In this episode, we explore the prayer life of the Theotokos, primarily drawing upon the significance of her practice of secret meditation of the heart, as we read in the words of Saint Luke, “But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). Saint Gregory Palamas calls her the “first Hesyachast.” Saint Gregory teaches that the Theotokos, while a child sojourning in the Temple, was the first person to take it upon herself to “pray unceasingly.” Veronica invites us to use our time of preparation before the Nativity to deepen our prayer, whether that be the use of the Jesus Prayer, recitation of the Psalms, or another hymn that has meaning to us. “Prayer must not be an occupation for a certain period of time, but a permanent state of Spirit” (Saint Theophan).
I am a native San Franciscan currently living in the mountains of Northern California. I have been married for twenty-seven years to Gregory Hughes, my spiritual buddy and the love of my life. We have 2 adorable dogs, Bisou and Bubba. I have a step-son Shayne, who is married to Lara. We have 2 grandchildren, Gabriel and Jeremi. Due to health issues, in my early 20s, I began a spiritual journey. I was seeking inner peace, for I felt my soul and body were connected. If my soul could heal, perhaps so could my body. I was a lapsed Catholic who studied Eastern religions. I had a guru and Tibetan lama, practiced prayer and fasting, and meditation techniques. I studied metaphysics and the life of the soul, which I later taught to others. Yet, after twenty-five years of seeking, I was depressed and spiritually unfulfilled. Thanks to my husband and the grace of God, my spiritual journey ultimately allowed me to convert to Christianity, find God, and open my heart newly to Jesus Christ through the study and practice of Eastern Orthodox Christianity. In 2011, my first book, The Pearl of Great Price: The Spiritual Journey of a New Age Seeker to the Light of Christ and Eastern Orthodox Christianity, was published, which is about my conversion. I am currently working on my second book, In Christ I am a New Creation, which will focus on my journey in Orthodoxy after my conversion and my ongoing conversion, my regeneration in grace. For commentary on the readings in this podcast, visit my blog. To be in touch with me, you can visit my website, or you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. To hear my interview on Come Receive the Light, listen here.