it is unreliable, untrustworthy, undependable.  And our love must not be such.  

"May your heart be blameless and holy. . ." . . .before God, Christ and the saints.  When we love, we love from the heart; and when our love is Godly, our heart becomes blameless and holy.  Evil, also, comes from the heart:  "From out of the heart comes evil. . ." The heart, alone, without you having to do anything, can do evil; like envy, unbelief, rejoicing at evil are pure acts of the heart that are evil.  

The heart must be "established blameless and holy."  Who must judge it to be blameless and holy?  . . .Christ and the Father. . .NOT in the sight of men.  And what makes the heart blameless and holy?  . . . Divine love.  There is no sin which the power of love cannot consume and destroy.  

Let us implant in our souls this excessive love, this Godly love, that we may stand side by side with the saints.  The saints are saints because  of their excessive love, i.e. they pleased God by the way they loved their neighbors.  Because of Abel's love for Cain, the thought of killing Cain never entered his mind.  Because of Cain's envy that drove away love from his heart, he always thought of killing his own brother.  

St. Paul, the hard man, the adamant, bold in the face of fire, firm and unshaken before judges and persecution, showed excessive love, "Who shall separate me from the love of Christ; not hardships, or anguish, or persecution or famine or nakedness, or peril or the sword.  St. Paul, who was bold in the face of earth, sea and death, when he saw the tears of the Ephesians whom he loved, did not even conceal his feelings.  Weeping, he asked, "Why do you break my heart?"  Nothing can indeed move this Paul except love. . .excessive love.  He wept because he feared that some spiritual disease was creeping into the community.  

Excessive love, Divine love, Charity, extraordinary love is the ordinary thing among the first Christians. . .and, strange as it seems, even in the Old Testament.  Joseph, face to face with the brothers who sold him, had all the power in his command to get even.  But because his heart was filled with love rather than anger, he went into his chambers and composed himself because he could not control his tears.  His brothers deserved anger, wrath, indignation, revenge and retribution.  Even if Joseph punished them there would not have been any injustice.  But why does he weep instead?  "I weep because they treated me thus."  He wept for those who had injured him.  . he wept because he saw the punishment and condemnation that awaited them.  

"How your are to walk and to please God. . ." by abounding more and more.  That you do not stop at the limit of the commandments but that you even go beyond them.  Obedience is rendered to the constraint of a teacher; but to go beyond the command is from a voluntary choice.  

How are you to please God?  By being a saint, by working for the sanctification of your soul... "without which no one shall see God."    

Saint John Chrysostom "On Thes."








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