Tag Archives: Wisdom

Is the body evil?

Is the body evil?

The body has been seen as a source of evil and sin at different times all throughout Man’s history. The philosophical phrase for the struggle between the sensual body and the mind, or soul, is dualism. While there are many different types of dualism, the type that has been often associated with Christianity is the belief that the body, with its receptiveness of the senses, is in direct conflict with the mind or soul and its ability to feel and communicate with God.

Fornication, gluttony and violence, for example, are all sins related to the body. It is the indulgence of, and giving in to, the physical pleasures of the body in a sexual way which leads to things like adultery, pornography and masturbation. Seeking to please the body through good food can lead to gluttony. Violence, rather than trying to please the body through its senses, attempts to punish or harm another person through their bodily senses.

Statue of the "Starving Buddha"

The examples above serve to show why the body can and has been seen as the greatest source of evil, as perhaps the biggest thing standing between God and us. This dualistic view has led many of various faiths and ideologies to deny and punish the body as a way of showing their devotion to what it is that they believe in. From the self-flagellation of medieval Roman Catholic monks and modern Shi’a  Muslims, to the extreme fasting of Siddhartha and Hindu gurus, it has been thought throughout history that the body must be subdued and overcome in order grow closer to the divine.

This is the incorrect view to have however. While it is true that it is through the body that we commit many of our sins, it is not because of the body. Sexual pleasure is not a sin in of itself; when shared with a spouse it can be an expression of the love shared between the two, a way of growing closer to the other, and the means of bringing new life into the world. Good food is not a sin; it can be used by the chef to express their affection for those they are cooking for, a desire to share something they enjoy with others, and, for those eating good food, it can be a way of spending time with others and enjoying the pleasures which God has given to us.

I find it telling that these things, when shared with other people, can often be considered “good,” yet it is when they are used to satisfy the individual only that they become “bad.”  To use sex and food again as an example, when a person seeks after sexual pleasure solely for themselves and for no other reason than to make themselves feel good, or if food is frequently sought out not to satisfy hunger but to satisfy and indulge in the desire of good tastes, it is then that these things cause us to stop focusing on others and God and to instead of focus on ourselves. This after all, the focus and reliance on the ego  and self in place of God, is what caused humanity to fall in the first place and what continues to separate us from Him.

In Greek, the word used for sin is αμαρτία (amartia). This translates literally as “missing the mark.” A good image to conjure is an arrow on the outer rings of a target. The arrow has missed the mark  which it is intended for, the bulls eye. With this understanding, an action is considered a sin if it causes us to “miss the mark” of glorifying and growing closer to God.

God created us with a soul and a body as a harmonious whole. He created us as sensory creatures, made to enjoy the things around us, and in doing so to thank and glorify Him for these things. We believe that at the final resurrection it is not only our souls, but our bodies as well that will be brought back to life. In Orthodox worship our body is a key tool used to help us connect to God: we smell the incense, hear the chanting and bells, make prostrations, see the beautiful icons and vestments and taste the wine and bread of the Eucharist.

The body is not evil, and holding such a dualistic view is not compatible with Orthodox theology. We do need to be mindful of our body and its senses though, and to make sure that we do not let the desire to indulge them alter our aim and cause us to miss the mark.

We should always be mindful of God and watchful over our passions, and when these two things are kept, then we can enjoy the body and its senses that God has given us, and as He intended. Glory to you, our God!

IC | XC
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NI | KA

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Christianity makes no sense.

Christianity makes no sense.

At least not rationally, and this is a problem for a large population of the world. The concept of a sort of “meta-person” who exists and has the ability to create, control and interact with creation can be a difficult concept for some, but the idea that that person could then die, and that be a good thing, complicates it exponentially. In a letter to the church at Corinth, the Apostle Paul wrote:

Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.

Even two-thousand years ago the idea of a god which which died, and yet was supposed to be all powerful, didn’t quite make sense. For the Jews, whose history had been filled with wonderous events such as the parting of the Red Sea, the destruction of the first born in Egypt, the gift of mana from the skies and many others, the death of a person whom these new Christians said was of the same essence of the God they worshiped did not seem miraculous at all; perhaps more blasphemous!

For the Greeks, who valued above all wisdom, and who were steeped in the traditional philosophies of giants such as Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, the Stoics, the Pythagoreans, and a number of others, the conclusions of Christianity couldn’t not (and cannot) be arrived at through an archetypal rationalistic method.

At the beginning of his letter, the Apostle tells us:

Brethren, among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glorification. None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory.

Christianity does not make sense, if we try to understood with the wisdom or rationality of the current age. This was true two millennia ago, and still true today. This age is ruled by science, which while by no means is a bad thing in of itself (I shudder to imagine what life would be like without the knowledge we have now), what is bad is the individual and collective egotism which can come from it.

We have learned so much about the universe around us; from how what goes on on the surface of the sun affects what goes on here on earth, to how a malfunction in a single gene of our genetic code can have profound effects on the body. We have used this knowledge to take control of our world, to build communities of previously unimaginable sizes and manipulate our environment to sustain them, to chase away the dark with perpetual light, to fight back against illnesses that would previously ravage our bodies with little to no opposition, and to build machines which allows us to communicate instantly any where in the world, manufacture goods with almost no human interaction and carry us across vast distances.

These are all good things. But these things have also caused us to believe that if something exists, we can find it,  and that if something needs to be known or done, we have the power to do it; it has caused us to believe that we can do anything that we need to, on our own.

The Orthodox Church teaches us that this is what was the downfall of humanity, represented in the persons of Adam and Eve, this belief that our wisdom is so great that we do not need God and figure everything out on our.

In the quote above, the Apostle mentions that he and his fellow workers impart a secret and hidden wisdom, one which does not pass away as does the wisdom of the rulers of the age. More importantly, it’s a wisdom that God has instituted for our glorification.

When humanity was first created, God created us for the purpose of communion, communion with each other and with Himself. We created in such a way that we had unlimited potential to grow closer and closer to Him, to share in the love and communion which the Holy Trinity has among each person. This was our glory; that we could become increasingly more like God in love and to share in His divine light. God created us with free will so that the extent to which we grew closer to Him was dependent on us, that the love which was to be shared would be real and not imposed.

However it is also this free will which caused our turning away from Him. The tree from which the fruit eaten by Adam and Eve came was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In this way the author of Genesis conveys the idea that humanity took it upon itself to learn of the world and decided that it did not need God anymore to make moral decisions. When this decision was made, humanity turned away from the Giver of Life, and ventured out into the darkness by itself.

Due to this, God gave humanity the Divine Commandments, to give us a guideline on what was good and what we should be doing, to act as a yardstick of morality. The commandments are not a way to eternal life, they are not salvation; rather they show the way of death, and create sin by saying that any action which went against the commandments, was a sin, a turning away from God.

The Logos, the Word of God, then became incarnate in the person of Jesus. God Himself married his divine nature to our human nature and in doing so He healed the sickness which the turning away from God had created and refreshed our souls. God made it possible for our nature to receive a fresh start and to return to the state it was in when humanity was first created.

And lastly, to return to the point of contention at the beginning of this post, Jesus, God incarnate, died. Up until this point, when the body died the soul could not return God, since in life it had turned away and lost the glory which had been ascribed to it. Having turned away from the Source of Life, the soul was shut out the Kingdom of Life. Jesus’ soul too went down into death, but, being divine and the Source of Life the bonds of death could not contain Him. The divine nature broke the bonds of death and “shattered the gates of Hades,” making it so that those who had turned back to Him in life could not be prevented from returning to him after it.

This is the wisdom of God that the rulers of the age did not and continue not to understand. This is the “foolishness” of God that wiser than the wisdom of man. God did not die, he destroyed death. The wisdom of this age cannot understand the wisdom of God because it is temporary, while the wisdom of God has been since the very beginning.

No, Christianity doesn’t make a bit of sense if one attempts to arrive at it from a rational, self-contained, temporal understanding. It is not something we can hope to understand on our own because it is something completely outside of us; we cannot see it, we cannot arrive at it from cause and effect, we cannot deduce it from the evidence around us – ironically though, what Christianity teaches is a bigger miracle than was ever revealed to the Jews and it is a more profound and sublime wisdom than the Greeks could ever conceive:

It is the miracle, wisdom and gift of life itself.

IC | XC
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NI | KA


Starving the Ego

They said of Abba Macarius the Great that he became, as it is written, a god upon earth, because, just as God protects the world, so Abba Macarius would cover the faults which he saw, as though he did not see them; and those which he heard, as though he did not hear them.

Currently I am employed in a call center trouble-shooting the point of sale equipment of various customers. One of the major factors which determines how we are evaluated is our solve rate; the ratio of calls that we are able to resolve over the phone to those which we must dispatch field technicians.

The result of this however is that there are people who will do whatever they can in order to solve a call out, even if it means cheating, lying or any other of a number of shady actions.

Now I am not perfect, and on occasion I deviate from the straight and narrow in order to ensure my numbers remain reasonable, but the blatant abuse of some here really irks me. I catch myself increasingly often engaging in conversations with others and talking about these blatant abuses and those who are doing them.

As I continue to grow in Orthodoxy, these conversations become visible to myself;  they  become the “beam in my own eye” and I realize that it’s not my place to judge these people; it’s not my place to talk bad about what they might be doing here when I myself have so many faults that at times I wonder why God would even listen to my cries to Him.

This is something in our fallen nature that plagues almost everyone: the tendency to feel slighted by others, to want to talk bad about people we perceive to be doing wrong, and the desire to feed our ego with a self-righteous attitude through the faults of others.

This is one of the passions which I’ve decided to focus on bringing under control and I recently came across the above saying by Abba Macarius to help me remember this. I wanted to share it with you all in the hopes that you might receive some edification from it as well.


Nothing else did You ever desire or seek from me, and nothing else do You desire or seek from me now.

Almighty King of heaven and earth! Who made You enter my unworthy heart, when I am accursed, and poor, and blind, and naked? No one, of course, but Your immeasurable love for me. O uncreated love! O love most sweet! What do You want of me, beggar that I am? Nothing, as I see and understand, except my love for You; nothing, except that no other fire should burn on the altar of my heart but the fire of my love for You, which would consume all love and all desire other than that of bringing myself to You as a burnt offering and fragrant incense. Nothing else did You ever desire or seek from me, and nothing else do You desire or seek from me now. So hear now, O Lord, the vows of my heart! See, I combine my desire with Your desire; and as You have given the whole of Yourself to me, so I give the whole of myself to You, to be wholly in You. I know, O Lord, that this cannot be, unless I renounce myself wholly; it cannot be if any trace of self-love remains in me, if I harbor some sympathy or disposition towards a will of my own, thoughts of my own, or some self-pandering habits of my own. Therefore I desire and I strive from now onwards to oppose myself in all that is not acceptable to You,  even if everything in me and outside me should rebel against it. By myself, I have not strength enough to succeed in this. But since from now on You are with me, I daringly trust that You Yourself will accomplish in me all that is needed. I seek and strive that my heart may be as one with Your heart; and I trust that Your grace will grant me this. I seek and strive to see nothing and to hear nothing, to think of nothing and have sympathy with nothing, except that which Your will, determined by Your commandments, leads me to and shows, and I trust that it will be granted me by Your power working in me. I strive and I seek not to let attention stray from the heart, where You dwell, there to gaze at You unceasingly and be warmed by the rays of light issuing from You; and I trust that this will be given me by the touch and embrace of Your hands. I strive and seek for You alone to be henceforth my light, strength and joy; and I trust to be given this by Your saving action on my inner man. It is of this that I pray and shall always continue to pray. O merciful Lord, grant me this, grant me this.

This is prayer which the authors of Unseen Warfare recommend to be prayed after receiving Holy Communion, and what a powerful prayer it is!

In it we have the humble confession of the person praying it, acknowledging that they themselves have done nothing worthy of God entering into their very being.

In it we see just what it is that God wants us from us; He doesn’t demand anything outlandish, anything that would stoke the pride – He wants only our love, in return for the divine love which He is so eager to pour out on us.

In it we have a firm resolution to conform ourselves to God’s will and to do what it is that He wants from us, while acknowledging that in order to do so we must deny ourselves and not give any room to self-pandering.

In it we have a confession that this is not something we can do on our own, that it not something that we can do without help. In confessing this we we simultaneously deny the original sin of Adam and Even which was just this: the belief that we, as human beings, can make our own way without God and do not need to rely on Him.

And finally, in it we have a firm statement of faith and trust in God. This is perhaps the hardest part; to relinquish the control which we try to have over ourselves and our lives, and to trust that once we do so, and invite God’s eager help, that He will indeed provide for and take care of us.

This, in my opinion, is a very amazing prayer which can be said at any time. I hope that I – and whoever else might come across this prayer – can take it to heart, and once it’s there, pray it from the heart with all sincerity and surety of the love of God.

IC | XC
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NI | KA


He that is idle shall not eat.

Our works in this life are the sowing, and the future life is the harvest of what we have sown. Whatever one sows here, that is what he shall reap there. If one hastens to cultivate the field of his heart, to fertilize it and to sow in it the seeds of immortal grain, he can confidently expect to see a corresponding harvest unto eternal rest and delight. He that sows with tears of repentance shall reap with rejoicing and “shall be filled,” says the Prophet, for sweet rest follows upon the labors of piety. Bust rest and refreshment are denied to him who has not labored in the work of piety –he that is idle should not eat; it is said.  – Elder Moses of Optina

A big misconception that many Protestants have towards Christian “organized religion” such as Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox is that we believe our works can grant us salvation. This is a major stumbling block for them because it violates one of the “Solas” that they hold, Sola fide, or the belief that salvation comes through faith alone and they are partly correct. Salvation does not come through good words, it is given only as a gift to those who choose to reunite their will with that of God and to leave as He intends us to.

However, we cannot truly be living in this manner unless we are doing good works. It’s like a music lover who hears their favorite song: as the notes sweep over them they cannot help but to dance or sing along. So it with the Christian: as the love and awe of the Holy Trinity sweeps over us we should not be able to help but to do good works to benefit those around us, and in so doing  to prove our faith.

I recently received my B.A. in Philosophy, and there’s a quote about philosophy by Ludwig Wittgenstein which rings so very true: “A philosopher who is not taking part in discussions is like a boxer who never goes into the ring.” How much more so is this sentiment true for the Christian? We could say in a similar manner, “A Christian who is not acting on his faith is like a pilot who never flies; they both seek the heights of what is humanly possible, but neither will reach it.”

Tomorrow is the Nativity of Christ, the moment when God became incarnate so that he might show us the way back to perfection and to rescue us from death. He did not just talk about doing so — He acted. Let those of us who seek to imitate Christ also not just sit around idly, but take action.

IC | XC
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NI | KA


Stand firm, like an anvil under the hammer.

Men that seem worthy of confidence, yet teach strange doctrines, must not upset you. Stand firm, like an anvil under the hammer. It is like a great athlete to take blows and yet win the fight. For God’s sake above all we must endure everything, so that God, in turn, may endure us. Increase your zeal. Read the signs of the times. Look for Him Who is above all time – the Timeless, the Invisible, Who for our sake became visible, the Impassible,  Who became subject to suffering on our account and for our sake endured everything. -St. Ignatius of Antioch

An icon of St. Ignatius being martyred.

It’s amazing how little can change over 2,000 years. St. Ignatius was a Bishop of Antioch, likely the second, who was martyred by wild beasts in Rome somewhere between 90 and 110 A.D.  Even so, his words, his call to vigilance, is just as acute and just as relevant today.

The Christian of today, at least here in America, does not have to worry about taking physical blows. Our martyrdom occurs in the intellectual sphere. Our aggressors attack not with boiling oil, red hot furnaces, or packs of starving animals. Our aggressors attack with scientific theories, which sociological explanations, and with charges of draconian and outdated thinking.

My priest pointed something out this past Sunday that is relevant here; especially around the holy days of Christmas and Easter, we presented with an increase in these attacks from our television. It is during these times that specials on the “real Jesus” are presented to us, shows that attempt to describe what life was like in the Middle East during the time of Christ and what sociological factors might have led to the formation of the religion which sprung up around him.

As Orthodox Christians we know that Jesus was more than just a mere mortal man. We know that the real story of Christmas is nothing less than a miracle, the joining of the divine with mortal, of God Himself submitting to be born, to grow up as a human child, to experience the world as we experience it, and ultimately to once again show us the road to perfection, heal our souls and to destroy the hold which death has over us.  We know that the “real Jesus” was born incarnate miraculously from a virgin but that He has existed from the beginning of time, co-eternal with the Father and the Holy Spirit. We know that while he was born in the flesh and did indeed have a human nature, he also remained fully God and had a divine nature as well.

Every year Christmas comes earlier and earlier; more time for those fueled by their passions of materiality and greed to make money, more time for those who have been brainwashed to feel like they must give things to show their gratitude and love for others, and more and more time for our faith to be undermined, marginalized, and attacked from numerous angles.

Stand firm, fellow Christians, like an anvil under the hammer. If anything, history has proven that the Christian can be placed under fire for his or her belief, that the Christian can be pounded by other world-views and ideologies, but that all this serves to do is refine, shape and strengthen us.

The anvil is not us, but God, and on it we are crafted to be the swords of truth.

IC | XC
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NI | KA


Glory to God for His Wisdom!

It’s funny how things turn out sometimes, and moments when you feel like God is smacking you in the face to make you realize something. There’s a certain sin which I really struggle with. It seems like when the urge to commit this sin comes I am powerless to resist it, even with full knowledge that it displeases God and that I should not do it. Well, again yesterday I fell into the sin.

A little bit later, after reflecting on my struggle with this sin and wondering why it is that I cannot seem to fight against it, I was reading Unseen Warfare when I came across this passage, and felt like it was speaking directly to me, at that very moment:

So let no one dream of acquiring a true Christian disposition and Christian virtue, and of working for God as he should, if he does not want to compel himself to renounce and overcome all the passionate impulses of the will of the flesh, whether great or small, which he was formerly accustomed to satisfy, willingly and fondly. The chief reason why so few people attain to full Christian perfection is exactly their reluctance, through self-pity, to force themselves to deny themsleves absolutely everything.

It really got me thinking how my weakness was due to not being fully commited to stopping the sin, that my passionate body and will still enjoy this particular sin. Even though I know that it is wrong, that it is an offence to God, it is in the end my carnal desire which wins out because Iam still fond of the act.

If that wasn’t enough, today’s Epistle reading comes from Romans 6:3-11 where it says:

Or are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life. For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall also be united with him in the ressurection. We know that our old self was crucified with him, so that our sinful body might be done away, that we might no longer be in slavery to sin. For a dead person has been absolved from sin. If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. We know that Christ raised from the dead, dies no more, death no longer has power over him. As to his death he died to sin once and for all; as to his life, he lives for God. Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as being dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus. [Emphasis mine of course]

Here again I feel like the timing is more than a coincidence. As an Orthodox Christian I believe that God sometimes allows us to fall into sin, or to suffer in some way in order to teach and strengthen us. God’s wisdom far surpasses our limited mortal reason and I really believe now that God allowed that logismoi (roughly and simplisitically, a sinful thought urging towards action) to enter my head, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to fight if off, at the time that it did so that it would be followed by these two readings so that I would be able to more fully appreciate what they were saying.

God has done His part, now it is up to me to accept this widom and apply it to my life. Glory be to God!


Avoiding Spiritual Delusion

I was able to continuing reading Unseen Warfare last night and specifically I read a chapter titled “How to train one’s will to have but one ultimate aim in all things, both external and internal—to please God.” As Christians this is our ultimate aim, to re-align our will with the will of God and this is what the Church teaches us is pleasing to God. It is also perhaps the hardest thing will ever try to achieve in our lives.

As descendents of Adam we all are subject to our passions. These passions, these desires of our will have become what drives almost all of us; the fulfillment of them have become for the majority of the world the chief end of life:

For our nature is so accustomed to please itself, that it seeks its own comfort and pleasure in all its doings, even the most righteous and spiritual, and secretly and lustfully feeds on it as though it were food.

Did you catch that? Our will seeks its own pleasure even in the most righteous and spiritual activities. This is what I am most scared of I think, that I will fall into what is called prelest. Prelest is a Russian word which is used because is there is no exact word in English to mean what it means, though it can generally be termed “spiritual delusion.” Prelest is doing spiritual things such as praying constantly, helping others, etc. out of love of doing the acts in-of-themselves, rather than doing them in order to please God. It is loving to do spiritual things because they make you feel spiritual, rather than doing them in order to draw yourself closer to God.

This really scares me because it is such a subtle deception. I could think that I am doing so well, worshiping God fully, but really be worshiping my own ego and my own will. In fact, the book goes on to say:

And so it happens that when we see the chance of spiritual doing lying before us, we immediately desire it and impetuously rush towards it; yet not as men moved by the will of God, nor for the sole purpose of pleasing Him, but for the sake of the comfort and joy which is born in us, when we desire and seek that which God wants from us. This prelest is the better concealed and hidden, the higher and more spiritual is the nature of what we desire. [emphasis mine]

Now, the author does give us the solution to this problem, and on the surface it makes a lot of sense. However even this doesn’t seem like an easy thing to do when you really think about how you would carry it out. He tells us:

When there lies before you some work, which accords with the will of God, or is good in itself, do not immediately incline your will towards it and do not desire it, without previously raising your mind to God, so as to be clear whether it is the direct will fo God that you should desire and perform such actions and whether they would be acceptable to God. And when you compose your thoughts in such a way that the inclination of your will is determined by God’s will itself, then wish it and do it, but only because God wishes it, for the sake of pleasing Him and for His glory alone.

Wow. Basically, what this is saying is that even we have the opportunity to do some spiritual work, or some good thing, we shouldn’t immediately do it, but pray about it and ask God if He wants us to do it, and to do it right then. Not only that, but also:

As regards activities whose completion takes a more or less long time, or which go on continually, we should establish in our heart a firm resolve to practice them solely to please God, and this not merely in the beginning, when we undertake them, but later too this right resolve should be renewed frequently to the very end. For if you fail to do this, you will be in danger of becoming once more enmeshed in the self-love so natural to us, which, inclining more towards pleasing ourselves than towards pleasing God, in the course of time often succeeds in turning us imperceptibly away from our original good disposition and in changing our first good aims and intentions.

This isn’t as simple as “making up my mind” to do this. It will be only by the grace of God that I can keep this in mind, to recognize when I should be asking God before acting, and, God willing, I will be kept free of any prelest. Please, pray for me! I also sincerely hope that any one who reads this might also take the advice to heart. God bless!

IC | XC
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NI | KA


“Lord, help us.”

St. Theophan the RecluseFor Christmas my Nouna (Godmother) got me a book from the Orthodox Calendar Company called 2009: Daily Lives, Miracles, and Wisdom of the Saints. It’s a neat little book that gives the life of one of the saints for the day (while listing all the other saints celebrated) along with a quote by one of the Saints.  Today’s quote comes from St. Theophan the Recluse:

Nothing comes without effort. The help of God is always ready and always near, but is given only to those who seek and work, and only to those seekers who, after putting all their powers to the test, then cry out with their whole heart, “Lord, help us.”

This quote is really interesting in my opinion as it says a few things about how the Orthodox see salvation.

Nothing comes without effort. The help of God is always ready and always near, but is given only to those who seek and work…. This is interesting because it says that we have to work for our salvation. Now, this is not saying that it is through good works that we achieve our salvations, not at all. What it is saying is that while the grace of God is freely given, we have to actively and continually seek out that grace. Nothing comes without effort. Salvation is not as simple a thing as saying “Jesus, I believe in you.” The effort which we must put forth is trying to overcome our fallen will; our passions and the demons who latch on to our weakness to exploit those passions.  The work that St. Theophan refers to are those things which help us to overcome those passions: trusting in God, helping the needy, praying–especially praying–attending the Divine Liturgy with an open heart and mind rather than merely being ‘present,’ etc. All of these things help us to overcome our will so that then we can fully consciously say “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done.”

…and only to those seekers who, after putting all their powers to the test, then crty out with their whole heart, “Lord, help us.” The Fathers teach us that one of the first steps towards really working out salvation “with fear and trembling” is not think much of ourselves. We are to not put trust in ourselves since we are fallen creatures and to learn to rely on the power of God for everything. If we achieve some task, we are to recognize that it was only through the help of God. If we overcome some sin, we are to recognize that it was not through our own power, but the power of God working through us. In this way we learn to overcome pride, and gain the virtue of humility. St. Theophan tell sus that the help of God only comes to those who trying everything in their own power to come close to God, and seeing that fail, cry out for God’s help. We cannot reach God on our own, through our own powers!

Lastly, St. Theophan tells us that when we cry out to God, we are not to cry out “Lord, help me,” but rather “Lord, help us.” We must remember that our religion, our faith, is not one of just ‘me and God.’ All of us, as creations of God, are striving together towards God. We can rely on each other help us through tough times and we must be able to support others while they are going through rough times. We do not have to ‘run the race’ alone!

There is so much wisdom in these two sentences. What always amazes me is how insightful and wise the Fathers and Saints can be while still being so concise. May God bless us all to be able to see this wisdom!

IC | XC
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NI | KA