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TEXTS IN ENGLISH
Teksten in het Engels
In this section you will find a few longer texts, related to the sayings on the miniposters. Some other texts, referred to in the same albums, are given in Dutch translation > on a separate page, see here.
Below an overview of the available pieces, each with a little introduction to give an idea of the contents. To access the actual texts, click on the buttons at the right hand side of the page.
The entire collection of miniposters can be found via the main page of “Words of Life”, see here.
How to live our day-
Once a young lady was suddenly struck with the futility of the life of this world. Recently come from a traditional Orthodox village to the lively whirlpool of the city, she wrote to Bishop Theophan the Recluse, with whom her family was acquainted:
“Is this normal, or is it a morbid hindrance
to a desire for a happy life in the world?”
His answer evoked a correspondence in which the Bishop first of all introduced her to the fundamentals of the spiritual life. But her growing eagerness to lead a truly spiritual life also led to practical questions.
One of these questions arose from her enthusiasm for reading: Would that be wrong, now that she had embarked on a truly Christian life…?
For Saint Theophan’s answer, click the buttons on the right >>
May the grace of God be with you!
I am sending you the writings of St. Anthony by your request. Read and be absorbed. You will be surprised. He was not educated and did not read books of learned men; he only sang the Psalter and read the Gospel along with the Epistle. The grace of God revealed contemplation in his mind, and you see how wise his words are. There are eyewitness accounts of him that tell how when he began to speak, his words flowed like a river and, coming from his heart, they filled the hearts of his listeners. Sometimes they spent entire nights in conversation, and neither he nor those listening to him became tired or felt like going to sleep. We had Father Seraphim of Sarov who was also uneducated, but his experiences in spiritual life, absorption in the word of God and writings of the Fathers made him a wise man among the wise. Books are only for guidance in the spiritual life. Knowledge itself is acquired through deeds. Even that which is known from reading, clear and detailed though it be, presents itself in an entirely different light when experienced through deeds. The spiritual life is such a realm into which the wisdom of this world cannot penetrate. You yourself will experience this or are already doing so. Work on yourself and be attentive to yourself. Little by little, you will reach the point where you will begin holding wise conversations which you should sit down and write out! May the Lord bless you!
You write, “I read a lot; is this bad?” It can be bad and it can be good, depending on what you read and how you read it. Read with discriminatinon and verify what is being read through the genuine truth of our faith. What agrees with it, accept; what does not agree with it, reject as thought against God, and throw out any book that expresses such thoughts. You have begun studying the spiritual life. This is a subject that encompasses a lot, is lofty and sweet for the heart, in which you cannot help but see the uttermost good. You have taken this up and are learning, both from books and even more from deeds. You already know what kind of books you should read, and you also understand how to arrange your personal life. If you seriously desire to set out on this path, then you will never take up the study of other subjects. You went to school and have a general knowledge of everything; this is sufficient for you.
You will say, “I will become backward!” What kind of misfortune is that! Backward in one thing, well-
Speaking in this way, I do not want to say that it is forbidden to read anything else, but only that without anything else one can get by without detriment; whereas if one is inclined to other things, it is possible to suffer detriment in the most important area. If you pursue two different goals, you will not accomplish even one.
The question still remains unresolved as to whether one may read anything besides spiritual things. I would tell you with reservation, in a low voice: You may if you like, but just a little and not indiscriminately. Take this as a sign: When you are in a good mood spiritually and begin reading a book containing human wisdom, if the good mood begins to desert you, get rid of the book. This is a general rule for you.
Even books containing human wisdom may nourish the spirit. These are the books that indicate to us the vestiges of wisdom, benevolence, truth and solicitous Divine industry in nature and history. Read books such as these. God reveals Himself in nature and history in the same way as in His Word. Nature and history are Divine books for those who know how to read them.
You will say, “It is easy to tell me to read such books, but where do you get them?” This I cannot tell you. There are presently more books on scientific subjects coming out. Most of them, however, have a very bad direction; namely, they attempt to explain the origin of the world without God, and all moral-
What about stories and novels? There are good ones among these. To find out whether they are good, however, you must read them, and after you have finished, you will have acquired such tales and images that -
There are good descriptions of geography. You may also read these. However, do a little of everything, and then only for variety. Keep up your spiritual work, and do not turn your attention away from it.
May the Lord bless you!
The letter given above contains St. Theophan’ answer to his young correspondent. In addition, on page two, part of an earlier letter in which he himself had encouraged reading as a worthwile occupation
> click button 2 on the right >
These and related letters have been published as a book. In the excerpts given here, subtitles have been added for ease of reading. For bookdetails, miniposters etc.
> see the links below right >
May the grace of God be with you!
Always… each time you find yourself alone, renew as quickly as possible the conviction that the Lord and your Guardian Angel are with you, and rush to take advantage of these moments of solitude for undistracted sojourning with the Lord and sweet conversation with Him. Solitude in this spirit is sweet. I hope you will taste this sweetness sometime, so that you will desire it as Paradise on earth.
Recently, while looking through a book, I came across the advice of a father (Count Speransky) to his daughter. Among other things, he tells how to avoid boredom. This is what he advises: everyone, he says, has a number of daily chores, which they work off like some sort of quitrent. There are many people, however, for whom these quitrent chores are simple and do not take much time. There is a lot of time left over whereby, if it is not filled with anything, there is no way to avoid boredom. Here is the most reliable way for you to avoid it: Arrange things so you do not have a single idle moment and all your time is filled with suitable occupations so that, upon completion of one activity, you have another ready to begin.
What kind of activities should these be? 1) Aesthetic occupations: music, singing, painting. 2) Some sort of handicraft: knitting, needlework and the like. 3) The best remedy for boredom, however, is to acquire a taste for serious reading and the study of subjects that you are unfamiliar with. It is not so much the reading that drives away boredom as the study.
I was going to tell you this recipe against boredom just in case, but then the need for it arose. Take it into consideration and get organized in this way. You truly will not experience boredom anymore. I know a certain person who is always alone. He never goes out himself, and never receives guests. When you ask him if he gets bored, he answers: “I have no time, because there is so much to do. As soon as I wake up, I start doing things, and never manage to get everything done by bedtime.”
I would note for you that the study Count Speransky is referring to is the study of entire sciences or certain parts of them. By this, it is obvious that one avoids any reading of frivolous books. It seems that you do not like to do this anyway. That is good. Do not give up this habit. Read more the spiritual books (than the scientific ones). This is the spere of the most serious subjects, and, most importantly, the most necessary. In this sphere everything is new and never becomes obsolete. The more you learn, the more you will discover subjects that are as yet unfamiliar. The desire to learn these subjects and the predisposition to their cognition occurs only when one in fact sets out on the path of spiritual life. I consider that from the moment you decided to please the Lord, you have been no stranger to this path. Read then, as you like, books on these subjects, and become wise. May the Lord bless you!
These and related letters have been published as a book. In the excerpts given here, subtitles have been added for ease of reading. For bookdetails, miniposters etc. > see the links below right >
Why would anybody pray, unless there is some benefit in this …
In a homily, given at the Feast of Transfiguration, St. Philaret explores the reasons why man prays, the doubts sown as to the point of prayer, as well as the glorious aim of true prayer, as witnessed at the Lord’s Transfiguration.
But then, as in answer to any remaining doubts, he also explores the reasons why so many prayers seem to remain unanswered …
To read Saint Philaret’s teaching on prayer,
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“And He went up into a mountain to pray. And as He prayed, the fashion of His countenance was altered, and His raiment was white and glistening. And, behold, there talked with Him two men, which were Moses and Elias.” (Lk.9:28-
Christians! your heart is no doubt ready to say of the witnesses of the glory of Mount Tabor: indeed it was good for them to be there. Happy were they that they could be there! What then, if we tell you that the way to the contemplation of the glory of Mount Tabor, is not swallowed up in an abyss, is not walled up from us, nor overgrown with thorns, not forgotten, nor lost, but may still be indicated by those who know it, to those who seek for it. (It is not difficult to understand that we speak here of the spiritual way; for a carnal way cannot possibly lead us to spiritual visions and divine revelations.) Why does the Evangelist, when about to describe unto us the glorious Transfiguration of the Lord, first of all, direct his own and our attention to prayer? “He went up into a mountain to pray.” Why again does he, as if distrusting the insight of certain readers and hearers of the Gospel, or as if fearing that they might not sufficiently understand the importance of the fact observed, repeat that the Transfiguration of the Lord took place during prayer: “As He prayed.” Why, if not to point out to us [that it is] in prayer – the way to the light of Tabor, the key to spiritual mysteries, the might of divine revelation?
Unfortunately there is a philosophy (of that kind which the Apostle Paul designates as “philosophy after the rudiments of the world and vain deceit – Col.2:8) which disdaining the universal testimony of humanity, deems itself able to find out the best witnesses of the truth. It teaches that the whole world is bound by the bonds of causes and effects, in which even free beings are more or less entangled, and when, for instance, man prays for abundance of the fruits of the earth, the said abundance depending on the temperature of the atmosphere – this temperature on the action and reaction of the sun, earth, and water, and their action again on the laws of the universe, once for all ordained by the Creator, and operating immediately and in obedience to fixed laws; he then is praying either to no purpose or at most only for the purpose of evincing his humility and submission to the might and majesty of the Creator. Let us note that even such a philosophy cannot deprive prayer of that effect at least which begets in man a spirit of lowliness towards God, and this alone is of no small value, and is a redeeming influence. But this is not all. Ask any disciple of this philosophy whom you may meet with, which is better, a skilfully constructed machine or a living being, intelligent and free, and a well-
Why would such people more readily picture to themselves GOD as the Architect of the universe, than as the King of heaven and earth and the FATHER of spirits? We leave them to seek an answer to this in their own conscience; while for our present purpose it is quite sufficient to admit, that if GOD is not only our Creator, but also our King and FATHER, then undoubtedly the children will not call in vain on their FATHER, nor will the King shut His ears against the sons of His kingdom.
And is it then to be wondered at, that a loving FATHER should, to satisfy the righteous, or at all events the innocent desire of a son, stop or alter the movements of the machine which He has formed?
We must not wonder then, if our Most Gracious heavenly FATHER, in answer to the prayers of His earth-
It is by means of such a comparison that the Truth itself, the Word itself, explains the efficacy of prayer: “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your FATHER which is in heaven, give good things to them that ask Him” (Mt.7:11)
There are some Christians, understanding and performing the act of prayer rather in an outward ritual sense, than in an inward spiritual one, who, whilst in no way doubting in the general belief that prayer is powerful and efficacious, are mistaken, or do entirely err in the application of this truth to themselves and to their prayer.
Praying repeatedly, and seeing nothing result from their prayers, either in themselves or around them, they, instead of doubting the sincerity and merit of their own prayers, are prone to imbibe the idea inspired by a spirit of sloth and self-
But it is time at last to inquire why it is that so many prayers remain without effect, if every prayer may always be so powerful and effectual? [...] Let us particularly note one instance, in which a prayer appears not to be answered, whereas it is really answered in an unexpected and sublime way. Thus, Paul “besought the LORD thrice, to be delivered from a thorn in the flesh;” but GOD answered him: “My grace is sufficient for thee; for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2Cor.12:8,9) The temptation is not removed: but a victory still more wonderful is granted over the continuing temptation. If we except such cases, all unsuccessful prayers are accounted for by this short saying of the Apostle: “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” (James 4:3) Our prayers are fruitless, either because they are not fervent and persevering supplications, which proceeded from the depth of our souls, and into which our whole soul is poured forth, but are only weak desires, which we utter without fervour, thinking they must needs be fulfilled of their own accord; or because our supplications are unclean and evil, inasmuch as we ask that which is hurtful, and of no benefit to our souls; or ask things not for the glory of GOD, but for the gratification of our carnal and selfish desires.
Pray, Christian, fervently and with the whole might of thy soul, pray diligently and perseveringly, pray rightly and purely; and if thou art not thyself equal to it, then pray for prayer itself, and by prayer thou wilt first obtain true and effectual prayer, and then this prayer shall overcome all things with thee and obtain all things for thee: it will guide thee unto Mount Tabor or create a Tabor within thee: it will call down heaven into thy soul, and raise thy soul into heaven.
For bookdetails, miniposters etc. > see the links below right >>
Encouragement for the heart, wearied by the hatred of the world …
Even as Bishop Nikolai encouraged his own heart: during his exile near the lake where he wrote these fiery words of light, born from his love for God and his fellow-
Two texts from his “Prayers by the Lake” …
To read, click the buttons on the right >>
Warriors of Life, wage war mightily and do not waver in your faith in victory.
Victory is bestowed on the one whose eye keeps it untiring gaze fixed upon it. Whoever even thinks of defeat, loses sight of victory and does not find it again. Victory is a tiny star in the distance, which continous gazing magnifies and draws nearer!
Keep watch with vigilance, so that not even one of the enemy jumps over the wall into your city. If even one adversary jumps in, the city is lost. Only a single serpent slithered into Paradise, and Paradise was transformed into Hell (cf. Gen.3).
Indeed, just one drop of poison enters a full body of blood,
and physicians predict its death!
It is not as important to slay your enemy outside the city
as it is not to let him into the city.
Warriors of Life, wage war mightily and do not waver in your faith in victory.
What does it profit you, if you conquer and gain possession of the world, and the world takes the place of your soul (cf. Matt.16:27). Truly, the world will remain, but the soul will no longer be yours. The soul is a timid bird; if you throw even a tiny bit of ashes at her, she takes to flight and flees to escape.
The soul is more valuable than the world
– you would do better, therefore, to subjugate the soul rather than the world.
The soul is a more faithful ally than the world
– you would do better, to forge an alliance with the soul.
The soul is richer than the world
– you would do better, to make her your fortress.
The soul is more healthful than the world
– you would do better, to seek your health in her.
The soul is more beautiful than the world
– you would do better, to take her for your bride.
The soul is a more fruitful field than the world
– you would do better, to exert yourself over her.
Warriors of Life, wage war mightily, and do not waver in your faith in victory.
Do not cast out a demon with a demon. For you will always have a demon in the house. But cast out the devil with God. And the devil will flee, but God will remain (cf. Matt.12:22-
Do not fight fire with fire. For you will make the fire into a conflagration, and your house will burn down along with your enemy’s. But fight fire with water, and you will extinguish it.
Do not raise death as a weapon against death, for you will only increase the range of death. But raise life as a weapon against death, and death will retreat as a shadow does before the face of the sun.
Warriors of Life, wage war mightily, and do not waver in your faith in victory.
Your objective is your weaponry. If you wage war for Life, expect also a crown of glory from Life.
Have neither two objectives, nor twofold weaponry. When the objective is life, life is also the weaponry. When the objective is death, death is also the weaponry. Wherever life and death are intermingled, death is the victor.
Do not expect a reward from both sides.
For the other side is death.
Do not serve two masters (cf. Matt.6:24).
For the name of the other master is death.
Sacrifice everything for Life, and expect everything from Life. And Life will give you everything.
Whoever captures Life, has truly taken the wealthiest city in all realms. And he will find more treasure in that city than an eye can behold, a heart can desire, and a dream can dream of.
Warriors of Life, wage war mightily,
and do not waver in your faith in victory.
You contain the heavenly flame amid the ashes (cf. Mark 9:49-
because they have no life of their own.
Perjurers swear by your God,
because they have no God of their own.
A liar justifies himself with your truth,
because he has none of his own.
The world’s wise men seek wisdom by a roundabout way
and return to your wisdom, because there is no other.
Weaklings persecute you, because they fear your strength,
and they themselves cannot take it away.
Cowards envy you for your courage,
for there is nothing to encourage them.
Behold, the rich all beg from you, yet none can give you anything. You are rich, for you have God. You are wealthy, for you are God-
Your soul is the cradle of the Living God. Your heart is His throne. Your mind is Mount Sinai, where He alone gives tablets of stone and speaks (cf. Ex.19&20).
Journey freely with God within you; you will not lose the way, and you will not be left without shelter. Enter with Him freely through the gates of the day, and the day will be yours. Enter with Him freely through the gates of the night, and the night will cringe with its specters, and will show you its wonders.
Do not sell your treasure, for the world cannot pay for it (cf. Matt.13:44-
Do not trade with the universe, for the universe can give nothing except itself. And its entirety is like paper compared to gold. It will burn up one day, and will be reduced to a handful of ashes (cf. 2Pet.3:10-
Space, from one end to the other,
cannot store your treasure.
Time, from one end to the other,
cannot calculate your treasure.
The world persecutes you (cf. Matt.5:10-
because you have peace,
and it has none.
The world envies you,
because you have wealth,
and it is impoverished.
The world fears you,
because you have power,
and it is powerless.
The world hates you,
because you have blessedness,
and it is wretched
(cf. Matt.10:22 & John 15:18-
Do not spite the world, and do not add oil to the fire.
For the whole world is ablaze with the flames of malice.
You have been isolated, you say? Are sepulchres really any kind of fellowship? One person alive in a cemetery is less alone than all the graves of the dead.
You are few in number, you say? But you are armed. Your adversaries are bound sepulchres.
The world is lifeless without you.
You are the channels through which life pours into the world.
The world is joyless without you.
Through you laughter is entering a prison.
Do not fatten your bodies, for to fatten is to fester. Do not pack mud onto your bones, for your bones will become sluggish and your souls will become thin.
Zealously keep the divine Bridegroom within you (note 1), and beware lest you frighten Him away. He is truly as timorous as a bird, and will not impose Himself. At a single unseemly thought He flees from the mind. At a single filthy desire He flees from the heart.
Remember: if He abandons you, His last dug-
(1) Translator’s note: Bridegroom = Christ (cf. Matt.9:15 & 25:1-
Note: These and more “Prayers by the Lake” are available in English, as the fifth volume in the series “Treasures of Serbian Orthodox Spirituality”, see the link below for the bookdetails.
What is the use of ascetic watchfulness and the practice of the Jesus Prayer?
This short text encourages us to follow the way of the Saints, in order that we, too, may live according to the great commandments of love.
From a talk with the same title (Wichita A.D. 2009), published in the book “Remember Thy First Love”..
To read, click the buttons on the right >>
The desert fathers say that every imagined fantasy of a wandering mind works against the prayer of the heart. They advised monks to keep to their cells, keeping their minds in their hearts, knowing that this would teach them every virtue. Indeed, our struggle for prayer consists of persuading the mind to inhabit the heart and it is to this that we must apply all our strength, all the powers of our soul. For our heart is the throne of God, and the enemy, who has usurped the throne, must be cast out. All our effort must go towards casting out the enemy, taking possession of our heart and establishing our mind within it. If, with God’s help, the enemy is expelled, he has no other choice but to attack from outside.
So the constant care of those who seek true prayer is to rein the mind in, drawing it downward and confining it in the breast. Everything else -
As we have said, once the mind is enclosed and enthroned in the heart, the enemy approaches from outside. But as man learns to control each movement of his heart from within, he begins to sense every approach of the enemy. Even before he knows the nature of the temptation, an inner alarm warns his heart of the approach of a foreign thought. He then seals the entrance to his heart in anticipation, and blocks our the enemy. As a submarine is surrounded by billions of water drops, but not a single one can make its way through to the inside, so it is with a heart that is inhabited by the mind through grace -
As we call upon God, we begin to fulfill His commandment to love Him with all our heart. Rightly He is a jealous God Who cannot bear to share our heart with anything, let alone with the passions. God wants our entire heart, for His desire is to transmit His life to it. If we defend it against all things foreign to it, all teh space will be His alone and He will make His abode therein. Vigilance makes of us temples of His glorious consolation, and ‘the glory of the Lord fills the house of the Lord’.
In practice, the Jesus Prayer should be said continously and we must try to hold fast to it, but not only with our spirit, because we are easily distracted. We should also move our tongue a little with the words, to remind us that the prayer is being said. Our mouth will be closed, and nobody will know that our tongue is moving silently with the words, ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me’. It will then be easier to keep the prayer whatever our occupation, and our whole day will be spent in the presence of the Lord. This is the best preparation for standing before God in Church or when we pray in our rooms. And if we stay with the prayer throughout the day, no two days will ever be the same. Each day will teach us different ways of opening up our heart to new experiences of grace.
Prayer of the heart is ‘prayer of a single thought’ (monológistê euchê). Its words are concise, whereas the use of many words indicates that we are on the psychological level. Whenever God speaks in order to reveal Himself, He utters but a single sentence. We see this throughout Scripture, when God calls a man to the prophetic ministry, for example; when He reveals Himself to him, or when He instructs and corrects him. When St Paul prayed in despair to be freed from temptations, God responded with just one sentence: ‘My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.’ We see the same phenomenon when God spoke to St Paul in prison, or to St Peter in the vision he had about Cornelius. When Jacob had struggled with God all night, God answered, ‘Because you were strong with God you will be strong with men also.’ When God speaks, His word is like lighning, and so it is when He appears to man. The Lord does not use many words or theories; everything is crystallised in one single phrase. And He is please that we should speak to Him in one short phrase, our whole heart, our whole being concentrated in one thought.
As we learn unceasing prayer, God teaches us to speak and act even as He does, and this eventually comes through in all our encounters. […]
Father Sophrony used to say of long conversations that they are traitements psychologiques, ‘psychological treatments’. He said this with some irony because there were times when he himself had to speak at length, and this is not the way of perfection. Perfection of life is to live with one thought, to pray with one thought, and if we have to speak, to speak with one phrase. Then we abide in the spiritual realm. […] this is the way of the Saints.
+ Archim. Zacharias (Zacharou)
From a talk in Wichita, AD 2009, published in ‘Remember Thy First Love’, from chapter 14 ‘Living with a single thought’. Above with additional subtitles (in italics) by the editor.
For book details etc., see the links below >>
What is the purpose of man’s life?
Will we ever be able to find joy and happiness on this earth?
In this article professor Mantzarides presents us with the paradox of man’s deepest desires -
Nevertheless, an answer does exist: In the ancient Tradition concerning man’s deification, made possible by the Incarnation ...
An excerpt from the book “Orthodox Spiritual Life” (followed by a quotation by Saint Symeon of Thessalonica, from an earlier chapter)
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Aristotle in his Politics interprets the greed of man and the endless number of his inquiries, noting: "The nature of desire is infinite, but the majority of people live to fulfill it." The whole world is too poor to be able to satisfy human desire. This is becoming more and more obvious today as man extends his conquests beyond the earth, but without feeling thereby more complete or more happy. On the contrary, one can observe that man's conquests are increasing his inquiries still more and the satisfaction of his desires is making his greed more intense.
This phenomenon, which can be considered a paradox for a materialistic anthropological theory, is not only intelligible, but also perfectly natural for Christian anthropology. Man, according to Christian teaching, is a creature "in the image and likeness" of God (Gen.1:26). This means that he has marks of the divine in his nature. The infinite, the perfect, the eternal, and all the marks that characterize the uncreated and transcendent God are reflected in some way in created and finite man. Thus, the paradox is not to be found in the desires and inquiries of man, but in his very nature and structure. The paradox is not that man desires the infinite, the perfect, the eternal, but that, being a created and perishable existence, he cannot be fulfilled if he is not led to what he desires -
The longing for deification is innate in man. Man is fulfilled by this longing and by it he is led to value and realize the goal of his existence. As Saint Maximos the Confessor observes,
But on the other hand, the longing for deification destroys man and leads him into perversion and madness. This longing led man into original sin. It lies essentially at the base of every human activity which establishes and perpetuates the fall. In the doxasticon of Matins for the Feast of the Annunciation of the Mother of God, the hymnography of the Orthodox Church notes the following:
God became man in order to deify man: "For he became man that we might become god" (St. Athanasius, On the Incarnation). In the person of Christ, human nature has been deified and a new root has been created, which is in a position to transmit life and incorruptibility to all its shoots. The faithful who are enrolled in the body of Christ become sharers in the grace and life of God. And so, what is impossible and inaccessible for man has become possible and accessible to him through the God-
But the incarnation of God, which made possible the deification of man, could not be realized except with the co-
The deification of man, then, presupposes his willing self-
The egotistic making of man into god is the opposite of deification in Christ. While deification in Christ assumes humility and self-
Deification, which is defined ... as "assimilation and union with God, so far as is possible," is granted as a gift of the uncreated God to created man [..] The deification of man is the work of the one Triadic God. God assumes man in Christ by the grace of the Holy Spirit and leads him to the glory of his kingdom ...
[...] In this divine-
The view that the faithful can maintain the grace of the Holy Spirit during this present life "unknowingly" and "without perceiving" is characterized by Saint Symeon the New Theologian as malicious and blasphemous. So he notes, then, if the graces of the Holy Spirit
The sensation of the glory of God begins in the present life and presupposes the purity of man's heart -
Participation in the glory of God transfigures man. The iron which is heated in the fire, as the Fathers note, becomes and is called fire, without ceasing to be iron. And the man who shares in the divine light becomes and is called light, without ceasing to be man. The whole of man becomes deiform. The uncreated God dwells and is active in created human nature and, therefore, the deified man is not proud of his virtues and good works. His every good work and his every virtue is, [ultimately,] a fruit of the grace of God who is active in him.
By grace, deified man receives [everything] that the uncreated God has. And so he lives an unlimited and unending perfection. God is infinite and the possibilities for man's development are infinite. The grace of God is unlimited, and the blessedness of the faithful who participates in it is unlimited. As a friend of God and god by grace, he is freed from space and time. He becomes
Thus, the deification of man, which is begun by the deification of his nature in the person of Christ, is completed by the offering of this gift to every human person. This offering is initiated by the grace of the Holy Spirit during the present life and is revealed in its fulness in the future life. The person is not changed into an arithmetic unit to promote the whole, but is esteemed as a unique and unrepeatable value. The whole fulness is offered and revealed in the person, and the fulness exists and acts personally. This is the witness and the gift of the Triadic God. [...]
The effort which aims to make man into god is found in precisely the opposite direction. This effort pursues divinization by collectivization [..] The person is used as an arithmetic unit to promote the whole. And the apotheosis of the whole cannot be located anywhere else than where the independence and particularity of the person vanish. It is the direction and spirit of 'giantism' and totalitarianism, to which our civilization is enslaved.
This titanic effort to make a god of man has reached in our days a frightening impasse. By alienating the human person and changing it into a simple number and anonymous accessory to an intricate, impersonal and uncontrollable machine, it is already directing the entire world to general alienation and ruin. The idol to which man has sacrificed his person is tending to tear our whole species apart. Before this fearful impasse, the Church repeats firmly and unalterably its eternal proclamation of the deification of man in Christ: Deification, which is not realized by abolition of the person, but by giving him absolute value as an image of God, in which the infinite, [beginningless] and endless truth of God's life and existence is manifest; deification, which is realized always in communion with the other members of the Church -
(translation as given in the book “Orthodox Spiritual Life”; subtitles and notes in square brackets were added by the editor)
This sacred prayer, then, the invocation of our Saviour, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me,” is a prayer and a blessing, and a confession of faith. It is productive of the Holy Spirit, a dispenser of divine gifts, a purifying of the heart, a chasing away of demons, a dwelling of Jesus Christ, a source of spiritual thoughts and reflections. It is for the forgiveness of sins, an infirmary of bodies, a dispenser of divine enlightenment, a fountain of God’s mercy, a distributor of revelations and divine initiation in humility, and the only salvation. For even salvation bears in itself the name of our God, which is the only name invoked on us, that of Jesus Christ the Son of God; and our salvation is in nothing else, as the Apostle says (Acts 4:12).
And so, it is a prayer, because in it we seek divine mercy; and a blessing, because we give ourselves to Christ through his intercessions. It is a confession, because Peter was blessed when he made this confession; and it is productive of the Spirit, because “no one can say ‘Lord Jesus’ except in the Holy Spirit” (1Cor.12:3). Iti s a dispenser of divine gifts because, as Christ says to Peter, “for this (his confession of faith) I will give you the keys fo the kingdom of heaven” (Mt.16:19). It is a purification of the heart because he sees God who calsl and cleanses the one who sees. It chases away demons because in the name of Jesus Christ all demons were and are expelled. It is a dwelling of Christ because in our recollection of him, Christ is i nus and through recollection he dwells in us, filling us with gladness, for “I remembered,” it says, “the Lord and was made glad” (Ps.76:4 Lxx).
It is the source of spiritual thoughts and reflections because Christ is the treasury of all wisdom and knowledge which he grants to those in whom he dwells. It is a redemption for our sins since through this “whatever you shall loose,” it says, “shall be loosed in heaven”(Mt.16:19). It is the infirmary of souls and bodies because “in the name of Jesus Christ, rise and walk” (Acts 9:34). It is a dispenser of divine enlightenment because Christ is the true light and he transmits his splendour and grace to those who call upon him. “May the splendour of the Lord our God be upon us” (Ps.89:17 Lxx), it says, and “whoever follows me shall have the light of life” (Jn.8:12).
It is a fountain of divine mercy because we ask for mercy and the Lord is merciful and has compassion on all who call upon him; he avenges quickly those who cry to him. It is a distributor of revelations and divine initiations to the humble because this was given to the fisherman, Peter, through a revelation of the Father in heaven. Likewise Paul was carried away in Christ and heard revelations, and Christ always effects this. It is the only salvation because our salvation is in no one else, says the Apostle (Acts 4:42), and “this Christ is the saviour of the world”(Jn 4:42). Therefore it shall still be on the last day, that “every tongue shall confess” and sing in praise willingly or unwillingly, “that Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil.2:11).
This is the sign of our faith since we are called Christians, and the testimony that we are from God. “For every spirit that confesses that the Lord Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God”, it says, as we have said before, and what does not confess is not from God (1Jn.4:3). This belongs to Antichrist who does not confess Jesus Christ.
Therefore it is necessary that all the faithful without ceasing confess this name, both for the proclamation of faith and for love of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom nothing must ever separate us at all, for the grace which comes from his name, for the forgiveness and remission and healing, for blessing and enlightenment and above all for salvation.
For in this holy name the apostles worked miraculously and taught. And the holy Evangelist says, “These things have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God” (Jn.20:31) -
Every chapter in the book “Orthodox Spiritual Life” closes with a text from the Holy Fathers. The text given above closes the chapter on “Mental Prayer”, which is closely related to the way man may attain the goal of his deification, within the context of the life of the Church.
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