Posted by: oldbelieving | January 19, 2012

Orthodox Spirituality Part 3: Day-to-Day Spiritual Life, by Fr. Alexey Young

Lesson 3: Day to Day Spiritual Life

St. Innocent: his missionary years very inspirational, kept a journal- supernatural experiences

-most important is his missionary heart: traveled 5000 miles/yr to bring Gospel, taught skills (taught them to make organs to sell to Franciscan missionaries), devised alphabet for Tlingits

-Indication of the Way into the Kingdom of Heaven: written for native tribes, basic Christianity; we can read it and its as if its written for us despite our “advanced” civilization- what was basic for them is advanced for us bc of our low spiritual climate

-3 things to follow Christ: 1. Deny yourself- give up bad habits that keep you from God, bring down wall of sine and passion that separates from God

-esp. do not cherish our sins, passions- often have predominant passion, once we identify it we cant stop cherishing it and replace it with virtue

2. Take up your Cross– suffering, sorrow, adversities

-there are exterior crosses- come to us from outside, no control over it- sudden accident, difficulty at work, etc; exterior crosses by themselves are not enough

-must have interior crosses: those we choose to take up in conformity w/ word of God

-examine your conscience with Spiritual Father, 1000 interior crosses will present themselves- these are true healing of the soul

-if bear sufferings w/ submission to God and don’t seek consolation in anyone but God then He wont abandon you or leave w/out consolation

3. Follow the Lord: in all things imitate Christ- 90% of His words are about how to live, 10% about doctrine, sacraments, after death, etc

-man’s spiritual nature divided against itself at Fall

lowest part of spiritual nature is “soul” (psyche): seat of passions, imagination, emotions; will not survive death of body

-passions create wall that separates us from God; most of us spend time here – we nurture and grow passions

higher part is “spirit” (nous – “mind”, “heart”, “inner chamber”): when Christ says to enter into closet and shut the door it means to enter into heart, shut the door and commune with God

-we spend little or no time here- reached only be repentance- break down the passion and open heart to God

-once passions are stilled, spiritual state of inner stillness begins- sense of stillness around Saints

-stillness= “hesychia”

-spirit or “mind” is supernatural reason that Saints possess – only Saints are truly rational

St. Gregory of Sinai: Saints alone are truly rational, who through purification have become Saints

St. Innocent: to break down wall of passions must work/practice/praxis with diligence, energy – so much diligence that it causes a little discomfort- voluntary sufferings/martyrdom – interior crosses

St. Gregory of Sinai: no work whether bodily or spiritual that lacks pain ever produces fruit, for Kingdom is taken by violence, by violence is meant painful bodily feeling in all our efforts

-to continue growing need watchfulness/inner attentiveness (nepsis)

-necessary for replacing vices with virtues- must know whats going on inside you

-most in state of inner sleep (hypnos)- think of ourselves as conscience but Fathers call it sleep- unawareness; characterized by self-centeredness

-need detached awareness of whats happning inside to be more aware or promptings of conscience

-imagination is one of main obstacles to prayer- roots us in our fallenness- spirituality must be based in actual contact with living God, not mere images – leads to communion with own ability to create religious scenario

-Satan can appear as angel of light, enters into realm of passions

-prayer requires undistracted mind, suppress imagination entirely, free of all images both good and bad

-faces of Saints in icons show dispassion, hesychia- proper context for stilling own emotions, passions, enclose your mind in words of prayer

-imagination is chief aspect that demons play upon- affected by suggestion

-by being watchful we learn to recognize suggestion from devil before its entertained by emotions

-spiritual and bodily practices: 1. repentance (metanoia- change of mind, direction): deep regret over sins that makes for lasting change in how we think, feel, behave – shift in center of being from material to spiritual

-real repentance leads to confession

2. concentration- related to nepsis and turning-inward of repentance, look for signs of relationship with Christ

-Luke 17:20ff. Kingdom cometh not with observation, Kingdom is within you

-come into contact with living God in our spirit/nous/heart

Met. Anthony Bloom: Beginning to Pray: words of prayer are bow, arrow is fervor/single-mindedness in trying to hit target, target is within us where Kingdom is; there is something in that is of God where you must go, must find that place

-if you don’t find Christ in this life you wont find Him in the next

-Christ says not to worry about food, clothes, etc bc such cares scatter the mind, ruin concentrtation – rather seek ye the Kingdom of God which is within you

3. Prayer: St. Peter Damascene: ought to think of name of God (Jesus) more often than we breathe- concentration and prayer combine and center on name of God

-Sign of Cross, prostrations, etc

-penetrate all things with prayer- that simple to acquire salvation

Met. Hierotheos: greatest social act in all mankind accomplished by Theotokos- didn’t have any office in Church but occupied herself with silence, prayer, thus “Panagia” – accomplished this even before becoming Mother of God- thus cause of greatest happiness world will ever know – Incarnation

-she is model of stillness, hesychia

-accomplished particularly when she was in Temple

-to come to God we must abandon world of senses, rise above it – Mother of God mortified her senses- perfectly obeyed Christ, came to know Heaven while still in body

-properly honor her by imitating her

St. Paul: speaks about conscience – Fathers quote him muchly on this

Abba Dorotheos: when God created man gave him something divine, warm and luminous though, spark of reason to illumine mind and distinguish good from evil – conscience/natural law

-Adam and Eve’s consciences darkened by sin- thus needed Law of Moses, Prophets

-conscience can be clear or defiled – clear when we do as we ought, brings natural joy

-2 Cor. 1:12 our rejoicing is this – testimony of our conscience that we have behaved in the world and towards you with holiness and Godly sincerity – sign of clear conscience is joy

-when we behave rightly the conscience is quiet, when act wrongly it accuses us – Saint is one whose conscience doesn’t accuse him; conscience sometimes called “the accuser”

-Matt. 5:25 agree with accuser quickly while in the way with him (while in the world), lest accuser hand ye over to the judge

St. John Chrysostom: he who is stung by conscience has tasted of Hell

-clear conscience brings joy and hope

St. John of Kronstadt: if we live only one day in complete obedience to commandments we’d have foretaste of Paradise … Kingdom of God is within you

-our world is anti-quiet, restless world; we’re brainwashed to go along with it- encourages us to enslavement to senses with distractions and noise – feed imagination, emotion, passions rather than inner chamber of our heart

-we even dread being alone

Met. Anthony Bloom: before start serious life of prayer is sit in chair of middle of room with nothing in reach, turn off phone, TV, etc – just sit there for half hour and DON’T pray- become aware of intolerable boredom – this is boredom with yourself bc you’re so empty you cant even entertain yourself for half hour- think how boring you are to God – beginning of prayer is to realize this emptiness- highest part of your spiritual nature is void, everything is happening in level of soul

-where the wall of passions between us and God is where discursive reasoning functions- decide to indulge passions or not – can break down wall of passions and strengthen will to serve God

Q: what about spiritual nature in Garden?

A: know what pre-fallen state is like because of Saints – spirit and soul aren’t separated but are one

-emotions and passions are dormant or elevated to high level in service to God – healing

-Saints even go to higher level than Adam and Eve bc have benefit of Incarnation

Q: how do we know when God is revealing something to us?

A: most of us need to simply live life of Church, if something beyond that is given to us it is rare – what the Church gives us is already difficult

-if you think God has sent you something you should deny it- if its from God you wont lose your soul by denying it, but if its from Satan you might lose your soul by internalizing it

-must have holy life to receive private revelations- God doenst take up His abode in sinful vessels

Q: how do we know if we have true repentance?

A: we know what true fruits are: joy, being able to turn from sin

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Responses

  1. Hi! I’m at work browsing your blog from my new iphone!
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    Keep up the excellent work!

    • thank God — Fr. Alexey’s teachings certainly are beautiful!

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