Monday, June 14, 2010

The Elements of Purification in Orthodox Spirituality


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In the previous posts on Fr. Dimitru Staniloae's work titled Orthodox Spirituality we have reviewed part one which he titled "Purification."

In this section he discusses the passions and shows how we can progressively overcome them to attain a final state of dispassion which prepares us for the next section he titles "Illumination."

The path he outlined is as follows:

1. Faith, the Basic State for Purification.

2. The Fear of God and the Thought of Judgment

3. Repentance


4. Self-Control

5. The Guarding of the Mind or of Thoughts

6. Longsuffering, the Patient Endurance of Troubles

7. Hope

8. Meekness and Humility

9. Dispassion or Freedom from Passion

Summary:
We find ourselves in a state of many cares of this world.  Our mind is taken up with worries and fears.  We find it difficult to concentrate on God, to consistently do His will, and to practice the virtues in our daily life.  We need some kind of radical transformation.  

The path to the needed transformation begins with faith in the Good News that is found in the Gospels. We believe and are Baptized where the Holy Spirit is planted in our hearts and we develop Faith.  This faith is strengthened and followed by the realization of our sinfulness and the final judgment we will eventually face.  We realize we can live a life that takes us to an eternal life with God in His kingdom, or, by ignoring His direction for us, live an eternal life separated from Him.  With this fear of God, we then seek to purify our way of life though an attitude of repentance.  We feel contrition for our weaknesses and seek God's help to overcome them.  We participate in the Sacraments of the Church for our healing and spiritual growth.  We realize our need to have more self-control so that we will not continually repeat our past patterns of living.  We engage in ascetic practices like fasting to aid the development of greater control over the passions which seem to drive us and separate us from God.  As we gain self-control we seek to get at the source of the distractions which lead us to temptations we are unable to resist.  This involves an inner guarding of the mind and referring our thoughts to Christ who is with us in our hearts. We find that there are all kinds of difficulties in this world that we cannot necessarily avoid.  We learn to endure them with patience and the guidance and comfort of God.  As we endure with patience, in us grows our hope for the next world, God's kingdom where there are no troubles. We find we begin to develop meekness and humility––a loss of our ego-centeredness.  And finally, we enter into a state of dispassion where the passions no longer have any control over us.  Our mind becomes quiet and free to pursue the contemplation of God. The soul is now in command to direct our will and we begin to live the life of virtue and love.

We are now ready to enter into the next phase of Orthodox Spirituality know as Illumination.

3 comments:

  1. Thank you for your participation and comments , Matt

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