Monday, August 23, 2010

My secrets I give to Thee, o God

 image from here


The goal of the living of the Orthodox ascetical spiritual life is the revealing of the secrets I keep from myself,  knowingly or unknowingly, which hinder me from my prize:  union with Christ.  In other words, my secrets are those things I place above Christ, holding onto them rather than obtaining Him.

For example, lust, that which primarily ties Man to the Fallen Creation(1 John 2:15-17), has roots so deep in me that I often seek ways to place myself in situations where I can justify a "fall" into sin.

Christ came to reveal and undo the works of the Devil.  I, in union with Him, cooperating freely through my will, have as my goal if I follow Christ to choose to want to have revealed to me those "secret workings" within myself and once revealed to put my back to the task of eliminating them, by God's grace.

Their power is undone when I freely offer them to God, no longer tied to them.  However, as the passion(s) have taken a long time to take root and entrench themselves, they seem to be rarely, if ever, removed only offering them up once and for all.  Usually, a prolonged struggle over a long course of our lives is involved to lessen their(the passions) power and to work towards their complete removal through perfect union with Christ, the God Man.

This, it must be said, is not impossible.  The lives of many Saints show this possibility to us and it must be remembered that the Saints are like us and not initially "set apart" for the task of becoming divinized.  They chose to have themselves joined to Christ and their example is for us as well.

4 comments:

Andreas said...

This reminds me of something from Elder Porphyrios. Please forgive the long quotation:

Solomon the Wise says that Christ is to be found with those who do not tempt Him. Those who "tempt" God are those who doubt, hesitate or, even worse, resist His omnipotence and wisdom. Our soul mustn't resist and say, "Why did God make things in this way and not that, could He not have made things differently?" All these things reveal an inner meanness of spirit and reaction. They reveal the great idea we have of ourselves, our pride and our great conceit. People are greatly tormented by these "whys." They cause what people generally cause "complexes." "Why am I so tall?" for example. Or the opposite: "Why am I so small?" These questions do not go away. The person may pray and hold vigils, but the outcome is the opposite of the desired. And the person suffers and protests to no avail. With Christ, however, and with grace, all these torments disappear. There remains "something" deep down, the "why" is still there, but the grace of God overshadows the person and, while the root is the "complex," above ground what grows is a rose bush with beautiful roses. And the more it is watered by faith, love, patience and humility, the more evil ceases to have any power and ceases to exist. That is, it is not made to disappear, it simply withers away. On the other hand, the more the rose bush is not watered, the more it withers, dries up and is lost, whereas the thorns at once sprout up.

It is not only our resistance and our "whys" that show we are tempting God. We tempt God when we ask something from Him while our life is far removed from Him. We tempt Him when we ask for something, but our life is not in concord with His will. On the one hand we are filled with things opposed to God - anxiety and worry - and on the other hand we make petition to him.

You don't become holy by fighting evil. Let evil be. Look towards Christ and that will save you. What makes a person saintly is love - the adoration of Christ which cannot be expressed, which is beyond expression, which is beyond... And such a person attempts to undertake ascetic exercises and to do things to cause himself to suffer for the love of God.

VSO said...

Huzzah!

Sophocles said...

Andreas,

Thank you for posting that from Elder Porphyrios. With him and all our elders, there is never a need to apologize, no matter what the length of the quote.

Sophocles said...

VSO,

As always, I'm with you: Huzzah!