Monday, February 8, 2010

Maintaining our Zeal

To live an Orthodox Christian Life we must fulfill God's Commandments.  We must love Him with our whole heart and love our neighbors as we love ourselves.  This involves a life of repentance and humility.  Key to our adopting an Orthodox Way of Life is the zeal we have been given.  The Lord told us "I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!" (Lk 12:49)  Paul continually reminds us to press toward the mark (Phil 3:24).  The Church Fathers also remind us of this with words such as "seeking, proposing, fervor, diligence, warmth of spirit, burning, and simply zeal."


This zeal we are speaking of is one combined with love.
St. Nectarios of Aegina tells us,
"The zealot according to knowledge, motivated by the love of God and his neighbor, does all things with charity and self-effacement; he does nothing that might bring sorrow to his neighbor; such a zealot is enlightened by knowledge and nothing prompts him to deviate from what is morally right" (Self-Knowledge, pp. 135-136).


Saint Symeon the New Theologian says,
"For every pursuit and every endeavor involving great toil that does not end up in love and a contrite spirit is futile, and yields no profitable result" (Catechesis I, Sources Chretiennes, Vol. 96, pp. 143-145).


Saint Theophan emphasizes that preserving this zeal is our first priority.
The first job of the Christian ascetic should be the preservation of this zeal and fervor as the source of power for living a God-pleasing life.

Apostle Peter teaches, 

"Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge self-control, and to self-control, perseverance" (2 Peter 1:5-6).

How do we do this?  It requires an inward journey to the heart.  Just like our awakening to Christ was transforming, we must continually transform our worldly view into a celestial one.



Saint Theophan advises as follows:
Whoever wishes to preserve an undying zeal should: 
     a) go within, 
     b) view the new world and 
     c) stand in those feelings and thoughts by which he ascend as on 
         the steps of ladder to the foot stool of the Lord's throne.


In the following posts I will expand on these three ideas as taught to us by Saint Theophan the Recluse.


Be zealous, therefore, and repent! (Apoc. 3:19)


Ref: Path to Salvation, pp 221-222

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