The Life of the Spirit

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The following paragraphs are from the chapter on “The Life of the Spirit” in Fr. Sophrony’s We Shall See Him As He Is.

St. Silouan’s method is to place us before the general principle and then leave us to work out and diagnose our own case. To give a few examples: ‘One should eat only so much as allows prayer and the feeling of the Divine presence to continue uninterrupted after food’; ‘Better defer each and every undertaking on which the soul is not prepared to solicit God’s blessing – abandon any project which cannot be prefaced by untroubled prayer’; ‘If prayer is interrupted by some alien thought, then that prayer is not “pure”‘; ‘Where hostility – rancour – persists in the heart, our salvation is not assured’; ‘If we do not love our enemies, we are still in the embrace of death and have not come to know God as He ought to be known’. And so on.

I have decided to continue with my writing and make fewer demands on myself, propounding my fifty and more years of experience of fragmentary manifestations relative to the basic tenets of our faith as I see them: the God of Love is Trinity consubstantial and undivided; Absolute Being is Personal, and our relations with the Personal God are likewise first and foremost personal; sin is always an offence against, or digression from, the Father’s love; ony repentance can restore the purity and unfading immutability of our union of love with God; apart from Christ and without the Light of the Holy Spirit no one can ever arrive at a comprehensive vision of sin; the way to the Father of all that exists – is Christ, and our adoption as sons is only and solely through Him and in Him, as the only-begotten Son, co-eternal with the Father and the Spirit. Weeping with our whole being is the normal state where there is true repentance. The more shattering our fear of being eternally cut off from God, the more we are appalled by our ugliness – the more total the striving of our spirit in prayer.

About Fr. Stephen Freeman

Fr. Stephen is a retired Archpriest of the Orthodox Church in America, Pastor Emeritus of St. Anne Orthodox Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is also author of Everywhere Present: Christianity in a One-Storey Universe, and Face to Face: Knowing God Beyond Our Shame, as well as the Glory to God podcast series on Ancient Faith Radio.


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