Friday, September 3, 2010

Do Not Limit Yourself to Striving for Outward Order

When we begin the Orthodox Way of Life so much of what we learn has to do with our outward actions: such actions as daily prayer, fasting  prostrations and so forth.  But this is not the aim of our Orthodox life.  Our aim is to join in union with God, to live and act in accordance with His will for us at that moment.  This requires an inner development as well as an outer one.  The outer actions lead us to the inner.

Elder Macarius says,
Do not limit yourself to striving for the right outward order: fasting and prayer.  Strive also for greater inward order, only to be attained through intensified love and deep humility.
Humility leads to love. This becomes the outward expression of our mature spirituality. When we live in union with God we can only love others and all of God's creation.

To attain this inner direction of life is something that takes much time and effort. The key is overcoming our ego-centeredness––gaining humility.  In our society our ego-centerness is continually reinforced so it is very difficult to overcome.

What are the signs of humility?
Here is advice Elder Macarius gave to one of his spiritual children,
You aspire after higher and more consoling forms of faith, and this shows your lack of humility. Rest content with what has been given you; all faith is grace, and God will give more when, and if, He finds fit.
Humility is a reality when we no longer seek more than we have.  When we can accept everything we are given as a gift from God then God's grace will fills us and love will pour forth from our hearts.  Overcoming ego-centeredness is a process of surrender. When we surrender our outward efforts will be overtaken by our inner relationship with God through His grace.

Reference: Russian Letter of Spiritual Direction, p30 - 31

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